15 Incredible Places to Snorkel in Florida

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Florida’s diverse coastline, with crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, is a paradise for snorkeling lovers. The Sunshine State has an amazing array of stunning snorkeling spots that both beginners and experienced snorkelers will love, ranging from historic shipwrecks at national parks to spring-fed rivers that are packed with adorable manatees. Here are 15 beautiful places to snorkel in Florida to experience the best of the Sunshine State’s underwater world. 

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Manatee and a calf swimming in Florida
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1. Biscayne National Park

If you’re adventure-loving, Biscayne National Park absolutely must be included on your Florida bucket list. 

Turquoise water in Biscayne National Park near Miami, Florida

Nestled to the south of Miami, the park is one of the most unique in the beloved national park system, given that it’s over 95% water! Offering vibrant coral reefs, crystal clear water, and tons of tropical fish, Biscayne is inarguably one of the best places to snorkel in Florida. In fact, the park even offers a series of six shipwrecks along the Maritime Heritage Trail, spanning almost a century, of different boat vessel types and sizes for you to explore.

There’s a variety of different spots that are suitable for all levels of snorkelers, ranging from first-timers to experienced divers. So grab your snorkeling gear and get ready to dive into this gem among the national parks in Florida!

2. Destin

Destin is primarily known as a family-friendly and affordable getaway destination with white sand beaches, but it is also an amazing snorkeling hotspot. The water here is turquoise and crystal clear, offering excellent visibility for snorkelers. 

Boats in turquoise water in Destin, Florida

One of the most popular places to snorkel in Destin is on Crab Island, a submerged sandbar off the coastline that’s only accessible via boat. The easiest way to get there is by taking a Crab Island tour, like this option, where you’ll actually cruise around on a floating tiki bar(!!!) or this slightly less quirky option, where you’ll reach the sandbar on a boat. For the best snorkeling, head to the seagrass around the Coast Guard station, where tropical fish like to hide.

Another one of the best places to snorkel in Destin is around its jetties, located here. The shallow water is great for spotting fish and a variety of other wildlife, like rays, turtles, and even dolphins! 

Psst… wanna have the best chance of spotting dolphins while you’re in Destin? Book a dolphin-watching cruise, specifically dedicated to spotting these intelligent cuties, like this tour on a catamaran or this tour at sunset.

3. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo is the country’s first undersea park and part of the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. 

While you’re exploring the park, you can not only see over 260 species of vibrant tropical fish and 80 species of coral, but also Christ the Abyss statue, a 4,000 pound submerged bronze sculpture that’s slowly being taken over by coral. It’s undoubtedly one of the most unique places to snorkel in Florida!

Jesus of the Abyss statue in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Florida
Photo by microgen of Deposit Photos

The park’s shallow coral reefs are about three to five miles from the shore and are only accessible via boat. For example, you can head out on this tour, where you’ll cruise to two different reefs in the park, or this private tour option, for up to six of your closest friends and family.

And, if you happen to be a certified open water diver, Key Largo scuba diving is purported to be the best in the continental United States, with a variety of dives, from shallow reefs for beginners to wrecks that are over 100 feet underwater.

4. Dry Tortugas National Park

For a more secluded snorkeling experience, head to Dry Tortugas National Park, located 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. The park consists of seven islands, one of which hosts Fort Jefferson, one of the largest remaining 19th century forts in the country.

Shell on a beach in front of Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park near Key West, Florida

Due to its remoteness, the park is only accessible via boat or seaplane, so you’ll have to plan ahead—ferry tickets to the park can actually sell out months in advance. While it can be a bit more challenging—and expensive—to get to than some other Florida snorkeling destinations, it also has some of the most impressive wildlife in the state, including octopuses, barracudas, and even sharks. 

For the best visibility and warmest water, head here between May through October.

5. Crystal River

Located a little over an hour north of Tampa, Crystal River is, inarguably, one of the most fascinating places to snorkel in Florida, given you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel here with gentle giants – manatees! In fact, this place is actually known as the “Manatee Capital of the World.” 

During the winter months (November through March), manatees flock from the rapidly cooling ocean waters inland to Florida’s springs, like the ones found in Crystal River, which stay a consistent 72° all year round.

Manatee underwater

There’s only a few areas where you’re allowed to swim with manatees in Crystal River, including in the Three Sisters Springs, Homosassa Springs, or King’s Bay.

The easiest way to get here is by joining one of the Crystal River manatee tours, like this option or this option, where a guide will help locate where manatees are in the river, make sure that snorkelers stay a safe distance from the manatees, and, of course, share fascinating information about these so-called sea cows. Like, did you know that, even though manatees look quite chubby, they actually have very little body fat and instead, most of their bodies are taken up by intestines and stomach tract?

Jess of Uprooted Traveler has joined a number of manatee snorkeling tours in Crystal River and it’s been one of her absolute favorite experiences in Florida!

Alternatively, you can navigate to Three Sisters Springs yourself, by launching a kayak or canoe from Hunter Springs Park.

If you go the DIY route, just know that it’ll be a bit tougher—you’ll need to locate the manatees in the river yourself, come with your own snorkeling gear and wetsuit (here’s an option for men and women), figure out where to legally tie up your kayak and canoe outside of the park (kayaking is prohibited in the park during manatee season), and of course, treat the manatees appropriately. Remember that they’re considered a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and therefore, protected under federal law!

Manatee off a rocky shore in Biscayne National Park in Florida

While this option doesn’t include snorkeling, another unique small group tour option is cruising through Crystal River on a clear kayak, where you’ll likely see manatees and other critters, like turtles or even dolphins, right through the floor of your boat!

6. Islamorada

Islamorada, located in the Florida Keys, is another one of the most incredible places to snorkel in Florida.

This place has some of the most vibrant reefs in the country and incredibly clear water. In fact, the visibility can reach up to 110 feet! There’s also a shipwreck here, known as the Eagle Wreck, which sank in 1985, and attracts a number of wildlife creatures, like bull sharks, rays, and tarpon.

Aerial view of a boat in turquoise water in Islamorada in the Florida Keys

Some of the most popular places to snorkel here include Hen and Chickens, a protected reef that’s excellent for beginner snorkelers, and Davis Reef, reachable via a short boat ride that offers tons of tropical marine life and an underwater Buddha statue. 

For some of the best offshore diving spots, consider joining this tour, which heads to Key Light, home to a colorful coral reef and with any luck, lots of sea turtles! 

7. Peanut Island

Peanut Island is a hidden gem for snorkelers that’s located near West Palm Beach. The water is clear almost all the time, and with temperatures that stay mild even in the coldest months, it’s one of the best places to visit during the winter in Florida.

This man-made island actually has quite an interesting background. In 1918, the island was created by using the excess earth from the dredging project in the Port of Palm Beach. It started off as just 10-acres, and, over the last century, grew into the current 80-acre park that it is today.

The island’s man-made snorkeling lagoon is perfect for snorkelers of all levels. The island’s location at the mouth of the inlet and its rocky shoreline attract a variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and manatees. 

Shark underwater in Jupiter, Florida

Make sure to look up the tide tables before your visit and time your snorkeling with high tide, when the clear ocean water floods into the inlet and improves the water’s clarity.

8. Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef is the largest reef in the Middle Keys, off the coast of Marathon, and is part of the greater Florida Reef. 

It is made up of ridges of coral reefs separated by sandy channels. The reef is known for its variety of corals, including boulders, lobed stars, elkhorns, and threatened star corals. This protected marine sanctuary is also home to tropical fish, like parrotfish and angelfish, and even sea turtles. 

Sea turtle in a coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean

Sombrero Reef is between two to thirty feet deep, with fascinating underwater topography, like canyons and sea cave arches. It’s also considered one of the safest places to snorkel in Florida, with several options of sea flats, seagrass beds, and rock shelves offering snorkelers a calm and shallow place to snorkel. 

9. St. Andrews State Park

In Panama City Beach, along Florida’s panhandle, St. Andrew State Park’s rock jetty offers a unique setting for snorkeling.

The jetty was originally built to protect a shipping channel, but it has become an artificial reef that attracts a variety of marine life. For example, you can encounter different fish, starfish, crabs, seahorses, and other crustaceans here. Snorkelers have also reported hearing the distinctive crackling sounds of shrimp underwater. 

Girl snorkeling in St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Florida

This is an excellent option for families, given you can snorkel directly offshore from a beach with plenty of amenities, like picnic tables and swings for the kiddos. So, if you’re coming with your family, remember to bring along some of your favorite beach toys, like this collapsible set, so you can make a full day out of exploring this beautiful state park.

10. Key West

Key West is known for its colorful culture, both above and below water!

The southernmost point of the United States offers a number of snorkeling sites, including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Here, you’ll find an underwater coral garden, teeming with marine creatures, which can include up to thirteen species of whales, dolphins and manatees. 

Boats in turquoise water in Key West, Florida

There’s a number of tours to help you get out on the best parts of the reef here, like this small group tour, where you’ll cruise out to the water on a 54-foot yacht or this option, which starts with a kayak excursion through mangroves and ends with a cruise out to a snorkeling spot, which offers over 600 species of marine life!

Of course, Key West is known for much more than just snorkeling, from its lively nightlife scene to the 60 six-toed cats at Hemingway’s house—it’s definitely a stop worth including on your Florida bucket list. 

11. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Known as Florida’s Beach Diving Capital, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, located north of Miami, is a charming seaside town with some beautiful snorkeling. Its close proximity to the third-largest barrier reef in the world makes it a popular snorkeling destination. And best of all, unlike a lot of Florida’s snorkeling sites, you won’t need a boat to get here—its coral reefs are located just 100 yards from the beach.

Beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The town is home to the Shipwreck Snorkel Trail, a site that was dedicated in 2002 to the beloved explorer Jean-Michele Cousteau. Here, you’ll find an anchor, five concrete cannons, and a ballast pile underwater. 

If you’re willing to go on a bit more of an adventure (and have access to a boat!), you can find the wreckage of the SS Copenhagen, a 19th century British steamship that sank in 1900, about a mile offshore. It now receives about 10,000 visitors per year, who want to dive or snorkel with the wreckage, making this the most popular underwater preserve in the state. 

12. Ichetucknee Springs State Park

For an excellent freshwater snorkeling option, you can snorkel at Ichetucknee Springs State Park, located northwest of Gainesville. The park has one of the clearest rivers in Florida and is known for its bright blue spring-fed swimming holes. Snorkeling is permitted here year-round from 8 a.m. until sundown.

Clear water surrounded by lush greenery in Ichetucknee Springs in Florida
Photo by magnificent.gmail.com at Deposit Photos

You can swim at either the Ichetucknee Head Spring or Blue Hole Spring. Snorkelers typically stick to the Head Spring, whereas scuba divers tend to head to the deeper Blue Hole. Regardless of which area you go to, the springs are home to a variety of wildlife, ranging from freshwater fish, like gar; river otters; and occasionally, even manatees. 

While the water feels the most refreshing during the hot, muggy summers, it stays a consistent 72° year round, so you can enjoy snorkeling here, regardless of when you’re visiting. Another awesome thing about the park? You can make a whole day out of visiting, thanks to its plethora of activities, ranging from tubing to kayaking and hiking.

13. Sebastian Inlet State Park

Sebastian Inlet State Park is located by the small town of Sebastian on Florida’s east coast. This is a great place to snorkel, due to its unique tidal pools that are formed by the inlet’s currents. 

The park is located where the Indian River Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a brackish estuary. In essence, this is a place where saltwater and freshwater mix, creating saltier freshwater (but less salty than seawater). Because of this unique mix of water, the environment here attracts various types of marine life, including turtles, lobsters, manatees, rays, sharks, and over 200 species of fish. 

Lobster underwater in Florida

The current is quite strong here, so this spot is most suitable for experienced snorkelers.

14. Jupiter

Centrally located on the eastern coast of Florida, the town of Jupiter offers some of the best snorkeling in Florida. 

Thanks to its location near the Gulf Stream and its natural and man-made reefs, you’ll find all kinds of different sea creatures here, like batfish, seahorses, and even octopuses.

Blowing Rocks Preserve is one of the best places to snorkel in Jupiter, with its impressive rocky shoreline and underwater limestone formations. The preserve is known to attract tropical fish, rays, and even sea turtles. That being said, the water is known for being a bit turbulent here, so this is another option that might be best saved for experienced snorkelers.

Sunset over Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter, Florida

If you’re more on the beginner end of the spectrum, head to Coral Cove Park, which has shallow and calm water. Admittedly, the fish are quite a bit more limited here, but it’s a great place for newbies to learn and practice before taking on more challenging snorkeling spots. 

15. Egmont Key State Park

Located off the southern coast of St. Petersburg, Egmont Key State Park is accessible only by boat. Egmont Key is one of the most unique places to snorkel in Florida—Fort Dade was built here in 1898, amid the Spanish-American War, and remained an active military fort until the 1920s. Now, the fort is in ruins, which you’re welcome to explore, while most of the rest of the island serves as a bird sanctuary. 

The shallow and calm water typically has good clarity, making this an ideal spot for snorkeling. Additionally, its underwater landscape is one of the most unique in Florida, with seagrass beds and rubble of the submerged ruins. That being said, marine life is a bit more limited to smaller creatures, like sea stars or sand dollars, so this snorkeling site is definitely most ideal for a history buff. 

Conch shell in shallow water in Florida

If snorkeling amongst the ruins of a 19th century fort sounds up your alley, consider joining a tour here, like this four hour option or this option, which not only stops at the island but also tries to find some new dolphin friends either on the way there or back.

Frequently Asked Questions about Snorkeling in Florida

Is there any good snorkeling in Florida?


Most of the best places to snorkel in Florida are concentrated around the Florida Keys, given their subtropical weather and that they’re home to the only barrier reef in the continental United States. 

Snorkeling mask sitting on a beach in St. Andrews State Park in Florida

That being said, you can find plenty of other places to snorkel around the state, including off the eastern coastline and its springs. In fact, Florida springs offer one of the most unique snorkeling opportunities in the world—swimming alongside manatees!

Where is the best place to snorkel on the east coast of Florida?

The best place to snorkel on the East Coast of Florida is undoubtedly Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Given its proximity to the third largest barrier reef system on the planet and its excellent opportunities to snorkel directly offshore, it’s no wonder the town is lovingly known as Florida’s Beach Diving Capital.

Alternatively, you can find some unique opportunities to snorkel in the tidal pools off the rocky shores of Sebastian Inlet State Park and the Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter. Not only is the unique underwater topography here interesting to explore, but it also attracts a wide variety of wildlife. 

Aerial view of turquoise water in Jupiter, Florida

What is the best river to snorkel in Florida? 

With over 70 rivers and 50,000 miles of rivers and streams, Florida has tons of freshwater areas to choose from. For example, the aforementioned Crystal River provides the best opportunities to swim with adorable manatees. Alternatively, you’ll find some of the state’s most popular freshwater springs to snorkel at, like Ginnie Springs or Blue Springs, along the Santa Fe River, a 75-mile pristine waterway.

Clear water surrounded by trees at Ginnie Springs in Florida

What should I pack to snorkel in Florida?

  • Snorkeling set: You can definitely rent your own snorkeling set at dive shops around Florida, but rentals can definitely add up, especially if you plan on snorkeling on more than one occasion. My husband and I each have this snorkeling set, which we bring anytime we visit a warm destination with snorkeling opportunities.

    Not only does it save us money in the long run, but we’re also able to just jump right in the water whenever the opportunity arises!
Woman snorkeling underwater with coral reef in the background
  • Wetsuit: Depending on where you plan on snorkeling and what time of the year you’re visiting, the water in Florida can be surprisingly chilly. For example, in the wintertime, the water off the coast of Key West dips into the high 60s, whereas Florida’s famous springs stay a consistent 72° throughout the year.
    If you plan on swimming in colder water, you’re going to want to bring along a wetsuit, like this option for men or this option for women, to keep warm and actually, y’know, enjoy snorkeling in the water. At a minimum, bring along a wetsuit top, like this one for men or this one for women, which helps you stay warm, even if you don’t want to do a full-blown wetsuit.
  • Reefsafe sunscreen: Protect your skin and our precious coral with reef-safe sunscreen. I am obsessed with this brand, which smells like a Hawaiian vacation in a bottle.
  • GoPro: Listen, if you’re going to swim with creatures as adorable as manatees, you better be able to capture the experience. We love our GoPro and take it on all of our underwater adventures.

I hope you’ve been able to add a few places to snorkel in Florida to your bucket list! Do you have any questions about the spots listed above? Let us know in the comments below!

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