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Best Snorkeling in the Florida Keys: 13 Can’t-Miss Spots

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Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

Snorkeling is a can’t-miss among Florida Keys experiences, and I’m here with a list of spots for the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys.

Whenever I book a beach getaway, I leave an afternoon free to go snorkeling—it’s the perfect excuse to get outside and enjoy the sun and white sand beaches.

You gain a new appreciation after exploring a place underwater, so snorkeling is a must when visiting the Florida Keys.

Many locals and tourists believe you can find the state’s best snorkeling in Florida Keys waters, so let’s check out these 13 picture-perfect destinations.

If you’re headed to the Florida Keys, book top activities below through GetYourGuide:

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Best Snorkeling in the Florida Keys: 13 Can’t-Miss Places

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

1. Charles S. Higgs Memorial Beach

Located in Key West, Charles S. Higgs Memorial Beach is the perfect beginner-friendly snorkeling spot.

Higgs Beach offers some of the best snorkeling in Florida Keys waters, and you don’t have to pay a dime.

The beach’s pier is surrounded by crystal clear water around ten feet deep—expect to see tropical fishes, barracuda, and spotted eagle rays. 

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

2. Historic Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas National Park

Historic Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park is a premier snorkel spot and one of the best ways to experience the park.

Dry Tortugas is situated off the coast of Key West—less than 1% of the park’s 100 square miles are land, so it’s only accessible by boat or seaplane, and amenities are limited.

After arriving in the park via ferry, slip into your fins and prepare for an unforgettable dive.

Swim around the fort’s historic moat wall and watch for sea stars and various conch species.

If you’re interested in checking out other national parks, check out this Florida National Park road trip guide.

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

3. Cheeca Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area

One of the best snorkel trips you can take on your Florida vacation is Cheeca Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

While Cheeca Rocks encompasses less than one nautical square mile, the site’s patch reef is stunning. 

Cheeca Rocks is home to tropical marine animals like sea turtles, parrotfish, and butterflyfish. 

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via Atlas Obscura

4. Key Largo Dry Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area

I highly recommend visiting Key Largo Dry Rocks Sanctuary Preservation Area for a unique snorkeling experience.

Four yellow buoys mark this recreation spot in an area formerly known as Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

Head to North Dry Rocks to see Christ of the Abyss Statue (sometimes called Christ of the Deep), a 9-foot-tall bronze sculpture submerged 25 feet below the water’s surface.

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

5. Molasses Reef

Molasses Reef offers some of the best snorkeling in Florida Keys waters, thanks to its excellent visibility, many fish species, and soft corals.

As a famous Upper Keys snorkeling area, Molasses Reef is easily accessible from Miami and other Florida Keys destinations.

Visitors will see everything from reef sharks to stingrays and eels—it’s also one of the only tropical coral reefs in Florida where you’ll find endangered elkhorn coral.

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via Florida State Parks

6. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

If you’re staying in Key West, plan to spend an afternoon snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

While exploring the tranquil waters, expect to spot lobster, snapper, and various coral species. 

Water shoes are recommended at Fort Zachary Taylor since the sharp coral reef can cut your feet.

If you forgot to bring your own, swing by the park’s gift shop to buy and pair—you can also rent a mask and fins if you don’t have snorkeling gear.

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via Pennekamp Park

7. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the most famous Florida Keys destinations for snorkeling.

Home to the first underwater park in the continental United States, this park has 70 nautical square miles for visitors to explore.

Snorkel tours are available through the park, though you can enjoy the clear, calm waters without a guide.

If you’re traveling with a group uninterested in snorkeling, they can book a ride on the park’s glass-bottom boat.

Best snorkeling in Florida Keys itinerary, by travel blogger What The Fab

8. Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Don’t worry—Alligator Reef Lighthouse isn’t as scary as it sounds! The Indian Key landmark was named for a sunken naval ship.

Alligator Reef presents a unique opportunity to learn about history while exploring the outdoors, thanks to its over 150-year-old lighthouse.

Since it’s roughly five nautical miles offshore of Islamorada, you must charter a boat to reach this snorkeling spot.

While snorkeling Alligator Reef, you’ll likely encounter grouper, barracuda, and, if you’re lucky, a nurse shark!

9. Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef, located near Islamorada off the coast of Marathon, is another popular location for offshore snorkeling.

There’s a small lighthouse at Sombrero Reef, but it’s too shallow to snorkel beneath—thankfully, the surrounding waters are clear and teeming with marine life.

This reef features a vibrant network of coral, sponges, and rocks inhabited by angelfish, snapper, and butterflyfish.

10. Bahia Honda State Park

Snorkeling at Bahia Honda State Park is fun for all ages and experience levels.

Beginners can hone their snorkel skills by exploring the coastal waters, home to small schools of tropical fish living amongst the seagrass.

For a more exciting adventure, charter a boat from Bahia Honda to Looe Key, a reef several miles from Big Pine Key.

With depths ranging from five to 70 feet, Looe Key Reef is a fantastic place to see large fish, turtles, and sharks.

11. Biscayne National Park

Some of the best snorkeling in Florida Keys parks can be found at Biscayne, a national park near Miami.

Biscayne is a hidden gem with everything from reefs to mangrove forests and shipwrecks.

Over 600 fish species live in the park, which is also home to rays, sharks, and dolphins.

Since Biscayne National Park isn’t the most beginner-friendly snorkeling area, booking a guided tour is best.

Image via Florida State Parks

12. Indian Key Historic State Park

Indian Key Historic State Park is a pristine snorkeling destination accessible only by boat.

The park includes an 11-acre island where visitors can watch for seabirds while walking through the historic Indian Key community. 

Explore Indian Key’s underwater landscape by snorkeling the coral reefs surrounding the island. 

Snorkelers at Indian Key Park must use a “diver down” flag and stay at least 100 feet from the dock.

Image via Florida State Parks

13. Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park’s natural beauty attracts many annual visitors who are eager to try snorkeling.

An abundance of shallow water throughout the park makes snorkeling accessible and straightforward.

The warm and clear Atlantic Ocean waters found at Long Key Park are ideal for beginner snorkelers.

You’ll have an unforgettable tropical vacation with my ultimate guide to the best snorkeling in Florida Keys waters.

Do you want more activity recommendations and destination guides? Check out my travel content!

Florida Keys Itinerary

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What are the Florida Keys?

The Florida Keys is a series of islands stretching from Miami to Dry Tortugas National Park, several miles off the South Florida coast.

When is the best time to visit the Florida Keys?

June, August, and September typically enjoy warm, mild weather, ideal for snorkeling Florida Keys excursions.

What are the best Florida Keys snorkeling spots for beginners?

Higgs Beach or John Pennekamp Park are great spots.

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