Sandbar Safari in the Key West Back-Country on a pontoon boat.
The Florida Keys are famous for lots of things. Warm turquoise water, gentle offshore breezes, world-class fishing, and delicious Key Lime Pie to name a few. And of course, the beaches. Once you arrive on the island, it's often one of the first places to check out. Higgs Beach, Smathers Beach, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park are among some of the more popular Key West beaches.
But there's another way to experience the sandy shores of Key West - a better way. And in these social distancing times, it's the best way to take in the sand and surf that the Florida Keys are famous for.
Hop in a boat and head out to one of the sandbars that surround the lower Keys.
The Florida Keys are surrounded by the Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the continental US. Offshore waters are generally shallow and calm. During low tides, several smaller islands around Key West reveal a secret kept during high tide. A pristine stretch of sugary white, ultra-soft sandbars. These Key West sandbars are far and away the best way to experience the beauty and serenity of the Gulf of Mexico.
Keep in mind that the coordinates for these local-favorite destinations are often heavily guarded secrets. The water surrounding them is also shifty, shallow, and tough to navigate. Yikes! So pair up with one of our favorite charter boat companies such as Fun in the Sun. They can guide you to the ultimate social-distancing beach day.
Here are four of our favorite sandbars you should check out during your stay.
Woman Key Sandbar in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge
Located about nine miles due west of Key West, Woman Key is one of the most accessible of the sandbars mentioned here. It's a quick 45-minute, leisurely boat ride from Key West.
is in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge consists of back-country waters and mangrove islands in the Gulf of Mexico stretching from Key West to the Marquesas Keys. Most areas of the refuge are open to boaters, however, to protect certain bird nesting areas there are some places that are off-limits. Partnering with an experienced charter boat company can help you navigate these restrictions with ease.
Woman Key has a beautiful, long stretch of exposed sand during low tide and offers a huge area for anchoring your boat and taking a stroll. Keep an eye out for live Conchs - you'll find tons of them here. But remember they are protected - and there to admire only.
Also located in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, Boca Grande ( translation Big Mouth),
is located just west of Woman Key. The beach on the southwest portion of the island is exposed at low tide and, unlike Woman Key which has a straight stretch of beach,the Boca Grande beach has a gentle curve, allowing for more privacy between boaters.
Boca Grande is a great spot for fishing enthusiasts - so be sure to bring your gear if that's your thing. Because the waters around Boca Grande are a bit deeper than the other sandbars, you may be visited by some friendly dolphins, too.
Located northeast of Key West, "Snipes" as it's known by the locals is arguably the most popular of all the Key West sandbars. For a shorter boat trip, consider booking a charter boat that leaves from Sugarloaf Key - like Backcountry Boat Rentals -
rather than Key West.
Snipes is large and accommodating, with a spacious, deep anchoring point. Hop off the boat and take a long stroll along the sand towards the mangrove island. Snipes is also famous for the driftwood swing that hangs from a mangrove branch, you may have seen photos of it already on someone else's Instagram. Be sure to climb aboard for a swing and photo.
Just past Snipes, also northeast of Key West, lies Marvin Key. It's a bit of haul to get to - you'll want to leave from Sugarloaf Key for a shorter trip, but it is so
worth it. It's also the most difficult to get to - shifting tides make the narrow entry point a challenge to locate. Partner up with an experienced charter boat company for a trip to Marvin.
Marvin Key Sandbar is surrounded by notoriously shallow waters.
Take Your Social Distancing to the Next Level
During these odd, socially distant times, a trip or two out to a sandbar is literally just what the doctor ordered. Pack some snacks, some cold drinks, and your snorkel gear and head out to the Key West back-country. Escape the crowds in town and on the beaches and experience an untouched tropical beauty that will take your breath away.
Avoid the crowds at the big resorts by booking a serene stay at one of our private homes
. Homes like Amelia's Hideaway
and The Caroline House Estate
offer the peace and privacy of a home-away-from-home with a central Key West location that'll put you close to everything.
Amelia's Hideaway - Private Key West vacation rental in Old Town Key West. Sleeps 10.
The local experts at Vacation Homes of Key West
are here to help you find the perfect home for your next trip to Key West. We can help you plan your charter boat to the sandbar, too.
Give us a call or drop us a line today