The Florida Keys is a precious destination where boaters from around the globe can be found. The white sand beaches, the crystal clear blue waters, the lush palm trees, and the friendly people; the Florida Keys are paradise on earth. What makes the Keys so special are its unique and diverse sandbars!
For your upcoming Florida Keys boat trip, plan to visit one of these 8 best sandbars in the Keys:
- Mosquito Bank Sandbars
- Islamorada Sandbar
- Marathon Sandbar
- Vaca Sandbar
- Content Keys Sandbar
- Marvin Key Sandbar
- Sand Key Lighthouse and Sandbar
- Boca Grande Key Sandbar
You could make a day out of it and go sandbar hopping. Read all the way through to catch Pro Boatsetter Tips.
Explore Boat Rentals in the Florida Keys
1. Mosquito Bank Sandbars
The Mosquito Bank Sandbars, located near the upper Keys near Key Largo, range from a few feet to 25 feet deep. Most importantly, Mosquito Bank has several sandbars and shallow areas for boaters and water enthusiasts to get together. This is one of the most popular hangout spots in all of the Florida Keys for its stunning waters and proximity to Miami.
It gets pretty crowded at Mosquito Bank, especially on evenings, weekends, and holidays. The year-round warm weather constantly brings people here. Most come to hang out, party, grill, float, swim, scuba dive, or snorkel.
Mosquito Bank Sandbars Coordinates: 25.07180, -80.38420
2. Islamorada Sandbar (Whale Harbor Sandbar)
Southwest of Mosquito Bank is Islamorada Sandbar (or Whale Harbor Sandbar).
Similar to Mosquito Bank, Islamorada Sandbar has several of these sandbar areas.
Most people anchor on the north side of the channel out of convenience. The south side is open to boaters, but the water is shallower. This is a busy sandbar area with tons of people here year-round.
If you enjoy the party atmosphere, then you’ll love this sandbar. If not, consider a different sandbar. Here’s a Pro Tip before you move on to the next sandbar:
Please do not drive through the seagrass while here. Damaging seagrass is very detrimental to marine wildlife and the local ecosystem.
3. Marathon Sandbar (Grassy Key Sandbar)
Marathon Sandbar, or Grassy Key Sandbar, is part of a chain of sandbars ranging from zero feet to half calf deep. Marathon Sandbar is south of Carl Ross Key and southwest of the Islamorada Sandbar. You’ll see party folks and families or friends just hanging out. Each sandbar has a vibe of its own.
4. Vaca Sandbar
Vaca Sandbar is a special part of the Marathon Sandbar. It rests on the southern edge of Key Vaca Cut. It’s southwest of Key Colony Beach.
Vaca Sandbar is less crowded and quiet despite its proximity to the peopled Marathon, Florida. If your boat to this sandbar, near you are Sunset Park, Sandy Point, Cocoa Plum Beach, and East Sister Rock Island.
Its coordinates are 24.712232, -81.028746.
5. Content Keys Sandbar
This sandbar is in an incredibly sensitive and fragile ecosystem. If you are not fully confident that you can avoid harming the environment here, please hire a captain who is knowledgeable of the area and knows how to prevent any damage.
Content Keys Sandbar is a great place to observe fish, wildlife, and marine creatures from a respectful distance. It is typically a quiet and less crowded sandbar. If you’re looking for somewhere secluded and easygoing, this is that place.
This sandbar is about 11 miles northwest of Big Pine and 23 miles northeast of Key West. The approximate coordinates are 24.793123, -81.479435.
6. Marvin Key Sandbar
The Marvin Key Sandbar is about thirteen miles northeast of Key West, a part of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge. This sandbar is less popular than others on this list but still packs a pretty sizable crowd on weekends during the warmer months.
The reason why it is not popular is the journey to get there. Very shallow waters and sharp shoals encapsulate the key, making it tough with unfavorable wind and tide conditions. These are always shifting too. If you’re considering this sandbar, consider renting a boat with a licensed captain.
The approximate coordinates of this sandbar are 24.7115° N, 81.6445° W.
7. Sand Key Lighthouse and Sandbar
This one-of-a-kind lighthouse and sandbar is a great place to take your boat out for a few hours. It’s only seven miles southwest of Key West, between Rock Key Channel and Sand Key Channel.
The Sand Key Lighthouse stands 109 feet tall, as a seethrough iron bar building. The lighthouse was built to make it easier for boats to navigate the shallow and dangerous Florida Reef. It’s difficult to see which posed a huge threat to overladen ships.
Its construction was finalized in 1853. Today, it is a fun historic landmark for Florida locals and out-of-state tourists to explore and awe over an endless ocean view.
The lighthouse coordinates are 24.4540° N, 81.8775° W. The sandbar(s) is nearby.
8. Boca Grande Key Sandbar
The Boca Grande Key Sandbar is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It usually draws a vivacious crowd during the week and gets packed on weekends and holidays. It’s only 12 miles away from Key West and is near Boca Chica Key, which is about 180 acres.
Very shallow waters surround Boca Grande with depths of 12 feet. The sandbar either extends above the water level or, during high tide, is about two feet deep.
Some parts of the island are closed to boaters and visitors due to high-priority bird nesting grounds and other local native wildlife. Keep in mind that loggerhead turtles nest here!
You can find the Boca Grande Key Sandbar at these approximate coordinates: 24.5346, -82.0051.
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