Snorkeling in Florida complete guide – Best places to visit

Snorkeling in Florida is a popular year-round activity thanks to the subtropical climate. No matter you wish to visit coral reefs in the Keys, freshwater springs or state parks snorkel trails, having fun and spotting interesting marine life are guaranteed. This complete guide tells you what are the best places to snorkel in the Sunshine State!

Top Snorkeling in Florida beaches

Florida’s 1000 miles coastline offers numerous places for underwater activities. The Florida Reef is one of the largest barrier reef system. It stretches from Miami to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Besides this coral reef system, many beaches and state parks feature smaller natural and artificial reefs that are also perfect to explore the marine life. Whether you look for easy shore snorkeling or boat trips, it is easy to find the place that will meet your needs the best! Read this Florida snorkel guide for our tips on the best beaches in the Florida Keys, near Orlando and Miami and in Southwest Florida! Moreover we tell you what are the best springs to snorkel!

Tip: do you love snorkeling in Florida but want to explore more underwater? Why don’t you plan a Caribbean holiday? Read our Mexico snorkeling tips on swimming with turtles in Akumal, snorkeling in Cenotes and get to know where to snorkel in Aruba!

Florida Keys snorkeling

If you are looking for the best underwater experience, the Keys Offers definitely the best snorkeling in Florida with colorful coral reefs, tons of tropical fish, turtles, rays and often nurse sharks around. Let’s see the best places to snorkel in Florida Keys!

John Pennekamp Coral State Park, Key Largo

The most popular and best snorkeling in Key Largo is definitely the John Pennekamp Coral State Park. The park offers several opportunities to explore nature while walking around or kayaking. Snorkeling tours are available to the nearby Key Largo coral reefs like Grecian Rocks, Banana Reef or the famous Christ of The Abyss at Key Largo Dry Rocks. For more information, read our John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park snorkeling review with detailed description and underwater photos.

Corals in John Pennekamp State Park

Bahia Honda State Park

This big 500 acres park in Big Pine Key is an ideal place for the entire family! Shallow water offering easy snorkeling in Florida with different coral species like staghorn, brain and fire corals as well as many species of fish like parrotfish, angelfish and barracudas to see.

Alligator Reef Lighthouse, Islamorada

The shallow coral reef around the lighthouse offers easy snorkeling in Florida Keys with plenty of fish and turtles to see! Advanced snorkelers can choose to stop at the nearby deeper reef too which is a wall-like area with angelfish, parrotfish, barracudas and even nurse sharks around. The Alligator Reef is available by charter boat.

Sombrero Reef, Marathon

A must-visit place that is considered the best snorkeling in Florida Keys! The reef is not only very rich in life, but also features interesting underwater scenery with small caves and canyons. Expect to see massive, healthy coral formations and plenty of fish!

Fort Zachary Taylor

The rocky shore makes Fort Zachary Taylor a perfect place for snorkeling in Florida Keys that attracts many reef fish and sea creatures to hang around and provides clear water, therefore, it is recommended to wear water shoes! A picturesque beach with trees and picnic tables.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Visiting the Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-do if you are in the Keys! This snorkeling in Florida experience offers you a truly unique adventure while swimming in crystal clear water around the historic Jefferson Fort. The 100-square mile park lies 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West and is accessible with ferry or seaplane. Due to its remoteness, the Dry Tortugas’ coral reefs are the healthiest of the Florida Reefs!

Tip: however you can find small shops around most beaches but not dive shops, therefore we recommend always take your own snorkeling equipment with you and don’t rely on rental options!

Best snorkeling in South Florida

If you don’t have time to drive down to the Keys, don’t worry because South Florida beaches also provide great snorkeling. Here is a summary where to snorkel in Miami and what are the Palm Beach best snorkel spots!

Best beaches near Miami for snorkeling

  • Biscayne National Park: with shoreline mangrove forest, pretty coral reefs and shipwrecks Key Biscayne offers the best snorkeling around Miami! The park is accessible only by boat but surely it is worth the efforts if you would like to enjoy a great day in the nature!
  • South Pier Beach: when spending your holiday on the world famous Miami South Beach, don’t miss out swimming around the South Pier Beach! Although this is not a colorful coral reef, but offers surprisingly good snorkeling in Florida if the ocean is calm and the visibility is good. Observe fish species hiding between the rocks, and look for eels! Sometimes also small sharks can be spotted!

South Pier on Miami Beach

Palm Beach snorkeling beaches

  • Phil Foster Park: the most popular snorkel spot of Palm Beach at the Blue Heron Bridge. The artificial reef system attracts a wide variety of sea creatures including seahorse besides different fish species. Snorkeling at Phil Foster Park is the best at high tide!

Phil Foster Park beach

  • Coral Cove Park: this lifeguard protected beach park and the close-by Blowing Rocks Preserve are good snorkel spots in Jupiter, Florida. Expect to see barracuda, nurse shark, loggerhead turtles and eels!
  • Bathtub Beach: On the northern side of Hutchinson Island in Stuart, Bathtub Beach is a popular place for spending the day out with the family. The reef stretches very close to the shore protecting the coast from high waves. The calm waters give home to more than 500 marine species including sea turtles.
  • Peanut Island: this tropical park can be found near Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach County. Easy snorkeling in the shallow lagoon with plenty of tropical fish. During colder months even manatees can be spotted here! In our Peanut Island guide we tell you how to get there, what to see and lot more

Beach on Peanut Island

Florida Springs – Freshwater snorkeling in Florida

There is an extensive system of freshwater springs in Florida that treat visitors with superb condition for water activities. These crystal clear springs can be found in Central and North Florida, therefore are perfect for those who seek snorkeling near Orlando. Let’s see the best springs to snorkel in Florida!

Crystal River

Kings Bay, where the water temperature is around 72 F (22 C) all year round give home to a big population of West Indian Manatees that are around whole year round. Moreover, the Crystal River is an important manatee winter refuge when hundreds of them gather in the warm water. Spotting manatees is possible all around Florida coastline but to protect these endangered creatures swimming with them is restricted at most places. If you wish to go snorkeling in Florida with manatees, the Crystal River is where you need to go since tours allowed here.

Ginnie Springs

On the Santa Fee River, 7 springs attract snorkelers and divers with their crystal clear blue water. With lush vegetation, playground for kids and volleyball court, the Ginnie Springs Recreation area is the best place for a family getaway! The lazy flowing river makes the place a heaven for paddlers!

Ichetucknee Spring Park

Partly declared as national natural landmark, the Ichetucknee Spring Park is considered as one of the most pristine springs in Florida. Because of the natural beauty and perfect conditions, this is one of the most popular spot for diving, canoeing and tubing. Snorkeling is allowed in designated areas. It is prohibited to use motorized vehicles.

Alexander Springs

The Alexander Springs Recreational Area lies not so far from Orlando. This first-magnitude spring with a wide sandy beach and a large spring pool bounded by trees is a nice spot to visit for the entire family. While snorkeling in this freshwater spring, you can spot many different fish species besides an alligator that occasionally visits the area!

Blue Spring State Park

A picturesque circular pool on St. Johns River near Orange City surrounded by big oak and palm trees where you can swim, snorkel, dive or canoeing. Campground, picnic area and playground are also available. The Blue Spring is a winter refuge for manatees that escape here from the cold. (water activities are restricted during manatee season)

Snorkeling in Southwest Florida

The Gulf Coast is known for the relaxed lifestyle and lush tropical landscape, but unfortunately doesn’t offer good conditions for underwater activities. The ocean is usually murky for good snorkeling, although if you get good weather with calm seas, you might be lucky to enjoy fair visibility. Here are our suggestions where to snorkel in Southwest Florida!

Sarasota snorkel spots

  • Point of Rocks: considered as one of the most decent snorkeling beach in Southwest Florida. Point of Rocks locates at the south end of Crescent Beach on Siesta Key. Except to observe different reef fish, some small sea creatures like crabs and sponges. Arrive early morning for calm water and good visibility
  • Regina Shipwreck: the SS Regina was a tanker that sank at Bradenton Beach near Anna Maria Island in 1940 and is a good snorkel spot in Southwest Florida now. The wreck rests in about 20 feet deep about 150 from the shore. Visiting the Regina wreck is a nice snorkeling in Florida experience during a calm weather period when the ocean is enough clear

Tip: did you know that you can find shark teeth on Venice Beach Florida? Search for them in the sand while walking on the beach!

Sarasota Beach Florida

Snorkeling spots around Naples Florida

  • Delnor-Wiggins State Park: a gorgeous beach with kayaking, paddling, fishing and snorkeling! A shallow coral reef runs parallel to the shore around parking 1 and 2 that is nice to explore.
  • Naples Municipal Beach: this pretty white sandy beach is accessible from the 12 Avenue South and is a nice place to hang out as well as for water activities.
  • Tigertail Beach at Marco Island: an unspoiled, not widely known yet clean and well-kept park. The Tigertail beach is famous for spotting dolphins offshore!

Best time to go snorkeling in Florida

Florida offers perfect weather all year round and is a top winter holiday destination that features the mildest winter in the continental United States. Therefore, snorkeling in Florida is possible at any time of the year.

Summer months are hot, maximum temperatures can reach 91 F (33 C) on some days and the ocean warms up to 82 F (28 C) making water activities very comfortable. Make sure always follow weather forecast since the period between June and November is the Atlantic hurricane season when tropical storms might form.

The mild winter months features pleasant weather for outdoor activities. Occasional cold fronts bring lower temperatures along strong wind and rainfall, but these last only for a few days and the conditions turn back to summerish quickly meaning bright sunshine and temperatures between 70-77 F (21-25 C). The ocean temperature is around 69-75 F (21-24 C) in winter (warmer in the south), therefore wearing a 3 mm snorkeling suit is recommended.

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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