When you’re driving through the Florida Keys on the Overseas Highway, it’s great to pause for a break and get your feet wet. Some of the best Florida Keys beaches are in parks that charge a fee of $5 to $8 — too much for a short stop. But there are some good free beaches too.
Here’s a map that locates all the free beaches, as well as the beaches that charge a fee. The sun icon indicates a free beach; the dollar signs designate the beaches with fees. Click on the icons for details, then look under the map for additional information.
Free beaches in the Florida Keys:
Mile Marker 73.4, Islamorada
Best asset: A lovely place to stop and wade and stroll along a boardwalk through the mangroves. Parking can be scarce.
Directions: Turn south at Mile Marker 50 at the light (Publix Shopping Center) and follow Sombrero Beach Road for about two miles to the end.
Best asset: High quality sandy beach with nice amenities, such as picnic tables and playground.
Mile Marker 39.9, Big Pine Key
Best asset: Good stop for a picnic under a picturesque chickee hut. The beach is small, but immediately adjacent to parking.
South Roosevelt Boulevard
To reach Smather’s Beach, as you enter Key West, bear left. The beach stretches along South Roosevelt Boulevard.
Best asset: Lots of concessions: parasailing, wind surfing, paddle boards, kayaks and Hobie Cat rentals. Smather’s has a reputation as a Spring Break/party beach.
Atlantic Boulevard and White Street, Key West
Best asset: It’s right next to the long White Street Pier and the West Martell Tower, the remains of a Civil War-era fort, which is now home to a botanic garden of the Key West Garden Club.
Beaches with admission fees:
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Mile Marker 102.5, Key Largo
Best asset: Snorkeling around the cannons salvaged from Spanish shipwrecks. Fee: $8 per car (plus 50 cents per person Monroe County tax.)
Harry Harris Park
Oceanside at Mile Marker 92.6. Follow the signs.
Best asset: Shallow lagoon is perfect for kids. It’s free on weekdays; $5 on weekends. This is a good place to launch a kayak or boat; the fee is $10 to do so.
Long Key State Park
Mile Marker 67.4
Best asset: Shallow beach great for kids. Fee: $5 (plus 50 cents per person Monroe County tax.)
Curry Hammock State Park
Mile Marker 56.2
Best asset: Beach has a bit more slope, so swimmers can reach deeper water more easily. Fee $5 (plus 50 cents per person Monroe County tax.)
Bahia Honda State Park
Mile Marker 36.8
Best asset: This is an award-winning beach; often named the best in the Keys. Fee: $8 (plus 50 cents per person Monroe County tax.)
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach
601 Howard England Way, Key West
Best asset: Great snorkeling with a rocky bottom and lots of fish. Also: Nice beachfront cafe and a Civil-War era fort worth visiting. Fee: $6 per car (plus 50 cents per person Monroe County tax.)
Resources for planning a Florida Keys vacation:
- Mile marker guide with dozens of stops to help make the most of your drive south.
- Florida Keys wildlife: Places to see animals
- Tiki bars: Soak up the Keys atmosphere
- 12 great kayak outings in the Keys
- Top 10 pit stops on Overseas Highway
- Bicycling the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail
Free and cheap stops in the Florida Keys
- The Old Seven Mile Bridge
- Feed the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
- Historic Key West Seaport
- Historic Key West Cemetery
- National Key Deer refuge
- Florida Keys Wild Bird Center
- Free things to do in Key West
- Key West on budget: Accommodations, restaurants
Camping and lodging
- Camping and lodging
- Best tent camping in the Keys
- Long Key: Beach camping in the Keys
- Camping in Middle Keys: Curry Hammock State Park
- Camping near Key West
- Camping at the Dry Tortugas