Top 13 Best Places to Snorkel in Florida
Florida is the southernmost US state, with both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean along its borders.
With hundreds of miles of coastline along with rivers and springs, there are what feels like endless snorkeling opportunities.
The best part, too, is that all areas around the state will be home to different sea creatures. Try to snorkel everywhere you visit in Florida because the underwater environment can change immensely from place to place. That is why we came up with a list of best places to snorkel in Florida
Florida is a great snorkeling destination, but it’s also a great place to vacation in general. The weather is excellent year-round, and it’s a beautiful state.
If you’re an avid snorkeler or visiting Florida and looking to find where you should snorkel, look no further. Below is a list of the best places to snorkel in Florida.
- Best Time of Year to Snorkel in Florida
- Top 13 Best Places to Snorkel in Florida
- The Florida Keys
- 1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
- 2. Bahia Honda State Park
- 3. Key West
- Eastern Florida on the Atlantic Ocean
- 4. Biscayne National Park
- 5. Peanut Island
- 6. Fort Lauderdale
- 7. Coral Cove Park
- 8. Bathtub Reef Beach
- Western Florida on the Gulf of Mexico
- 9. Crystal River
- 10. Anna Maria Island
- 11. Saint Andrews State Park
- 12. Navarre Beach Marine Park
- 13. Shell Key
Best Time of Year to Snorkel in Florida
Florida is warm year-round and is a great place to vacation to enjoy wonderful days under the sun. In the summer, the temperature can be in the low 90s Fahrenheit and the ocean can get as warm as mid-80s Fahrenheit.
This is the best time of year if you plan to spend most of your vacation in the water. However, the air can be hot and uncomfortable at times in the summer. So if you plan on doing other activities than just those involving water, be wary of the hot, humid temperatures.
The winter months experience temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit, and the ocean will usually be in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit.
It may be too cold for water activities, especially if you’re snorkeling. You may want to consider wearing a water suit. Also, keep in mind that hurricane season occurs from June to November, it’s important to watch the weather before you visit Florida during these months.
Top 13 Best Places to Snorkel in Florida
Read on to learn about the best places to snorkel in Florida so you can plan the perfect snorkeling vacation.
There are many great opportunities for snorkeling all around Florida so it’s a must-do while in the Sunshine State.
The Florida Keys
Number one on the list has to be The Florida Keys because it’s a phenomenal place for snorkeling in the US and the world.
The islands are located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and are the southernmost point in the United States. The Keys are also located around North America’s only barrier reef, which is undoubtedly the most fantastic place to snorkel in Florida and full of rich, unique, and colorful sea life.
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is a not only a great spot to snorkel, but it is also an awesome place in Florida to Kayak. Not only can you see clearly to the ocean floor, but there is also an underwater statue of Christ of the Abyss.
Which is an icon of the park and lies about 20 feet deep. The state park was the first underwater park in the US.
You can go on guided snorkeling tours, making it super easy to get out there and spot some sea creatures.
2. Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda State Park on the Bahia Honda island in the Keys is another excellent place to snorkel. Alongside its superb beaches and sunsets, snorkeling is an above-par experience.
You can also snorkel right off the beach at the park, making it fun and accessible. The water varies in depth from 5 feet to 70 feet.
Enjoy the crystal clear waters the Keys offer; you’ll leave your snorkeling experiences feeling more than amazing.
3. Key West
Key West is the southernmost point in the United States, and it’s known for its lively vibe, incredible sunsets, as well as its snorkeling and scuba diving experiences.
While visiting Key West, you may spot dolphins and many other amazing sea animals. It’s best to join a tour that will take you out to some fantastic snorkel locations by boat.
Another cool thing you can try is SNUBA diving, which combines scuba diving and snorkeling. You’ll breathe through an oxygen supply but won’t have to carry the rest of the scuba diving equipment.
Essentially you have as much gear as snorkeling but with the added benefit of an oxygen tube so you can stay underwater and go deeper. If that interests you, check it out while you’re in Key West.
Any of the Keys will provide a top-notch snorkeling experience.
There is a ton of sea life to spot during your snorkeling adventures because you’ll be super close to the coral reefs.
Eastern Florida on the Atlantic Ocean
Below are some of the best places to snorkel on the eastern coast of Florida, which is lined by the Atlantic Ocean.
4. Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park on Key Biscayne is a small barrier island off the coast of Miami and is yet another magnificent location for snorkeling.
The national park has coral reefs, uninhabited islands, mangrove forests, and tons of sea life swimming in the Biscayne Bay Lagoon including dolphins, turtles, pelicans, and more.
The reefs can only be accessed by boat, so make sure to go on a tour or buy tickets if you’re headed to the park.
There are six incredible shipwrecks to explore in the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail, too.
5. Peanut Island
Located in Palm Beach County, Peanut Island is a 79-acre island at the Lake Worth Inlet of Lake Worth Lagoon.
The island was man-made in 1918, and is the perfect place to take on water sports. It can be reached easily by ferry and has the most beautiful blue waters surrounding the island.
Snorkeling is one of the best activities on Peanut Island. It was even voted one of the top 12 snorkeling hotspots in the US by Yahoo Travel.
6. Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is one of the larger cities in Florida and a great place to snorkel. It’s perfect for your snorkeling adventures and you’ll always have something to do in the city.
Fort Lauderdale is a popular spring break destination with many hip bars and restaurants. The most remarkable thing you can do in Fort Lauderdale is seabob snorkeling, where you’ll have a mini version of a jet ski that will pull you underwater so you can ride around spotting sea life.
It’s super cool and worth checking out!
7. Coral Cove Park
In the town of Tequesta near West Palm Beach, Coral Cove Park is an excellent spot for beginner snorkelers.
The reef is close to shore, so it’s a very quick swim before you start to spot tons of amazing fish and other sea life.
There are lifeguards at the park so it’s an excellent place for families and kids. You may spot sea turtles, crab, and fish.
8. Bathtub Reef Beach
Located in Stuart, Florida, Bathtub Beach is an excellent place for families because the reef is right offshore, making it easy to snorkel.
The water is also very calm and shallow in this area, making it ideal for families and children. It’s not one of the most well-known destinations, but that’s what makes it all the more special, and it’s never too overcrowded, so that’s a plus.
Western Florida on the Gulf of Mexico
The west side of Florida is lined by the Gulf of Mexico, offering excellent snorkeling opportunities. Below are some of the best surfing locations on the west side of the state.
9. Crystal River
Crystal River in western Florida is a warm body of water year-round. Kings Bay in Crystal River particularly is roughly 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.
Because of the warm temperature, manatees love to call this area home. If you’re a lover of the “sea cow,” be sure to snorkel in this part of Florida.
You do have the chance to spot manatees from any Florida coast, but you have an exceptionally high chance when visiting Crystal River.
In most places, snorkeling is prohibited because manatees are an endangered species, but snorkel tours are allowed in Crystal River.
Many other springs in the area are great for snorkeling, including Alexander Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Rainbow Springs, Ginnie Springs, and more. In the springs, you’ll find tons of freshwater fish, turtles, plants, and other exciting species.
10. Anna Maria Island
South of Tampa, Anna Maria Island is a barrier island off the Gulf Coast. The best snorkeling opportunity in the area has to be the SS Regina, a tanker ship that sank in 1940 near Bradenton Beach.
It’s a great snorkel spot just 150 feet from shore and only 20 feet deep. Besides snorkeling, there are plenty of things to do on Anna Maria Island.
11. Saint Andrews State Park
In Northern Florida on the panhandle, Saint Andrews State Park is located just a few miles from Panama City Beach.
It’s a fabulous underrated place to visit with reefs where you’ll find tons of tropical and colorful fish.
You can snorkel right offshore, which makes it super accessible and easy. There are also several nearby areas where you can rent gear if you don’t bring any with you.
The park also has guided tours if you want to ensure you’ll snorkel in the best spots possible.
Located on the barrier island known as Santa Rosa, Navarre Beach Marine Park is surrounded by the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
The park is also located in northern Florida on the panhandle and boasts excellent snorkeling opportunities.
There are three reefs in the area to choose from, including East Sound Side Reef, West Sound Side Reef, and Gulf Side Reef.
In addition, there are many places you can rent gear and find tours so that you can get the most out of your experience.
13. Shell Key
Shell Key in St Petersburg is a barrier island on the Gulf Coast with tons of snorkeling opportunities.
The hidden gem isn’t too crowded and can be reached by shuttle from St. Pete Beach. The small island has amazing wildlife, and you can snorkel straight from the beach.
It’s not very developed, so make sure you bring your snorkeling equipment and anything you’d need for the day because there aren’t many places to stop in on the island. But, it’s all worth it!
There are tons of places to snorkel in Florida. You really can’t go wrong anywhere because you’re bound to at least see colorful and unique fish at the very least!
If you’re lucky, you may even spot turtles, dolphins, manatees, and more!
Choose a location from this list and go on the snorkeling adventure of your dreams.
Hopefully, this inspired you to snorkel all around Florida and enjoy the underwater world.
There is so much beauty, color, and uniqueness to be found. It truly is an otherworldly, relaxing, and humbling experience to be out there enjoying the vastness that is the ocean.
Planning a snorkeling trip? Make sure not to forget these important items on your packing list for Florida?