When driving to the Keys, you won’t miss the “Welcome to the Conch Republic” sign that welcomes you! But what comes next? There are tons of things to do in the Keys, but we want to make sure you know that you must try snorkeling! In fact, we are here to give you 9 places for the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
We all know the Keys– and Florida in general– are great for beach days, state parks, nature trails and more. You can kayak in a variety of places, enjoy national landmarks, explore history sites and more! We also don’t want to forget about those crazy dining destinations! But snorkeling in the Florida Keys is unique experience and we don’t want you to miss it! So pack that snorkel, and get exploring!
Before you plan your trip, make sure to check out The Best Times To Visit The Keys where we break down each month and talk all things weather!
9 Places for the Best Snorkeling in the Florida Keys
1. Alligator Reef
Hands down, Alligator Reef is one of the places for the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys! And no, don’t worry, there are no alligators here. In fact, Alligator Reef was named after a ship that sank. These remains sit 200 feet from the lighthouse– which is known as Alligator Reef Light– and is a great thing to check out!
This reef is protected. Many people recognize it due to the lighthouse present within the reef, and the four yellow buoys that designate the permitter. You can’t anchor here, but a variety of aquatic species make it ideal for snorkelers and divers. Some spots are only eight feet in depth! The coral, fish, and relaxing nature of Alligator make this one of the must-see and best snorkeling in Islamorada (which also has great things to do!).
Book Here: Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Snorkeling Trip
2. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Fort Zachary is one of the best beaches in Key West! And best beaches mean this state park is one of the best beach snorkeling in the Florida Keys! Due to the rich, marine life, you can see parrot fish, yellowtail snapper, lobster, and tons of coral. It truly is a beautiful underwater habitat.
When here, of course, you can check out the nature trails, go fishing in permitted areas, go biking, and just lay out. But most people really take advantage of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys that happens here. You can even rent a snorkel and fins at this park, so you don’t have to come prepared. Just enjoy the blue waters and shallow reefs that are perfect for any snorkelers, no matter what past experience they bring.
This is truly one of the Best Beaches In The Florida Keys and you must check it out!
3. John Pennekamp Reef State Park
There is no denying a shortage of wonderful state parks near the Keys, but consider these parks and how they may offer the best snorkeling in Key Largo! John Pennekamp Reef State Park does just that! With over 178 nautical square miles of seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps, tourists and locals call this the “undersea park!”
Key West snorkeling spots aren’t hard to come by, but you want to consider places that can let you do off shore snorkeling in the Florida Keys too. With easy-to-follow routes, kayaking tours, and snorkeling tours too, this state park is perfect for water activities. You may even see stingrays, young sharks, manatees and herons if you are lucky! Bring your own gear if you don’t want to rent!
Book Here: Key West: Full Day Snorkeling Tour
4. Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas
If you know anything about the Florida Keys, you also know about Dry Tortugas. But did you know that this national park also offers some of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys? That is right! Snorkeling at Fort Jefferson is just 70 miles from Key West. There are shallow waters (5-15 feet), so it is fun for everyone!
Here you can see colorful tropical fish, and live coral at every turn. Better yet? The reefs are easily accessed from the white sand beaches. This means Florida Keys snorkeling from shore has never been easier! And it makes it great for all ages and experiences. Just make sure to keep your eyes out for starfish, queen conchs, and more– they’re popular here! Complimentary fins, masks, and snorkel are provided.
Book Here: Key West: Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling
5. Molasses Reef
Molasses Reef brings in locals and tourists because some of the best Florida Keys snorkeling experiences can happen here! With more than 30 dive sites marked with buoys, it is a classic reef that is well defined, meaning you will see tons of coral development. However, it is important to note that you will more than likely need to get a tour for diving and snorkeling here. This is one of the best snorkeling in Key Largo, specifically, so take a boat tour in Key Largo or at Pennekamp State Park to get here!
The depth here ranges from six feet to 90 feet! There are major currents on the outside edge of the reef too, so it is great for drift diving– just be careful! The clarity of the water here is truly stunning, and we promise you will see why this is one of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys experiences, as it is only 5 miles off the coast of Key Largo, and the high-profile coral heads just off the sand bottom 12-15 feet tall!
6. Sombrero Reef
Sombrero Reef features some of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys, as well as some of the best snorkeling in Marathon! The 10-mile-long family-oriented community of Marathon is located in the middle of the Keys’ island chain. This makes it super popular for locals and tourists. What keeps people coming back is just how alive this reef is!
If you love Marathon, make sure to check out some of our other favorite things to do in the Middle Keys!
With waters ranging in depth between 2 feet and 30 feet, it attracts guests of all snorkeling experiences. But what makes this reef unique is the ability to really get up and personal with any underwater creature. There are stunning neon-colored tropical fish here, and the corals match. Just be sure to awe and not touch! And take a boat out there!
Book Here: Key West Island Adventure Eco Tour
7. Bahia Honda State Park
If you are planning on experiencing some of the best snorkeling near Islamorada, take a drive to Bahia Honda State Park. This beach is perfect and considered the top best snorkeling beach in the Florida Keys. Florida Keys snorkeling from shore, and Key West snorkeling sports have never been easier at this state park– and here is why!
Make sure to check out some of our other favorite things to do in the Lower Keys in addition to Bahia Honda!
Bahia is about an hour from Islamorada, but we want you to take that drive for this island! Here you can spend time at the park on and in the water: swim, snorkel, kayak. Do what you want! You can stay near shore because just a few hundred feet out you will find coral, coral heads, fish, queen conchs, and lobster! The waters only go up to 6 feet in depth, so it is a great reef to start on, and the gorgeous bridge is a wonderful backdrop!
8. Looe Key
There is no shortage of Florida Keys snorkeling spots, but we wanted to make sure to add Looe Key as one of the best Florida Keys snorkeling locations! This reef has become a MAJOR destination over the years. It is located on Big Pine Key, which is known for its tranquil environment and beautiful scenery. So, it’s already a win (even if it is 30 miles away from Key West!).
Despite the distance, it is actually quite easy to pool a tour with a captain or plan a snorkel trip here. In fact, when you go to Bahia Honda state park and experience one of the other best snorkeling in the Florida Keys, you can plan your trip to Looe Key while there! From seven to 30 feet in depth, the reef can be a bit shallow, but the views are not. Say hi to spotted eagle rays, reef sharks, barracudas, and even Goliath groupers!
9. Indian Key Historic State Park
Last but not least on our list of the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys is Indian Key Historic State Park. This park is another destination that is hands down the best beach snorkeling in the Florida Keys! It is only accessible by boat, but you can head over from Islamorada with ease.
This historic spot brings in locals and tourists all the time! There are plenty of charters that can take you here, and many of them run eco-tours to the park itself. But once there, you can explore the settlement’s history. Just make sure to spend time in the water! Coral rocks surround the rim of the area, so you can swim around for tons of time. With so many colors, hogfish, sharks, rays, and more, this place has it all.
And there you have it, folks! 9 places for the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys. So whether you are going on a water-sports-inspired vacation, or just looking to relax, we promise snorkeling here will not disappoint you. Hit the water, and enjoy “under the sea.” There’s a whole world you’ll get to witness.