By: Kara Franker
Explore the beaches of Key Biscayne and Virginia Key.
In Miami, it’s no secret that we love our beaches. Whether you want to work on your tan, take a dip in the ocean, run with your dog on the sand, or go stand-up paddleboarding, Key Biscayne has just the spot for every type of beachgoer.
For a beach day that’s fun, relaxing and decidedly more quiet than most, try the sandy shores of Key Biscayne and Virginia Key. These idyllic stretches of sand promise beautiful views, laid-back vibes and a true taste of sunny Miami.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Ponce de Leon named the southernmost tip of Key Biscayne the "Cape of Florida" when he led the first Spanish expedition to Florida in 1513. Today, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County: a historic lighthouse first built in 1825. Equal parts quiet and quaint, the park's natural beach stretches 1.25 miles in length and has repeatedly been listed as one of the best beaches in the country. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent for a relaxing day under the South Florida sun, while more active beach-goers can rent ocean kayaks, canoes or hydro bikes. If you decide to take a break from the sand, Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park has plenty of activities to take advantage of. Go fishing along the seawall, tour the lighthouse or anchor your boat at No Name Harbor. Grab a bite to eat at either of the park’s two restaurants: the Lighthouse Café and Boater’s Grill. Or pack a picnic and host a BBQ at one of the covered pavilions, which are available to rent for a fee. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to sunset. The lighthouse tower is open Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. The cost for park entry, which includes beach access, is $8 per vehicle with 2 to 8 passengers, $4 per single-occupant vehicles or motorcycles, and $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Crandon Park Beach stretches two miles in length and is a popular beach for residents and tourists alike. Once a coconut plantation, the heirs of Commodore William John Matheson donated the beach and surrounding park lands to Miami-Dade County in 1940 with the purpose of becoming a public park. In addition to its white sand and calm waters, there are beachfront picnic tables and grills available for use. Near the North Concession area, you'll find stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, kite boards and cabana rentals. Beach wheelchairs are also available to rent. Nature lovers will enjoy Crandon Park’s vast ecosystems, from a mangrove boardwalk and fossilized reef overlook, to dunes, mangroves, a coastal hammock, sea grass beds and more. You can go on eco-adventure tours or self-guided nature tours. You can also play tennis at the Crandon Park Tennis Center or go for a round of golf at Crandon Park’s championship 18-hole golf course. Crandon Park is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. Parking starts at $7 per vehicle.
Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
Located just off the Rickenbacker Causeway, Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is located on the 82-acre barrier island of Virginia Key, the island next to Key Biscayne. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. In addition to its quiet, mile-long stretch of beach, Virginia Key is home to an antique carousel, a miniature train, a playground, vast picnic areas and pavilions, a nature boardwalk coastal hammock trails and a 4.1-mile bike path. Outside of its idyllic beach area, Virginia Key is home to the Miami Seaquarium, the University of Miami Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) and the Miami Marine Stadium. The beach is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Parking starts at $6 per vehicle on weekdays and $8 on weekends. Bicyclists are charged $1.
Hobie Beach/Windsurfer Beach Causeway
One of Miami’s most popular dog-friendly beaches, Hobie Beach/Windsurfer Beach Causeway is located on the Rickenbacker Causeway. It is one of the only beaches in Miami where dogs are allowed to run around off-leash on the sand. A popular spot for windsurfing, Hobie Beach is a great place to rent windsurfing equipment, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and head straight to Biscayne Bay. Hobie Beach is open 365 days a year. Parking is free.
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