Travelers to Key West have a fantastic experience waiting for them. Secret beaches, tucked into the crystal clear water. Shallow water islands waiting to welcome you for sun, sand, and relaxation. In some cases, these hidden gems are a beach party waiting to happen!
Welcome to the Key West sandbars! Think of a sandbar as being a small island. Seven stunning sandbars are similar to seven islands. Most of these sandbars can be found off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
Some sandbars are close enough to shore that you can reach them by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, but most are only accessible by boat. It is possible to find these sandbars with excellent navigation skills, but it’s far better to hop on board a scheduled charter or private tour and leave the navigating to your Capitan.
To protect the wildlife of the Florida Keys, Wildlife Management Areas cover most areas. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, in connection with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, currently manages 27 of these areas. Special rules are in place to protect wildlife, such as no-wake zones, a no-access buffer, and limited closures. An experienced local guide will navigate these areas and get you out to the lesser-known regions.
Highlighted below are picks for the best sandbars near Key West for a memorable trip.
1) Visit The Popular Boca Grande Key
Boca Grande Key is located 14 miles west of Key West and attracts travelers and locals too. It consistently gets high marks as the nicest island for its calm, crystal-clear water. It attracts friendly dolphins splashing and playing in the warm water. This area becomes crowded with boats and locals on weekends and holidays. If possible, try to visit on a low-season weekday to avoid crowds.
2) Explore Snipe Key
Snipe Key is a small group of islands northeast of Key West and west of Mud Keys. Snipe is a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary member protected by a no-wake zone. This area is quieter than some of the other, more crowded sandbars. The water here is crystal clear and very shallow. Suitable for walking, swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.
3) Make A Quick Trip To Woman Key
Woman Key, like Boca Grande, is protected by the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Half of the beach here is closed to protect the wildlife. Loggerhead turtles like to nest here, on the beach and the dunes. Woman Key is just 13 miles west of Key West, making it a quick trip to get here.
4) Explore Mud Keys
Mud Keys, like Snipe, is a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary member and is protected by a no-wake zone. In addition, two creeks on the west side are closed to provide a protected bird sanctuary.
The islands are approximately 15 miles northeast of Key West. The Mud Keys are mangrove islands. The red mangroves attract various birds like frigates, ospreys, and great white herons.
5) Marvin Key
Marvin Key is located just past Snipe Key and northeast of Key West. It’s in a quieter area than the more popular sandbars, like Islamorada. Due to the shallow water with a rocky bottom, this sandbar is one of the hardest to get to. It’s best navigated by an experienced captain who has made that passage before.
6) Islamorada Sandbar – Also Known As Whale Harbor Channel Sandbar
Located on the Atlantic Ocean side and only a mile offshore is the stunning and hugely popular sandbar of Islamorada. During the busy summer season, you’ll find hundreds of boats gathered here, turning the sandbar into a huge beach party. People bring out their beach chairs, barbecue grills, and sun umbrellas to sit in the shallow water and enjoy the party atmosphere.
Islamorada is great for families with young children, as the shallow water is an excellent place for swimming. While the crowds may be off-putting for some, keep in mind that there is a reason this sandbar is so famous. It’s great fun! Its location, not too far from the shore, makes this a great place to ride your jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards.
7) Marathon Key
Grab your kayak and head out to Marathon Key. This is an excellent fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing area. You can get there by launching a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from nearby Curry Hammock State Park.
Go Sandbar Hopping In The Florida Keys!
Let us get you out to the crystal clear waters of Key West. Our experienced local guides know all the great spots to visit. But, of course, we call Key West home and take our own families out to the sandbars too.
Book your memorable Key West Sandbar Tour now! We look forward to hearing from you!