Snorkeling Off Beach in Key West

Snorkeling Off Beach in Key West
The small island of Key West encompasses just 8 square miles, but its crystal clear blue waters offer world class snorkeling opportunities. While you'll need a charter boat to take you to the outside reefs, both beginning and more advanced snorkelers can enjoy viewing the same fish as well as beautiful coral patches and reefs right off the beaches of Key West. Access the beaches, mostly located on the south side of the island, from just about any accommodation on the island either by walking or biking.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Snorkeling fins Snorkeling mask Snorkel tube Sunscreen Map Beach towel
  • Snorkeling fins
  • Snorkeling mask
  • Snorkel tube
  • Sunscreen
  • Map
  • Beach towel
 
Step 1
Decide if you want to head for beginning snorkeling location or more advanced ones. Then bike or walk to the south end of Fort Zachary Taylor Beach at the end of Southard Street on Truman Annex if you plan to try snorkeling for the first time. A great shallow water snorkeling area, this state park beach offers the perfect proving grounds for your first snorkeling adventure. Rent snorkeling gear, as well as chairs and umbrellas at the hut located just inside the entrance.
Step 2
For more advanced snorkelers, head to Higgs Beach at the end of Reynolds Street. This local spot offers great snorkeling for both beginning and experienced snorkelers. The shack on the beach rents snorkeling masks and tubes or use your own. Gear up, then walk to the end of the pier, down the steps, and into the water. First time snorkelers should stay near the pier, while more advanced snorkeling lies off of the old pylons seen curving around the pier. See a wide variety of sea life on the walls and on the bottom. When you're done, go back to the rental shack and rent a chair so you can sit in the sun and relax.
Step 3
Check out South Beach to view scores of coral patches, reefs and reef fish. Located at the south end of Duval Street, this beach feels small, offers no restrooms and tends to be crowded. While you can rent lounge chairs, you'll find little room for them. This local favorite sits close to several restaurants and cafes, and the underwater sights make it worth the hassle.
Step 4
Discover Key West Marine Park, a popular beach and underwater area beginning at the end of Duval Street and running all the way to Higgs Beach. The natural reefs composed of limestone boulders provide habitat for a variety of fish as well as octopus, starfish and corals. This underwater park appeals to snorkelers who want to stay out of the way of boats and personal watercraft, since the area is a "boat free zone."
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Consider bringing or renting a wetsuit for wintertime snorkeling. The water temperature remains cooler during the winter making snorkeling more comfortable while wearing a wetsuit. In the summer, wetsuits are not needed.
 
Consider bringing or renting a wetsuit for wintertime snorkeling. The water temperature remains cooler during the winter making snorkeling more comfortable while wearing a wetsuit. In the summer, wetsuits are not needed.
 
Lifeguards do not patrol Key West beaches, so snorkel in shallow water if you do not know how to swim or want to practice snorkeling for the first time. The beaches offer good snorkeling at certain times of the year. At other times, trade winds make the water murky, sandy and full of seaweed, limiting visibility. Ask around before heading to the beach.
 
Lifeguards do not patrol Key West beaches, so snorkel in shallow water if you do not know how to swim or want to practice snorkeling for the first time.
 
The beaches offer good snorkeling at certain times of the year. At other times, trade winds make the water murky, sandy and full of seaweed, limiting visibility. Ask around before heading to the beach.

Article Written By Nancy Wagner

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

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