Everyone knows that if you’re looking to snorkel, there’s only one thing to do, head to the Florida Keys. Here, the gorgeous turquoise waters are home to the third longest barrier reef in the world and the only tropical coral reefs in the United States. And it’s amidst these thriving reefs that Snorkelers of every level get to witness an underwater world teeming with colorful fish and hundreds of marine species in their natural habitat.
Here are some of the best snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys.
Fort Zachary Taylor
Considered by many to be the best beach in Key West, Fort Zachary Taylor is also a one of the top spots for snorkeling in Key West. The park is located at the southernmost tip of Key West at the end of Southard Street on Truman Annex and is home to the historic civil war Fort built in 1866. Walk right into the water and begin exploring the reefs—you’ll be thrilled with the many species of tropical fish and living coral right before your eyes. You can bring your own gear or if you don’t have any, you can rent it here, just bring cash, they don’t take credit cards.
Dry Tortugas & Fort Jefferson
For a snorkeling adventure like no other, make sure to get over to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson National Park. The Yankee Freedom, the official ferry of the Dry Tortugas, will transport you to this secluded eco treasure, just 70 miles west of Key West. Once there, you’ll be awed by the massive Civil War fortification that stands in the midst of the turquoise waters and the incredibly beautiful sandy beach. The warm shallow waters here are ideal for snorkelers of all ages and levels. Just take a few steps off the shore; you’ll be swimming above thriving coral and vibrant sea life. Keep your eyes open for sea stars and queen conchs as well as many other marine animals. You may even run into a sea turtle or one of the area’s resident bottlenose dolphins. Complimentary masks, snorkels and fins are provided by the Yankee Freedom.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Located at mile marker 102.5 in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a favorite among those who come to snorkel the Florida Keys. The first undersea park in the United States, the area is rich with marine life and living coral reefs. Snorkelers are treated to a view of various coral species, including brain coral, star coral, sea whips, sea fingers and sea fans. The abundance of turtles, angelfish, parrotfish, butterfly fish and other colorful fish will delight even the most experienced snorkelers. Tours are offered throughout the year transporting you to the best spots to view the amazing world that exists below the water.
At mile marker 37, just south of the 7-mile bridge, Bahia Honda offers shallow seas that range from approximately 4-6 feet, making it perfect for beginners, children and snorkelers of all levels. In these crystal clear waters, tropical fish, soft corals, sponges, small coral heads, stone crabs and spiny lobster are often seen by snorkelers, as are a variety of other marine species. Boat tours are also offered for those who wish to venture out to deeper waters.
Coral Reef- Snorkeling Tours
Home to the only living barrier reef in the continental United States, Key West is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations. There are a variety of snorkeling tours, from morning and afternoon trips to all day excursions. The reefs here are a snorkelers dream, with many marine species, tropical fish and fragile coral. Fury Water Adventures offers numerous tours aboard their fleet of catamarans including their double dip, which takes you to two different reefs over a span of about three hours. Each of the Fury boats has a stairway to the sea, making it easy for guests to get in and out of the water, as well as freshwater showers and a shaded lounge area. Their trips include complimentary snorkel gear, snacks and beverages.