Best Snorkeling Spots in Florida - Everything You Need to Know

by CaliCase Team on September 11, 2023

Welcome to the Sunshine State, where year-round snorkeling is made possible by Florida's warm waters and subtropical climate. Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is a snorkeler's paradise, offering something for all skill levels.

Florida's snorkeling spots stand out for their diverse environments. From underwater caves to natural springs, you'll encounter a rich array of marine life in these magical underwater worlds. It's no wonder Florida ranks among the world's top snorkeling destinations. Whether you're an experienced snorkeler or a newcomer, prepare to be awed by Florida's underwater treasures. Join us on a journey through the Sunshine State's best snorkeling spots!


Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is a chain of islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern coast of Florida. From Key Largo in the north to Key West in the south, snorkeling in the Florida Keys is a captivating experience that unveils a vibrant underwater world in crystal-clear, turquoise waters. With the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, the Keys are home to a kaleidoscope of colorful coral formations and diverse marine life, from tropical fish to sea turtles. The region offers a variety of snorkeling sites to suit all levels, and its subtropical climate ensures comfortable water temperatures year-round, similar to the climate in the best places to snorkel in Oahu, Hawaii. Guided tours and equipment rentals make it accessible to everyone while conservation efforts safeguard the fragile coral reefs. Snorkeling in the Florida Keys is an immersive journey into a world of wonder and biodiversity, making it an unforgettable adventure for all.


Snorkeling in Tampa

Tampa Bay

Snorkeling in Tampa Bay presents a unique aquatic experience with its own distinctive charm. While Tampa isn't typically associated with traditional snorkeling destinations like the Florida Keys, it offers exciting opportunities for underwater exploration, including clear-water scuba diving. Tampa Bay is known for its extensive mangrove habitats, serving as nurseries for various marine species. Snorkeling in these areas lets you encounter juvenile fish, crabs, and a variety of bird species that call the mangroves home, all within the calm, shallow waters suitable for snorkelers of all skill levels. Additionally, the Tampa Bay region features artificial reefs created by sunken ships and concrete structures, providing unique underwater landscapes where you can expect to find marine life, such as snapper, grouper, and even the occasional sea turtle.

Despite the absence of extensive coral reefs, Tampa Bay offers a distinct snorkeling experience focused on exploring unique ecosystems and observing local wildlife, providing a tranquil and off-the-beaten-path opportunity to connect with nature in many of best places to snorkel in Tampa, such as Egmont Key and John Pennekamp Coral Reef. Whether you're interested in mangrove exploration, artificial reefs, or encountering gentle manatees, Tampa Bay has something to offer snorkelers seeking a different perspective on Florida's marine life. And if you're looking for a more guided experience, there are many local companies that offer snorkeling tours of Egmont Key, providing you with all the necessary equipment and a knowledgeable guide. And after a day of snorkeling, you can unwind at one of Tampa's many excellent restaurants, sampling fresh seafood and other local delights.


Snorkeling In The Springs Near Orlando

Ginnie Spring near Orlando

Source: Katie Ruth Davies, traxplorio

The springs around Orlando are some of the most beautiful and unique snorkeling spots in Florida. With their crystal-clear waters and lush underwater landscapes, these springs provide an unforgettable snorkeling experience. You'll be surrounded by a rainbow of colors as you encounter freshwater fish, turtles, and you can even swim with manatees in their natural habitat. The water is so clear that you can see up to 100 feet ahead, making for an incredibly immersive experience.

There are many snorkeling spots in Orlando, including Rock Springs, Kelly Park, and Blue Spring State Park. These springs offer a range of depths and underwater landscapes, so you can choose the snorkeling spot that best suits your skill level and interests. And if you're lucky, you might even be able to catch a glimpse of an alligator or two!


Snorkeling in Miami




Miami is not only famous for its sunny beaches, but also for its incredible snorkeling opportunities. Snorkeling in Miami offers an enchanting mix of tropical marine beauty and urban convenience, making it a captivating destination for both locals and tourists. Miami's subtropical climate ensures pleasant water temperatures throughout the year, creating an ideal setting for enjoyable snorkeling adventures. Explore captivating coral reefs and intriguing shipwrecks, such as those found at Biscayne National Park and many more of the best snorkeling spots in Miami, revealing a treasure trove of underwater marvels. Miami's warm waters teem with diverse marine life, including tropical fish, rays, sea turtles, and the occasional manatee or dolphin sighting. With guided tours and equipment rentals readily available, snorkelers of all levels can easily explore these aquatic treasures.

Miami also places a strong emphasis on preserving its delicate coral reefs and marine ecosystems, promoting responsible snorkeling practices. After your underwater exploration, take advantage of Miami's urban conveniences, savor its culinary delights, and immerse yourself in its cultural attractions. Miami invites both experienced snorkelers and newcomers to enjoy year-round snorkeling opportunities against the backdrop of its vibrant coastal charm, ensuring unforgettable memories of Florida's coastal treasures.

While some of these snorkeling areas may require a boat or guided tour to reach, it's definitely worth it. Just make sure to plan ahead and book your tour or rental equipment in advance. And always remember to follow safe snorkeling practices, such as avoiding touching or disturbing the wildlife and wearing appropriate gear.


Snorkeling in Destin

Destin Harbor

Destin is the perfect place to explore the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico's underwater world. With its crystal-clear emerald waters, pristine white sand beaches, and vibrant marine life, snorkeling in Destin is an experience you won't forget. The East Jetties and Destin Harbor are the best snorkeling spots in Destin. The East Jetties offer a unique snorkeling experience, where you can spot schools of fish and even sea turtles. On the other hand, Destin Harbor is a great place to see rays, crabs, and other marine creatures. If you're looking for a more guided experience, there are several local companies that offer snorkeling tours and equipment rentals, making it easy to plan your snorkeling adventure in Destin.


Snorkeling at the Shipwrecks Off the Coast of Key Largo

Off the coast of Key Largo, the SS Copenhagen is a wreck that lies in shallow waters and is suitable for snorkeling. The ship sank in 1900 and is now home to a variety of marine life, including colorful fish and coral. It's located in relatively shallow water, making it accessible to snorkelers of all skill levels. The wreck is also home to a variety of marine life, including colorful fish and coral.

To get to the SS Copenhagen, you'll need to go to Key Largo, which is located in the upper Florida Keys. The wreck is located about six miles off the coast of Key Largo and can be accessed by boat. There are several tour operators in the area that offer snorkeling trips to the SS Copenhagen and other nearby wrecks.

When snorkeling at the SS Copenhagen, it's important to follow safe snorkeling practices and take steps to protect the marine environment. This includes not touching or standing on the coral, avoiding contact with any marine life, and not taking anything from the wreck as a souvenir. It's also a good idea to wear a wetsuit, as the water can be cool, even in the summer months.


Snorkeling in Marathon Sombrero Reef

 Sombrero Reef

Snorkeling at Marathon Sombrero Reef is a dream come true for water enthusiasts, welcoming both beginners and experienced snorkelers. The best times to explore this aquatic wonderland are during favorable weather conditions, typically when the sun is high for optimal visibility. However, visitors should remain vigilant for jellyfish, particularly in the summer months. Accessing Sombrero Reef is straightforward, with boat trips and guided tours departing from Marathon, and the presence of buoys for anchoring helps protect the natural reef.


When is the Hurricane Season In Florida?

The hurricane season in Florida typically runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak of the season occurring from mid-August to late October.

For snorkelers who are planning a trip to Florida during hurricane season, it's important to monitor weather forecasts and stay informed about any potential storms or hurricanes that may be approaching the area. If there is a storm or hurricane warning, it's best to avoid going snorkeling until the weather conditions improve.

It's also a good idea to choose a snorkeling location that is sheltered from the wind and waves, such as a protected bay or cove. The Crystal River is home to numerous springs, such as Three Sisters Springs and King's Bay, where you can snorkel among manatees and a variety of fish. The water in these springs is typically calm and clear, making for excellent visibility and a peaceful snorkeling experience.