Smathers Beach, Key West
Wildlife both day and night
One of the best-known strips of sand in Key West, Smathers Beach has Florida charm with a Caribbean-Mexican flare. Named after former governor George Smathers, the two-mile beach was decimated by - ironically - Hurricane Georges in 1998. Now restored to its former glory, Smathers Beach is once again an excellent choice for a family vacation, a beach wedding, an ecotourism vacation and a Florida spring break vacation. It even boasts newly acquired gay appeal. Although the nightlife can continue until dawn, Smathers Beach offers more than a booze cruise - not only is the surf warm year round, you can walk quite a distance into the shallow water without fear of an undertow.
On land, this beach features a seaside bazaar and volleyball nets. While water skis and sailboards are readily available, the highlight is:
- Snorkeling and diving: Nearby John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers a unique underwater experience. With living reefs and a submersed bronze statue called Christ of the Abyss, this area of Florida has some of the best diving and snorkeling in the country.
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum: Bookworms and fishing fanatics alike will enjoy touring the house where the Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author wrote for 10 years.
- Theater of the Sea: General admission includes guided tours, a bottomless boat ride and dolphin, sea lion and parrot shows. For an added fee you can swim with dolphins, sea lions or stingrays.
- Key West Shipwreck HISTOREUM Museum: Get a feel for Key West's maritime heritage through reenactments, film and hands-on exhibits.
- Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival (October): This annual three-day event features keynote speakers, backcountry nature tours and puppet shows.
- Fantasy Fest (October): There aren't enough hyphens to adequately describe this over-the-top, adults-oriented, 10-day celebration. Fantastical costumes, outrageous theme parties, parades and gala affairs, all must be experienced to be believed.
A bar is a bar, but the nightly Sunset Celebration at the Mallory Square Pier is completely unique. Arrive before sunset if you want to see all this free show has to offer - flame throwing jugglers, sword swallowers, tightrope walkers and trained exotic birds. Minstrels serenade while Dominique and His Flying House Cats entertain just over the footbridge.
While Key West has gourmet restaurants worthy of international attention, you'll want to eat at least once at Mallory Square Pier. Sample conch fritters, key limeade and goodies baked by "The Cookie Lady," who barks rhyming slogans to sell her wares.
Smathers Beach has a variety of waterfront cottages, rental homes, condos and apartments, as well as resorts, economical hotels and motels. Contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce for detailed lists.
Need to Know
- South side of Key West, directly across from the airport.
- Ocean breezes keep temperatures moderate year-round.
- Average daytime temperature is 80 F.
- Average evening temperatures is 73 F.
- Key West has two seasons - winter (dry season) and summer (wet season).
- Expect short but daily summer showers.
- Plenty of parking
- Picnic tables
- Beach chair and umbrella rentals
- No pets allowed on the beach
With plenty of nearby attractions and unspoiled shores, Smathers Beach is one of Florida's most well-rounded destinations. Set off on your own Smathers Beach getaway with one of our deals.
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