Pensaola and Navarre Beaches plus militaty museums NAS Penssacola and Eglin Air Museams
Gulf Shores plus Ft. Morgan
Atlanic Coast Beach Info
Fort Desoto Beach
Gulf Coast Beach Info
Beach Access Addresses and Directions for Longboat Key info
Fort De Soto park
Good Article on quiet beach locations
Best Beach Hotels from Trip Advisor
Best for Snorkeling – thank you beach hunter
Snorkeling in the Florida Panhandle
Snorkeling Spots in Southwest Florida
Southeast Florida Snorkeling Spots
Other than the Keys, the southeast coast of Florida offers the most snorkeling opportunities. Rock reefs run parallel to the coast at varying distances from shore. In some areas the rocks are just a short swim from the beach. Coral reefs begin to thrive in the warm waters around Miami. Here are some of the best and easiest snorkeling spots to access:
Snorkeling Florida Springs
Crystal River – Manatees !!
Rainbow Springs – Clear – Great Swimming – Fee!
Snorkeling Florida Panhandle
Jetty East Beach – Destin Florida
Sandy bottom and algae-coverd rocks with plenty of fish.
Sandy bottom with plenty of fish but new artifically reefs introduced
Snorkeling Southern Florida
Coral Cove Park- Jupiter
Coral Cove Park is home to a two acre, 12,500-ton, limestone-boulder artificial reef designed to attract a plethora of fish, and it works almost too well. That’s because along with the large tropical game fish, migrating sharks have on occasion stopped by. Thankfully something the park is abundant in — water visibility — is also the one of the greatest deterrents to shark attacks since a bite is most likely to happen if the water is murky. Of course, the greatest protection against injury is the rescue staff, who evacuate the water at the first sighting of a shark until at least 30 minutes after the last sighting. Like the tourists of South Florida, sharks may make a habit of showing up but not usually for long. Don May, chief of ocean rescue, said sometimes his staff will go months without a report of one. 19450 State Road 707 (Beach Road) Tequesta, Florida
General Information: (561) 966-6600 Beach Conditions: (561) 624-0065
More information:Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation.
Biscayne National Park- Homestead
A 53-foot glass-bottom boat (available in July) and a 45-foot diving and snorkeling catamaran take adventurers across southern Biscayne Bay in the northernmost Florida Keys and the largest national marine park, through wilderness, mangrove creeks, islands, and out to tropical coral reefs teeming with sea life. Family snorkeling is available from the boat. Canoe and kayak rentals, picnic area, walking trails, fishing, camping and shower facilities available. Reservations at 305-230-1100. Visit biscayneunderwater.com for more information. Open daily 9:00-5:30. Waterfront visitor center offers exhibits, films and information. Visitor Center open daily 7:30-5:30. 9700 SW 328 Street, Homestead, FL 33033-5634 Headquarters: 305-230-1144 Visitor Information: 305-230-7275 More information: National Park Service.
Red Reef- Boca Raton This spot also has an artificial reef close to the shore, this one only about 10 feet. After being created to cover up jagged rock off the shore, it soon became home to many different organisms including hundreds of rainbow-colored, striped and spotted fish, as well as occasional sea turtles, eels and stingrays. Although the artificial reef is not as massive as Coral Cove, Red Reef also has a boardwalk for those not interested in bringing swim trunks and a change of clothes. Be aware: Parking here is expensive — $16 weekdays; $18 weekends and holidays. 1400 N. State Road A1A, Boca Raton, FL Recreation Service Department: 561-393-7974 More information: City of Boca Raton.
Commercial Boulevard and A1A, Lauderdale By The Sea
Something a little less formal then a park, one can just take a little walk either north or south of Anglin’s Pier and swim out a couple hundred yards, where many kinds of fish, including nurse sharks, have been spotted. The prime spots for snorkeling here is a significant distance from the shore so snorkelers should be strong swimmers and bring a dive flag.
Peanut Island- Riviera Beach An interesting outing by private boat or commercial ferry or taxi, Peanut Island is a surprising location for such good snorkeling. The island is located in the Port of Palm Beach directly inside the inlet. The west side of the island offers docks and boardwalks. The east side of the island is home to a shady county park with picnic tables and campgrounds, as well as a fine snorkeling area. Peanut Island’s rocky shoreline has attracted a large quantity and variety of fish. The advantage to snorkeling here is that there is much to see in shallow water right off the shore. Unlike Pennekamp, where one cannot stand or touch bottom for fear of harming the coral, Peanut Island snorkeling can include regular feet-on-the-ground breaks to clear your mask. The best snorkeling area is located on the south side of the island, part of a small, protected cove with shallow waters and near a white sand beach. Best visibility is recommended from two hours prior to two hours after high tide; low tide brings murkier water. Ferry service is available from Phil Foster Park for $5 roundtrip from either Palm Beach Water Taxi (561) 683-TAXI) or The Seafare, (561) 339-2504. Just north of the Lake Worth/Palm Beach Inlet, south of the Blue Heron Bridge. Camping Reservations: 561-845-4445 More information: Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation
Bathtub Reef- Stuart Bathtub Reef offers a few of the best natural amenities that any snorkeler could ask for: regular clear and shallow water right off the coast. The southernmost public beach in Martin County is protected by the worm reef that keeps the water at optimal conditions. It also provides a terrific oppertunity for smaller snorkelers to enjoy the beauty without having to contend with large waves or a deep dive. The reef is the work over many years of millions of tiny worms (called Sabellariid.) The worms build tubelike homes that form the reef. If you do plan to pack up the minivan and head out, set the alarm early. The sandy parking lots have a habit of filling up quickly on the weekends. 1585 S.E. MacArthur Blvd., Stuart Park Offices: (561) 221-1418 More information: Photos and information.
Snorkeling the Florida Keys
Indian Key – Off shore from Lower Matecumbe Key Accessible only by boat or kayak from US 1, this history-rich island is also a hot spot for local and visiting snorkelers. The island has the remnants of massacre and betrayal from bygone conflicts between everyone from tribes and settlers to pirates and shipwrecked crews. It also offers glimpses of wildlife above and below the water line. The rocky perimeter of the island provides one of the few near-shore areas for snorkelers to view coral and a variey of sea life. Located on the ocean side of U.S. 1 at M.M. 78.5. It is accessible only by private boat or charter boats available at nearby marinas. For tour boats, charters or kayak rentals, try nearby Robbie’s Marina.Robbie’s dock is also a popular stop for feeding and admiring tarpon. Park Office: 305-664-2540 More information: Florida State Parks.
John Pennekamp State Park- Key Largo Hands down one of the most recognized snorkeling and scuba diving areas in the country, the completely submerged Pennekamp is home to innumerable breathtaking sights. Boat trips run by the park depart three times a day at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. costing $21.95 for minors and $26.95 for adults. Equipment rentals are separate but can cost as little as $6 for fins, snorkel and mask. Masks corrected for the near-sighted are also available for rent. If you are lucky enough to have a boat yourself, try White Banks Reef, located at the southern tip of the park, the spot features a circular patch of soft and hard coral along with nearly 400 varieties of tropical fish, according to Capt. Todd Firm of Keys Divers. Although gorgeous, White Banks is hardly a hidden treasure. For a more secluded time, try Horseshoe about a mile north behind Key Largo. It not only hosts a comparable amount of sea life but also many unique “swim throughs.” MM 102.5 Overseas Highway, Key Largo Park Offices: 305-451-6300 More information: John Pennekamp State Park.
The Florida Keys Reef Tract
The Florida Keys Reef Tract is the third-longest reef on Earth, and the only living coral reef accessible from the contiguous U.S. The comparative health of the reef makes off-shore snorkeling a common activity in the Keys; the corals are abundant and have great variety, and the marine life is abundant. Finding any destination in the Keys is easy: there is only one road. Directions to specific places are usually given in mile marker numbers; the markers start with zero in Key West and increase to the north. A typical example would be Bahia Honda State Recreational Area at MM 37.
Marathon is in the Middle Keys; its significant neighbors are Islamorada to the north and Big Pine Key to the south. The inshore water around the Lower Keys is usually foggy; visibility is tragic for weeks after even small tropical storms pass by; the further north you travel the closer in-shore the Gulf Stream comes, until by the upper Keys even 40-foot-deep water is crystal clear. The best shore snorkeling, such as it is, can be found in the middle Keys. From Marathon and its environs, fabulous snorkeling trips can be taken to Coffins Patch and Sombrero Reef; from Islamorada the best runs are to Hen and Chickens and Alligator Reef.
Sombrero Beach Marathon
Sombrero Beach is Marathon’s only expansive tourist beach; there was substantially less of it before Hurricane George, in 1998, deposited huge resources of sand. Improvements initiated by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council have made the most of this new asset. The sand is not powder but it is fine-grained, and the slope both of the beach and then the in-shore sub-surface terrain is gentle. The location is fine for practicing snorkeling skills, but there is unlikely to be anything to see. Sombrero Beach can be found at MM 50.
Snorkeling the Bridges
Marathon is defined by Seven Mile Bridge to the north. The pilings closest to the shores are typically in very shallow water, although the sub-surface terrain is rocky and may well be littered, so snorkeling can safely be practiced in these places. Currents can move surprisingly quickly through Duck Key Channel, so be aware of changes in tidal flow more than 10 or 15 feet off-shore.
John Pennekamp and Bahia Honda
A great deal of snorkeling activity takes place at the two parks, and without question their beaches are fabulous — Bahia Honda is the best in the Keys — but there is little to see below the surface except for the occasional flutter of a disappearing tiddler. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (pennekamppark.com) in Key Largo is a jumping-off point for numerous providers of off-shore snorkeling trips; the Christ of the Abyss statue, White Banks and Molasses Reef are particularly popular. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is 50 miles north of Marathon.
The 524-acre Bahia Honda State Park and Recreational Area (bahiahondapark.com) has some good practice opportunities close in-shore, particularly off Sand Spur Beach, which is Oceanside. The warm, Caribbean-clear water makes the park a joy to snorkel, and the drop-off is gradual so there are no nasty surprises for people just learning the hobby. The Gulfside beach on Bahia Honda Channel — properly called Caloosa Beach — is subject to swift current, and the water drops off significantly fairly close to shore; it is not a place for inexperienced snorkelers. Bahia Honda State Recreational Area is 17 miles south of Marathon.
South Florida’s beaches are great but some off the most beautiful sites at them are offshore under the water. You don’t have to wear scuba gear to visit some of the best reefs and ledges South Florida has to offer. Snorkeling is fun because you just need to be a confident swimmer and have only the basics for taking a look at the underwater world. Most good snorkeling locations are in less than 20 feet of water. So just grab you mask, fins, snorkel, and of course your dive flag, and visit some of our top picks in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
Miami Area Snorkeling
Pompano Beach Dropoff
Directly off the Pompano Beach Club Recreation Center
100 Briny Avenue
Pompano Beach, FL 33062
Located about a half mile south of the Pompano Pier, this snorkeling spot features flat rock masses, some 100 feet wide, with all kinds of corals, seawhips and sponges. Some of the rock pieces have crumbled over time, creating holes and caves that have become homes to small marine life. The site is about 350 yards offshore and the depth varies from 6 to 22 feet.
Vista Park Reef
Directly off Vista Park
Just south of Oakland Park Blvd in N. Ft. Lauderdale
Located about 75 yards offshore, this a very wide reef with rocks and blocks which make great hiding holes for lobster. To find it, swim out from the park’s beach access. The reef has lots of soft corals and you usually see black margate, spadefish, a variety of snapper, damselfish and grunts. The reef is about 100 yards wide and depth varies from 10 to 18 feet.
Hollywood North Beach Park
A1A at Sheridan Street
Starting at about 175 yards offshore there are a series of two to four foot ledges. However, it is possible to miss the ledges on the swim out because they are separated by a sand patches. If you begin your swim out from the lifeguard tower near the beach entrance you should swim right over them. The marine life on these ledges is amazing. You’ll see everything; a variety of tropical fish, barracudas, tarpon, snook and even nurse sharks. Depth varies between 13 and 20 feet.
Yankee Clipper Rocks
East of the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel (formerly the Yankee Clipper Hotel)
1140 Seabreeze Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
This is a huge rocky area with lots of ledges, holes and blocks full of soft corals and seawhips. There is public parking at the south end of the public beach near the hotel and rocky area begins about 75 feet from shore. You must bring a dive flag to this location or else the lifeguards won’t let you swim out. While lobster is rare in this area, there are lots of tropicals, worms and other invertebrates. Depth usually ranges from 6 to 14 feet.
Florida Gulf Coast– To Do List
Snorkeling in the Florida Panhandle
Fort Pickens Jetties & Pensacola Beach * high tide best vis
Perdido Key (last public beach access before Johnson Beach).
Beaching in the Florida Panhandle
St. George Island