When you think of south Florida, I mean really south, you probably have visions of white, sandy beaches and coconut trees. Throw in a few gentle waves and before you know it, you’re down in the Keys with the mystery and charm that has for generations put a grin on the faces of many an eclectic person.
But with the two oceans, Atlantic and the Gulf – OK, three, if you count the Caribbean Sea, meeting here – beaches are rare as you head south to the Keys. So when we found this beach, we wondered how it got there and why everyone talked about it.
Probably one of the most picturesque beaches in Key West is Smathers Beach. It’s well known to the locals, but if you’re coming down from Miami and looking at a map, you might just pass it up. And this is one interesting (if not THE most talked about beach) picks in Key West because as with anything, many opinions. You’ll find vendors offering everything from beach chairs to umbrellas to jetski rentals and a few things in between (parasailing, kayaking, etc). And if you’re confused about where to stay in Key West, don’t worry – we have that covered too.
The sand is clean and fresh looking and is imported from the Bahamas on barges (or so the rumor goes.) This is one man made beach that came out pretty well. The palms that line the shore are inviting. In fact, many people plan their weddings at Smathers Beach because it is convenient. Lots of parking and grassy areas with the brilliant white sand make it a great backdrop for wedding photographs. Yes, there are wider beaches (Smathers is only about 40 yards from the sidewalk to the waters edge), but this Key West beach is rare in that there are not many beaches in the keys.
But locals tells us there are real problems with Smathers Beach that may make you stay away. We noticed the water is murky for an Atlantic Ocean beach, within the generally area of some of the most majestic coral reefs in America. Local people tell us that it is because of boats dumping sewage close by and Smathers Beach gets some of the backwash. In fact, one person told us there are many time warnings about high levels of bacteria are posted, generally during the summer months.
Since you may not enjoy the water (ask), you can often find a volleyball game you can get into. There are a few courts and games are formed every day of the year here. This beach is fine for walking and taking some great pictures. We found many families, many kids having fun in the sand.
Facilities aren’t the most well kept. We’re not sure they don’t have more people working to keep the place cleaner. It is kinda nasty when you have to go and your options are one. If you’re from here, let us know what you think or why it is this way.
For vacationers to Key West, Smathers Beach may not be the best choice. For a better option, try Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, ($5 entrance fee) and enjoy the beach there.
– Soft sand, white and nice, supposedly from the Bahamas?
– Full facilities, but locals complain it’s dirty
– A long haul from Duval Street, taxis can be expensive
– Beware of Portuguese Man of War (look for local warning signs)