Snorkeling and diving in Florida – you will find that Florida Keys is the best area.
Here is something for all levels.
Snorkel in shallow – and warm! – water.
Dive deep with the pros.
If you can not find your own favorite place with the help of our top list, book one of the excursions in Key West.
Snorkeling and diving in Florida Keys, guide to the 10 best places
It’s not only the water temperature that makes snorkeling and diving in Florida a pleasant water adventure.
Here are many reefs, large and small. In addition, artificial reefs, created by deliberately sunk scrap ships, among other things, to save the marine environment.
Intensive work is underway on various levels to help nature rectify.
Snorkeling and diving in Florida can of course be practiced practically everywhere. But no area comes close to the Florida Keys regarding a high quality experience.
Most famous site is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the waters right next to the famous Christ statue.
Most family friendly is Bahia Honda State Park.
The pros choose Looe Key while I would prefer to visit Dry Tortugas.
Get inspired for a fantastic underwater adventure from the list below.
From an unknown beach in Key West to a deep water adventure
The lifestyle magazine Coastal Living is, as the name suggests, specialized in how to live best on the coasts.
Their editors often score correctly in their assessments of Florida. So too this time as they present a list of the top ten places for snorkeling and diving in Florida Keys. From a rather unknown beach in Key West to the most adventurous underwater experience.
The list below is presented somewhat elaborated and with additions from our own experts.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Coffins Patch, Elliott Key, Alligator Reef Lighthouse, Sombrero Reef, Bahia Honda State Park, Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef and Looe Key.
1. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
The sparkling blue waters of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park are an inviting sight to behold for both beginners and experienced snorkelers, an ideal place to get acquainted with marine life. The beach, which is quite unknown among visitors because it is “hidden”, has a beach park with cafe. Nearby hiking trails and guided tours of the historic fort.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park
The ultimate snorkeling excursion is located about 100 kilometers straight west of Key West: Dry Tortugas National Park (one of Florida’s three national parks), which is only accessible by ferry or seaplane. Snorkeling in crystal clear water and also the possibility of night snorkeling. Of course, Fort Jefferson itself will also be explored. Exciting Florida history is hidden here. Premium is of course to stay overnight, camping is available in Florida’s most remot national park.
3. Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Plenty of options for water lovers at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the United States’ first underwater state park. The park extends over 70 nautical square kilometers. From Cannon Beach you can swim to a clearly visible shipwreck. However, the park is better known for snorkeling trips much further out in the Atlantic in the company of experienced guides who know everything about the coral reefs and the lively marine life The Keys are known for.
4. Coffins Patch
Four nautical miles from Key Colony Beach in Marathon is Coffins Patch which is at the top among snorkeling spots in the Middle Keys. A myriad of tropical fish, corals and other marine animals at a reef described as extremely beginner friendly. The area has five more coral reefs, one of them with the sunken Spanish galley Ignacio (18th century).
5. Elliott Key
Elliot Keys is like “no man’s land” in Biscayne National Park, so it takes a bit of effort (and a boat) to get there to see the reefs and shipwrecks of the National Park (America’s only underwater national park). The wrecks are located east of the Maritime Heritage Trail. For those who know Florida well, the island is best known for the fact that a bridge was planned out here and the plans to build a city named Islandia.
6. Alligator Reef Lighthouse
Visitors to Islamorada are just a charter boat ride and three nautical miles from the historic Alligator Reef Lighthouse (one of the most famous lighthouses in the Florida Keys). Here, snorkelers can find hundreds of species of marine animals, including parrotfish, barracudas, rays and turtles. The depth is less than seven meters.
7. Sombrero Reef
Off the only real beach at Marathon (Sombrero Beach) is Sombrero Reef which is considered one of the best coral reefs for snorkeling in Florida. Minimum depth only half a meter, the deepest about ten meters. The unusually large coral formations have a background of intense blue water and it abounds with colorful tropical fish and other marine life.
8. Bahia Honda State Park
It’s easy to understand why Bahia Honda State Park’s campgrounds are some of the most sought after in all of Florida. They are only a few meters from some of the best snorkeling spots. The shallow water makes it easy for beginners to swim, and the life in the sea is abundant. Paradoxically: Right next to the shallowest beach is the deepest strait in the Florida Keys.
9. Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef
Another offshore excursion is Key Largo Dry Rocks Reef, east of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and this is where we find the famous Christ statue that was sunk there in 1965. The three meter high bronze statue, at 15 meters deep, stretches its arms towards the surface, surrounded by tropical fish and other marine life.
10. Looe Key
A snorkeling and diving spot for the more adventurous is the coral reef at Looe Key. The reef, which is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is located at a depth of up to over 30 meters. Mighty and colorful coral formations with a marine life that offers a little more than the other places, such as lemon sharks and reef sharks as well as the occasional goliath grouper.