Florida Keys

Yes, it’s Spring Break in the Keys — but the crowds are tamer

Spring-breakers gather to greet a police horse on SMathers Beach in Key West.
Spring-breakers gather to greet a police horse on SMathers Beach in Key West. Via KeysInfoNet

It's prime time for Spring Break in the Florida Keys, with Florida colleges letting out to give their students some time off.

For the Florida Keys, Spring Break used to be a huge deal — there was even a Spring Break Court in Key West with a real judge to hear minor cases the morning following students' arrests. But that has faded away.

"They’re here, no doubt about it," said Jodi Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West. "But it’s the height of our season and frankly, they can’t afford the [hotel] rates. We're not really their destination."

Still, in the Southernmost City, the Key West Police Department has ramped up its presence at one of the city's most popular beaches.

"We don't really have any numbers yet but it's definitely in full swing," spokeswoman Alyson Crean said. "Beginning last weekend, we have extra-duty officers at Smathers Beach during the day, checking coolers if necessary and reminding breakers that there is no alcohol [allowed] on the beach.

"We've got our mobile command center staged at the beach during the day, then downtown at night. It provides a place for officers to get out of the sun or crowd and write reports, etc. We also have the mounted patrol at the beach during the day. In addition, Public Works is making extra trips at the beach to ensure it stays clean. At night they're doing extra duty to ensure trash cans are not overflowing."

Breakers also visit other parts of the Keys, with many staying in the second homes of family or friends. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is just doing its usual work.

"It appears we do not have anything extra going on for Spring Break," spokeswoman Becky Herrin said. "Usually, most of the Spring Break-related activity occurs in the city of Key West."

On break or having break in the coming weeks are Ava Maria University, College of Central Florida, Eckerd College, Gulf Coast State College, St. Petersburg College, St. Thomas University, University of Central Florida, University of Miami, University of North Florida, University of Tampa and University of West Florida.