The best snorkeling spots in Miami
by Eileen Strauss on March 01, 2022
Miami is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches, world-class hotels, and spectacular sightseeing in the US. A mecca for food, fashion, flora, and fauna, this South Florida travel destination is truly a city to see-and-be-seen. But as sensational as the sights are to see on land, there’s no better view than that which can be seen when exploring Miami’s underwater universe.
Miles and meters of crystal clear coastlines, magnificent reefs, beautiful bays, and perfectly preserved wrecks make Miami one of the best snorkeling destinations on earth.
We’ve put together a guide to the best snorkeling spots in and around Miami; definite must-sees to drop in your bucket list.
Best snorkeling spots in and around Miami
Biscayne National Park
Address: 9700 SW 328th Street, Sir Lancelot Jones Way, Homestead, FL 33033
Phone: 305 230-1144
Overview: Located approximately 49 minutes away from Miami International Airport, Biscayne Bay, known for its abundant tropical fish population, crystal-clear waters, and majestic turtles, is one of the best places for snorkeling in Miami.
Why you need to go: Loaded with colored fish and other flora and fauna, the Biscayne Bay is home to some of the most well-preserved wrecks on earth, including Mandalay, a schooner that sank on Long Reef in 1966.
Visitors to the Bay can expect to see a variety of sea mammals like stingrays, red and yellow coral canyons, yellow snapper, hogfish, parrotfish, and colorful angelfish, as well as friendly Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
What you need to know: Offering half-day and full-day snorkeling trips, each lasting about 3 hours, you’ll be taken by powerboat to explore the Biscayne Bay and the reefs and wrecks below. Friendly and knowledgeable tour guides explain marine habitats in Biscayne National Park. The trip also includes bird-watching along the mangrove coastline.
Cost: $99 per person
Phil Foster Park at Blue Heron Bridge Waterway
Address: 900 E. Blue Heron Boulevard, Riviera Beach, Florida 33404
Phone: (561) 966-6600
Hours: Sunrise until 10 p.m.
Overview: Located about ½ hour from Miami International Airport, in the area of West Palm Beach, home to some of the most famous shipwrecks, corals, and limestone formations on earth, you’ll find Phil Foster Park, an underwater snorkeling trail in the waters surrounding the legendary Blue Heron Bridge Waterway.
Why you need to go: Two acres and 600 tons of limestone boulders have created a habitat of cracks and crevices for sea creatures to live and hide. Running close to the shore and parallel to the beach, just inside the boat exclusion zone, visitors can expect to see a wide assortment of sea life, including pipefish, crabs, lobsters, frog fish, schooling grunts, batfish, and seahorses in a fairly small area.
A one-of-the-kind snorkel trail made from a combination of natural and manmade habitats, the Phil Foster Park at Blue Heron Bridge Waterway is one of the most sought-after snorkeling destinations in Miami’s waters.
What to expect: A 14.7-acre underwater snorkeling trail, filled with shipwrecks, sea creatures, and coral reefs, with maximum depths of 20 feet, is a popular snorkeling destination for beginners and advanced divers. While guided tours are available, this publicly accessible park is for more experienced snorkelers since guides are not widely present.The best time to snorkel at “the Bridge” is 30 minutes prior to and after slack high tide, so it’s best to check the tide tables before you go.
Note: Snorkelers should NOT touch or disrupt marine life. This can be dangerous to the diver (i.e. fireworms, coral, arrow crabs etc.) as well as the wildlife
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Address: 102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo FL 33037
Hours: 8 am to sunset
Overview: Located 3 hours from Miami International Airport, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, opening in 1963, was the first undersea park in the United States. Seventy nautical square miles of turquoise Atlantic waters, this famous park gets its name from Everglades conservationist John D. Pennekamp.
Why you need to go: Colorful coral reefs teeming with marine life can be seen from beautiful glass-bottom boats or you can get up close and personal by snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters.
What to expect: Snorkelers will ride to the site via boat and receive a lesson before diving into the clear open water. Snorkeling gear rental and private snorkeling charters are also available.
The full adventure lasts about two and a half hours, but expect to spend most of that time exploring the depths of the sea.
Other activities at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park include scuba diving, kayak rentals, and an underwater playground.
Cost: $22.95 for adults (18+) – $24.95 for children (17 and below)
Dry Tortugas National Park
Address: 40001 SR-9336, Homestead, FL 33034
Phone: 305 242-7700
Overview: Located 3 hours from Miami International Airport, Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square mile park made of clear open water and seven picturesque islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson.
Why you need to go: One of the most beautiful eco-attraction sites in the world, consisting of seven islands, superlative coral reefs, magnificent marine life, and a vast assortment of birdlife, visitors to Dry Tortugas National Park can expect to see the largest versions of marine life in the Keys. With less than 1% of Dry Tortugas National Park being dry ground, the best way to see this remarkable national treasure is to get your feet wet and get your snorkel on.
What you need to know: Known also for its comparatively shallow waters, ranging from 5 to 15 feet, it’s an ideal snorkeling spot for both pros and beginners. But don’t let the shallow waters fool you. There is a wide depth of living coral, colorful tropical fish, queen conchs, starfish, and more.
Cost: $190 for adults 17 and older, $135 for children ages 4-16, $180 for seniors 62 and over
Masks, fins, and snorkels are provided at no extra charge.
Tarpoon Lagoon Diving Center
Address: 300 Alton Road #110, Miami Beach, FL 33139, United States
Overview: Located 23 minutes from Miami International Airport, Tarpoon Lagoon Diving Center offers snorkeling excursions and education.
Why you need to go: Clear waters, interesting views, and an abundance of vibrant sea life make this a must-see Maimi snorkeling destination. Tarpoon Lagoon Diving Center excursions include visits to Rainbow Reef, the Half Moon Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and Emerald Reef. The Half Moon Underwater Archaeological Preserve is a wreckage site where a schooner named Half Moon sunk.
What you need to know: Perfect for first-timers, proficient instructors provide lessons in diving techniques and snorkeling instruction. Snorkeling trips take place Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Cost: Starting from $80 per person
Ocean Safari Diving
Address: 677 SW 1st Street, Miami, FL 33130, United States
Hours: Mon - Sat 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Overview: A quick 21 minutes drive from Miami International Airport is Ocean Safari Diving. a half-day excursion, on a boat with about 25 guests, that will take you on a snorkeling tour along the Great Barrier Reef, Undine Reef, and Mackay Reef.
Why you need to go: One of the area’s most renowned water adventure destinations, visitors can expect to see and experience a variety of marine creatures, including devil rays, turtles, whale sharks, and manta rays. Swimming with the dolphins or watching out for Humpback whales (depending on the season) makes this one of the most family-friendly water adventure destinations in Miami.
What you need to know: Friendly, knowledgeable guides, available to happily answer questions, make this interactive water experience perfect for families with small children.
Cost: Contact site
South Beach Dive and Surf Center
Address: 850 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: 305 - 531 - 6110
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Overview: Located 30 minutes from Miami International Airport, South Beach Dive and Surf Center offers half-day snorkel trips to wrecks and reefs on Key Biscayne.
Why you need to go: Conveniently located in the heart of Miami Beach’s trendy and vibrant South Beach, close to popular hotels, dining, shopping, and the ever-popular Art Deco District, families can get their feet wet, exploring the Atlantic’s most magnificent marine life under close supervision.
What you need to know: Offering snorkeling services since 1995, South Beach Dive and Surf Center offers half-day excursions every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Trips are 3 1/2 hours in duration, providing plenty of time to snorkel on the shallow wrecks and reefs off of Key Biscayne, and include mask, snorkel, fins and snorkel vest rental.
Children ages 6 to 15 must be accompanied by an adult, while kids 16 to 18 require a letter from a parent or guardian to join the excursion. Children under six years are not allowed to snorkel.
In addition, the Center requires all participants to have prior swimming knowledge.
Cost: $119 per person (includes snorkel gear rental)
Address: Peanut Island, 200 E 13th Street Riviera Beach Fl, 33404
Hours: 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Overview: Located near Lake Worth Inlet in Palm Beach County, between Palm Beach Island and Singer Island, the shallow waters of Peanut Island’s snorkeling lagoon are a perfect snorkeling destination for kids and adults alike.
Why you need to go: One of the best snorkeling spots in Florida, Peanut Island Park is a shallow lagoon teeming with manatees, tropical fish, and invertebrates.
The rock breakwaters work as an artificial reef on the east side of the island, attracting a wide variety of marine life including crabs, lobsters, shrimps, sea urchins, sponges besides coral species. Manatees can be spotted all over the island, both in the water and on the boardwalk.
What you need to know: You can get there by paddle boat or kayak, but the best way to get to Peanut Island is taking the shuttle boat from Riviera Beach Marina where free parking is available. The ferry runs every 20 minutes, 7 days a week.
The island’s ocean temperatures stay mild even during winter, making Peanut Island snorkeling trips possible any time of the year. Snorkeling is the best during the hours before and after high tide, when the best conditions occur.
Cost: A roundtrip costs 12 USD for adults, 6 USD for kids. Even better, you can bring your furry friends too since the whole establishment is dog-friendly. Snorkel rental is 10 USD per day.
1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project & Gallery
Address: 501 SE 2nd St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Overview: Located just off the coast of Fort Lauderdale Beach, the 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project & Gallery is an artificial reef installation, serving as an underwater eco-friendly destination for tourism, research, and Coral Restoration.
Why you need to go: If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming with mermaids, this is the spot for you. Visitors can swim through a maze of mermaid-inspired statues in this giant underwater gallery and habitat for some of the most magnificent marine life in the South Florida waters.
What you need to know: Every year, 14 million tourists come to Broward County beaches to enjoy the natural resources. Though this is wonderful for the economy, this large volume of trafﬁc has had negative impacts on the health of the natural reef.
Artiﬁcial reefs like Mermaid Artificial Reef can help offset the trafﬁc giving the natural reefs time to recover and provide habitats for ﬁsh, lobsters, and other marine life. The 1000 Mermaids Project aims to bring awareness to the growing problems affecting our natural reefs.