Best Places for Snorkeling near Fort Lauderdale

A treasure located on Florida’s southeastern coast, Fort Lauderdale offers beautiful golden-sand beaches and lively a seaside promenade. The area has not only top restaurants, exciting museums and lavish hotels but fantastic water sports opportunities too. With the fantastic Florida Reef hugging the shoreline that is home to coral foundations that are nearly identical to those found throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Bahamas, this is a paradise for ocean lovers. To find out where to go snorkeling in Fort Lauderdale, here we collected the best spots for you!

Vista Park Reef

A top Fort Lauderdale snorkeling site, Vista Park Reef offers shore access to fantastic aquatic life. Unlike dive spots that must be accessed by boat, at Vista Park you to simply drive, park, and relax at some picnic tables before your odyssey into the depths!

In fact, this easy access makes Vita Park Reef a popular option with locals, but it is not so known by tourists therefore it is still a hidden gem.

The first part of the reef (which is the recommended snorkeling area) lies just 600 feet (180 m) from the shore and is about 11 feet and 15 feet (3.3-4.5 m) deep so it is suitable for beginners too. Since the reef is close to the shore and shallow, you can go and explore it by yourself without a boat or guide. The waters here are teeming with corals, schools of fish, lobsters, snappers, and sting rays.

Hall of Fame Reef

The Hall of Fame Reef resting 5 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale is home to a medley of marine life. It gets its name from its proximity to the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Museum.

Shallow depths (15-30ft/4.5-9m) and high visibility make this spot a favorite for beginners. Snorkelers can enjoy an underwater landscape consisting of overgrown reef ledges. Many people like to reach Hall of Fame Reef by kayaks launched from the Vista Park kayak launch.

Twin Ledges Reef

Offering a rare glimpse into Florida’s best seabed, Twin Ledges Reef sits just 1200 ft (365 m) from the bustling Las Olas Beach in Fort Lauderdale. This site gets its name from the two prominent ledges running parallel to the shore that frame it. Depths at Twin Ledges run from 12 to 22 feet (3.6-6 m).

A small valley formed by spliced bedrock creates a robust habitat for nurse sharks, grouper, yellowtail snapper, puffers, Bermuda chubs, hogfish, lobsters, sea turtles, and much more.

Fisher’s Pedestal

Defined by its three mushroom-shaped pinnacles rising 18 feet (5.4 m) from the water’s surface, Fisher’s Pedestal offers access to a coral-encrusted wonderland filled with Nassau groupers.

Another feature that makes Fisher’s Pedestal unique is that it’s positioned in an open sandy area in the middle of the reef which is located just offshore Fort Lauderdale Beach, in front of Sunrise Boulevard.

Barracuda over the reef

This dive spot isn’t just a hot zone for snorkelers and divers. Its overhanging coral creates a natural “cleaning station” for fish and other reef life seeking to remove unwanted debris and parasites from their scales and gills. Like an undersea car wash, this spot attracts lines of shrimp, barracudas, and tiger groupers waiting for their turn to get cleaned up under a coral-covered arch. Depths at Fisher’s Pedestal reach 9-30 feet (2.7-9 m).

Erojacks Reef at Dania Beach

Erojacks Reef is a must-visit Fort Lauderdale snorkeling spot found just a few hundred yards north of the famous Dania Pier near Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (former John U. Lloyd Park).

Dania pier

What makes this spot so special is that it consists of hundreds of concrete Erojacks that were used to form an artificial reef in a shallow dive and snorkel site. In fact, depths reach just 14 to 20 feet (4.2-6 m).

While the Erojacks that form what looks like a game of jacks played by children on the seafloor are artificial, they have become a natural habitat for countless species of sea life. Fish come in droves to feed on corals, sponges, barnacles, and shellfish.

It’s common to see nurse sharks, tarpons, angelfish, parrotfish, and sea turtles gliding along the underwater Erojacks. Low currents, shallow depths, and novelty appeal make Erojacks Reef a top spot for beginner snorkelers!

Hollywood North Beach Park

Known for its rocky ledges that provide inviting nooks for angelfish, barracudas, and nurse sharks, Hollywood North Beach Park is accessed using a series of 4-foot (1.2 m) ledges located roughly 175 yards (160 m) from the shore. Depths reach 13 to 20 feet (3.9-6 m) at this popular site for shore snorkeling.

Hollywood Beach - Florida

Clear conditions make exploring this area both easy and satisfying. After an adventure, snorkelers can spend time relaxing in the gorgeous white sand that carpets the beach near the dive site. This is a great beach park to go for those who look for snorkeling near Miami as it is just 26 miles (41 km) from South Beach.

Suzanne’s Ledge at Pompano Beach

Located less than a mile from shore, Suzanne’s Ledge is offers top snorkeling near Pompano Beach, a little north of the pier. It is considered unique among Fort Lauderdale snorkel sites because it sits on top of a ridge complex that runs parallel to the shore all the way to the Pompano Beach Drop Off.

The structure of the ledge creates tons of nooks and corners that attract lobsters, moray eels, and more seeking secure pockets. Depths here range from 15 to 30 feet. Snorkelers have also been known to find colonies of staghorn corals at Suzanne’s Ledge.

SS Copenhagen Shipwreck

Marine exploration and history merge at this popular diving site! In 1900, the 325ft/long steam-powered SS Copenhagen sank on Pompano Ledge off the coast of Fort Lauderdale (situated parallel with a famous restaurant called Sea Watch On The Ocean) during a cargo journey.

Thousands of divers and snorkelers descend to this Pompano Beach snorkeling site each year to explore this coral-encrusted relic that shows off preserved ship technology of the 19th century. They are joined by parrotfish, angelfish, sea sponges, and sea fans that use the buried ship as a hub. Depths at SS Copenhagen snorkeling range from 15 to 30 feet (between 4.5-9 meters).

Related post: Shipwrecks in Florida Keys for snorkeling

The Nursery

Located in front of El Prado Park in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, the Nursery is a popular dive and snorkel site that gets its name from the collection of nurse sharks that use to congregate here because they were being fed. Although it is not the case anymore, some still frequent the area.

Nurse shark on the seafloor

This shallow spot is ideal for snorkelers at all levels. However, those looking to go deeper can focus on an eastern ledge that offers depths of 30ft/9m.

Anglin’s Pier Reef/Anglin’s Ledge

This is a great spot for beach diving that offers plenty of opportunities to spot marine life. Home to magnificent schools of goatfish and surgeonfish, the Anglin’s Ledge reef diving site features a 12-foot ledge protruding toward the shore parallel to the famed Anglin’s Pier in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Reef sharks and sea turtles are also known to haunt these waters!

Datura Avenue Shipwreck Snorkel Trail

Located just south of Anglin’s Pier, this interesting dive and snorkel site consists of an artificial shipwreck from the 1800s that is peppered with replicated artifacts (cannons, anchors and ballast piles) just 200 feet from the beach. This shipwreck snorkel trail is an underwater archaeological preserve, a member of the Florida Museums in the Sea.

The experience can best be described as swimming inside a life-sized, boundary-free aquarium teeming with ocean life! Rays, reef fish, lobsters, cuttlefish and nurse sharks can be observed in the area. The fact that you can dive right from the shore makes this one of the best spots for snorkeling in Fort Lauderdale.

Biorock Project

The Biorock reef offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snorkel above a living, active reef restoration project. Using low-voltage currents supplied by solar panels, the Biorock project is changing reef conservation by using sun power to accelerate reef growth.

Located just south of Datura Avenue Shipwreck Snorkel Trail, this Lauderdale-By-The-Sea snorkeling site can be accessed for easy shore snorkeling. The site is just below the noticeable swim buoys supporting the solar panels. A combination of low currents, agreeable 12ft/3.6m depths, and good visibility make this a suitable snorkeling site for all ages and experience levels.

Oakland Ridges Reef/Oakland Park Reef

Reaching depths between 10-16 feet (3-4.8 meters), Oakland Park Reef (in front of Oakland Park Boulevard) is an exceptional spot for tracking down lobsters in a submerged wonderland. Expect to see boats moored for fishing, spearfishing, and lobstering upon arrival.

Lobster in a small nook

This ridge area features fractured ledges and table rocks that provide young fish with secure hiding spots away from sweeping currents. When seeking to explore more crevices and caves that are teeming with fish, head westward from the center.

Takeaway

Fort Lauderdale has been named one of the best places for snorkeling in Florida with good reason. A large number of beach snorkel spots, shallow, close-to-shore reefs and wrecks allow ocean explorers at all levels to discover the undersea world and its creatures. No matter you are a beginner or an experienced, snorkeling in Fort Lauderdale will not disappoint.

Fort Lauderdale Shoreline

FAQ

Does Fort Lauderdale have good snorkeling?

Fort Lauderdale offers some of the most accessible snorkeling sites in Florida. The area stands out among others due to the reef’s proximity to the shore as well as its good mix of shore snorkeling and moored snorkeling sites. That means that visitors can enjoy free snorkeling instead of paying for a boat charter.

Are there coral reefs in Fort Lauderdale?

Its position along the Florida Reef -that stretches along Florida’s shoreline almost 350 miles- makes Fort Lauderdale one of the best spots for exploring beautiful coral reefs that rivals the Great Barrier Reef in size and diversity. Divers and snorkelers can access living reefs just a few hundred feet from the shore.

How deep is the reef at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea?

The reef at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea lies just a few hundred feet from the shore and is maximum 30 feet deep (9.1 m). Average depths range between 10 and 15 feet (3-4.5 m). In fact, this is a perfect spot for kids and beginners looking for easy and shallow snorkeling sites.

Can you snorkel from the beach in Fort Lauderdale?

While most diving and snorkeling sites in the Florida Keys can only be accessed by boat, Fort Lauderdale has several snorkel spots that are located swimming distance from the city’s popular public beaches. Visitors are free to either dive alone or book a snorkeling tour.

Where is the best beach to snorkel in South Florida?

South Florida’s shoreline offers many fantastic snorkeling beaches. Many people consider Vista Park Beach the top snorkeling spot due to its easy access to the clear waters, robust coral patches, and huge population of sea fans located just 1,000 feet from shore. Hollywood North Beach Park is another popular Fort Lauderdale snorkeling beach that’s known to attract tropical fish, barracuda, tarpon, and nurse sharks to its deep ledges. Snorkeling near the popular Pompano Beach is also excellent.

Is Pompano Beach good for snorkeling?

Yes! Situated between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, Pompano Beach is known as the Wreck Capital of Florida due to its proximity to so many wreck and dive sites. Offering both shore and boat snorkeling, Pompano Beach is a gateway to popular snorkeling spots like Suzanne’s Ledge, the Hall of Fame, and Oakland Ridges!

Snorkeling Fort Lauderdale or Key West – Which one is better?

It’s hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison. While Key West reefs have greater coral growth compared to what you’ll see so close to the shore in the Fort Lauderdale area, Fort Lauderdale’s snorkeling sites are much more accessible. Fort Lauderdale is also better for beginner snorkelers due to the higher number of shallower reefs.

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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!