The State of Florida is one of the hottest tourist locations in the United States with more than 131.4 million visitors in 2019 alone!

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a lot to explore beyond the white sandy beaches and the blue tropical water of the Sunshine State.

Snorkeling, one of Florida’s top activities, provides adventurous swimmers with a method to breathe underwater, which allows them to explore the beauty of the area’s sea creatures and coral reefs beneath the surface.

If you’re interested in snorkeling in Florida, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’ll walk you through the 12 best snorkeling spots in Florida, along with a complete guide about these locations and what you should expect while snorkeling there.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

What Type of Fish You’ll Come Across While Snorkeling in Florida?

Snorkeling under the satin surface of Florida water will grant you an unmatched experience due to the huge variety of fish you’ll find there. Under the water, you’ll find amazing sceneries with tons of exotic coral reefs and fish of all shapes and colors.

Before heading into the top spots, let’s have a brief overview of some of the most interesting and common fish species that you’ll likely come across while snorkeling in Florida:

 

 

 

  • Banded Butterfly Fish
  • Blue Tang
  • Dolphins
  • Turtles
  • Snappers
  • Groupers
  • Amberjacks
  • Parrotfish
  • Barracudas
  • Angelfish

 

What is the Best Time to Enjoy Snorkeling in Florida?

One of the greatest things about snorkeling in Florida is that you can easily enjoy it all year round because Florida has perfect weather at almost all times of the year! In winter, Florida has one of the nicest and mildest weather in this region of the United States.

This makes it a top winter holiday spot as the temperatures range between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26 degrees Celsius). This temperature range is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities to do in Florida.

You can expect the weather to get a bit colder due to rainfall and some strong wind, but such conditions usually don’t last for more than a few days.

Keep in mind that the ocean’s temperature is usually a degree or two below the land in winter, but it gets warmer as you head to the south. If you’re snorkeling in the Florida ocean in the winter, you should bring a 3 mm snorkeling suit along.

The summer months in Florida are relatively hot, with temperatures reaching up to a maximum of 90 degrees or more on some days.

Luckily, the weather in the ocean is usually a lot milder on those days, which is why you can enjoy snorkeling in summer too.

Remember to check the weather forecast to avoid tropical storms that might form during the Atlantic Hurricane season between June and November.

Top 12 Snorkeling Spots in Florida

Due to its geographical location and the peninsula style, the Sunshine State has tons of coastal cities that provide a lot of opportunities to enjoy snorkeling.

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

Find it on Google Maps

Kicking off the list with one of the best and most unique spots that you must visit in the Florida Keys region.

This spot offers a one of a kind experience where you enjoy snorkeling and swimming in crystal clear water around the iconic Jefferson Fort.

The Dry Tortugas National Park is a 100-square mile part that’s found about 68 miles to the west of the Key West region, so it’s only accessible using boats, ferries, or seaplanes.

As you can see, the spot is remarkably remote, so it has an unrivaled level of diversity, healthiness, and clarity when it comes to the water.

The park is teeming with a wide variety of species of fish while snorkeling, such as Dolphins, Wahoo, Tuna, Mackerels, Snappers, Groupers, as well as 5 species of turtles and much more!

Due to the remoteness of the island, you shouldn’t rely on rental shops there. It’s recommended that you take your own gear before you go.

The entry price is usually $15 for anyone aged 16 or older and is valid for 7 consecutive days. Kids younger than 16, even international visitors, are exempt from these entrance fees.

2. St. Andrews State Park

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Address: 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City, FL 32408, United States

One of the most underrated spots for snorkeling in Florida is found just outside Panama City Beach in the panhandle region.

This emerald green waters area of St. Andrews State Park is a former military reservation that features miles of white sand and rock jetties that form an enclosed lagoon.

This makes it an extremely easy spot for snorkeling around and exploring a huge variety of tropical species of fish and coral reefs, such as Mackerels, Dolphins, Cobias, Bluefish, Bonitos, Flounders, Sea Trouts, and more!

There’s a concession store there that offers snorkeling sets for rental, but you can always bring your gear along. The admission fee is usually about $4 to $8 for occupied vehicles and $2 for pedestrians.

3. Biscayne National Park

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Similar to Dry Tortugas Park, this one is also another state park that is only accessible by boats and seaplanes.

However, the park is located just outside Miami, so it’s a great option to consider if you want to enjoy a serene environment without leaving the hustle and bustle of the big city!

The park gives you an excellent opportunity to enjoy half-day and full-day trips on powerboats to explore the remarkably vibrant and unique marine habitat of the region.

With tons of shipwrecks and pirate history in the region, you can also enjoy treasure hunting in the ocean bed as well as other activities, such as bird watch and lobster hunting if you’re qualified by the law to do so!

The marine wildlife in the area includes various tropical species of fish and coral reefs, such as rays, dolphins, and various species of sea turtles! The entrance to the park is free, but there’s a $25 camping fee if you’re willing to stay overnight.

4. Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring

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Address: 5390 NE 180 Ave, Williston, FL 32696, United States

If you’re willing to enjoy more than just fish while snorkeling in Flordia, you should definitely consider the Devil’s Den Prehistoric Spring.

This privately-owned dry cave is located in Central Florida but it’s quite easy to not notice the spot if you’re not aware of it. The dry cave has a small entryway that leads you to a prehistoric spring via steep stairs.

Once you’re into the spring, you’ll find the blue glowing water due to the natural skylight and artificial lighting inside the cave.

While the cave has a few fish species and a popular turtle named “Nelson”, it packs a punch when it comes to prehistoric remains of extinct animals, which dates back as old as the Pleistocene Age.

Not only that, but there are 10,000-year-old human bones there. You can explore the full potential of the Devil’s den through scuba diving. However, snorkeling is also available and you’ll still be able to view the contents of the spring.

You can either bring you snorkeling gear along or rent them out from the owners. The entry fee for one person is $15 for snorkelers ($20 on weekends) and $38 for scuba divers.

The rental of snorkeling gear will cost you an extra $10. Keep in mind that snorkeling there is available by appointments only.

5. Phil Foster Park

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Address: 900 Blue Heron Blvd, Riviera Beach, FL 33404, United States

Located in Southeast Florida, this 14.65-acre park has an artificial reef that houses some of the largest variety of unique marine species in Florida. There, you can find all Florida tropical fish species in addition to starfish, squid, octopus, and spotted rays!

What’s great about this park is that the water is significantly shallow and clear, averaging about 6 to 10 feet deep. This makes it a great spot for beginners and even kids!

One thing you should know about that park is that your experience and visibility is affected if the tide is a bit high, so you have to check the tidal influence before you plan the trip.

You can find rental shops in the Blue Heron Bridge region, so you don’t have to bring tools along. Even better, both admission and parking around the beach are for free!

6. Red Reef Park

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Address: 1400 N Ocean Blvd, Boca Raton, FL 33432, United States

If you’re interested in finding a sweet saltwater snorkeling location that requires no boat to reach, you’d be delighted to know about Red Reef Park in Boca Raton.

Despite being an artificial reef spot created close to the shore, it soon became a habitat for a huge variety of vibrant and brightly colored marine creatures, including sea turtles, banded fish, stingrays, eels, and various other tropical fish species.

The spot has shallow water, which is only 10 feet deep, so it’s safe for entry-level snorkelers and children. It’s also quite big (about 40 acres), so you can enjoy lengthy snorkeling sessions while being sure you’ll always see something exciting!

The park has a boardwalk that is full of shops, so you can buy or rent gear from there. There’s no entry fee. However, if you have a car, you should keep in mind that the parking fee can go as high as $18 on weekends and holidays.

7. Ichetucknee Springs

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Address: 12087 S.W. U.S. Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038,  United States

The Ichetucknee springs park is one of the most popular spots for snorkeling and scuba diving in North Central Florida.

The natural underwater paradise is also a great all-around holiday location with opportunities for hiking trails and canoeing, as motorized vehicles aren’t allowed in many spots for preserving the wildlife.

You can enjoy snorkeling in a specific zone only. However, these spots will have everything you’re looking for, including Suwannee, Sunfish, Lake Chubsucker, Shiners, largemouth Bass, and Striped Mullet. The entry fee is usually $5 per person (including taxes) and $8 for vehicles.

8. Bahia Honda State Park

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Address: 36850 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, United States

Located at Mile Marker 37, this park is popular for its white sandy beaches and Elkhorn corals.

The park offers guided snorkeling tours that will take you through an hour and a half long journey of marine exploration.

You can find various species of octopuses, sponges, barracudas, bonefish, and turtles. All that surrounded a rich but fragile habitat of soft and hard corals!

Pedestrians and footed tourists would enter the beach for $2 per person while vehicles with multiple occupants would pay $8 (up to 8 persons per vehicle).

9. John Pennekamp Coral State Park

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Address: 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037, United States

The iconic John Pennekamp coral state park has some of the clearest water in the Key Largo region.

This park is one of the first underwater parks in the United States and features guided snorkeling tours with a wide variety of tropical fish species that reaches up to 260 different species.

Not only that, but you’ll also enjoy the rainbow-colored coral reef and the submerged Christ of the Abyss Statue!

The admission fee to the 70 square mile park is $8 per vehicle and 50 cents per person. The park is available 365 days a year!

10. Ginnie Springs Outdoors

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Address: 7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, FL 32643, United States

Ginnie Springs Outdoors is another privately owned park that contains some of the most aesthetically pleasing freshwater springs that North Central Florida has to offer!

The area contains a lot of springs but this one is an amazing option on a hot day due to its cool and refreshing crystal clear water!

The spring is connected to the Santa Fe River, which guarantees a constant supply to some of the most spectacular freshwater marine creatures, such as Largemouth bass, Suwannee bass, and Bluegills.

However, you should keep in mind that fishing is not allowed in the park to retain its remarkably clear water standard.

Due to its unmatched beauty, Ginnie Springs is a bit pricey. Adults are expected to pay $14.02 on weekdays and up to $19.40 on weekends. Children younger than 5 are free of charge.

Lastly, if you plan to expand the trip to scuba diving, you should be ready to pay more (about $22 to $30).

11. Bathtub Reef

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Address: 1585 SE MacArthur Blvd, Stuart, FL 34996, United States

Located in the southernmost public beach in Martin County, the Bathtub Reef is one of the unique destinations where you’ll observe the work of millions of small worms while forming the reefs throughout long years.

These reefs are surrounded by clear water and are a habitat for a wide variety of marine species.

These species include groupers, parrotfish,  snooks, jellyfish, sand crabs, sheepshead, sea urchins, and blue crabs.

The admission to the beach is free, so you have to rise early and visit the beach at 10 am or earlier if you want to enjoy the scenery before the place gets crowded.

12. Siesta Key Beach – Point of Rocks

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Address: 7132 Point of Rocks Cir, Sarasota, FL 34242, United States

Lastly, if you’re in the Gulf Coast region, you might not have a lot of great spots for underwater activities, as these spots are more popular for their lush tropical landscape while the ocean there is often murky and has low visibility for snorkelers.

However, if you’re around the Sarasota region and want to enjoy underwater exploration, there’s a hidden gem in the area known as “Point of Rocks”.

This beach area is one of the best spots for snorkeling in Southwest Florida, which is found at the south end of the Siesta Key beach.

You can view all kinds of tropical fish that are common in the area beneath the turquoise water surface, such as Snappers, Groupers, Amberjacks, as well as other creatures like crabs and Sponges.

Similar to the Bathtub Reef, this one is also free of charge, so you need to arrive early to enjoy the maximum level of water clarity and visibility!

Snorkeling  Gear Recommendations

If you don’t have any snorkeling gear check out my recommendations below.

Wrap Up

There you have it. A complete guide with everything you need to know about the 12 best snorkeling spots in Florida!

One thing you should rest assured about is that even the most heavily described spot in Florida can easily blow your mind when you see it in real life!

The Sunshine State’s aquatic life is amazingly unique and diverse, so you’ll never run out of new things to discover and enjoy!

Lastly, remember to make sure that you bring all the necessary gear that is suitable for the season you’re visiting Florida at and follow your guide’s instructions to stay safe and make the most of your time there.