The Florida Keys Snorkeling
What Are The Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys are a chain of little paradisal islands and atolls. Genial sunshine, calm azure waters, an abundance of live corals and pelagic life welcome visitors on these divine islands. The Florida reef is the USA’s single live coral barrier reef & the 3rd biggest coral barrier reef on the Earth. The reef lies several miles seaward and makes snorkeling in Florida Keys amazing and unforgettable. Vacation in Florida Keys grants a huge delight and stunning lifetime memories.
Where Are The Florida Keys?
The Florida Keys lie at the USA southeast end and stretch 126 miles South-West from Florida towards Cuba.
Visitors can fly to Miami International Airport (MIA), Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) or Key West International Airport (EYW).
Overseas highway #1 runs from the Florida mainland to Key West linking all the keys together. Exists a very convenient shuttle bus connection between Florida mainland and all keys until Key West. Take a shuttle bus from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale airports or rent a car.
Key West Express goes to Key West departing Ft. Myers Beach & Marco Island. A ride on this high-speed ferry takes 3.5 hours (direct trip with no stops).(view map with all Florida Keys snorkeling spots)
The Florida Keys Weather
The Florida Keys enjoy divine warm weather within the whole year. Summer average air temperature is +29C, an average water temperature is +30,5C. Even during steamy summer days in Florida mainland, it is several degrees cooler in the Keys surrounded by refreshing ocean waters. Winter average air temperature is +21,5C, an average water temperature is +21C. Hurricane season begins in June & ends in November, however, the major threat is in mid-August – mid-October. The best snorkeling in Florida Keys is within summer, still enthusiasts wear wetsuits and continue snorkeling in the winter.
Florida Keys Vacation Ideas
The Florida Keys presents a profusion of activities and attractions for people of any age. Your holidays in the Keys can be action-packed or relaxed. Visit local museums & art galleries, shop for unique presents, enjoy fresh seafood or doze in a hammock. Try fishing and catch your biggest fish, relish undersea wonderland of the live Florida coral reef on a snorkel trip or dive into azure water and explore an enigmatic shipwreck.
The Best Snorkeling In Florida Keys
Florida Keys snorkeling is fantastic! Healthy coral reefs teem with marine life. All the incredible snorkeling spots are placed 1-8 miles offshore. Pennekamp and Bahia Honda Florida Keys state parks offer several shore snorkeling sites but pelagic life there is quite poor and can’t be compared with what you can see offshore.
Snorkeling Florida Keys can be separated into 3 parts – top keys (Key Largo), bottom keys (Key West) and middle keys (Islamorada, Marathon & Big Pine). Despite Key Largo & Key West are better advertised middle keys represent the finest Florida Keys snorkeling.
Snorkeling Key West is good but can’t compete with upper keys. The corals in the area are less healthy with poorer visibility. Decent spots to snorkel in Key West locate 8 miles offshore - Sand Key Lighthouse (the healthiest), Eastern & Western Dry Rocks, and Cottrell Key.
Key West snorkeling gem is Dry Tortugas National Park. The park lies 70 miles westward of Key West, reachable by a ferry, a private boat or a seaplane. Park's waters are clear with good visibility and abundant with little and medium size tropical fish and lush live corals.
Snorkeling Key Largo is more exciting than Key West, however, trailing middle keys. You must hop on a boat as all incredible snorkeling places are nearby or on the Florida reef. Snorkeling tour boats leave from two places – Key Largo & John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park still all the boats proceed to the same atolls and reefs.
At Sea Gardens, you can relish very healthy and huge corals along with a plethora of colorful sponges.
Christ of the Abyss & Dry Rocks is the next popular snorkeling location. The famous underwater statue of Christ is worth seeing, however, a huge flow of visitors affected the health of marine life and currently the site is not in its best condition. You will encounter hard & soft corals, rays, barracuda and underwater weddings.
Middle keys are the best of Florida Keys snorkeling
Islamorada snorkeling gems are Cheeca Rocks, Hen & Chickens, and Alligator Reef Lighthouse. Cheeca Rocks will amaze you with tons of medium size fish together with turtles, live corals, and bright sponges. Hen & Chickens has a wonderful topography to explore, very healthy hard corals, an exuberance of sea fans and rods, a plethora of rainbow sponges, sea turtles and lots of little and medium fish. Alligator Reef Lighthouse lies on Florida Reef and is a marine wonderland with an excellent visibility. In shallow water, you will encounter thousands of little and medium fish, lots of sea fans and sponges. In deeper waters enjoy large fish in schools and on its own like barracuda, snapper, nurse sharks and even hammerhead shark.
Marathon's attractions are Coffins Patch, Sombrero Reef, and Bahia Honda State Park. Coffins Patch presents a great profusion of beautiful sponges, lots of sea rods & fans and much small to medium size fish. Sombrero Reef is must visit and may be the finest in the Florida Keys. It is snorkeler’s paradise with catching topography, abundance and a huge variety of fish, corals, sponges, other pelagic life and ideal visibility. Bahia Honda State Park offers middle-class shore snorkeling and several wonderful beaches with azure water. Take this chance and chill out on a stellar tropical beach!
The finest snorkeling at Big Pine is Looe Key Reef. The site is amazing but for brave hearts as it is located on the Florida reef’s edge and beckons many huge creatures like sharks, giant groupers, tarpons, barracuda and rays.