When you tell people that you are going on a vacation to a Caribbean island, they immediately start picturing long strands of endless white sand beaches. Then when you tell them that Caribbean island is actually Key West, Florida, they quickly tell you about a dozen other places in Florida with better beaches. The truth is that most people do not plan a vacation to Key West because of the beaches. They go for the nightlife, the Key West restaurants and the history. But that does not mean they should skip the beaches altogether. Just because they are underrated does not mean they are without charm. Just like the rest of the island, their charm is unique to their location.
Fort Zachary Taylor is home to one of the most popular beaches, especially among the locals. It is a state park, and as the name implies, is home to a beautiful, semi-restored Civil War era fort, one of three on the island - four if you include Fort Jefferson out on the Dry Tortugas, the largest all-brick structure in the world. There are paths for exploring the building and surrounding grounds, but the main draw is the beach. Here, there are chairs and beach umbrellas to rent, plenty of trees for those who need some shade, and excellent snorkeling opportunities thanks to the stone jetties that attract all types of marine life. The park stays open to sunset, which is ideal because its location makes for a perfect spot to watch the sun go down. On the opposite side of the island is where you will find Smathers Beach. This is the most typical Caribbean style beach you will find in Key West, with over a half mile of fine uninterrupted sand. There are beach volleyball courts set up, a concession that rents paddleboards, catamarans and kite boards, and several food trucks to take care of all your food and drink needs.
A third beach that attracts locals and tourists alike is Higgs Beach. Though not as long as Smathers, it too is the pure white sand people look for and offers a variety of concessions and chair rentals as well. Plus, it is one of the most convenient beaches on the island, located just a few short blocks from Duval Street, home to many of the Key West restaurants and hotels that bring people to the island in the first place. Nobody would plan a trip to the subtropics and not think about going to the beach. Key West is certainly a destination vacation unlike any other island trips you can take, but they still have the beaches that make such a vacation desirable. Spending a day on one of their many beaches will help take away whatever stress is still left lingering.
Jack Terry is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer who lived in Key West for several years. http://www.rooftopcafekeywest.com