World-class snorkeling doesn’t always require a passport if you are an American citizen. In the case of Key West snorkeling, east coasters don’t even need to fly to Hawaii. Just off the southern coast of Florida, the Florida Keys rank 3rd in the world’s largest living coral reefs.
Most snorkeling done in the Key West is done by boat tours that will take you out to the reefs from the main island. Depending on your preferences and group size, a private boat can be chartered for anywhere from $50 to $150 a person. If you wish to stay on the shore, head to the southern shores of the island to Key West Marine Park, where you can find a safe swimming/snorkeling area. Below are some other snorkeling options when visiting Key West.
Fort Zachary Taylor is another beach that does not require leaving the main island, which for a small fee can be accessed and snorkeled. This beach features a breakwater making it a great place to see sea creatures. If you do decide to visit Fort Zachary Taylor, make sure to check and be mindful of the currents.
Located 7 miles southwest of Key West, Sand Key is essentially a giant sand spot surrounded completely by coral reef. Given that fact, visibility varies by the day based on wind and wave conditions. The old lighthouse still on the island is a neat site to see given its historical significance.
Another great option is the Dry Tortugas National Park. Roughly 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas is worth the long boat ride. This full day trip provides for great and unique snorkeling in warm crystal clear water ranging from 5 to 12 feet deep. There are a handful of great spots to snorkel on the island. The first and one of the best is the moat wall where you can see a plethora of fish as well as both hard and soft corals and sponges. If you are with family or friends who don’t snorkel, they can walk along the wall itself alongside you. Another great spot to hit on the island is the Southern Wharf Ruins. This area features large poles (old pilings) in the water that have corals growing on them and fish swimming throughout. If you wish to not charter a private boat or sea plane, check out the Yankee Freedom Ferry. While it is a bit of a hike, Key West snorkeling wouldn’t be the same without Dry Tortugas.