Fort Zachary Taylor Beach is for many people who visit and live in the Florida Keys the only true beach on Key West.
It is the peoples beach, and unlike the others around the island it even has a pet name "Fort Zach", which is kind of nice.
And the reasons that people think its the only real beach in the Keys?
Well, many of the beaches around the island of Key West have been manmade, or at least tampered with to improve them in some way, but this is honest to god Key West at its best.
So if you are planning a trip to Fort Zachary Taylor beach, we will give you the low down on the best and worst that this Key West beach can offer you, to make sure that you have the perfect day that every Key West vacation relies on and deserves.
Where About Is Fort Zachary Taylor Beach Then?
This isn’t the most southerly of all the beaches in America, although they say it is, but you certainly can’t get further away from the mainland if you try…unless you get a boat over to Dry Tortugas.
The beach is at the southern end of the park, so it is a little bit of a walk through the army base, but unless it’s during the week just follow the crowds as it is extremely popular and you will get there ok.
For Fort Zachary Taylor beach directions from outside Key West, then check further down at the bottom of the page for step by step (or road by road) instructions.
Click Image Above To Go To Google Maps
What Is The Actual Beach Like At Fort Taylor Then?
Well, this is where you need to balance things out a bit.
So we will start with the positives.
It’s a 100% honest to god natural beach, which means there is no shipping in of a lot of sand to make it all….well nice and beachy.
There isn’t any structuring the landscape to make it easier to get into the water either.
It is just as nature intended.
Sounds good doesn’t it!
Now for the negatives.
The Rocky And A Bit Rough Fort Zachary Shoreline
Unless you have the worlds toughest feet, or maybe I’m just a bit of a wimp, you will find it hard to walk on.
I even saw Robocop limping a bit, when he visited…ok that’s stretching things a bit, but like the majority of natural beaches around the Florida Keys you won’t find a lot of sand.
Due to the way that the tides bash against the natural coral reefs and sandbars that have brought many a boat to a watery end around the Florida Keys, the beach here is made up of tiny crushed stones and bits of coral.
It is not a huge problem, but I certainly always bring a pair of those plastic beach shoes that you can wear in and out of the water when visiting Fort Zachary Taylor Beach.
Then I have no problems, but as I say…hey I might be a wimp.
However if it is a huge and gloriously luxurious sandy expanse that you would prefer to have, then check out our information on the other beaches in Key West such as the huge Smathers Beach or the much smaller but still nice Higgs Beach.
Can I swim When At Fort Zachary Taylor Beach?
Yes you can swim here, although as we said it is a bit rough on the feet getting to the water itself.
Because of the mild currents around Fort Zachary Taylor the water quality in the area is extremely good, which makes it not only good for swimming, but a particular favourite for the snorkelling fraternity.
There is an abundance of marine life and fish swimming around the area, and friends of mine who love a bit of snorkelling literally dip their heads under the waters and are there for hours.
You do have to be a bit careful as not all the animals are like “Nemo” and the friendly type, but that is the same whatever beach you enter the water at.
If you fancy diving then this is a brilliant place for that too, and probably offers about the best beach diving site anywhere in the whole Florida Keys.
If you are wondering what the difference is with a beach dive, then it’s simply that you only have to walk out into the waters yourself, and not hire a boat or anything else.
The depths of the waters off Fort Zachary Taylor are moderate, so won’t impress the really experienced divers who like to go a lot deeper, but should give most levels of diving lovers a good day out.
The underwater landscape is made up of soft and hard corals that are home to many species of tropical fish, and also much bigger fish such a the silver king the tarpon and the grouper.
So don’t be surprised if you look up and see something large swimming out of the depths towards you.
It’s the kind of thrill that makes the snorkelling and diving at Fort Zachary Taylor Beach so popular.
The diving and snorkelling is probably the highlight of coming to the beach, more than the actual beach itself if truth be known.
After you have finished exploring the waters, then there are two areas in the park that have those freezing cold outdoor showers to get the salt and sand off you.
So What Other Things Will Make My Day At Fort Zachary Taylor Perfect Then?
There are quite a lot of things to do whilst you here, if the thought of laying around doesn’t appeal too much.
We have of course already mentioned the snorkelling, diving and swimming, but if you don’t want to get wet, you can fish, explore the nature trails, bicycle around the area, explore the fort, or even join in with one of the narrated warden tours.
For a brief summary of each then read on.
Fishing At Fort Zachary Taylor Beach
Dip your rods into the waters and try your best to catch any one of a variety of saltwater fish that hang around the area.
From the mighty silver king the Tarpon, to a shark if you are lucky, with the main shipping channel going to a depth of 33 feet you have a great chance of catching that nights dinner.
Then wander over to any one of the picnic areas that provide grills and feast on the freshest fish you will ever have caught.
If you are like me however and never catch anything, at least you will have a great view of the Key West sunsets and the ships coming back and forth!
Fort Zachary Taylor Yoga
If you fancy getting down and trying the downward dog, or the upward goat…yep I don’t know anything about yoga, then this could be the place to try out.
With classes 7 days per week between the hours of 8:15am and 9:45am you will have the perfect location to build up your inner core strength with all apparatus provided for you.
Make sure that you tell them when you arrive at the park that you are going to the Yoga sessions as your class fee will also include the fee for entering the park for that day.
They do allow for drop ins, but best to check out their website before hand by clicking here
Exploring The Nature Trails
There are two trails, the Sand Hog Trail and the Fort View Trail and both of them are reasonably easy to walk around.
The wildlife spotting opportunities around the trails are good, so make sure you bring a camera or at least a set of eager eyes.
It also gives you a bit of shade to escape from the sun for a while which is a nice break.
Fort Zachary Taylor Fort
If it is a bit of shade that you fancy, then you can’t do better than getting on the back of one of the warden tours that talk you through the history of the place.
They only occur once a day at 12:00pm, but are truly fascinating as the wardens detail the forts part in the ending of the American civil war, and how it was in the past completely surrounded by water as it stood proudly defending America from all invaders.
You can do this yourself if you miss the start of the tour by grabbing one of the self tour guide books.
But it is always better to have the history books brought to life for you by an expert I always find.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach Weddings
More and more people are choosing the beach as the location of choice to get hitched to their special partners.
And really who can blame them, as it does provide a spectacular backdrop for any wedding.
They have four areas that they designate as the perfect location for any wedding and the accompanying photographs and you simply have to decide which one you like the look of most when arranging your special day.
If you are interested in making arrangements to tie the knot at Fort Taylor then you will need to contact the planners here.
And as they say a wedding at Fort Zachary Taylor is “A Wedding Taylor Made!”
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach Admission Fee
Admission Fees: (Correct As Of Time of Writing)
$6.00* per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$2.00* Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.
$4.00* Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.
* Plus $.50 per person Monroe County Surcharge.
Driving Instructions To Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
As you would expect take the Overseas Highway US1 and follow it all the way down into Key West.
And then follow all the signs leading to the down town part of Key West.
Most probably at this time you will be travelling on the North Roosevelt Boulevard.
Be aware that at the point of Eisenhower Drive, the North Roosevelt Boulevard turns into Truman Avenue.
You will go past Truman Avenue and Duval Street before making a right turn on Whitehead Street.
And now another four blocks to Southard Street.
Now you need to make a left turn Southard, and dive straight through the entrance which leads to the Truman Annex residential neighbourhood.
At the end of Southard turn left, following the signs to the park entrance.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach Hours of Operation
The park is open from 8:00am in the morning right through until sundown every day of the year.
So it’s not a bad place to position yourself for a spot of Key West sunset watching, which has to be done at least once whilst you are in the area I would have thought.
The fort actually closes three hours earlier at 5:00 p.m.
Fort Zachary Taylor Beach Address
Address: 601 Howard England Way, Key West
Phone: (305) 292 6713