Once you reach Key West, you can’t go any further south without leaving the United States of America. But why would you want to? This idyllic island city in Florida has turned many one-week holidaymakers into permanent residents, attracting them with an array of unique diving spots, pristine beaches, lively bars and restaurants, and historic architecture dating back to the 1800s.
Even more famous than some of its previous residents, Ernest Hemingway included, Key West’s beaches boast a rare collection of personalities, ranging from quiet and secluded to energetic and dog-friendly. These coastal havens truly sum up Key West’s eccentricities, which make this destination so appealing. You’ll even meet more of the locals, including dolphins, goliath groupers and turtles.
With more than 300 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve done our research and have discovered the best Key West resorts near the beach. From four-star luxury hotels to self-contained accommodation on the water’s edge, each one of these resorts embraces the carefree beach lifestyle of Key West.
Where should you stay? Which beach is the best for sunbathing or swimming? Where can you drink and eat by the water? We’ve covered everything you need to know about Key West to ensure your holiday goes down as smoothly as a glass of Caribbean rum.
Popular Key West Resorts on the Beach
Built in the 1920s, Casa Marina Beach & Resort Club Waldorf Astoria is just as iconic to Key West as the palm trees and blue water. It seamlessly blends modern opulence with historic elegance and boasts a beachfront facade deserving of its own Instagram page. Accommodation at this boutique resort includes a range of ocean-view rooms and suites with private balconies, plush king-sized beds and quaint colonial furnishings.
The resort allows you to truly soak up the relaxed island lifestyle with its sun-drenched beachfront pool, Swedish massages and other pampering treatments at Spa al Mare, and water sports rentals, such as jet skis and snorkel gear. It wouldn’t be a Key West holiday without some delicious seafood sourced straight from the surrounding ocean. Dining at the on-site Sun-Sun Beach and Spencer’s by the Sea restaurants delivers Caribbean lobster, hand-dived scallops, roasted fish with picturesque Atlantic Ocean views. Rum aficionados will also delight in the exclusive rum collection at RUMba.
With the ocean and a palm-fringed white sand beach only a few steps away from the resort, Parrot Key Hotel and Resort exudes a serene coastal atmosphere. While a beach and a pool might be enough for some, at Parrot Key Hotel and Resort, you’re treated to four secluded pools with tropical gardens, poolside cafe and comfortable sun loungers.
You can also partake in numerous on-site activities including jet ski tours, parasailing, kayaking and banana boat rides. Complimentary shuttle rides to Smathers Beach also transport you quickly and easily to one of Key West’s most popular beaches. Those looking for more affordability can choose from a range of water-view guest rooms and suites. However, for the ultimate luxury, you might consider booking a three-bedroom villa featuring exclusive beach access, a private balcony and spacious living rooms.
The Reach A Waldorf Astoria Resort enjoys an enviable location on Key West’s only private natural sand beach, a short walk from the historic Old Town. It’s no surprise that this hotel is renowned among HotelsCombined visitors for its beach views and excellent position for shopping. The rooms are also worthy of praise, boasting high ceilings, furnished balconies, glass-enclosed showers and epic vistas of Old Town or the coastline. Booking a suite grants all this plus a gorgeous dining area and refreshing open floor plan.
You might find it hard deciding on what activities to indulge in with so many architectural sights and museums nearby, including The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Can’t decide between adventure and relaxation? You don’t have to at The Reach A Waldorf Astoria Resort, where you can spend the morning scuba diving, dolphin watching or deep-sea fishing, before enjoying an afternoon by the pool with popsicles and chilled eucalyptus towels.
Time sure speeds up when you’re enjoying everything available at The Inn at Key West, which somehow manages to keep surprising you with more activities, breathtaking nature and lavish inclusions. You’ll likely fall head over heels in love with this beach resort’s freshwater pool, which is the largest on the island and is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and umbrellaed loungers.
Food and cocktails are served poolside, or you can enjoy an alfresco breakfast buffet at the on-site Oasis Cafe & Tiki Bar. Embrace the resort’s prime location by staying in one of the premium ocean view rooms or suites. These luxurious abodes are fit for Beyonce, boasting private balconies with beach views, blackout curtains, rain showers and heavenly king-sized beds.
On an island full of fascinating characters, Ibis Bay Resort has a unique personality of its own with white coral rock cottages, bright and colourful palettes, a hammock garden, and resident wildlife including tortoises and macaws. The resort’s private beach is a welcoming spot to kick back on the white sand, lounge chairs and hammocks or on floating swimming platforms in Ibis Bay.
Cuban artwork adorns the walls, while mini fridges, deluxe bedding and beachy furnishings turn each room into a quaint island oasis. Put on the complimentary sarong and step out onto your private beach deck, where you can see fellow guests on stand-up paddle boards, jet skis and clear-bottom kayaks. As hard as it may be, don’t forget to spend some time away from the beach, swimming in the on-site pool with bar service, booking adventures from the tour desk or dining on fresh seafood at The Stoned Crab.
Boasting its own private beach on the crystalline waters of the Gulf of Mexico, The Pier House Resort and Spa is the kind of beachfront resort you daydream about while at work. Full of quirky Key West character, you can drink with locals and fellow travellers at the on-site Chart Room Bar, where famous treasure hunter Mel Fisher once frequented. One Duval, however, provides an elegant dining experience on the water.
The rooms and suites feature a variety of options for families, couples and friends to create the most memorable holiday possible. Visiting with your significant other? Stay in the Spa Junior Suite with a secluded whirlpool and rain shower. Love watching the boats pass? Find your dream haven in the Dockside Suite with an infinity balcony and separate living room. Positioned on Duval Street, The Pier House Resort and Spa is also a short walk from notable attractions including Sloppy Joe’s Bar and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel immerses you in lush tropical surrounds, numerous on-site activities and luxe suites. Dining is a big attraction at this Key West resort, where HotelsCombined visitors rave about its on-site restaurant Tavern N’ Town and the poolside Blue Bar. Speaking of pools, can you picture yourself lounging in the resort’s alluring pool with a cocktail in hand and the ocean mere metres in front?
These are the types of scenes that make staying at Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel unforgettable. The private beach plays its part too, delighting you with water sports, personal boat dockage and comfortable beach chairs. The standard Guest Room is ideal if you’re travelling on a budget, but there are many Presidential Suites for those more interested in island luxury. These charming abodes include private spa baths, balconies and upscale furnishings.
You won’t find any Mavericks with a “need for speed” on Key West. It is a city for slowing down life, and one place that does it better than most is the four-star Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa. The 120 chic and contemporary guest rooms provide the perfect accommodation for exploring Key West’s top sights. Each one boasts island-style decor and a private balcony, and you can opt for a room with mesmerising Gulf of Mexico views.
Rest and rejuvenation come naturally at the award-winning on-site Jala Spa, where treatments combine local culture with traditional healing waters. If relaxation is on the menu, head to Blue Mojito Pool Bar and Grill or SHOR American Seafood Grill, located on the waterfront, for fresh seafood and Key West specialities. Take a refreshing dip in the sparkling on-site pool before spending your days exploring the town’s nearby attractions, including Hellings House Museum.
All of Key West’s most beautiful angles are covered at Galleon Resort and Marina, where you have prime access to a secluded beach, the charming Old Town area, a picture-postcard marina and the colourful sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico. This charming resort delivers all the classic island holiday delights, including an oceanfront pool, outdoor spa, sunset cruises, water sports and sauna, along with a unique observation deck with 360-degree views.
Boasting a range of rooms and suites to accommodate all types of travellers, Galleon Resort and Marina helps you stick to a budget or splurge. For the latter, the Two-Bedroom Penthouse is a must, featuring uninterrupted ocean views, an in-room spa bath, fully-equipped kitchen and lavish living room. With daily live music, sunset celebrations and happy hours, the on-site Sunset Tiki Bar is the place to be for a lively atmosphere in paradise.
Looking for an extra touch of exclusivity and privacy? Sunset Key Cottages A Luxury Collection Resort Key West is nestled on a secluded island only seven minutes from Key West by ferry. Enjoy refreshing separation from the rest of the world while you take advantage of this idyllic community with its own private beach and a dazzling pool with waterfalls and whirlpools.
Accommodation ranges from one to four bedroom cottages and boasts effortless opulence with daily breakfast baskets, fully-equipped kitchens, verandas and rich timber finishes. Along with an extensive treatment menu, the Spa at Sunset Key lets you tailor-make your own custom spa experience on the beach. Those looking for a more active holiday can go sailing, deep-sea fishing, diving and parasailing, and when the sun sets, there are few better places to find yourself than dining on flavoursome island fare at the beachside Latitudes Restaurant.
Top 5 Beaches in Key West
Fort Zachary Taylor
Known to locals as “Fort Zach”, this natural sand and coral rock beach is part of the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Considered one of the best beaches in Key West, Fort Zach is popular for snorkelling, fishing and swimming. Remember to wear flip flops or water shoes for the coral, and don’t be surprised to find yourself swimming with turtles, dolphins and a colourful array of fish.
Higgs Beach is the ideal spot for a no-fuss beach trip, with free parking and a wide expanse of white sand stretching out into the blue ocean. Swimming, relaxing on the beach, water sports and walks along the wooden pier are all part of the Higgs Beach experience. Families can take advantage of a nearby children’s playground, while those with dogs have a dedicated dog park.
The largest and most popular of the Key West beaches, Smathers Beach stretches out across almost one kilometre of magnificent coastline. The palm-fringed beach is populated with beach volleyball nets, umbrellaed loungers and food vendors. Shallow and calm waters make this beach perfect for families and snorkellers, while jet skiing, parasailing, windsurfing and other water sports are also available along the beach.
Dog Beach lives up to its name and is a favourite among dog owners as the only Key West beach to allow four-legged swimmers. This intimate beach offers the perfect amount of space and coastal environment for dogs to run around and paddle in the shallow waters without you having to worry about restrictions. After a swim, you may want to pop into Louie’s Backyard, a pet-friendly Caribbean-American restaurant nearby.
Located at the end of Duval Street, South Beach is great for getting away from the busy Old Town streets and rum bars. This quaint sandy beach is nestled among magnificent Victorian-style inns. South Beach was playwright Tennessee Williams’ favourite swimming spot and boasts a long pier, which is perfect for snapping photos of the shoreline. There is also free parking as well as a cafe serving drinks and snacks.
Popular Key West Resorts Near the Beach
Ocean Key Resort & Spa a Noble House Resort is one of Key West’s boutique offerings with a vibrant personality reflected in its colourful decor, indulgent waterfront position and unique amenities. This popular resort is the perfect spot to witness the daily sunset celebration on Sunset Pier, where you can also enjoy casual Caribbean-inspired dining. Another popular dining spot, Hot Tin Roof Restaurant serves up “conch-fusion” fare and regularly hosts mixology classes.
While the stunning beaches of Key West are never far away, there are plenty of reasons to spend a little longer at the resort, namely the LIQUID Pool Bar & Lounge. How all hotel pools should be designed, it overlooks the ocean and is accompanied by a full-service bar and surrounded by cushioned sun loungers and cabanas. Contemporary guest rooms and suites with marble spa baths, balconies and four-poster beds ensure comfort and style from the moment you arrive.
Gracing the area’s already magnificent waterfront with its timeless Old Florida elegance, The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West is the only newly built Old Town resort. It has earned deserved praise for its modern and glamorous accommodations, including Pool Garden Rooms, Key West Harbor Rooms and The Captain’s Quarters, which is a first-class apartment with king-sized bed, sprawling deck and signature bathrobes.
The Marker Waterfront Resort Key West prides itself on offering “barefoot luxury”, a laid-back approach that includes three serene pools with drink service, a high-quality fitness centre and the on-site Cero Bodega restaurant. Serving some of the best Cal-Mex fusion dishes in Key West, Cero Bodega also has its fair share of handcrafted cocktails. Nearby attractions include Dry Tortugas National Park Museum, Turtle Cannery Museum and Conch Harbor Marina.
Located minutes from Key West International Airport, Coconut Mallory Resort & Marina Key West provides a range of homey self-contained condominiums, including a studio and one and two-bedroom options. Each of the condos features a full or partial kitchen, living room, private balcony or patio, and comfortable furnishings.
Coconut Mallory Resort & Marina Key West combines its accommodation with a range of resort-style facilities including two swimming pools and a Jacuzzi, barbecue area and a marina. Those arriving by boat can even dock at the resort for an additional cost. The friendly staff are also more than happy to share their favourite Key West sights nearby, including The Key West Shipwreck Museum and Fort Jefferson.
6 Exciting Key West Beach Activities
Snorkelling with Dolphins
If there’s one thing Key West has more than rum bars, eccentric locals and pleasant beaches, it’s an abundance of friendly dolphins. Depending on the time of year, you can even get pretty close to these gentle creatures by wading out into the shallow waters. There are numerous dolphin watching cruises to choose from, many of which include a day of snorkelling, island hopping, and snacks and refreshments.
Looking for an eco-friendly experience? Kayaking around Key West is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the region’s natural spoils. Whether you prefer a guided tour or venturing out on your own with a hired kayak, there are various unique Florida landscapes to see. During tours, passionate and knowledgeable guides teach you about the area’s unique ecosystems while taking you to lesser-known local spots for premier wildlife watching.
Key West caters to all types of fishing enthusiasts, even those who prefer to drink more than they catch. These “party fishing boats” combine the thrill of catching a whopper with lively music, flowing drinks and good times. Keen anglers can head out to the deepest and darkest waters on a deep-sea fishing charter, where they’ll be able to reel in barracuda, kingfish, snapper and other catches native to Florida.
Whether you choose to do it at your resort or one of the beaches, parasailing is an adrenalin-pumping way to get a bird’s-eye view of Key West. You can bring a friend along for a tandem ride or organise a sunset parasailing experience with that special someone. Fury Water Adventures, located next to Sunset Key Cottages A Luxury Collection Resort Key West, offers a 10-per cent discount for online bookings.
Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
A glass-bottom boat tour is perfect for those who prefer to see the colourful marine life without getting wet. These tours take about two hours and show you the surrounding reef’s best areas for spotting wildlife, including tropical fish, jellyfish, sea turtles and sharks. The air-conditioned cabin keeps you cool and comfortable, while the large viewing windows take you under the surface to a fascinating world.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park, reached via a high-speed ferry from Key West, is comprised of seven islands including Fort Jefferson, an enormous unfinished coastal fortress. Known for its abundance of marine life and tropical birds, Dry Tortugas National Park is a popular day trip for snorkelling, birdwatching and kayaking. It’s also home to legends of pirates and buried treasure, with many shipwrecks off its islands.
Key West Beach Resorts Embrace Life’s Most Simple Pleasures
Unlike anywhere else in the United States, Key West proves that Florida is more than just its famous theme parks and beach parties. Like any delicious homemade cocktail, Key West adds its own unique ingredients, including local legends, beautiful beaches, magnificent dive sites and deserted islands.
These qualities and more promote a deeper exploration of Key West, yet you wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to spend more time at your resort. Located on the beach or near serene coastal environments, these inviting and luxurious Key West resorts treat you to on-site restaurants, sparkling pools, Caribbean-inspired room decor and water-based activities. Ranging from 4-star hotels to self-catered condominiums, there’s a wide selection of accommodations to suit families, friends, couples and solo travellers.
What is your favourite beachfront resort in Key West? Let us know in the comments below.