Florida is an ideal vacation destination that is known for it’s warm and clear waters which are ideal for snorkeling.
There are many different snorkeling spots and many that are easily accessed straight from the beach! In saying that there are still many options for boat trips to reefs and I have had a great deal of positive reef diving sessions in Southern Florida.
In the following post I wanted to share a few of my favorite off shore snorkeling spots that you can enjoy too 🙂 If I have missed any please leave a comment below! I will test them out on my next trip.
The Florida Keys
The keys has dozens of gorgeous snorkeling spots, with plenty of docks you can expect a huge variety of fish and underwater gems. Heading out on a boat to the reefs is definitely going to be best but let’s take a look at some off shore diving spots.
Located in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, with a name like that you are entitled to high expectations. While the best spots are definitely a boat ride away there is some good snorkeling at Canon beach.
The beach is a sandy bottom with sea grass beds. Roughly 100 feet offshore is a cannon from an old Spanish shipwreck as well as the anchor. Around these two sunken items are a variety of fish life that will provide some exciting snorkeling.
Indiana Key Historic State Park
To visit this island you’re going to need a kayak or canoe which should be fairly easy to rent nearby. The entire island is actually an ancient coral reef that has sharp coral- not good for walking on but home to a wide range of sea life.
Choosing the best place to get in ad out of the water is going to be the hardest part. Once in there will be plenty of things to look at and explore.
Sombrero Beach in Marathon
Very popular with locals and free of any admission charges, a beautiful white sand beach lined with palm trees and all the amenities you need for the day. With rocky outcrops that were once part of a coral reef they attract plenty of sea life.
A great place to spend the day with your family. There is also a playground if the little ones get bored of snorkeling.
An island loaded with history, it is located in the middle of the Old Seven Mile Bridge. A unique site and interesting story lays behind this one and due to it’s popularity there is a $11 admission fee to snorkel. The island is home to 8 buildings that are on the National register for historic places. Some of them are remains of a work camp from the East coast railway.
Snorkeling around the dock presents plenty of colorful fish and if you are lucky you may even see some pieces of history from it’s former use.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach
With a rocky bottom but clear water this makes for great snorkeling visibility. Located where the Gulf and Atlantic ocean in Key West there is heaps of live coral and fish to observe. I definitely recommend wearing some water shoes if you are keen due to the sharp rocks. Be sure to read through my best water shoes review if you don’t already have a pair.
Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast
Red Reef Park
Located within the city of Boca Raton there is a rather large set of natural coral rocks just off the beach. Roughly 6 feet deep the red rocks are a haven for parrot fish, snapper, barracuda and plenty of other fish.
The park is also well shaded and all amenities are nearby. The only issue here is parking, non-residents pay $16 on weekdays and $18 on weekends.
Phil Foster Park Snorkel Trail
The Blue Heron Bridge is a popular place to explore on the high tide. The water is clear and as it is located close to the Lake Worth inlet this attracts plenty of sea life. Known as a part of the snorkel trail this man made area is located right in front of a life guard tower.
Peanut Island, Riviera Beach
A man-made island right in the middle of Palm Beach. With a rocky shoreline and close proximity to the mouth of the inlet this attracts a wide range of fish and sea life. On the odd occasion you may even see rays and manatees. Very easy to access this spot is worth visiting.
Coral Cove Park, Jupiter
North of the Jupiter inlet this is a long chain of limestone rock formations which are great for snorkeling. Sea life is expanse here and there is also a lifeguard stand nearby. Free parking & plenty of space for everyone, make a day of it.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
A beautiful area to visit and snorkel, the John D. MacArthur Beach has large rock formations that attract a range of sea life. If you plan to snorkel you better check the tides before hand, as at low tide the rocks are visible. Stingrays and sea turtles frequent this area so it is worthwhile checking out.
Bathtub Reef Park, Hutchinson Island
The reef here was made from sabellariid worms which are more commonly known as honeycomb worms. The cement together sand and shell to form a rock like ledge which attracts plenty of sea life. Ideal for beginners and young kids this reef creates a little lagoon protecting snorkelers from any waves.
Snorkeling Tips for the Best Underwater Experience
There are a few things to make your snorkeling experience even better. Once you have the right snorkel gear, have scrubbed your mask and tested your snorkel you’re ready to head out there.
Bear in mind the weather conditions for the day, the less wind there is the better and if it has been raining heavily the visibility will be poor. This is because the rain stirs up the sea bottom and makes it murky.
Please don’t step on or remove any coral reef or marine life. Be respectful of the world you are swimming into, they are living organisms too and all play and important role.
Be sure to tell a friend or family member of your snorkelling plans and never snorkel alone. Also take care to observe your surroundings and remember where you started. Many people can get carried away exploring the underwater world and forget where they are located on the beach – not good for worried family members and friends on the beach!
Most importantly – have fun!! Please share with me in the comments below if you have any experiences with the above snorkeling spots or any that you recommend!