Beaches & Pools


Beaches are rare in the Keys, because the Keys are made of built-up coral. Still you can find them if you know where to look. You'll see one-car parking spots along the Overseas Highway where you can pull over and spend the day at a tiny beach. The following are swimming beaches, remember the Mile Markers (MM) start at the end of the Keys. The last key, Key West, is MM 0, while the marina is on the first key (Key Largo, nearest the mainland) at MM 100. So John Pennekamp is 4 miles north, while Harry Harris Park is 7.5 miles south of PH Marina:

John Jacobs Aquatic Center, Key Largo
Let’s start nearby. This pool complex is less than 1/2 mile from the PH Marina, and what’s best is it is down local roads so the kids can walk or bike to it on their own. Its open May–September 10am to 7pm, and October–April 10am to 6pm. There are three pools and the Center specializes in youth swim lessons, although there are Masters lessons available as well as water aerobics and pilates.

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Check out the Jacobs Aquatic Center web site for more information. Admission Fees are:
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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park–MM 104
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Just under 4 miles north of Pilot House find snorkeling, scuba, and glass bottom boat tours leave from the Park several times per day. There are boat and kayak rentals. Rest rooms and showers are provided. Three swimming
beaches include the Canon Beach with remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck just 100 fee offshore which is fun to snorkel around. There is more about this wonderful Park at other places in this web site, or look at: Park Amenities.

Harry Harris Beach–MM 92.5
The man made Key Largo Beach is inside the Harry Harris Park in Tavernier. It is protected from waves by a coral rock barrier making it a pleasant tidal pool, and it is known as a family friendly, “kid’s” beach.

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There are 12 barbecue stations, 34 picnic tables, a playground, 11 covered pavillions, 2 baseball fields, a basket ball court, rest rooms with showers, boat ramps, a fishing jetty, and a bike path. It is open sunrise to sunset and there is a $5 admission fee ($10 to launch a boat).

The bath house:
Take the OS Highway to MM 92.5 oceanside, and then Burton Drive to it’s end.
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Founders Park and Beach–MM 87
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This public park charges for parking, but is loaded with a beach, boat ramps, baseball fields, skate park, tennis courts, a beach and kayak rentals. They have a huge pool. Its fun to wander down to their docks and see the boats, some of which have liveaboards. You can bring your own boat by trailer or by water and dock there for the day, week or year.

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Tea Table Key–MM 79
About 21 miles south of Pilot House you'll come to the end of the Key where you'll see Bud 'n Mary's world famous fishing marina on the ocean side. just before going over a low bridge to Tea Table Key. This narrow Key has walking and bike paths on both the ocean and bay sides leading to tiny private beaches big enough for 2–3 beach chairs. There are sand parking areas and you can walk (or better bike) to a mini beach on either side for the day. We prefer the next two islands, Indian Key Fill (all part of Tea Table) which have more parking areas close to the tiny beaches. See the winding trails on both sides of the key and one of the many private little beaches in the pictures below:

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Indian Key–MM 78.5
At the end of the day you may want to see the giant Tarpon feeding off Robbie's docks. Drive south off Tea Table Key and next up will be Upper Matecombe Key (still part of Islamorada) with Robbie's Marina on the right. Indian Key Historic State Park is accessible only by power boat or kayak, which can be rented at Robbie's (305-664-9814). Here are pictures of the 11 acre key, the remains of two streets and a cistern on the island. Around the island there are nearshore areas for snorkelers to view coral within swimming distance of the shore; i.e., not need a boat.

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Robbie's is a trip in and of itself. The restaurant bar is covered in thousands of dollar bills tacked to everything. Its famous as the place to hand feed the tarpons (costs a dollar just to watch, figure that's where the bills all over the bar came from!) . HAND FEEDING the TARPON at Robbies. Food is fair-to-good, there is shopping at Robbie's from the tacky-but-cool open air stores:
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Renting a Kayak from the Kayak Shack to explore the mangrove channels is fun. You'll discover a village of old houseboats and trailers deep in Robbies. A tip, you can stop by Bud 'n Mary's marina on the way back North and watch the fishing boat crews clean their day's catch, you'll see the same giant tarpon fighting for the scraps with less crowds and no $1 charge. Then have lunch or dinner next door at Lazy Days just south of Bud 'n Mary's.

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Anne's Beach–MM 73
This beautiful, sandy, free beach is very shallow so you can wade far out. There is limited parking, but if you can find a spot its worth a visit. There's a boardwalk and picnic tables.

Sombrero Beach–MM 50
A "real" public beach on Marathon. Turn south at the light where the Public Shopping Center is and follow Sombrero beach Road to the end where there is plenty of parking.

Veterans Park–MM 40
On Duck Key just after the Seven Miles Bridge is Veteran's Park Beach, a small spot where you can use the restroom, picnic under a chickee hut or swim. Here's a one-minute movie showing the beach: Veterans Park Duck Key

Bahia Honda State Park–MM 38.7
61 miles south, a beautiful one-hour trip from Key Largo, on the ocean side you'll find Bahia Honda State Park with one of the top ten beaches in all of Florida. Its near the old railroad camelback bridge which is no longer in use.bahia-honda-beach-610x379

Smather's Beach–MM 0
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This is one of four beaches in Key West. As you enter Key West, bear left towards Smather's Beach, just past MM 1 on your left is a kayak launch area and beach. There are rest room open from 7:00-4:30. Its the largest public beach in KW.