Key West Florida: Sand Art that Amazes

Key West
Dan Belcher from St. Louis Missouri was the winner of the People’s Choice Award last year with this sculpture, photo by International Sand Art Competition.

Artists from Around the world Compete in Sand Sculpture at the tip of Florida

By Kristen Richard

“75-degree weather, full sun, good breeze, and blue water,” is what travelers expected, according to Marianne van den Broek at 2015’s International Sand Art Competition. Broek is the founder of the competition that will take place in Key West, Florida starting at the end of November every year.

The Contest

The competition is hosted by Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, at the resorts privately owned Atlantic Ocean beach. The Beach will be open to the public for that weekend.

This year the sculptors are Chris Guinto of Key West, Florida, Benjamin Probanza of Mexico, Dan Belcher of St. Louis, Missouri, Susanne Ruseler from the Netherlands, Abe Waterman from Canada, and Rusty Croft-Carmel from California.

Last year, about 12,000 people attended and this year there is an anticipated 16, 000 spectators according to Broek.

Key West
Another side of Dan Belcher’s winning sculpture.

Each artist will receive 15,000 lbs of sand. They are only allowed to use sand, water, and hand tools. Viewers can watch the sculptors work from November 25th to the 27th from 8 a.m to 1 p.m.

Starting on Thursday 26th the sculptures will be illuminated at night so spectators can enjoy them at all times of the day. All viewing is free no matter the time of day to the public.

Spectators can also try building sandcastles themselves. There is going to be an additional sand plot where people of all ages can come and create their own sculptures.

On Saturday at 12 p.m. spectators can cast their vote for their favorite sculpture in the “Peoples Choice Awards.” The award ceremony will start around 4 p.m. Three awards will be given the; Peoples Choice, a panel of local judges and artist will pick which sculpture they feel best represents the spirit and culture of Key West, and the sculptors will judge the other sculptures themselves and pick their favorite one.

After the awards have been given there will be a “Beach Bash” until sunset. There will be live music free to the public. To learn more about this event visit the website.

Key West
Benjamin Probanza from Acapulco, Mexico was the winner of the Sculptor’s Choice award

Treasure Hunt

Mel Fisher always used to search for treasure on the beach. After years of searching, he finally found three Spanish medallions. The medallions were from a 1622 wreck of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha in Key West waters. The medallions were later donated to a foundation, which has graciously donated one to the International Sand art Competition. It is valued at approximately $1000.

With that coin the Sand Sculpture Competition is giving spectators a chance to search for treasure themselves.

Even if you do not find the prized $1000 medallion there are several other medallions that represent gift cards to restaurants and shops in the area hidden in the sculpture.

To read more about the treasure hunt visit the contest’s website.


“Key West is big on food,” says Broek. She recommends Casa Marina for their fish tacos and as a place for parents to grab a quick drink while their kids play on the beach. She also recommends Spencers for their crab sandwiches.

The streets are lined with everything from small local cafes to world-class restaurants. To read more about the Key West Dining options visit the Key West website.

AccommodationThe Casa Marina, a Waldorf resort offers guests a luxury stay with ocean views. The hotel has a spa and activates ranging from Boat tours to snorkeling.

To learn more about different accommodations Key West has to offer, visit the Key West website.


Sneak away from the hustle of the competition for a bit and treat yourself at a spa. The large variety of spas allows guests to experience everything from yoga on the beach to rejuvenating massages. To learn more about different spas and health centers visit the Key West spa websites.

The Arts

If you love the arts the Key West Contemporary Dance Company is a non-profit that creates shows and has many performances throughout the year. For more information visit their website.

The Tropic Cinema, is a hotspot for exciting new releases, foreign, independent, and alternative films.

For more on the arts visit the Key West Website.

Family Fun

Key West
One way to discover the city is by trolley tour, photo credit Old Town Trolley Tours.

There are also a number of activities that families can partake in. The Key West Aquarium offers children and adults alike an up close look into the life of some of the oceans most amazing sea creatures. You may even get close enough to touch the predator of the sea, the shark. To learn more visit their website.

Fury Water Adventures allows families to adventure in Key West in all types of ways. Travelers can snorkel, parasail, sunset sail, Dolphin watch, and take glass bottom boat tours allowing them to discover even more of Key West.

To learn more about family activities visit the Key West Website.


Relax on the green with an 18 hole course.
Relax on the green with an 18 hole course.

If you find yourself in the Historic Seaport District or Duval Street but want to sneak away with a quick game of golf, the Key West Golf Club is located right in the area. It is the only Caribbean style golf club in the United States. To learn more about the golf club visit their website.


If it is not the green of the golf course but the roar of the ocean and a fishing rod and the line is calling your name Key West offers plenty of fishing opportunities. Try your hand at catching everything from tuna to Groupers. To learn more about fishing visit the Key West Fishing website.

History and Sight-Seeing

The city also has a rich and vibrant history. Check it out on a number of the historic trolley tours. Key West is also very proud of their LGBTQ history. Take a Gay Trolley tour aboard a rainbow-colored trolley and learn about the Gay and Lesbian community as well as the history of it. To learn more check out their website.

To learn more about historical trolley tours and other sites visit the Key West historical website.

Escape the cold winter for a few days of sunny beaches the culture of Key West, Florida and art from around the world.=

Kristen Richard
Kristen Richard

Kristen Richard writes from Massachusetts. When she is not writing she enjoys photography, running, biking, horseback riding, and finding new places to travel.

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