Although the Florida Keys themselves are a group of islands formed on the surface of an ancient coral reef, they’re still home to a multitude of tropical turtles, subtropical fish, and shellfish species. Beyond the gorgeous white-sand beaches, there are a whole lot of incredible spots to dive into, so here are our picks of the best snorkeling locations in the Florida keys.
1. Fort Zachary Taylor, Key West
If you’re looking for a good snorkel in the turquoise sea with a touch of history and lovely views, don’t hesitate to visit Fort Zachery Taylor. The most popular snorkeling spot in the Great Florida Reef is a place where beginners and professionals can enjoy themselves.
The water is shallow yet deep enough to let you enjoy swimming with schools of parrotfish, come face-to-face with yellowtail snappers, and be awed by the colorful corals. No boats are needed, so you can jump right off the beach, and if you prefer your vacation with more activities, you can swim, dive, fish or join a guided tour to explore the pre-Civil War fort.
2. Bahia Honda State Park, Bahia Honda Key
First time wearing goggles or a snorkeling mask and heading to the water? You’ll fall in love with Bahia Honda State Park. It’s a place where the sea is like glass, and the shallow water doesn’t go deeper than 4-6 feet. You can get in the water on your feet, swim with the tropical fish that float by, and watch the spiny lobsters as well as stone crabs coming in and out from the rocky holes.
It’s the perfect snorkeling location for families with children and those who can’t swim. Oh! And want to spend the night? Not so far from the shore, you can find one of the most beautiful campsites in Florida, too.
3. Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, Big Pine Key
About eight miles from Bahia Honda, there’s a spot for the adventurous who want to shake things up and snorkel in 100-foot water with varying depths. Book a boat trip and get into the underwater haven where more than 150 species of fish live.
Apart from the staghorn, elkhorn, and star corals, you’re going to meet tons of barracuda, sergeant majors, and angelfish. And if you’re lucky enough, you’d be able to see a reef shark or even an eagle ray.
4. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo
It’d be a shame to end your vacation without visiting the first underwater park in the US. Spread over 70 nautical square feet, John Pennekamp State Park is home to 260 species of tropical fish, including wrasses, damselfish, and grunts.
Snorkelers also spot brain corals, elkhorn corals, sea fans, and many other charming views. You’ll just regret it if you don’t bring your underwater camera to this stunning park.
5. Key Largo Dry Rocks, Key Largo
Ever heard about the submerged Christ of the Abyss statue? Yeah, that here! Jump into the waters of Key Largo Dry Rocks and see the nine-foot-tall bronze statue with its outstretched arms surrounded by the glistening blue color of the water.
Besides this dazzling sight that you don’t want to miss out on, snorkelers are treated to a view of hammerhead sharks, brain coral, reef crab, octopus, lobster, barracuda, and lots of marine species that inhabit this area.