We all know, there is not a chance in the world that you can come to the lower Keys without putting in some beach time. It's just not reasonable. You'd feel like a dork going home without a good tan and the other kids would make fun of you.
There are two primary options in Key West; Smather's Beach and the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. We'll tackle Ft Zach another time. This post will focus on Smather's.
Smather's Beach is the largest and most popular beach on Key West. It lies along the center of the island on the Atlantic side. If you stay in the hotels on the east end of the island, it's easily accessible on foot or bike. There is a nice wide promenade all along the shore that extends from the eastern extreme of the island to the end of the beach. If you aren't ready to hike on a warm day, it also has lots of parking.
Once you get there, it's a great place to lounge away the hangover you earned on Duval Street last night. The size of the crowd varies pretty wildly with the day of the week and time of year and that's OK. Some days you really prefer some lighter crowds, anyway, and other times you need some eye candy to keep your spirits up.
If last night didn't suck away all of your "feisty", the beach has vendors that will rent everything you need for a grand day on the water. They have catamarans, paddleboards, wind surfers, jet-skis and, undoubtedly, other options that I'm forgetting. On the western end of the beach, you can also rent an umbrella or chaise to keep you more comfortable.
You won't need to drag food along with you. You'll find several food vendors that routinely park along the road and offer a nice variety of food or snacks. They are also a great place to enjoy the prettier highlights of the beach. (During Spring Break, Smathers is the main gathering point for the college crowd.)
For us, a beach is more appealing when it's just a mellow place to relax. We're always up for a stroll in the surf.
We'll do a post about the beach at Fort Zach sometime soon.