For those residing in tropical regions, snorkeling is an absolute must-do activity to appreciate the diverse underwater flora, fauna, and microhabitat. Here I am going to share with you 17 Best Places for Snorkeling in Florida.
It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to spot intriguing marine creatures like fish, seals, kelp beds, sea lions, sea turtles, and if you’re lucky, even dolphins!
As the “Sunshine State,” Florida is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the country.
Personally, I find watching the mesmerizing sunsets while relaxing by the warm, tranquil waters to be a peaceful and divine experience.
It’s essential to note that snorkeling and scuba diving are distinct activities.
Snorkeling offers a unique perspective of the underwater world without the need for extensive equipment.
Florida offers an abundance of beach towns, romantic couple-friendly beaches, and natural springs, providing ample opportunities to relax.
The state also attracts free divers from around the world.
If you’re searching for the clearest beaches to go snorkeling in Florida, look no further! This blog serves as a comprehensive guide to the best snorkeling spots in the state.
Best Places For Snorkeling in Florida
Bahia Honda State Park
For a peaceful getaway or a Hollywood-style snorkeling adventure in Florida, I have got you covered.
Bahia Honda offers an idyllic, family-friendly snorkeling experience, with incredible views of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
However, for a more immersive experience, you should head to Looe Key Reef.
Did you know you can take a snorkeling tour above a patch reef of Elkhorn coral?
Snorkeling at Bahia Honda State Park beach provides a different experience than Looe Key Reef, which I personally loved!
With its palm-lined shores and historic bridge, Looe Key Reef in Big Pine Key, located 37 miles north of Key West, is a breathtaking sight.
Remember to bring your own snorkeling equipment for the best experience.
Point of Rocks
Point of Rocks, as the name suggests, features unique limestone rock formations that are a sight to behold.
Located on the west coast of Florida, it is a popular tourist spot for fishing, paddleboarding, and snorkeling.
Imagine exploring the white quartz sand and diving into the warm turquoise water with a snorkel mask on!
At Point of Rocks, the warm waters are ideal for snorkeling.
You can spot colorful corals, tiny crabs, snapper, green sea grass, interesting shellfish, and shells.
The visibility rate ranges from six feet to much deeper. The plants and algae growing on the rocks add a different dimension to their color.
Tip: Point of Rocks is the best family snorkeling spot in Florida.
You can park your car at Beach Access 12, which has 20 parking spots.
John Pennekamp Coral State Park Key Largo
John Pennekamp Coral State Park in Key Largo, Florida is a must-visit snorkeling spot for those who want to see century-old artifacts, Spanish shipwrecks, and living coral reefs.
At Cannon Beach, you can see 200 types of soft and hard corals and tropical fish, including barracudas, rays, eels, and dolphins.
Make sure to take a picture with the Christ of the Abyss sculpture, which is submerged deep underwater.
The best reefs here are inaccessible by swimming, so you’ll need to join a snorkeling boat tour that includes equipment and a local guide.
These tours can take you to Molasses Reef, Banks Dry Rocks, Grecian Rocks, Key Largo Dry Rocks, and Banana Reef.
- Admission for a snorkel boat tour in the park costs $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children. Masks and fins can be rented for $3 and $4, respectively.
- For new snorkelers, Cannon Beach’s calm and shallow water is the perfect spot.
- The best time to take underwater photos is between 10:30 am and 11 am.
- Admission for those who come on their own costs $8 per vehicle.
Alligator Reef Lighthouse Islamorada
Imagine spending the whole day snorkeling with an array of colorful fish, shallow coral reefs, and a picturesque lighthouse tower in the background.
Alligator Reef Lighthouse is the perfect snorkeling spot for this experience.
It offers a unique snorkeling experience in Florida, and the transparent blue clear ocean water makes it one of the best snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys.
With a range in depth from 4 to 20 feet, this hidden gem is easy to navigate.
If you’re an expert in snorkeling, consider taking a private boat to explore Cheeca Rocks or Alligator Reef Lighthouse, where you can spot soft corals, mushrooms, star corals, turtles, and brain corals.
However, be cautious not to go too far, as you may encounter Hammerhead Sharks.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is a snorkeler’s paradise! The water is calm, warm, and only 5-12 feet deep, making it one of the best spots for snorkeling in North America.
If you’re looking for an offbeat snorkeling destination in Florida, Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-visit.
Accessible only by seaplane or boat, you can also explore the historic site of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key.
Keep an eye out for sea turtles and starfish while snorkeling.
For those searching for snorkeling around Miami, Dry Tortugas offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Check out Cottrell Key and Sand Key Lighthouse, but don’t miss my personal favorite, the Africa Coral Reef.
Snorkel along the Moat Wall, Southern Wharf Ruins, and Northern Wharf Ruins for an unforgettable adventure.
Tip: The ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park costs $190 per person and includes breakfast, lunch, and snorkeling gear. The best times to visit are in April and November.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
I respectfully disagree with the notion that America lacks a versatile marine destination, as I discovered during my visit to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
This unique sanctuary boasts subtropical waters, expansive seagrass beds, picturesque mangrove-fringed islands, and fascinating shipwrecks, with over 4,000 marine species to discover.
As the world’s third-largest barrier reef, it spans 2,900 sq. miles from the southern tip of mainland Florida to the Dry Tortugas.
The Keys’ foundation is composed of limestone rock, which once formed ancient coral reefs and sandbars.
Visitors can enjoy snorkeling along the sanctuary’s Shipwreck Trail, which draws many photographers and writers.
Although diving tours and snorkeling are primarily reserved for research purposes, booking a trip with Blue Star operation is a great way to explore this exceptional spot.
If you visit between August 6th and March 31st, you may even spot a lobster.
Situated at the mouth of Lake Worth inlet, Peanut Island boasts a picturesque rocky shoreline, making it the premier snorkeling destination in South Florida.
Accessible only by boat, this exotic island oasis sits nestled between Singer Island, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Island, providing a tranquil escape from the mainland.
Here, visitors can bask in the lush greenery of towering coconut and palm trees and soak up the sun on sandy beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean or Bahamas.
Peanut Island’s marine life is just as impressive, with an array of fascinating creatures such as lobsters, sea sponges, shrimps, crabs, parrotfish, starfish, and Green moray eels calling the island home.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the public Cold War fallout shelter known as the Kennedy Bunker.
Keep in mind that the boat ride costs $10, and Peanut Island is at its best during high tide.
Blue Heron Bridge
Located in Riviera Beach, one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Palm Beach is the Blue Heron Bridge.
This renowned spot is known for its crystal-clear water, unique sea creatures, and even underwater statues.
In fact, it’s said that a single dive can yield sightings of up to 100 fish species!
It includes seahorses, octopuses, batfish, frogfish, stargazers, sea turtles, manta rays, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and a variety of other fish.
It’s no wonder that Blue Heron Bridge has earned its reputation as the Best Shore Diving in America and the Muck Diving Capital of the World.
Make sure to have your GoPro camera ready to capture the incredible underwater sights.
Don’t miss the Phil Foster Park Snorkel Trail, an 800-foot-long artificial reef that’s 6-10 feet deep, or the Snorkel Trail, which ranges from 10-15 feet deep.
Once you experience Blue Heron Bridge’s beauty, you’ll be yearning for more.
Lighthouse Beach Park
Lighthouse Beach Park on Sanibel Island is my absolute favorite spot for snorkeling.
Located on the eastern tip of the island, this park stretches around the side of the bay, and offers an incredible opportunity to snorkel with manatees – a truly unique experience.
The park’s coastline features a stunning 150-plus-year-old lighthouse, making for some great photo opportunities.
You can also bask in the glory of the glittering array of colorful sea shells or float in the calm, clear water.
Lighthouse Beach Park is incredibly safe for swimming, and snorkeling to spot marine life and gorgeous shells is always a highlight of any visit to Sanibel Island.
This magnificent beach is vibrant, enriching, and definitely worth a visit.
Tip: The parking fee is $2 per hour.
If you’re an adventure lover looking to explore the marine life in Fort Myers, CJ Reef is the perfect destination for you.
CJ Reef is a hidden gem for snorkeling in Florida, and a 4-hour adventure conducted by Sunset Ski & Water sports will take you there.
The sparkling water surrounding this isolated island is an experience like no other.
You’ll discover the stunning beauty of Cape Coral in Southwest Florida, which you may never have thought existed.
This adventure will also teach you about the marine wildlife of the island, and provide you with the opportunity to swim among some of the best shelling in the world.
DeLeon Springs is 625-acre park boasts stunning springs, a beautiful garden, and a delightful pancake restaurant.
Take a dip in the swimming pool, grill some delicious food outdoors, or hike the scenic trails while exploring the historical ruins.
Note that snorkeling is prohibited in the Spring Run, but you can still enjoy the cool waters of the swimming area, where depths range from 18 to 30 feet and temperatures stay at a comfortable 72 degrees.
Don’t miss the natural headsprings where bubbles of water boil up from a network of underground caverns.
Remember, the entry fee is only $4 to $6 per vehicles.
Red Reef Park
Red Reef Park, situated on a stunning oceanfront property along one of Florida’s most scenic highways, spans 67 acres of picturesque land.
The park offers exceptional swimming, snorkeling, and surf fishing opportunities, along with extensive picnic facilities.
Its stunning reef, hailed as one of Boca Raton’s best-kept snorkeling secrets, features a vibrant display of hard and soft corals, an abundance of fish species, eels, rays, sharks, and more.
The park is also home to the Red Reef Executive Golf Course and the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
You can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with year-round beach patrols by lifeguards.
Just a short drive northwest of Gainesville, the Santa Fe River meanders through the woods until it reaches the Suwannee River, where Ginnie Spring awaits.
This natural wonder is a prime spot for snorkeling, boasting crystal-clear waters and stunning Florida landscapes.
With over 600 species of fish, turtles, butterflyfish, tang, barracudas, wrasse, angelfish, aquatic plants, and 40 diverse coral species, there’s no shortage of underwater wonders to explore.
During the summer, visitors flock to this location to beat the heat and relax by the river or stay overnight at one of the campgrounds.
You can bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it on-site for $12.
For optimal water temperature, it’s best to visit during the off-season (late fall through early spring).
Paddlers will find this spot a haven, and there’s even a volleyball court at the Ginnie Springs Recreation area for families with kids.
Alexander State Park
If you’re dreaming of snorkeling in an aqua-blue oasis filled with tropical fish and a diverse array of aquatic flora, look no further than Alexander State Park in the Ocala National Forest.
It’s one of the best snorkeling spots near Orlando, and exploring the shallow dive of just 8 meters is an unforgettable experience.
As one of Florida’s top springs, Alexander Spring boasts crystal-clear water with a year-round temperature of 72 degrees, making it an ideal location for snorkeling.
The spring itself is 2.5 feet deep, making it perfect for swimming, and it’s surrounded by a stunning floodplain forest featuring maples, cabbage palms, and other tropical plants.
Don’t miss out on the park’s dose of adrenaline, which sets it apart from other springs in Florida.
win Ledge, a stunning shallow reef system, is situated 2 miles offshore from Fort Lauderdale Beach and can only be accessed by boat.
Located at the end of Las Olas Boulevard, the parallel ledges are a beautiful sight to behold.
The spot is ideal for snorkeling and offers a chance to see hogfish, surgeonfish, pufferfish, sergeant, yellowtail snapper, yellow jacks, and many more.
The water depth ranges from 10-20 feet, and there is an abundance of sea fans. You won’t find hard coral here, but spotting a lobster in the rocky crevices is an incredible sight.
Taking photos can be challenging due to the depth.
Tip: A tour of Twin Ledge costs $30-$40, which includes breakfast, a boat ride, and snorkeling. It’s recommended to take the guidance of an excursion organizer for surfing.
St. Pete Beach Snorkeling
Located on a barrier island, west of St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach is a Florida resort city offering pristine white sandy beaches and an array of attractions and activities.
The iconic pink Moorish-style Don Cesar Hotel, or ‘Pink Palace,’ a landmark built in 1928, oversees the beachfront.
With nostalgic Old Florida hotels and inns dotting the coastline, the city features the longest undeveloped public beach in the county, Pass-a-Grille Beach.
Outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in a variety of activities, such as swimming, beachcombing, paddleboarding, surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing.
The lively Corey Avenue district is a hub of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, trendy specialty shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars.
Shell Key Shuttle
Located within the Shell Key Preserve at the mouth of Tampa Bay, Shell Key is a charming 195-acre barrier island that offers a secluded retreat to visitors.
The island boasts of serene white-sand beaches covered in shells and an exceptional snorkeling experience in the clear waters offshore.
You can access the island through the Shell Key Shuttle or private boats.
It is an ideal destination for birders, as it is a crucial habitat for nesting, wintering, and migratory birds.
Apart from birdwatching, activities on the island include sunbathing, beachcombing, swimming, and snorkeling, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers seeking a tranquil escape.
Also Read: Florida’s Top 17 Beaches with Clearest Water
FAQ On Best Snorkeling in Florida
If you’re planning to snorkel in Florida, the ideal time to do so would be from April to May, during the off-season. This is when the weather is pleasant, and the crowds are thinner. Additionally, hotel rates are slightly more affordable during this period.
Florida Keys is undoubtedly one of the best spots in Florida for snorkeling, but my personal favorite is Siesta Keys because of its clear water and fewer crowds.
Peanut Island, located in Riviera Beach, offers one of the safest and best places for snorkeling in Florida. Accessible only by boat, the inland island boasts crystal clear blue-green waters teeming with tropical fish.
For pristine snorkeling in Florida, look no further than Bahia Honda. Its stunning beauty and crystal-clear waters are sure to enchant you. Here, you can easily spot seagrass beds and rocky bottoms beneath the water’s surface.
When it comes to snorkeling spots, I believe Key West surpasses Miami. With fewer boats and tourists, Key West offers a more tranquil and enjoyable snorkeling experience.