Key West, Florida, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and boasts beautiful views and a warm climate. The clear water and off-shore tropical coral reefs make it an ideal place to spend time snorkeling, where you can discover the different types of fish and marine life present. If you’re ready to take a trip to the location, there are a few Key West snorkeling spots to visit near the Florida Keys to have an experience you remember for a lifetime.
1) Fort Zachary Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor is right off a Key West snorkeling beach and is easy to access, allowing you to walk from your car straight to the water with your snorkeling gear when you’re ready to spend time in a rich underwater habitat. This is one of the best places for snorkeling in Key West due to the large variety of fish species and gorgeous living coral reefs. Rental equipment is also available if you don’t have your own gear to bring, making it an excellent spot to snorkel for tourists.
Fort Zachary Taylor covers 54 acres and has plenty of lobster, yellowtail snapper, parrot fish, and hard and soft corral. The easy access it provides makes it one of the more popular shore snorkeling locations.
2) Sand Key Lighthouse Reef
The Sand Key Lighthouse Reef is one of the most picturesque settings for Key West snorkeling and is located seven miles from Key West. If you’re looking for snorkeling in Key West, where the water is calm and flat, this is a highly-rated spot that doesn’t offer too much of a challenge to children and adults. Some experienced snorkelers also visit this location because it has one to 15 feet of depth, making it easier to view more tropical fish and coral reefs with vibrant colors.
The highlight of this Key West snorkeling spot is the historic lighthouse, which was originally built in 1853 and is a great place to explore when you’re not spending time in the water.
One of the reasons experienced snorkelers also prefer this reef is because of how healthy the coral gardens are, as well as the strict rule that prohibits anyone from taking lobster or fish, which helps preserve the area and create a more diverse place to view the marine life.
3) See Sea Turtles At Cottrell Key
From sea turtles to tropical fish, you can expect to find all types of underwater sea creatures while snorkeling in Key West at Cottrell Key. This location got its name from a ship that was anchored in the spot in the 19th century. Due to its remote location, you can only access Cottrell Key on a boat tour, making it necessary to plan ahead.
Due to how difficult it is to access, you can enjoy snorkeling in a quiet and serene spot where you can explore an underwater world where sea turtles, Goliath groupers, sharks, and dolphins are present. Many snorkelers also enjoy viewing the famous orange sponge and oversized coral reefs. Plenty of sand and coral outcroppings are also present on the seafloor.
4) Dry Tortugas National Park And Fort Jefferson
Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles from the Florida Keys and offers some of the top snorkeling spots in the U.S. This location has an abundance of white sand beaches and shallow waters that are 5 to 15 feet deep.
The easiest ways to get to Fort Jefferson are on boat tours or by taking the Yankee Freedom III ferry, where you can be provided with the snorkeling gear you need to view the tropical fish and queen conchs. This area is close to the Florida Keys and is known to have vibrant sea life, where you can expect to be surrounded by dozens of sea stars.
Dry Tortugas National Park accommodates snorkelers of all levels, making it one of the most favorable snorkeling spots for locals and tourists.
It’s also one of the best snorkeling spots near the Florida Keys because the marine sanctuary is protected, which allows it to offer more to view and experience while spending time underwater.
5) Bahia Honda State Park
Add Bahia Honda State Park to your itinerary, which is a gorgeous setting that is situated in the lower area of the Florida Keys. Many beginner snorkelers visit this spot for lessons in a natural sanctuary that is home to plenty of natural plants, shorebirds, and emerald beaches. With 500 acres of protected wildlife, it’s a pristine location that is quiet and can allow you to escape the crowds.
Whether you prefer to snorkel five feet down or 70 feet near the ocean floor, you can have the experience of a lifetime as a beginner or an expert. Shore snorkeling is also offered near the beach if you prefer to stay closer to the sand.
6) John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is one of the most desirable snorkeling spots and is in proximity to Key Largo. This park is 25 miles wide, offering plenty of space to explore and making it one of the largest snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys. Extending three miles into the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find only tropical coral reefs and shipwrecked vessels, enhancing the experience.
This is where many boat tours visit, allowing you to dive into the water and explore remote underwater spots that are a significant distance from the shore. Some of the best places to snorkel at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park include Cannon Beach and Far Beach. Although you have the ability to snorkel without going on a tour, you won’t experience as much of the natural underwater beauty without the help of a guide as you spend time close to the Florida Keys.
These beaches are sheltered, which allows the water to be calmer throughout the year and makes it less of a challenge as you spend time exploring. This is also a great spot to view the lush seaweed that grows along the coastline and contributes to the lush environment. After you get out of the water, you can enjoy a snack or meal at one of the many picnic benches on the shore.
7) Higgs Beach
One of the most popular Key West snorkeling spots is at Higgs Beach, the diverse living coral reef that is present, which includes sea fingers, brain coral, soft corals, as well as sea whips, and sea fans. This is one of the best snorkeling spots for those who are snorkeling for the first time because you don’t have to worry about swimming too deep in the water.
The shore snorkeling allows you to stay close to the beach and get a firsthand look at angelfish, parrotfish, and butterfly fish close to the pier. Both children and adults can participate, making it a family-friendly location for all ages.
Explore The Tropical Coral Reefs With Us!
When you’re ready for your next underwater adventure, you can rely on Key West Sandbar Tours to experience the magic of Key West and enjoy visiting the top snorkeling spots in the destination. Private charters are available for both small and large groups, allowing you to spend time in paradise and explore both the sand and the sea.
Feel free to contact Key West Sandbar Tours today to book your next excursion on the water and visit remote spots that are hidden gems in the location. You can learn more about the local area and appreciate the natural beauty of the destination with the help of the guides. It’ll also allow you to spend the day enjoying fresh seafood in a dreamy setting in and near the Florida Keys.
Book your next Key West snorkeling tour and experience the best snorkeling spots and the magical underwater life of the Florida Keys!