A place to run, a place to swim, relax and explore — a trip to explore sandbars around Key West delivers all this and more. Once you’ve picked out your favorite bathing suit and applied your reef-safe sunscreen, the fascinating world of Key West sandbars is yours to enjoy all day long. The shallow ocean oasis can be a classroom in the real world given the thriving ecosystem, sparking the curiosity of those looking to learn about marine wildlife. A Key West sandbar trip is a great reminder that all we need to have a good time is already out in the natural world, waiting for us to take advantage.
The Interesting Thing About Key West Sandbars…
There are more than 20 sandbars throughout Key West, each delivering a unique experience. This southernmost city is a tropical dream and home to an array of wildlife that is on full display when taking a Key West sandbar trip. The sea floor surrounding Key West is made up of multiple ridges and banks, lending itself quite nicely to the formation of sandbars around the island both natural and man-made. One of the reasons that these Key West sandbars are such hotspots for ocean life is their role as feeding grounds for fish, turtles and more. Beds of seagrass growing on the sandbars are often home to food for the many schools of fish passing by. Moreover, these Key West sandbars play a huge role in dictating the size of waves, their current strength and weather conditions nearby. While these sprawling banks of sand are a joy to sprint through at low tide, feeling the cool water splash beneath your bare feet, there is so much more to them than many people realize.
The Top 5 Key West Sandbars
#1 Boca Grande
Fourteen miles west of the island, this Key West National Wildlife Refuge is a major holiday destination for both tourists and conchs. Boca Grande is pristine thanks to strong conservation efforts, and is a real treat for all those birders out there, serving as home to a number of threatened and endangered species. Boca Grande is on the calmer side when it comes to sandbars, given the importance of maintaining the habitat for the at-risk wildlife. If you envision your Key West sandbar trip spent gently wading in the water, drinking a cool beverage and admiring the environment around you for all its natural beauty, Boca Grande is the ideal destination for you.
#2 Snipe Point
Snipe Point is made up of a cluster of small islands about 16 miles northeast of Key West — a fine place to catch some sun, enjoy a drink and acknowledge your inner child on the famous Snipe Point swing. Home to the little blue heron, Snipe Point is considered unique for its relationship with this endangered species of water bird. This sprawling Key West sandbar is accentuated by a broad field of seagrass and mangroves contributing to the distinct, natural Key West aesthetic. A great place to meet members of the boating community in Key West every Sunday, Snipe Point remains a popular destination for those planning a Key West sandbar trip.
#3 Woman Key
Another notable member of the Key West National Wildlife Refuges, legend has it that Woman Key was named for the women who survived a Spanish shipwreck and found refuge on this uninhabited island. The men who also survived the shipwreck washed up on another island, now called Man Key. Today, this island remains unsoiled by acts of humankind and is a pristine destination for a Key West sandbar trip. While most of the island is closed off to the public in the name of wildlife conservation, the parts open to the public are popular snorkeling spots, where people can reap the benefits of dedicated environmentalists. This Key West sandbar is 13 miles west of the city.
#4 Mud Keys
Perhaps the best place to see the iconic South Florida mangroves while walking through shin-high water, the Mud Keys are far more charming than their name would suggest. Residing some 15 miles northeast of Key West, the Mud Keys are unique in that they are mostly navigable by the creeks dissecting the islands. The dense mangrove population also provides a distinct wildlife population including iguanas and other reptiles. Come during low tide at the Mud Keys and it’s as though an island were raised right out of the sea for you to sit and take in the world around you. This Key West sandbar delivers a little something that the rest simply don’t, and for that, it should be strongly considered for your Key West sandbar trip.
#5 Marvin Key
Visiting Marvin Key makes you feel like you’re in the Bahamas without needing to renew your passport. This Key West sandbar is one of the few places in the Gulf where your feet aren’t burdened by the crunchy corals synonymous with Key West. The conchs take a great amount of pride in this Key West sandbar, maintaining it as one of the cleanest sandbars in Key West, which is notable considering how popular Marvin Key is. Just east of Snipe Point, the two sandbars could be enjoyed thoroughly on the same day, crossing both off your list of places to see on your Key West sandbar trip.
Fury’s Island Adventure Eco Tour
A celebration of the marine wildlife that makes Key West a unique destination, Fury’s Island Adventure will take you on expert-guided tours of the sandbars, revealing all the wonders missed by the untrained eye. Enjoy the diverse ecosystems with snorkeling excursions, traverse the refreshing sandbars by foot or paddle on a kayak through the mangroves for a unique look into what the Florida Keys ecosystem has to offer. A fantastic excursion for solo travelers, couples and families with young children, Fury’s Island Adventure Eco Tour opens your eyes to the naturally occurring wonders of Key West.
Fury’s Key West Private Charters
Gather a group of your closest friends and see the Key West sandbars your own way with Fury’s Key West Private Charters. With customizable packages, an array of state-of-the-art catamarans to choose from and expert ship captains to take you exactly where you want to go, a private charter with Fury is a no-brainer. With the largest, most impressive fleet of catamarans in Key West, Fury can accommodate groups of up to 122 passengers, making them the perfect venues for corporate events, birthday parties, maybe even an at-sea wedding! The possibilities are endless with Fury’s Key West Private Charters.
Explore the Key West Backcountry
A great place for fishing, kayaking, picnics and more, the Key West backcountry is a bustling environment just waiting to be explored. Though parts are shaded by a dense canopy of mangroves, it’s also a premier location to load up on vitamin D with a healthy amount of reef-safe sunscreen. The Key West backcountry is unparalleled in its access to wildlife, with frequent sightings of dorsal fins, sea turtles and trophy fish ready for a good fight from every level of fisherman and fisherwoman. Accessible through tours offered by Fury Water Adventures, the Key West backcountry awaits!
Explore the Key West Sandbars
There is no better way to simultaneously experience relaxation, adventure and an appreciation for nature than with a Key West sandbar trip. The vast plateaus of ocean sand provide visitors with a chance to feel like they’re walking on water while getting up close and personal with one of the most fascinating ocean ecosystems on the east coast of the United States. No matter what your taste is, Key West sandbars are ready to take care of your body and soul’s every need.
How do you get to a sandbar?
Key West sandbars are only accessible by boat. Fury Water Adventures offers a number of guided tours on state-of-the-art catamarans that take you to numerous popular sandbars. We also offer private charters that let you take charge of where you want to go.
How far are the sandbars from shore?
The popular Key West sandbars are mostly located within 10 miles from shore, making them accessible exclusively by boat.
Which are the most popular sandbars to visit?
Of the 20+ sandbars in Key West, the five most popular are as follows (in no particular order): Boca Grande, Snipe Point, Woman Key, Mud Keys and Marvin Key.
Are sandbars safe?
Mostly, yes! However, it is important to exercise caution when out on the water and interacting with the local wildlife. Should you follow general guidelines for safe enjoyment of Key West’s sandbars, you are in shape to have a wonderful time.
Can you rent a boat to visit a sandbar?
Absolutely! Visitors who possess their boating license can rent their own boat to enjoy the Key West sandbars. Those who do not have the fine option of chartering a private catamaran through Fury Water Adventures and enjoying the services of their expert ship captains.