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Anne’s Beach in Islamorada: Worth a stop on drive through Keys


One of my favorite stops on the drive down the Florida Keys  — Anne’s Beach in Islamorada — re-opened in 2019 after it was devastated by Hurricane Irma two years ago.

Located at mile marker 73.5 at the southern end of Upper Matecumbe Key, Anne’s Beach is a rare thing in the Florida Keys – a natural sandy beach. And it’s free.

Anne's Beach in Islamorada exposes a wide swatch of sand at low tide. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Anne’s Beach in Islamorada exposes a wide expanse of sand at low tide. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The park consists of two parking lots and restrooms facilities connected by a 1,300-foot boardwalk that winds through the mangroves. Along the way, there are six pavilions with picnic tables. You won’t find a more picturesque spot for a picnic in the Keys.

Rebuilding the beach lots and boardwalk cost $1.6 million.

Anne's Beach is lined with mangroves. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)
Anne’s Beach is lined with mangroves. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

The water at these sand flats is very shallow, almost too shallow for swimming. You can wade out a great distance and only be up to your knees. People visiting in the summer just plunk down in knee deep water and sit in the sand with water lapping over them.

When driving down the Overseas Highway, I like to stroll the boardwalk or stop and wade here. Once I looked down and just missed stepping on a small octopus.

Windsurfers at Anne's Beach in Islamorada. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Windsurfers at Anne’s Beach in Islamorada. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Anne’s Beach is also a popular place with windsurfers, and if it’s a breezy day, it’s fun to watch them swoop and soar.

Dog are permitted in the park but must be leashed.

Parking can be difficult to find. (It always was.) There is an additional parking lot about a block south of the park on the bayside. This parking is designed to serve the long bridge extending south to Craig Key, popular with fisherman and a wonderful place to take a short walk and gaze into the water.

At this bayside parking lot, you’ll see the “Highway Piers Historical Marker.” Off in the water on the bayside are remnants of a bridge that was being built in 1935 by World War I veterans who had been given jobs during the Great Depression. 

The marker explains: “On Sept. 2, 1935, the great Labor Day hurricane with 200 mph winds and 20 foot waves destroyed the camp and the railway. The road was rebuilt on the railway bridges leaving the unfinished piers as a memorial to the hundreds who lost their lives.” Details about the marker.

New pavilion at Anne's Beach. (Photo: Courtesty City of Islamorada.)
New pavilion at Anne’s Beach. (Photo: Courtesty Village of Islamorada.)

Who is Anne’s Beach named after?

The beach is named after local environmentalist Anne Eaton. Hers is a remarkable story.

A teacher by profession, she spent her life in a wheelchair after being paralyzed by polio at age 24. At age 35, she  married a 74-year-old Ohio millionaire, founder of the Republic Steel Corporation, who was an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. She fell in love with the Keys in the 1960s, bought an old frame house built of Dade County pine and became deeply involved with life in the Keys, where she eventually made a permanent home. She actively campaigned against over-development of the Keys and helped raise funds for the preservation of this stretch of beach as a county park. When she died in 1992, it was named after her.

See other beaches in the Florida Keys in our insider’s guide. 

Planning your trip to the Florida Keys

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Saturday 16th of July 2022

Unfortunately,the seaweed stench will keep you away until August. Smells like sulfer and AMONIA all the the banks of Islamorada and Anne's Beach

Nick bilyeu

Wednesday 5th of January 2022

Please never stop here, worst and most disgusting smelling beach I have been too

Caffeine Clicks

Friday 23rd of August 2019

Great to see the beach is open, I was down there two weeks ago and it was still closed. We'll be back in the though.

peter faga

Saturday 23rd of December 2023

@Caffeine Clicks, great place to stop-never had a problem with foul smell in February.

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