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)

One of my favorite stops on the drive down the Florida Keys  — Anne’s Beach in Islamorada — re-opens Aug. 23, 23 months after it was devastated by Hurricane Irma.

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

The park consists of two parking lots (one, on the northern end, won’t re-open for a month or two, along with permanent bathrooms) 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.

The water here is very shallow, almost too shallow for swimming. You can wade out a great distance and only be up to your knees.

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 it’s fun to watch them swoop and soar.

Parking can be difficult to find. (It always was and will be more so until the second lot re-opens.) There is an additional parking lot about a block south of the park on the bayside.

Dog are permitted in the park but must be leashed.

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