Some will say that snorkeling off Tampa Bay or the Panhandle is great, but most Floridian snorkelers head directly to the Florida Keys. From a string of coral islands off the eastern coast of Florida protected by the federal government to the southernmost point of the United States, shore-based excursions along the Florida Keys offer a great introduction to snorkeling.
Because of the popularity and sheer traffic at the reefs in Key West, they are not as healthy as are those in some of the other islands. Also, because these reefs are at the southern tip of the string, the waters of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico collide and mix causing a unique marine environment that does not support as much healthy corals and other sea life. Nonetheless, if Key West is your only destination, this page will help you make the best of your Key West snorkeling adventure.
We were very pleasantly surprised by how fantastic the snorkeling is in the keys. The reefs in some areas are the healthiest we have ever seen, and are packed with life. Another surprise was that the best Florida Keys snorkeling spots are not where we expected them to be.
1. Key Largo
Many snorkelers visiting John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park head out to sea leaving the park's beaches relatively free of crowds. Cannon Beach on Largo Sound is just a hundred feet from the site of 1715 Spanish shipwreck with visible underwater artifacts.
2. Long Key
Long Key State Park is known for its flat, shallow waters. Snorkel from shore near the park's long, narrow campground that stretches out to two sandy beaches fronting on the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Bahia Honda And Key West
Bahia Honda State Park south of the Seven Mile Bridge, has some of the best shore snorkeling in the Keys thanks to shallow seas which extending out a several hundred feet from shore. Watch corals, tropical fish, living sponges and much, much, more.