Enjoy your vacation in the sun at the largest public beach in Key West: Smathers Beach. A staple of every spring break spent in Key West, Smathers Beach hosts close to 150,000 people a year, making it one of the most popular beaches in Key West. Smathers Beach Key West is nearly two miles of imported Bahamian white sands, palm trees and uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean. It is an excellent place to get active, read your latest mystery or splash around in the warm tropical waters just outside of the Caribbean. Don’t hesitate. Make Smathers Beach Key West part of your next island getaway!

The History of Smathers Beach

One of four public beaches on the island, Smathers Beach Key West gets its name from a former United States congressman for the state of Florida, George Smathers, who was in office for over 20 years between the House of Representatives and the Senate. A veteran of World War II and friend of former president John F. Kennedy, George Smathers lived a full life until his death in 2007 at the age of 93. He is honored (amongst other ways) by being the namesake for the largest and most popular public beach in all of Key West. 

Part of the remarkable nature of Smathers Beach Key West is that it is man-made. The City of Key West built the ode to the ocean with a few tons of white sand from the Bahamas in 1961, and the beach on the south side of Key West, beginning at mile marker zero, has been a popular destination for tourists and locals ever since. It filled a real void in the island city upon its construction, as there aren’t many naturally occurring beaches in Key West. Moreover, the naturally occurring beaches are lined with bits of sharp, crunchy coral, making it nearly impossible to lie out in the sun and relax. The white sands of Smathers Beach provided the missing element to take Key West from just another nice town to an island paradise.

Know Before You Go

The largest public beach in Key West is measured at approximately two miles long with an access point on South Roosevelt Boulevard. A wide range of amenities are offered along Smathers Beach Key West, each catering to a different kind of guest — thrill seekers, self-pamperers, athletes, boaters and more! The beach volleyball courts are great for working up a sweat, making a dip in the Atlantic Ocean feel fantastic. The calm waters of Smathers Beach Key West make it an exceptional snorkeling spot to get up close and personal with all kinds of marine life that call the waters home. 

There is a boat access ramp on Smathers Beach, making it the perfect launching point for the deep-sea fishing excursion of your dreams. Along Smathers Beach Key West, there are convenient public restrooms and shower areas to wash away the salt and sand before returning to your car. 

The weather in Key West is worth paying attention to. From season to season, the weather changes only slightly, as it is rarely below 70 degrees in Key West. You’ll find great beach weather year-round in Key West. However, the seasons on the island are dictated by the tourists, not the climate. The months of September through February are the slower tourist seasons, and the temperature is a tad bit milder than it is in the summer months. Moving into March and lasting until August is the busy tourist season, leaving places like Smathers Beach Key West packed with vacationers, and Florida summers are well known for their sweltering days. 

A self-packed beach picnic almost always makes for a good time, but it’s worth noting that some of the island’s most popular food vendors set up shop along Smathers Beach, and a handful of popular restaurants have locations just a stone’s throw away. Your options range in price from humble to decadent, satisfying any type of craving you can imagine. 

Public parking is available at Smathers Beach Key West for a low price. However, biking to Smathers Beach is a popular activity among locals. Going for a bike ride under the beaming Key West sun is one way to make you crave a dip in the Atlantic!

Aerial view of Fury's Ultimate Adventure H2.0

Nearby Excursions and Attractions

Fury’s Ultimate Adventure H2.0 is a nearby attraction that will blow you away like the biggest wave you’ve ever seen! This all-day excursion combines a number of exhilarating experiences with the tranquility of a Key West sandbar. The perfect balance of adventure and relaxation, you can sit comfortably with drink in hand in just inches of pristine water after sailing through the sky on a parasail, or playing your hardest in Florida’s largest ocean water park. 

For the early birds, there’s Fury’s Morning Snorkel. One of the best ways to see the reef and have the rest of your day to reflect on your incredible experience, Fury’s Morning Snorkel awards you the opportunity to wake up the wildlife below the ocean’s surface, taking you out to the reef on a state-of-the-art catamaran and providing you with top-of-the-line snorkel gear. Fury’s Morning Snorkel pulls out all the stops to start your day and your vacation off on the right fin. 

Man and woman riding a jet ski in choppy ocean waters

Fury’s Jet Ski Tours appeals to the adrenaline junkie in all of us. For those who have not experienced it, a Jet Ski ride on the ocean is one of the most exhilarating experiences. Bouncing on the waves like a dolphin breaching water every 10 feet, making figure eights and other maneuvers, feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your cheeks, Fury’s Jet Ski Tours puts you in the driver’s seat. Don’t go too fast, though! You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the gorgeous sights a Jet Ski tour has to offer!

Smathers Beach Key West, much to the delight of all you history buffs out there, is located near the Fort East Martello Museum. Construction on this historical fort began in 1862, during the Civil War. The fort and accompanying tour were commissioned as a means to defend against an attack by sea from the Confederacy. Here, visitors can learn all about the role of Key West and Fort East Martello in the Civil War, the preservation and restoration of the fort by the Key West Art & Historical Society, the legend of Robert the Doll and so much more. 

With an inconspicuous entrance marked by a simple gazebo, the Key West Nature Preserve is anything but simple. This rare piece of protected land highlights the complex wildlife and botany of Key West like no other place on the island. Traverse the iconic mangroves and keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of birds, insects and reptiles that call Key West home. The trail is a mere quarter mile; however, it is densely populated with an array of what makes Key West so special. Enjoy the preserve’s oceanfront views and opportunities for photography — you’ll want to remember this forever.

So, Why Smathers Beach Key West?

Smathers Beach is an example of all the fun and excitement Key West has to offer. There is no limit to the experiences you can enjoy at the largest public beach in the island city, making it a must-see on your next Key West vacation. Its white Bahamian sands, warm waters and proximity to a myriad of restaurants and attractions all contribute to the allure of Smathers Beach Key West. Once you’re down there, you’re sure to believe the hype!


Where do you park?

There are public lots along the beach available for a low price. There is also metered parking along South Roosevelt Boulevard.

How do you get there?

Smathers Beach is located on South Roosevelt Boulevard and begins at mile marker zero along Florida A1A.

Can you see the Key West sunset?

Provided that the day is clear, Smathers Beach Key West is an ideal sunset-viewing location. The nearby nature preserve also boasts a fantastic view of the iconic Key West sunset.

Is Smathers Beach accessible to persons with disabilities?

Yes. The beach offers a number of handicapped parking spots as well as wheelchair access points for the beach.

Are there good places to eat within walking distance of Smathers Beach?

Yes! There are plenty of places to eat within walking distance of Smathers Beach, ranging from street vendors to dive bars and lovable sit-down restaurants.

Is there a boat ramp?

Yes, Smathers Beach has a boat access ramp.

Is fishing allowed at Smathers Beach?

Provided that you have obtained a valid fishing license recognized by the state of Florida, Smathers Beach is an excellent place to do some fishing in the sport fishing capital of the world  the Florida Keys.

Last Updated 12/01/2023