Smathers Beach, Key West, Florida

By Tee1

Where is Smathers Beach?  24°55′N 81°77′W

Lined with coconut trees and frequently busy, Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida is popular with both tourists and locals. This pleasing beach vacation spot is about two miles long and quite easy to find. Go to mile marker zero on A1A. Smathers Beach is the largest public beach in the self-proclaimed Conch Republic.

Key West’s motto is “One Human Family.”

Well known for Spring Break, Smathers Beach is the largest of the four beaches in Key West. Every year, roughly 150,000 people enjoy this stretch of sand. The Conch Republic generously supplies restrooms, showers, volleyball courts, and as well as a place to launch your boat. It’s possible to rent jet skis and other diversions are available. The beach amenities are not lacking at all.

When a tropical island imports their beach from the Bahamas

If you like heat, Key West and Smathers beach will be to your liking. In summer, the thermometer registers between 80 and 95F, while in winter it is moderately chilly. Temperatures can range from 50 to 80 degrees.  Technically, Key West has a tropical savanna climate. Seaweed has been known to build up occasionally and can be a minor annoyance.


By car, Key West is 160 miles from Miami. If you fly, its only 129. Havana is 106 miles away and the nearest point location in Cuba is 94 miles distant.  Nearly 130 years ago, the population of Key West was slightly less than 19,000. Key West the biggest city in Florida and easily the richest. The island’s prosperity was closely linked to Cuba, as half the population was Cuban. 100 million cigars were produced annually by the 200 factories. At one point, there were frequent ferry and airplane connections between Key West and Havana.

they’re going to come in and make it into a beauty spot for tourists – Ernest Hemingway, To Have and To Have Not

Given this vacation spot’s close ties to Cuba, it is no wonder the island is still referred to as “Cayo Hueso” more than just occasionally. Cayo Hueso is Spanish for bone cay (a low island). It is rumored the island was found with bones scattered everywhere.

Smathers Beach : Vacation in Key West

The fine sand on the beach is constantly being swept out to sea. So much so, that the city needs to bring it in. When a tropical island imports their beach from the Bahamas…yeah, that is fancy. As the Southernmost City in the Continental United States, this beach / holiday spot does things their own way.

In fact, Key West actually seceded from the United States in 1982 and declared itself the Conch Republic. Their independence was short lived, but the population of this island is a special breed. They revel in their mind set.  I lived here for a summer once. While the locals aren’t quite as deranged as the dropouts in the Caribbean, they are a fun group of players though. A good portion of the population are highly talented members of society. The rest: scallawags.

The Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida Keys. The Gulf is warmer and calmer than the Atlantic. The water directly off the beach in The Conch Republic is both calm and shallow. Exercise some caution though, as it could be a little rocky beneath the surface in spots.  Smathers Beach is a man made beach spot on the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of the beaches in the Florida Keys are man-made. While the beach is free, parking isn’t. Bring quarters.

On any given weekend, just before sunset, Bridezillas could be on the loose. In general, this beach will be crowded on weekends and is a popular location for wedding party photos.

In the scheme of things, Smathers Beach is quite nice. But make no mistake, Key West is a party town first that happens to have a lot of really cool activities on the water.  Fishing, diving, boat trips, restaurants, and drinking. Of course, these options exist everywhere. But, most other vacation places don’t compare well with what Key West excels at.

I would like to thank my old friend, Renee from Manasquan High School for the images. She is currently a nurse in Key West and is definitely one of the good guys on the planet.  For fun, she does triathlons.