The Florida Keys have long been on my travel bucket list so it was great to finally get out there recently after cancelling our scheduled trip to Hawaii. The Florida Keys are a long chain of islands stretching off the southern coast of Florida. Just a short distance from Cuba and the Bahamas, it is no surprise the Florida Keys are full of turquoise waters and fantastic photo opportunities.
The most famous place in the Keys is Key West, the southernmost city/island in the Keys. From Key West, you can also take a ferry out to Dry Tortugas National Park. Our guide of the best photo spots starts at Tortugas and heads up the Keys, ending at Key Largo, the island closest to the mainland. We put a ton of work into this guide from our own experience and the help of many awesome photographers, travel bloggers, locals and Instagrammers. We think this is the best guide out there, but if we missed anything, or you just want to connect, let us know in the Facebook Group!
Below is a map of all the locations to help you as you plan your trip!
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the United States. It lies nearly 70 miles west of Key West. It can only be reached by private boat, seaplane or the ferry service. Dry Tortugas National Park is 100 square miles, but most of that is water. There are seven small islands in Dry Tortugas, but the main island is home to the famous Fort Jefferson.
The fantastic aerial view of Fort Jefferson below was provided by travel blogger Bernadetta Pieklo-Soja.
The fort makes for a great place for exploring and proved the opportunity to show off the scale of the fort, as you can see in the image below from traveler Alyssa.
Much of Fort Jefferson sits in the water which makes for really unique photos that stand out with the contrast between the brick and turquoise water, like the shot below from Kayla Krenitsky.
Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas is great, and you can get a different view of the fort from the water, as displayed in the great shot below from flight attendant Jamie Jaworski.
Eastern Dry Rocks
Eastern Dry Rocks may be the best place for snorkeling in the Keys as it is home to a coral reef, seven miles southeast of Key West. There are other reefs nearby that are also great for snorkeling. Most people can visit two or three in one outing.
You can only reach the reefs by boat, which is a great place to capture a shot with endless ocean behind you. The shot below was provided by blogger Natalie Borowy.
Eastern Dry Rocks is the perfect place to get some underwater shots with the crystal clear water and coral reef. The fun shot below came from Jenna Costello.
The clarity in the water here far surpasses anything you will find closer to the coast. The great shot below from Rachel Cvahciger really shows it off.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park was one of our favorite places in Key West. It is located on the very southeastern edge of the island and features an old military fort and beautiful beach. Like all the other beaches in Key West (except for Smather’s Beach), Fort Zach beach is a bit rocky. Close to the water it turns more sandy so it isn’t bad at all.
As you can see in the image below from Olive, Fort Zach is a great place to catch the sunset. I love the line of trees that come right down to the beach and give it a nature feel as opposed to just a straight beach.
You can see better in the shot below from Loree Rapp that the sand gets much better near the water. You also see one of the rock outcroppings that attracts fish and adds a fun element to the beach.
Another shot showing some of the rock outcroppings. This one was provided by blogger Faith Ensminger.
The palm trees and other bushes and trees on the beach are great for portraits, like the one below from travel enthusiast Jolene Stanley.
The rock outcroppings are great because they attract lots of little fish and crabs. There are angel fish all over that you can see from outside the water, but it is also fun for snorkeling too. Because there are waves crashing into the rocks, it isn’t the most clear, but there are some really good pockets of calm water.
If you go to Fort Zach Beach, don’t miss the small fort. It is a quick stop and has a nice little courtyard and battery to explore.
Bahama Village is a residential area of 4-5 blocks that runs north from the Southernmost Point. The houses feature colorful Bahamian-style architecture and there are also many open air restaurants to enjoy. It is also where you will find several tourist attractions like the Lighthouse and Hemingway House.
The shot below shows one of the neighborhoods entrances across from the famous 801 Bourbon Bar. It was provided by Almendra Plummer.
Southernmost Point Buoy
The Southernmost Point Buoy is pretty self explanatory. It is one of the classic photo spots in Key West and will have a long line of people waiting for their turn to take the iconic photo. There is some street parking nearby, but if you can’t find a spot, try the parking lot at the nearby Butterfly Conservatory.
The shot below was provided by Instagrammer Софья.
This shot was provided by blogger Aydana.
Just down the street from the Southernmost Point Buoy, you will find the picturesque Southernmost House. The 1897 house is now an adults-only hotel.
You can see the beautiful home in the image below from local realtor Jenna Stauffer.
The gate to the property is also great for photography, as you can see in the image below from Instagrammer Key West Island Life.
The other great feature at the Southernmost House is the pool that makes for a great foreground, as seen in the shot below from photographer Martina.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
Across the street from the Southernmost House, you will find the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which was recommended to us by multiple locals we talked to. If I am honest, I wasn’t that impressed, but we have done a lot of butterfly conservatories in our travels (#girldad) and none of them really impress me.
There are a few great photo ops in the Conservatory, including this picturesque little gazebo.
The highlight of the Butterfly Conservatory is not the butterflies at all, it is the flamingos.
Of course, there are plenty of butterflies around to shoot.
Key West Lighthouse
The Key West Lighthouse is located on Truman and Whitehead. This lighthouse is the original lighthouse in Key West and was built in 1825. It has been turned into a museum now.
I love the light hitting the lighthouse in the image below from Allen Kilpatrick.
The next two images were provided by Chicago Blogger @swirl_amour.
Mile Marker 0
Mile Marker 0 is another classic photo spot that is nothing more than a photo spot. It is located at Whitehead and Fleming in downtown Key West. The shot below of Mile Marker 0 looking toward Fleming was provided by blogger Alyssa Marina Hernandez.
THe shot below shows the other side of the street with Mile Marker 0 facing away from Fleming. It was provided by Rachel Schooney.
The Kapok Tree
The Famous Kapok Tree is located just down Whitehead Street from Mile Marker 0. It may be the coolest tree in the Florida Keys so it is worth the quick visit.
The image below from Ana Veres captures one of Key West’s famous roaming roosters in front of the tree.
This next shot from Itza Ruiz does an incredible job showing the scale of the tree and its massive root system.
The final shot was provided by traveler Titania and shows much more of the tree, which is definitely funky.
The Strand is located at 527 Duval Street. Dating back to the 1920’s, the building was the Strand Theatre before becoming the home of Ripley’s Believe it or Not in 1993. It is currently home Walgreens, but has maintained the outer façade, which is a classic backdrop for a cool photo.
This cool blue-hour shot with light streaks was provided by photographer Paul Cook.
The additional shot below, showing the whole building, was provided by Marquesa Hotel.
San Carlos Institute
The San Carlos Institute is located at 516 Duval Street. It was founded by Cuban exiles in 1871 and serves as a heritage center and museum. There is cool architecture inside and out that make for fun photography. You can see the outside of the building in the image below from Florida Keys Tour Guide.
The Shipwreck Museum in Key West is located just outside of Mallory Square. The museum is a re-creation of a 19th-century warehouse built by wrecker Asa Tift. Besides learning about Key West’s history of salvaging shipwrecks, there are many great photo opportunities.
Even if you don’t go into the museum, there are some great photo spots on the outside. The shot below was provided by photographer Patrick Barker.
There are some fun statues out front, including the one in the image below from traveler Rakshitha.
The other big attraction at the Shipwreck Museum is the tower that provides awesome views, which you can see in the image below from model Lisa Lenor taken by DFW Glamour Photography.
Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum
The Ernest Hemmingway Home and Museum is located at 907 Whitehead Street. It is the 1930’s home of Ernest Hemingway. Besides the cool house and landscaping, the local cats are the fun draw. You can see one in the shot below from Lena.
The beautiful shutters along the building are shown in the image below from Марк Новиков.
Finally, you can see the foliage-filled yard from the balcony in the shot below from writer Sara Sullivan.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
St. Paul’s was built in the early 20th Century and is located at Duval and Eaton.
You can see the beautiful exterior in the image below from Instagrammer @never_stop_traveling2021.
The interior of St. Paul’s features beautiful stained glass windows and a wooden beam ceiling, which are seen in the image below from JLHM Photography.
Tropic Cinema, located at 416 Eaton St., is a retro-style cinema that is still in operation. The iconic Marilyn Monroe statue out front is great photo attraction. The shot below was provided by Rita Villarroel Gomez.
The statute is the perfect place to pose, as you can see in the image below from photographer Dan Eidsmoe.
The retro colors are on full display in the image below from Digital Creator Lauren Vavricka.
801 Bourbon Bar
The famous 801 Bourbon Bar is home to the rainbow crosswalks. The shot below was provided by Amanda Alcantara.
The crosswalks really pop in the night shot below from Natasha Hasty.
Duval street is the main street running through Key West known for its tourist shops and active nightlife. The shot below came from local property manager Ted Stewart from @keywestted.
Instagrammer Summer provided the Duval Street lifestyle shot in the image below.
Mallory Square is located along the coast on the northwest side of Key West. It is a big public square and small shopping market. Every night, a sunset celebration is held at Mallory Square where you can watch the sunset and enjoy street food and street performers. The sunsets are magical, as you can see in the image below from blogger Jessica Lutz of Finding Adventure.
We enjoyed the entertainment, watching a really good performer while eating a crazy pineapple smoothie concoction.
Sunset Pier is another great place to catch the sunset as it is located just north of Mallory Square. It has one of the fun signs where I always enjoy making images. The shot below was provided by Instagrammer Key West Party.
Cuban Coffee Queen
Cuban Coffee Queen has a couple locations in Key West, but the location at the waterfront in the Key West Bight Parking Lot is home to best Key West Mural. You can see the mural in the image below from Cherry.
The second image came from Mallory Young.
Higgs Memorial Beach Park is located on the southern coast of Key West. The beach is smaller, but features a long pier and monuments documenting the site of an African slave cemetery. You can see the pier during a beautiful sunset in the image below from Instagrammer Jo Mary.
The beach also makes for a great sunset with its palm trees, as seen in the image below from Instagrammer Key West Island Life.
The shot below showing some beach and some pier was provided by blogger Jennifer of Southern Anchors.
Smathers Beach, located along the Southern coast of Key West is the only true sand beach in Key West. Key West beaches are mostly coral and rock due to the coral reefs, but Smathers Beach is manmade with imported sand. It is the largest beach in Key West and the place to find all the fun rentals and beach activities.
The famous path to Smathers Beach makes for a great photo opportunity, as seen below in the shot from photographer Crystal Larson.
Like everywhere in Key West, Smathers Beach is great for sunset, as seen in the image below from Photographer Christian Budean.
Snipe Point is a remote spot in the Keys north of the Saddlebunch Keys. It lies at the northernmost point of the biggest island west of Marvin Key. You will have to rent a boat (which isn’t too hard) to reach Snipe Point and explore the many fun and secluded places nearby.
You can see the popular swing at Snipe Point in the image below from Nicole Scontrino Rittiner.
The clear water and blue skies are on display in the shot below from Domiiniique.
This final shot of Snipe Point was provided by Instagrammer Holly, who recalled fondly her time here the spring above the crystal clear Gulf waters. She said they found the swing while exploring the northern end of the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge in her East Cape Boat. As you can see in the image, the mangroves were beat back badly as this was just after Hurricane Irma.
American Shoal Lighthouse
The American Shoal Lighthouse is a deactivated lighthouse located at the reef south of the Saddlebunch Keys. While the lighthouse is cool on its own, you can expect pretty magical waters since it was used to mark the reef.
You can see the amazing waters in the image below from Instagrammer Stephanie Sonday, @candyshaw.
The image below combines a great view of the lighthouse with the turquoise waters. It was provided by Sydney Gallagher.
The following image from the base of the lighthouse was provided by Instagrammer Sonya Castillo.
Picnic Island is a tiny little island located between Little Torch Key and Newfound Harbor Keys. Despite being a small island, Picnic Island boasts a great beach. The real fun of Picnic Island, though, are the signs, memorabilia and swing.
Picnic Island also features mangrove trees, as you can see in the image below from Alli Paula.
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park makes up the entirety of Bahia Honda Key, lying at the southwest end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The Park features a great beach, kayak rentals and good snorkeling.
There is also a historic bridge, as shown in the following shot from the trio of Instragrammers @bluelightmoon11
You can see the picturesque landscape and colored water in the image below from nature enthusiast Marti.
Seven Mile Bridge
The Seven Mile Bridge is one of the most iconic places in the Keys, connecting Bahia Honda Key to Marathon Key. An aerial shot of the bridge is the best way to go if you are able. The length of the bridge and the beautiful shades of water are on full display in the image below from @lisawiebe.realtor.
This next shot of the bridge was provided by Instagrammer Florida Adventures.
Even if you don’t have a drone, you can still get a great shot of the Seven Mile Bridge from land, especially at sunset, like the below image from Shelton Bennett.
Pigeon Key is a small island located just north of the Seven Mile Bridge. You can reach it via the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. Pigeon Key features eight historic buildings, beaches and snorkeling.
Finding things like the gigantic starfish in the shot below from Holly Smith are sure to improve your vacation.
Views of the Seven Mile Bridge are obvious, but check out the giant anchor in the shot below from Amanda Yeckel.
Anne’s Beach is a picturesque beach on the south end of Lower Matecumbe Key. The beach improves at low tide as the sandbar goes on for a while, which makes for shallow water. For this reason it is popular among kite boarders. The beautiful shot from Anne’s Beach below was provided by Instagrammer Lady.Overland.
There are also some old cannons, as you can see in the image below from travel content creator Ana Mercedes Perez.
The lighthouse at Alligator Reef is located just north of Alligator Reef, all of which is located south from Islamorada. As can be expected in a reef system, you will find beautiful waters and lots of sea life at Alligator Reef. You can see the beautiful water and lighthouse in the image below from Journalist Andrea Minski.
Another great shot of Alligator Reef Lighthouse. This one was provided by Photographer Heather Boss.
Robbie’s is a marina at the north end of Matecumbe Key. You can rent kayaks, eat lunch or feed the giant tarpon. Feeding the fish and trying to avoid the hungry pelicans was a ton of fund and well worth the stop.
Whale Harbor Marina
Whale Harbor Marina is located at the northern end of Islamorada and is a great place to book a fishing charter or do some water sports. The giant sculpture below is a great photo spot. The image was provided by Pato Ortigoza.
Rain Barrell Village
Rain Barrell Village is an artisan center on Plantation Key. It features a dozen or so art studios that are fun to explore and do a little shopping. It is also home to the largest lobster statue in the world.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first cool play you find coming into the Florida Keys. It is located on Key Largo. It is home to a nice little aquarium, a small beach with a sunken ship for snorkeling, and cheap kayak rentals.
This first image from Pennekamp was provided by Tattoo Mark.
The kayaking at the State Park takes you through various trails in the Mangroves. The shot below was provided by Maximo Valdes.
You can’t see it in this shot, but we found a big green iguana hanging out on the branch just past London in the shot below.
If you are in the Keys, make sure to get some adventure sports in! You will want to do lots of snorkeling, kayaking and jet skiing as well, but parasailing always makes for fun pictures. We did parasailing as part of our full-day adventure at Sunset Sports.