14 Best Places For Snorkeling In Florida – A Lifetime Experience

To explore the underwater flora, fauna, and microhabitat, snorkeling is definitely a rewarding activity for every tropical state people! Spotting interesting fishes, seals, kelp beds, sea lions, sea turtles, and even dolphins sometimes is so fantastic!

Popularly known as the “Sunshine State”, Florida is home to the best snorkeling spots in Florida. To me, watching the sun setting and sitting by the calm warm water is so peaceful and divine! Let me tell you, snorkeling is different from scuba diving.

Snorkeling in Florida

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Florida has so many incredible beach towns, party beaches, romantic couple-friendly beaches, and natural springs that you won’t face a shortage of places to chill by the beach and relax at night. Free divers from around the world come to Florida to plunge into the depths of the ocean in search of exploring and bringing history to live in front of the people. 

So, if you’re thinking about where to go snorkeling on the clearest beaches of Florida, this blog is the complete guide for you.

Let’s know the best snorkeling spots in Florida.

14 Best Places For Snorkeling in Florida

Snorkeling in Siesta Key

1. Point of Rocks

As the name says – Point of Rocks aptly suits the name, here you can spot unique limestone rock formations. It is the beach rock on the west coast of Florida famous among tourists for fishing, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. Just imagine, you exploring the white quartz sand and getting into the water with the snorkel mask!

The warm turquoise water here at Point of Rocks is perfect for snorkeling as you can spot colorful corals, tiny crabs, snapper, green flowing sea grass, interesting shellfish, and shell. The visibility rate is from six feet to much deeper. Seeing plants, and algae, growing on the rocks gives a different dimension to its color!

Tip: Point of Rocks is the best family snorkeling spot in Florida. You can park your car at Beach Access 12 which only has 20 parking spots.

Point of Rocks, Snorkeling in Siesta Key
Point of Rocks, Picture – Facebook

Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

2. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

It is said, there is no versatile marine destination in America. But, I disagree after coming to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Here you can explore subtropical waters, extensive seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands, and shipwrecks, and spot more than 4,000 species of marine life. And, yes, it is the world’s third-largest barrier reef. 

It encompasses 2,900 sq. miles extending from the southern tip of the Florida mainland southwest to the Dry Tortugas. The foundation of the Keys is limestone rock which is actually made up of ancient coral reefs, and sand bars. You can snorkel along the sanctuary’s Shipwreck Trail. 

Here you’ll find a lot of photographers and writers, no doubt Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is the best snorkeling spot in Florida. However, the Government does not allow any diving tours or snorkeling as this set is mostly used for research purposes. I recommend booking a trip with Blue Star operation to explore this place. 

Tip: From 6th August through 31st March you can spot a lobster

Also, Read: Florida’s 12 Warmest Coastal Retreats in December

3. Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is pretty darn good! The water is calm and warm. It is 5-12 feet depth making it the best spot for snorkeling in North America. I spent two hours straight having fun here with my sister! Also, this spot sits across the Open Ocean 70 miles west of Key West. You can enjoy seeing a myriad of colorful corals here!

If you’re searching for the offbeat destination for the best snorkeling in Florida, you can choose Dry Tortugas National Park as this can be accessed only by seaplane and boat. You can also come to Garden Key which is a historic site of Fort Jefferson. While snorkeling, you can spot a variety of sea turtles, starfish, and more.

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If you’re the one searching for snorkeling around Miami, Dry Tortugas is the place. It gives you a whole new experience of wandering around the underworld. Cottrell Key and Sand Key Lighthouse is also some key attraction of this place. 

My favorite spot is at Africa Coral Reef. You can snorkel along the Moat Wall, A bit of a swim, Southern Whraf Ruins, and Northern Whraf Ruins. 

Tips:

  • The ferry charge is $190 per person including breakfast, lunch, and snorkeling
  • The best time to come here is in the month of April and November
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park

Also Read: Beautiful & Peaceful Beaches in Miami

4. Alligator Reef Lighthouse Islamorada

I want you to imagine spending the entire day snorkeling with blue tangs, angel fish, butterfly fish, yellowtail snapper, and parrotfish, spotting shallow coral reefs, and clicking photos with the lighthouse tower in the background. Alligator Reef Lighthouse offers a unique snorkeling experience in Florida!

Writing about this reminds me of the times when I came to the Florida Keys back in July 2021. The transparent blue clear ocean water made it the best snorkeling spot in the Florida Keys. The reefs range in depth from 4 – 20 feet making it one of the most hidden spots in Florida. The best thing about it is, you can navigate easily.

If you’re the master of snorkeling, I recommend taking a private boat to reach Cheeca Rocks, or Alligator Reef, or Alligator Reef Lighthouse. Believe me, you can actually spot the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. You can spot soft corals, mushrooms, star corals, turtles, and brain corals too!

Tip: Do not go too far because you might encounter with Hammerhead Shark 

Alligator Reef Lighthouse
Alligator Reef Lighthouse, P.C- TripAdvisor

5. Bahia Honda State Park

If you’re looking for a tranquil escape, and Hollywood-style snorkeling destinations in Florida, I’ve got you covered. Snorkeling at Bahia Honda is idyllic! It offers visitors an idyllic family-friendly snorkeling experience and amazing views of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. For a good experience, you’ve to move to Looe Key Reef.

Did you know you can take a snorkel tour above a patch reef of Elkhorn coral? Note that the experience of snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park beach is completely different from Looe Key Reef. I went to Looe Key Reef, and loved it! Palm-lined shores and an old historic bridge make the place so beautiful. It sits in Big Pine Key, 37 miles north of Key West.

Tip: Bring your own snorkeling equipment

You should know more on: 13 Things Florida Is Known And Famous For

6. John Pennekamp Coral State Park Key Largo

Don’t you wish to see century-old artifacts, old submerged Spanish shipwrecks, living coral barrier reefs, and the most attractive undersea park in the United States? John Pennekamp Coral State Park is the best snorkeling spot in Key Largo, Florida.

You’ll find 200 kinds of third and soft corals, tropical fishes like eels, barracuda, rays, dolphins, and so more. For snorkeling, you should come to Cannon Beach. Also try to click the photo of you with the Christ of the Abyss sculpture, sunk deep inside the water.  

Remember, the best reefs cannot be reached by swimming. Hence you’ve to join a snorkeling boat tour that offers equipment, and a local guide to the ecosystem. With them, you can reach Molasses Reef, Banks Dry Rocks, Grecian Rocks, Key Largo Dry Rocks, and Banana Reef.

Tips:

  • Coming here on your own will cost $8 per vehicle
  • The admission cost for a snorkel boat in the park is $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children. You can buy the mask and fins separately for $3 and $4 respectively
  • If you’re new to snorkeling, Cannon Beach’s calm and shallow water is the best spot
  • The best time to come here to take great underground photos is between 10.30 am – 11 am
John Pennekamp Coral State Park
John Pennekamp Coral State Park

Snorkeling in Palm Beach County

7. Peanut Island

Peanut Island with its rocky shoreline positioned perfectly in the Lake Worth Lagoon and Intercostal Waterway just at the mouth of the Lake Worth inlet. Its location between Singer Island, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Island makes it the best snorkeling spot in South Florida. There is no road, you’ve to take a boat to reach here.

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Its exotic location and ride away from the mainland make it ideal to spend hours by the beach. The lush green tall coconut and palm trees, and the sandy beach feel like you’re on a Caribbean island or on the beach of the Bahamas.

Peanut Island looks best during high tide. It is also home to some incredibly beautiful marine life like – lobsters, sea sponges, shrimps, crabs, parrotfish, starfish, and also Green moray eel. You can also visit Kennedy Bunker, a public Cold War fallout shelter.

Tip: The boat ride is $10

Read More: Know where you go tide pooling in Florida

Snorkeling in South Florida

8. Blue Heron Bridge

One of the most renowned and Floridian’s favorite snorkeling sites in Palm Beach is under Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach. The spot is famous for being home to the exotic sea creature, event statues, and clear water. Even it is said that in one single dive, you can spot 100 species of fish!

I recommend keeping your GoPro ready to take a shot of seahorses, octopuses, batfish, frogfish, stargazers, sea turtles, manta rays, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and varied types of fishes. Blue Heron Bridge earned its name as the Best Shore Diving in the America and Muck Diving Capital of the World.

Under Blue Heron Bridge, you’ll love Phil Foster Park Snorkel Trail. It is an artificial man-made reef spanning 800 feet and 6 – 10 feet deep. On the other hand, The Snorkel Trail ranges from 10 – 15 feet deep. At last, I want to let you know that the whole experience at Blue Heron Bridge will yearn for you for more!

Snorkeling on Sanibel Island

9. Lighthouse Beach Park

So, Lighthouse Beach Park is my favorite spot for snorkeling on Sanibel Island. It sits on the eastern tip of Sanibel stretching around to the side of the Bay. Here you can snorkel with manatees. Isn’t it a great spot? If you want to swim with manatees, read my other blog!

Along the coastline, there is a famous 150 plus years old lighthouse, which makes it so photogenic. You can embrace glittering with a myriad of colorful sea shells, or float on the calm clear water.

Swimming at Lighthouse Beach Park is very safe. Also, snorkeling to spot marine life and aesthetic shells is something you can always look forward to at Sanibel Island. The magnificent beach is no doubt very vibrant and enriching. If you love shelling, I recommend exploring the shelling beaches in Florida, you’ll love it!

Tip: Parking fee is $2 an hour

 Lighthouse Beach Park
Lighthouse Beach Park

Snorkeling in Fort Myers

10. CJ Reef

If you love adventure and want to explore marine life in Fort Myers, then look no further than at CJ Reef. Also, CJ Reef is one of the hidden gems for snorkeling in Florida. This is a 4-hour adventure conducted by Sunset Ski & Water sports. The sparkling water on this isolated island is surely something you need to experience! 

You’ll get a taste of the beauty of Cape Coral in Southwest Florida that you never thought ever existed. Also, you’ll learn about the marine wildlife of the island and swim among some of the best shelling in the world. I saw the videos of Soniya, snorkeling at CJ Reef, which left me speechless!

Also Read:11 Best Beaches in Southwest Florida: Escape to Paradise

Snorkeling in Central Florida

11. DeLeon Springs

Can you say no to exploring 625-Acre Park which features gorgeous Springs and a Garden? Another beautiful thing about the spot is the pancake restaurant. DeLeon Springs features a swimming pool, outdoor grills, hiking trails, and a few historical ruins. 

However, as per the rule it is not allowed to snorkel in the Spring Run but you can surely explore the waters in the swimming area. The water temperature is 72 degrees with 18 – 30 feet inches depth. These are natural headsprings where in someplace the Spring boil bubbles up from a network of underground caverns.

Tip: Entry fee is $4 – $6 per vehicle

DeLeon Springs
DeLeon Springs

Snorkeling in Florida Springs

12. Ginnie Springs

Just northwest of Gainesville, the Santa Fe River winds its way through woods taking you to the Suwannee River. Here you’ll find Florida’s natural springs called Ginnie Spring, a place to spot crystal clear water and gorgeous Florida landscape.

Not only that, this is the ideal snorkeling spot in Florida to encounter 600 species of fish, turtles, butterflyfish, tang, barracudas, wrasse, angelfish, aquatic plants, 40 varied species of coral, and so more. In the hot summer, people love to come to this place and chill by the river and spend the night at the campgrounds.

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You can get your snorkeling gear from home or rent from the spot at $12. I recommend coming here in the off-season (late fall through early spring) to enjoy the warm water. Also, this place is a haven for paddlers! You can also take your kids to the volleyball court at the Ginnie Springs Recreation area.

Learn More: 9 Best Fishing Piers in Florida That are Worth Visting

13. Alexander State Park

If you fantasize about snorkeling on an aqua-blue oasis, riddling with tropical fishes, and spotting varied types of water-dwelling flora – Alexander State Park is the best spring in Ocala National Forest. It is one of the best spots for snorkeling near Orlando. Exploring the shallow dive, only 8 meters is an amazing experience you can have!

Also, it is one of the best springs in Florida with incredible clean water and with 72-degree year-round temperature to snorkel. Alexander Spring is 2.5 feet deep making it ideal for swimming. The place is surrounded by a floodplain forest of maples, cabbage palms, and other tropical plants. 

Tip: Also, the place offers a dose of adrenaline that unlike the other springs in Florida can offer.  

Alexander State Park
Alexander State Park, Picture – Padi

Also Read: Sharks in Cocoa Beach: Everything You Need to Know

Snorkeling in Fort Lauderdale

14. Twin Ledges

Just east of Fort Lauderdale Beach sits a pretty shallow reef system called Twin Ledge which can be accessed only by boat. It sits 2 miles from the shore, just at the end of Las Olas Boulevard. You’ll be surprised to spot two ledges parallel to the shore. It looks beautiful!

You can spot hogfish, surgeonfish, pufferfish, sergeant, yellowtail snapper, yellow jacks and so more. No doubt the place is covered with many sea fans and a must place to snorkel. The water is 10- 20 feet deep. The underwater seascapes are so pleasant!

Here you cannot spot hard coral. What you can see is a lobster in the rocky crevices; trust me it is one of the most spectacular sights to spot. Also, taking photos here is not easy because of the depth. 

Tips: 

  • The tour costs $30 – $40 which includes breakfast, a boat journey, and snorkeling
  • I recommend taking an excursion organizer’s instruction for surfing here!

Conclusion

If you’re dreaming of discovering the underwater world of Florida by yourself, you should check out the above snorkeling places in Florida! The world is extraordinarily filled with rich reefs, unique marine animals, and a huge diversity to explore!

Needless to say, Florida is a haven for snorkelers. So, just plan a trip and come here soon. You won’t get disappointed!

Disclaimer: You can go snorkeling in Marco Island at Tigertail Beach, however, snorkeling won’t be great because the bottoms are mostly sandy.

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FAQ: Snorkeling in Florida

1. Which side of Florida has better snorkeling?

A. The Florida Keys tops as the best side in Florida for snorkeling. But I loved Siesta Keys as the crowd is less and the water is clear.

2. What time of the year is best for snorkeling in Florida?

A. The best time to snorkel in Florida is between April to May (off-season) when the weather is not too hot, and the crowd is less. Also, the hotel rates are a little cheaper. 

3. Where is the clearest water for snorkeling?

A. If you’re in search of clear water for snorkeling in Florida, then it has to be Bahia Honda. You’ll be flattered by its beauty and sparkling clear water. You can see the seagrass beds and the rocky bottom clearly. 

4. Where is the safest place to snorkel in Florida?

A. Peanut Island in Riviera Beach is one of the safest places to snorkel in Florida. You’ve to take a boat ride to reach the inland island to snorkel on the clear blue-green water with tropical fishes. 

5. Is snorkeling better in Miami or Key West? 

A. Comparing Key West with Miami in terms of snorkeling spots, I think Key West is the best place to enjoy snorkeling adventures. Key West has less boat traffic and less tourist compared to Miami. 

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