The Best Snorkeling in Florida

The Best Snorkeling in Florida
Snorkeling is a cheap, easy and lightweight way to access the world of undersea adventure, as it requires none of the training and little of the cumbersome equipment of scuba diving. Florida, with its clear, warm waters and rich marine ecosystem, is arguably the best place to go snorkeling in the United States. Around Florida, a snorkeler can find marine mammals, corals, plenty of fish, and even shipwrecks within reach.

The Dry Tortugas

The Dry Tortugas is a collection of islands and sandbars off the extreme end of the Florida Keys, situated at the center of the Dry Tortugas National Park and its Reserve Natural Area. Not only has fishing the Tortugas been banned, but boats cannot even drop anchor outside of designated areas in the local waters. These measures preserve the rich diversity of sea life and corals. Many of these corals, and even some shipwrecks, are in depths that can be easily viewed from the surface or skin-dived to. In order to stay among the Tortugas, you will need to camp at Fort Jefferson, the park's main facility. This campground offers no facilities other than toilets, so you must bring all your own water and a portable stove, and pack out all trash. The only other means of accessing the islands is to join a boat trip from the nearby Florida Keys.

Dry Tortugas National Park
P.O. Box 6208
Key West, FL 33041
(305) 242-7711

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is situated just outside of Miami. Snorkeling sights are found throughout the park, starting with the clear, sheltered waters just inside the bay. You can strap on your gear and get started right off the beach. Intrepid swimmers can make their way across the bay to Adams, Boca Chita, Elliott and Sand Keys and snorkel the reefs laying seaward of them. Alternatively, you can choose to save your strength and still make a little adventure out of it by renting a kayak or canoe to get to the islands, and go snorkeling form there.

Biscayne National Park
9700 SW 328 St.
Homestead, FL 33033
(305) 230-7275

Biscayne Underwater (for canoes, kayaks, or organized snorkel trips)
(305) 230-1100

Marine Mammals

The Tortugas and Biscayne are centered on fish, corals and shipwrecks, but Florida also offers opportunities to swim with two very different kinds of marine mammals: dolphins and manatees. Tours to snorkel with dolphins typically originate around the Florida Keys, with numerous charter and tour operators from Panama City to Key West. As the manatees are typically found in the coastal waters of Western Florida and the Florida Panhandle, a good place to find trips to go snorkeling with them are on or around islands in that area. Examples include Pine Island and St. George's Island.

Blue Dolphin Tours
3605 Thomas Drive
Treasure Island Marina
Panama City Beach, FL 32408
(850) 236-3467

Bird's Underwater Tours (manatees)
320 N.W. Highway 19
Crystal River, FL 34428
(800) 771-2763

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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