Best Snorkeling Beaches & Reefs In Florida

Snorkeling is one of the most affordable yet exciting ways to see the underwater world without leaving the surface of the water. It is a common activity for those that want to experience the beauty of the ocean. Once you start snorkeling, you will always be on the lookout for a new snorkel site.

Snorkeling in Florida is a popular year-round activity thanks to the subtropical climate. Florida has one of the largest barrier reef systems known as the Florida Reef, stretching from Miami to the Dry Tortugas National Park. You can also opt to snorkel at smaller natural and artificial reefs.

Florida’s 1000 mile coastline offers numerous snorkel sights. If you are keen to experience some of these beautiful sights, then put on your snorkeling gear, dive right in, and journey with me as I introduce you to the best snorkeling sights that Florida has to offer.

Top 10 Snorkeling Sites In Florida

Florida has an array of beautiful snorkeling sites. Here is the list of the top 10;

John Penne Kamp Coral State Park

 The John Penne Kamp Coral State Park is America’s first undersea park. With colorful coral reefs, manta rays, turtles, and an array of tropical fish, this Coral state Park in the Florida Keys exceed all expectations. There might also be nurse sharks circling.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Situated just 70 miles from Key West and the Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas National Park offers some of the best snorkeling in Florida. The 5-15 feet shallow beach is the ideal snorkeling spot for beginners. You can enjoy an abundance of colorful fish and living coral. Turtle enthusiasts will rate this as the perfect snorkeling site.

It is also easily accessible to the Fort Jefferson snorkeling areas. Since it is a protected marine sanctuary, it will be a worthy snorkel. The good news is you don’t have to stress about carrying your snorkel gear as the park offers access to complimentary fins, masks, and snorkel.

 Sombrero Reef Marathon

Sombrero Reef is a popular snorkeling destination in the Marathon, Florida area as a designated SPA area. This snorkeling site features small caves and canyons with massive coral formations and an array of beautifully colored fish.

Alligator Reef Islamorada

If you are looking for boat snorkeling in the Florida Keys, then Alligator Reef Islamorada is the place to visit to see plenty of fish and turtles. As an advanced snorkeler, you can opt to snorkel at a nearby reef that has a secluded area where you are guaranteed to see angelfish, barracudas, parrotfish, and even nurse sharks.

Biscayne National Park

Although it is only accessible by boat, the Biscayne National Park offers the best snorkeling around Miami. It is well worth the journey as you take in the beauty of mangrove forests, amazing coral reefs, and shipwreck sights.

Phil Foster Snorkel Trail

The Phil Foster Snorkel Trail at the Blue Heron Bridge is a popular snorkel spot in Palm Beach. The artificial reef system attracts many sea creatures, including the sea horse. It also has a large variety of fish species.

Peanut Island

Peanut Island lies near Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach. There is plenty of tropical fish to be enjoyed in this shallow lagoon. During colder months, even manatees make their presence known.

Crystal River

Although spotting manatees is possible all around the Florida Coastline, swimming with them is restricted in certain areas to protect these endangered species. If you want to go snorkeling with manatees, then Crystal River is the place to visit as it is the home to a big population of West Indian Manatees all year round.

Ginnie Springs

The Ginnie Springs is situated on the Sante Fee River and comprises 7 springs. The crystal clear water with various fish species attracts many snorkelers to this area. With lush vegetation and lazy flowing rivers, the Ginnie Springs is a little bit of heaven on earth.

Delnor-Wiggins State Park

Delnor-Wiggins State Park boosts one of the most pristine stretches of beach. You can experience the best snorkeling in area 2 at the southern end; the reef is about 200 feet offshore and about 150 feet south of the swim zone buoy.

Snorkeling In Florida Keys

The Florida Keys offers the best snorkeling experience. The beaches in this area are a snorkeler’s dream with colorful coral reefs, turtles, manta rays, and an array of tropical fish species. If you are lucky, you might even get to see some nurse sharks around the reef.

Is Miami Good For Snorkeling?

For those who love spending time in the Atlantic Ocean, Miami is a great destination for snorkeling. The third-largest barrier reef in the world is located in Miami. From beginners to expert snorkelers, Miami caters for all.

You will discover amazing underwater creatures, vibrant yellow and red coral, as purple sea fans sway to the ocean’s current. Whether you snorkel in a natural or artificial reef, you are guaranteed to have an experience that you will never forget.

Take in the beauty that Greater Miami and Miami Beach offer as you snorkel over coral and an array of tropical fish. Keep your eyes opened for yellowtail snapper, parrotfish, angelfish, grouper, blue tang, and hogfish. Not forgetting the spiny lobsters, stingrays, sea turtles, and even nurse sharks.

There is also an opportunity to see some marine mammals such as manatees and shoals of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Cost Of Snorkeling In Miami

Miami is one of the most affordable snorkeling sights, which is one of the reasons that people flock to Miami for that ultimate snorkeling experience. The average cost for snorkeling in Miami is about $64 per person, and this is at one of the top snorkeling spots in Miami, the Biscayne National Park. They allow only one snorkel per boat per day, and the boat departs daily at 1.30 pm.

Biscayne National Park

The clear, calm water is only one reason that makes Biscayne National Park the best place to snorkel in Miami.

Due to the shallow waters and hurricanes, there are many shipwreck sights. If you are in Miami, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to book a half-day or full-day tour on a powerboat where you will have the opportunity to snorkel to see plenty of sunken vessels.

Imagine having sea turtles, dolphins, tropical fish, rays swim around you as you snorkel. You will not only leave with amazing snorkeling memories, but you also leave having gained a wealth of knowledge about the history surrounding the sunken ships. If you are lucky, you might even get to search for hidden treasure.

Reef Line Project In Miami

Another reason for snorkelers to look forward to visiting Miami is the new reef line project that is scheduled to be launched soon. It will function as an artificial reef that will help to preserve Miami’s marine life. This seven-mile underwater sculpture park, snorkel trail, and the artificial reef will launch in phases. The reef line is another compelling reason to visit Miami for snorkeling.

Snorkeling In Clearwater Florida

If you plan a vacation to Florida for snorkeling, Clearwater, Florida, is not one of the best places to snorkel. You may get to see some small fishes on the shoreline and some hermit crabs. But the chances of seeing coral are very limited. The further you swim away from the shore, you might be able to see a few more fishes, but nothing spectacular.

Is Clearwater Florida Beaches Good For Snorkeling?

Although you can snorkel in Clearwater, Florida, it is not the best for the following reasons;

Visibility

The visibility of the beautiful fish, coral, and other underwater beauties is one of the reasons that snorkeling is so spectacular. The sandy bottom of Clearwater beaches often distorts this visibility, taking away from the snorkeling experience.

Shallow Waters

Shallow waters are an ideal setup for any snorkeling experience. That is unfortunately not in the case of snorkeling at Clearwater beaches. Perhaps it is because of the sandy seabed.

Limited Rocks To Explore

Rocks generally provide a place for fishes to hide and feed. You would have to swim further in at Clearwater beaches to find these rocky spots.

Coral Reefs And Fish

Clearwater beaches do not have any coral reefs off which you can snorkel. You may join a tour, but the only thing you might see is some reef fish.

Rip Currents

Although snorkeling is permitted at Clearwater Beach, there is a possibility of rip currents. For more information, follow the signs on the beach. Avoid snorkeling when the lifeguards raise the yellow flags.

Best Place For Snorkeling Near Clearwater Florida

Although there are mixed reviews about snorkeling in Clearwater, Florida, Honeymoon Island is one of the better snorkeling spots. The snorkeling area is situated close to the beach, ideal for families. Honeymoon Island consists of three beaches. There have been sightings of some beautiful fish due to the clear water.

Here are some of the snorkeling sites near Clearwater Florida;

Caladesi Island

At Caladesi Island, you can snorkel with the dolphins. It is an isolated beach located off the coast of Clearwater Beach and Dunedin. Due to the clear water, you can spot stingrays and horse crabs. If you are looking for a place with fewer crowds, Caladesi Island is perfect for snorkeling with family.

Egmont Key

Egmont Key is an island located off west-central Florida just outside Tampa Bay. Shore snorkeling at Egmont Key is easy enough; you can take a ferry to the island and snorkel at your leisure. You will have to, however, carry your picnic basket as there are no restaurants at the park.

To reach the ruins about 300 yards away, you will have to take a challenging swim; it is best to carry a snorkel vest.

Beaches That Are Good For Family Snorkeling

If you are looking for some good beaches to make snorkeling a family experience in or around Clearwater Florida, try the below;

Panama City Beach Snorkeling

Situated in Bay Florida, this city beach is good for snorkeling due to the abundance of clear water. The sea conditions change daily, and many snorkelers report seeing yellow and blue tangs, blue head wrasses, and sergeant majors. With visibility of up to 20 feet, many smaller hermit crabs, fish, and other wildlife come close to the shore.

Get your snorkeling gear and dive in. You will love it!

Jupiter Beach Snorkeling

Jupiter Beach is a tropical destination ideal for snorkeling with the largest stretch of secluded coastline. The water is warm, at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit and that is why your kids will love snorkeling here.

Cocoa Beach Snorkeling

Snorkeling at Cocoa Beach is not recommended for beginner snorkelers due to the currents that whip about at high speeds. If you are an advanced snorkeler, with the help of a snorkeling vest, you can snorkel to Sebastian Inlet, where you will be able to see an array of fish, including Gar.

The above beaches are only a few places where you can snorkel in Clearwater, Florida. Although most of the dive shops offer snorkeling for advanced snorkelers, there is an opportunity for beginners to snorkel close to the shore.

Best Time To Snorkel In Florida

Florida offers perfect weather all year round, making it the perfect snorkeling destination. The temperatures can reach up to 33 degrees in summer, which allows you to enjoy this water activity.

Between June and November is known as the Atlantic hurricane season, where there is a chance that tropical storms may follow; hence it is advisable to check the weather forecast during this period.

In the continental United States, Florida offers the mildest weather. Temperatures range from 21-25 degrees. Although there is some rainfall, it only lasts for a few days. Despite the occasional cold front, it is still warm enough to snorkel.

Conclusion

Snorkeling is a recreation that every traveler should experience and where better than in Florida, which has some of the most breathtaking snorkeling sights with the largest barrier reefs. With a wide selection of snorkeling sites, you will be spoilt for choice. So the next time you are looking for a snorkeling experience, pick up that snorkeling gear and make your way to Florida.