Best Snorkeling Spots in Florida

There’s plenty to explore with just a mask and snorkel

Snorkeling
Don’t forget to put some sunscreen on your back before a day of snorkeling. Pixabay

Florida’s position along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean provides plenty of great spots for those who like to explore underwater with a mask and snorkel. Unlike scuba diving, you don’t need certification to snorkel. Still, always make safety a priority and follow locally posted guidelines before you proceed into the water. Also, please consider using reef-friendly sunscreen to help preserve Florida’s water playgrounds.

Dry Tortugas National Park

This park is a collection of seven remote islands 70 miles to the west of Key West, reachable via seaplane or a 2 1/2 boat trip. Follow underwater along the moat wall at Fort Jefferson and you’ll discover horizontal purple sea fans, brown sea fingers, queen conch and purple squid.
Directions: Approximately 70 miles west of Key West, it is accessible only by a daily concession ferry, private boats, charter boats, or seaplane.
Hours: Open 24 hours, except on federal holidays.
Fees: $15 a person.
Official website

Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park

Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park is hidden from Naples by mangrove swamps and tidal creeks. A 150-foot offshore swim finds you floating over hard and soft corals, sea anemones, lobsters, tangs and barracuda. Visibility is best in winter.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year.
Fees: $6 per vehicle (limit 8 people), $4 single-occupant vehicle, $2 pedestrians and cyclists.
Official website

Biscayne National Park

Snag a Keys-style snorkel sans crowds in Biscayne National Park, about one hour south of Miami. A favorite spot is Bache Shoal, part of the barrier reef off Elliott Key. See brain and star corals and some 200 species of fish.
Hours: Open 24 hours, except on federal holidays.
Fees: No entrance fees.
Official website

St. Andrews State Park

Find easy snorkeling in the emerald cove at St. Andrews State Park, near Panama City. A 150-foot offshore swim finds you floating over hard and soft corals, sea anemones, lobsters, tangs and barracuda. Visibility is best in winter.
Location: 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City FL 32408
Hours: 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year
Fees: $8 per vehicle
Official website

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The first undersea park in the U.S., the Key Largo locale encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles. Visit the underwater statue, Christ of the Abyss, and view slews of tropical fish, lobsters and eels.
Location: Mile Marker 102.5 Overseas Highway, Key Largo FL 33037
Hours: 8 a.m. until sunset, 365 days a year
Fees: $8 per vehicle, plus 50 cents per person
Official website

More Outdoors