Florida Keys barrier reef is one of the longest and holding the 3rd place on our planet. Snorkeling Islamorada is an excellent way to enjoy a wonderful undersea world of this live coral reef. Despite Key West and Key Largo are the most advertised, the Middle Keys including Islamorada possess the healthiest snorkeling locations.
Treat Of Islamorada Snorkeling
All the best Islamorada snorkeling spots are located several miles offshore, hence, the most awesome snorkeling is by boat. This area offers a huge amount of stunning snorkeling sites and this makes the Florida Keys one of the finest zones in the world to snorkel.
Islamorada is placed in the North of Matecumbe Key, but the snorkeling sites in the area are better known as Islamorada snorkeling spots (not Matecumbe snorkeling spots).
Islamorada snorkeling includes several incredible patch reefs.
The first 2 spots are in between the barrier reef and the Matecumbe Key.
Cheeca Rocks is a fantastic place to snorkel and easily accessible by quick boat ride from Islamorada. The deep varies from 8 to 20 feet. The waters are packed with tons of medium and small size fish swimming both solitary and in schools. Turtles are frequent guests at Cheeca Rocks. And of course, there is a profusion of fascinating live corals.
The next of breathtaking Islamorada snorkeling spots is a place called Hen and Chickens. There is one bigger patch reef (Hen) surrounded by a bunch of little coral patches (Chickens). The spot can be reached by snorkeling tour boat from Islamorada. This snorkeling site is notorious for its great live hard corals and beautiful topography. There is a plethora of little and medium size fish. You have great odds to see turtles and rays in this area as well. The average depth is 15 feet.
Alligator Reef Lighthouse is another perfect Islamorada snorkeling destination. Opposite to the previous 2 snorkeling spots this site is located at the barrier reef and the boat ride will be longer but it definitely worth it. It is about 6 miles southwest of Windley Key. The reef is marked by an old lighthouse. Alligator Reef is featured by blue waters and ideal visibility thanks to constant water flow from the ocean.
You may start snorkeling from the remains of Alligator ship that went aground in this waters in 1825. A mound of ballast stones covered by corals that is what has left of the vessel nowadays. Continue snorkeling just underneath the lighthouse where crowds of tropical fish enjoy the tower's shade. The next stop is in a quick boat ride to the East from the lighthouse. In this deeper waters (about 20 feet) big fish may be found like yellowtail snapper, grouper, amberjack, barracuda and sometimes even nurse and hammerhead shark.
Location and Weather
Miami and Ft. Lauderdale international airports placed at the shortest drive to Islamorada. The drive from Miami takes about 1.5 hours, from Ft. Lauderdale it is +1 hour. There is a local airport in Marathon which is in 45 minutes drive from Islamorada. Shuttle buses, taxis, and car rentals are at your disposal.
Islamorada is placed in the zone with wonderful tropical climate. Warm and sunny days all year round here is not a dream but reality. Winters with average air temperature +22oC and summers with average air temperature +29oC. Water temperature in winter usually don’t go under +21oC, and the average water temperature in the summer is +31oC.
The great time for snorkeling starts from April when the water temperature is +26oC and lasts for the whole summertime. Snorkeling in September and November is not recommended due to the peak of the hurricane period.