The best beaches in Key Biscayne are also the only beaches in Key Biscayne, and this barrier island packs a punch in a beautiful setting. Early in the 20th century, more than 60 percent of the island was used as a coconut plantation—the largest of its kind in the entire country. There was even a zoo located on Key Biscayne at one point. (It has since moved to Southwest Miami and is now known as Zoo Miami.) Currently, on the island, you’ll find an abundance of animal species like birds, butterflies, turtles, dolphins, and even manatees. If you’re wanting to sightsee in a natural setting while enjoying the ocean and some sunshine, this is the place to go. Pick up a bicycle or set out on foot; the world is your oyster, and Key Biscayne’s beaches are filled with metaphorical pearls.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Named after The Miami News editor from the 1950s and ‘60s, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to Cape Florida Light, a historic lighthouse and the oldest standing structure in Greater Miami. Open between 8 a.m. and sundown every day, including holidays, Cape Florida is the perfect place to go snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing. You can also hop on a bike and do some cycling around the area or stakeout a picnic table and fire up the grill. There’s also a visitor’s center and a museum on-site, so a trip to Bill Baggs is a “build your own adventure” kind of day; take a guided tour, head up to the top of the lighthouse (if your guide allows it) and grab a bite to eat. You could spend hours on hours here, getting salty, sandy, and tanned.
Crandon Park Beach
This Key Biscayne beach is massive at 808 acres in total. Though it’s open seven days a week from sunrise to sundown, there is a parking fee to access or enter Crandon Park Beach. There’s a marina here, so if you want to enjoy the water by boat, it’s more than possible. Be sure to pack a day’s worth of food and beverages and a trusty little speaker system so you can listen to your favorite tunes while on the water or while laying out at the beach. There’s also a Tennis Center on-site, as well as a golf course, a nature center, a family amusement center and—like at Bill Baggs—picnic shelters for hanging out, hiding away from the sun and chowing down. Part of Crandon Park Beach is known as the Bear Cut Preserve; guided tours are available at the Natural Environment Study Area.
Virginia Key Beach Park
This 863-acre barrier island is more than just a beach. Accessible via Rickenbacker Causeway, historic Virginia Key is home to the Miami Seaquarium, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, what used to be the Miami Marine Stadium and more. This family-friendly beach is known for its mile-long shoreline, coastal hammock trails, and nature boardwalk; there’s an antique carousel here, a kids' playground, and you can even rent beachside cabanas for a day of lounging. This is a great place to chill under the palms while absorbing the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay views. If you’re into music festivals and other outdoor events, be sure to check out what’s happening here when you’re in town. Virginia Key has been known to host some pretty great events over the years.
Hobie Island Beach Park
Possibly the best of them all, Hobie Beach, also known as Windsurfer Beach, is a dog-friendly beach with shallow, calm waters and incredible city views. Rent a paddleboard here, or like the beach’s name suggests, maybe go windsurfing. We could spend all day here with our furry friends, and you’ll want to, too. Make sure to pack the sunblock, treats, and lots of water for Fido. It does get very hot here, but luckily, there are lots of shaded areas where you can get rest out of direct sunlight if you’d like. Planning to hang all day long? Take it a step further and pack a beach umbrella along with your beach towels/blankets and chairs. There’s a chance you and the pups will get dirty here, so prepare for a sandy car ride home and baths for everyone before stepping back into the house or hotel.