Florida Keys for Families a to z guide
BEACHES AND BEACH ADVISORIES,
BEACHES AND BEACH ADVISORIES
The Florida Keys are not usually known for its beaches, but Bahia Honda Beach (meaning deep bay in Spanish) at Bahia Honda State Park was recently rated the second most beautiful beach in North America. It not only provides white sandy beaches, but also tropical vegetation and a great variety of bird life.
The beach sand of the Florida Keys is composed of coral and shell sediments which is quite different from the powered sugar fine sand one sees on the rest of Florida's beaches or the Bahamas. Because of this and for the convenience and enjoyment of visitors, many resorts have chosen to build their own protected beaches for their guests. Several resort beaches are listed with the major public beaches.
Florida Keys Beach Advisories
Beaches in the Keys are tested twice monthly for coliform and entrococcus bacteria. Water quality test results are published in the Florida Keys Keynoter. The Monroe County Health Department has a beach information hotline at 305-293-1653 or 1-877-892-9585. Results of testing can also be seen online at http://www.doh.st.fl.us
You can monitor all Florida beaches through the state website. The web address is
Go to the pull-down menu and click on beach water quality, then click on the appropriate county.
A link for Monroe County is
A link to all Florida County beach testing is
FLORIDA KEYS BEACHES
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - Number 17 - MM 102.5 - Key Largo, Open daily, 8 a.m. - sunset.
General Park information - 305-451-1202
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States. The park contains a wide variety of tropical marine life, vegetation, and shore birds. The park is known for its coral reefs located five miles offshore. Visitors especially appreciate viewing the coral formations and related marine life. "Christ of the Deep", a famous statue resting in 25 feet of water is a key spot for divers. Children will enjoy the Visitor's Center with its natural history exhibits and 30,000 gallon aquarium. They can swim at Cannon Beach, canoe or kayak. SEE Kayak Section Also available are paddle boats $15/hr. and spyaks $15/hr. which offer viewing wells. Guided nature walks along the park's Mangrove and Tamarind trails are offered seasonally. Glass bottom boat tours, snorkel tours, and sailing and snorkeling tours are described under the Boat Tour and Snorkel sections.
Harry Harris Park - Number 16 - MM 92.5 -Beach and East Beach Roads, Tavenier
Admission to this park is $5 to nonresidents on weekends and national holidays. Lovely white beach and protected swimming lagoon. Kids get use not only a small beach but a playground, ball field, volleyball area, picnic grounds, basketball courts and an inline skating park. Picnicking and hiking trails. US 1 to Burton Drive, then several miles to park entrance. 305-852-7161
Founder’s Park and Beach - Number 9 - Mile Marker 86.5, Bayside - Available to Islamorada residents also free to guests who show their lodging room keys. Sandy beach, playground and a skate park
Cheeca Lodge - private resort - MM 82 - Islamorada
Cheeca Lodge offers 1100 feet of beach facing on the ocean for patrons interested in sun bathing. To swim you must wade out some distance. Splitting the beach front is long fishing pier where boats with less than a 3 foot draft can dock. For swimming Cheeca offers a man-made salt water lagoon and a serpentine pool close to the main lodge. A second rectangular fresh water pool for guests located closer to the tennis courts is set back from the ocean and closer to some of the villas. 1-800- 327-2888
Beach behind the Islamorada Library - Number 14 - MM 81.5, Islamorada, playground, restrooms ,and shower
Holiday Isle Resort and Marina - private resort- MM 84 Oceanside, Islamorada - two resort beaches available to the general public, more appropriate for the older teen, restrooms available
Anne's Public Beach - Number 13 above - MM 73.5 oceanside swimming in shallow water, long stretch of beach, some consider it the second best beach in the Keys, wooden walkway and sheltered picnic area, restrooms, info 305-296-1552
Long Key State Recreational Area - MM 67.5 - Long Key, Open daily. 8 a.m. - sundown, 305-664-4815
Camping and picnic areas, restrooms, beach, also some of the best sport fishing in the Florida Keys. For children the park offers several nature trails for those who enjoy both walking and canoeing. Children will enjoy paddling and marvel at the tidal lagoon on the Long Key Lakes Canoe Trail which takes about an hour to journey. A self-guided tour brochure is available which describes the mangroves, ecology and wading and marine life to be seen along the way. For walkers "The Golden Orb Trail", named after a native spider, takes about 40 minutes to walk and offers a wealth of ecological information. Nature Trail Brochure available. Long Key was an important railroad depot before it and the Long Key Fishing Camp were destroyed by the "Hurricane of 1935". Check with Park attendants about campfire programs and guided tour schedule.
Hawk's Cay Resort - private resort - Mile Marker 61 - Duck Key
This resort built it own own protected salt water lagoon and beach in the 1950's to meet the expectations of its European guests. Now a favorite of all it is available to patrons of Hawk's Cay Resort and Hawk's Cay Village. Youngsters enjoy swimming, rafting and tubing in the Hawk's Cay Resort's saltwater lagoon. Small kayaks are available for rental as well. When the children tire of splashing in the salt water of the Caribbean they have several fresh water pools available to choose from for variety. Hawk's Cay has FIVE pools located throughout its 60 acres of Resort and Villa grounds. One of these is for adults only. A favorite of children is the small children's pirates play pool located at the resort's Indies Club. 305-743-7000
The Beach Under Water - not shown on map - an extensive sand bar several hundred yards off of Valhala and Grassy Key -
This "locals" beach is perhaps one of the nicest "beaches" in the Keys, but it is only accessible by boat or kayak. The sand is white and the water warm. At low tide it is possible to set up beach chairs. Great for gatherings and raft up parties and families. Kids love to play in the water and can snorkel in comfort. Pontoon and small boat rentals are available on Grassy Key which can be anchored up at the sand bar beach. If the weather allows snorkel at Coffins Patch and then head back in to the "beach under the water" for family fun.
shallow water snorkeling
Dogs walking at the underwater sandbar. Not to be confused with the partying Sandbar off of Holiday Isle.
Curry Hammock State Park - Number 12 - Mile marker 56, Oceanfront park on Little Crawl Key in Marathon, campground and beach, picnic tables grills, and restrooms, kayaks rentals, Curry Hammock State Park, 305-289-2690.
Coco Plum Beach - Number 11 - Mile Marker 54.5 oceanside - sandy Atlantic beach off of Coco Plum Drive, dogs allowed owner cleanup required
Marathon's Sombrero Beach - Number 10 - also known as Sombrero Beach end of Sombrero Road, part sand and partly hardened coral surface. restrooms,, picnic tables,and showers
Little Duck Key Beach now Veterans Memorial Park and Beach - Number 5- MM 39 - just passed the Seven Mile Bridge , restrooms, picnic shelters, grills, shallow bathing,
Bahia Honda State Recreation Area - Number 6 and 7 above - Mile Marker 37 - Big Pine Key 33043 (Located 12 miles south of Marathon.) (305) 872-2353. Open 8 a.m. - sunset. Admission: $3.25 per vehicle plus $.50 per passenger; $1.50 per walker or bike rider. Ramp access to beach and bathhouse available.
Rated one of the top ten in the country on the basis of weather and water temperature. Bahia Honda or "deep bay" offers a beautiful sandy beach, the longest beach in the Keys, good swimming and snorkeling opportunities, picnic areas, restrooms, cabins and campsites, nature trails, boats, and windsurfing. This southernmost recreational area in the State of Florida has actually two beaches. The larger beach called Sandspur is located at the northern end of Bahia Honda. Close by is the start of the Silver Palm Nature Trail which follows the the shore of a tidal lagoon and traverses a wooded hammock area on its circuit back to the beach. Some rare species of tropical plants (satinwood tree, spiny catesbaea, and dwarf morning glory) and birds may be seen here. A bird list is available. Variety of bird life (great white heron, reddish egret, and brown pelican). At the southern end of Bahia Honda State Park visitors may walk on part of the old Bahia Honda Bridge. Once the trestle for the old East Coast Railroad and converted later for automobile traffic the old bridge provides marvelous views of the recreation area and neighboring islands. Nature Trail Brochure available. http://www.bahiahondapark.com
September-November is a good time to visit. CAUTION : Stinging Jelly fish (Man-of-war) is present in the water and on beaches year-round.
KEY WEST BEACHES (Shown in Map insert above)
A recent survey conducted jointly by National Geographic Traveler magazine and the Web site Yahoo! Travel scores the beaches that line Key West's shores among the top 10 popular favorites in the United States. The city's beaches were ranked seventh in the online "top sands" survey. Results from the survey were printed in National Geographic Traveler's July/August 2003 issue and at travel.yahoo.com/beach website. Cleanliness, scenery panorama, climate and water temperature were factors influencing respondents' choices. Key West's beaches ranked seventh. Other locals ranked in the top ten were Miami; Waikiki and Kaanapali, Hawaii; St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Key West's beaches include Smathers, stretching beside South Roosevelt Boulevard, Higgs Beach and Rest Beach, adjacent to the White Street Pier, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
Fort Zachry Taylor State Historical Site - Number 1 - A good choice for kids, Fort Zachry Park has educational information board describing local marine life placed along winding park path. Enter through Truman Annex on Southard Street - Key West. Open daily 8 a.m. -sunset, nice beach and picnic area - 305-292-6713, Can swim, picnic or fish. Beach is somewhat rocky, but the area has trees for shade, cooking grills, picnic tables, a concession stand and bathrooms. Admission $1.50 per person, "conchs" refer to this beach as the best in Key West. 305-292-6713
Smather's Beach - Number 5 - A1A , west of Key West Airport and South Roosevelt Blvd., Key West - Restrooms, shady, white, sandy beach, southernmost beach in the United States,concession equipment rentals - chairs, towels, snorkling equipment and even catamarans, food and beverages vendors, picnic tables, covered pavilions, showers and bathrooms and near many large tourist accommodations.
Simonton Beach - Number 2 - Key West-- small beach tucked between the Pier House and the Hyatt - this public beach is closed and off limits due loitering of homeless, aggressive panhandlers, no security
Rest Beach - Atlantic Ocean Beach at White Street - sandy beach close by White Street Pier
South Beach - Number 3 - This is shallow water sandy beach which is a favorite of visitors and locals. Located at the Atlantic Ocean end on Duval Street. Close to Southernmost House and Butterfly Conservatory. No public restroom but good for those staying in nearby lodging. Restaurants nearby.
Higgs Memorial Beach - Number 4 - Reynolds Street and White Street, Key West - Open daily, sunrise - 11 p.m. swimming, fishing areas, tennis and racquetball courts, picnic area, fast-food restaurant on the beach.
Dog Beach - Located at Vernon and Waddell next to Louie's Backyard Restaurant, this small beach -- the small beach is the only Key West beach where where dogs are allowed
A to Z INDEX OF CATEGORIES
SAILING - LESSONS, SAILBOAT RENTALS, SUPPLIES, EQUIPMENT
SANDALS AND SHOES
SCHOOLS - REGISTRATION, IMMUNIZATION (public),
SNORKELING AND SNUBA,
SUNSET CELEBRATIONS AND CRUISES
YOUTH GROUPS, ORGANIZATIONS, AND CENTERS (see also CAMPS),
ZOOS (see ANIMALS )
BY FLORIDA KEYS BEST
Florida Keys Best
386 East Seaview Drive
Marathon, Florida 33050