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One of the great tragedies in life is to miss out on underwater activities while on a Florida beach vacation. It does not much matter whether you prefer to sun in the shallow surf, encounter stingrays and tropical fish in person, or pick up sharks’ teeth, you can do all of this and more at the best Florida snorkeling beaches. The more than 1,000 miles coastline offers thousands of excellent places, all along the so-called Emerald Coast, down in the mostly turquoise-hued waters in the Palm Beaches and especially farther south in the Keys. Given the wide variety of beaches, it is not easy to decide where to go, so to help you out, we look at the 10 best Florida beaches for snorkeling now!
The John Pennekamp Coral State Park is considered as the best Key Largo snorkeling spot. Boat trips depart daily from the marine that take visitors to the nearby reefs, but not many people know that there is an excellent snorkeling spot inside the park too, the Cannon Beach.
If you love Florida’s romantic history and intriguing shipwrecks, then Cannon Beach ought to be at the top of your best Florida beaches for snorkeling list. Although this place doesn’t feature corals, but a hundred of years old Spanish wreck and submerged cannons lie in the shallow, calm waters close to the shore offering an exciting experience. Families with their small children in tow also love this beach for its safe swimming calm enough even for toddlers to enjoy.
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda Beach State Park offers not only a historical bridge as well as an award-winning beach, but also known as one of the best places for offshore snorkeling in Florida.
This 500-acre park is among the favorite tourist destinations down in the Keys that delivers big on beachcombing and offers prime conditions for underwater adventures. Visiting the Bahia Honda State Park is a quiet and peaceful getaway that the whole family will enjoy. Although there are no corals close to the beach, but various sea creatures can be spotted in the shallow water such as tropical fish and rays.
There is also a concession service present along the beach. The operator runs a full gift shop, kayak rentals stand, everyday snorkeling tours out to the fantastic Loo Key National Marine Sanctuary, and a snack bar for when you inevitably get hungry.
Among the closest guarded of secrets within the Florida Keys is the wonderful Sombrero Beach in Marathon Key. This beach has been affectionately referred to as a backyard playground for the local islanders and a hidden Florida Keys beach where you can escape the crowds.
While the Keys are best renowned for their bars, beautiful sunsets, and incredible sea adventures, the mangrove swamp-free zone of Sombrero Beach is a fortunate find indeed with its turquoise shaded waters and soft sand. The clear and calm waters of this beach are perfect for beginners to snorkel, but advanced might find the marine life not so vibrant, therefore they better take a boat to the nearby Sombrero Reef!
This gem of the Middle Keys gives both locals and well-informed tourists joy on every visit. Getting here is so easy as the beach lies along Mile Marker 50. Once you turn off of the U.S. 1 main road here, it is only a matter of meandering down Sombrero Beach Road along stilt-raised homes and the Marathon High School before you will locate the most relaxing, hidden little beach beloved by families with children, savvy visitors, and beautiful Miami women on their all-girls getaways.
SeaSpiration Tip: After a full day spent with snorkeling visit one of Florida party beaches to chill-out!
Phil Foster Park
If you love wildlife below the sea surface, then look no further than Phil Foster Park in West Palm Beach of Palm Beach County on the East Coast of Florida. The pristine stretch of sand along the Blue Heron Bridge is certainly one of the best Florida beaches for snorkeling that draws water lovers all from around the country and world.
There is a snorkeling trail just 200 feet from the beach which covers an incredible two acres and is filled with marine life and plenty of tropical fish. Over 300 individual species of marine animals are known to play in these protected waters including parrotfish, filefish, trumpetfish, Angelfish, sea stars, lobsters, shrimps and even rays.
For a combination snorkeling trip and one-stop shop island getaway rolled into one adventure, Riviera Beach offers its Peanut Island as a real contender in the best Florida beaches for snorkeling category. Unfortunately, land access to this little island does not exist. You need a boat to get out here (ferry boat, kayak, canoe, motor boat, sail boat, or wave runner). The effort to reach the island is well worth the trouble when you encounter the blue-green waters that are so clear here in this beloved paddling and snorkeling site.
There are countless sea animals and tropical fish to take in here, but the reason why many people visit this place is that often manatees can be spotted here, especially during the winter months when they escape from the cold and seek shelter in the warmer coastal waters.
Red Reef Park
Another gem in the snorkelers’ paradise of Palm Beach County is the Red Reef Park in the town of Boca Raton. This beautiful park lies just off of the picturesque A1A beach road. It features a manmade reef that draws snorkelers from all over to enjoy the stunning array of tropical fish that greet you as you enter the water.
This reef is deceptively shallow, meaning that you will want to come at high tide in order to snorkel more effectively. The park also gives you the popular Red Reef Golf Course as well as the fascinating Gumbo Limbo Nature Center that comes complete with vast picnic facilities.
Coral Cove Park
For sheer rugged natural appeal based on incredible rock formations, look no further than the Town of Tequesta’s own Coral Cove Park. This always popular beach destination in the north of Palm Beach County allows you the illusion that you are somewhere in the gorgeous Caribbean. The water clarity is certainly worthy of the Caribbean Sea on a calm day. You will be able to observe numerous marine animals such as stingrays and sea horses.
Biscayne National Park
To enjoy the best of Florida’s marine life, we recommend going snorkeling in Key West, but those who don’t have time to drive to the south can found some decent snorkeling in Miami too. Our tip is the Biscayne National Park that provides visitors with offshore expeditions that take you out to the coral reefs, mangrove habitat, and shipwrecks. The National Park Institute offers guided snorkel trips, but tours are also offered by privately run operators.
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
Snorkeling is a popular activity at the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park found in North Palm Beach since the small reef is easily accessible directly from the beach. You do not require a boat to enjoy the submarine habitats of ocean life dwelling here. Nearly two miles of shoreline help to make this state park along the Atlantic Ocean something extra special.
It boasts unusual rocky outcroppings that protect and shelter a huge variety of sea life. Among them are tarpon, squid, sea anemones, and lobsters. You can buy both dive flags and snorkel gear here in the gift shop at the park in case you come less than well prepared for the adventure.
Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park
The Dr. Von D. Mizzell-Eula Johnson State Park along Dania Beach near Fort Lauderdale has something to offer for everyone. Those who want to stay dry, there are picnic, BBQ areas and a couple of trails that take you through mangroves, those who prefer water adventures can rent a kayak or go snorkeling to the artificial reef.
You will be amazed at all of the aquatic marine life on display here, easily making this one of the best Florida beaches for snorkeling. Spiny lobsters, nurse sharks, and countless teeming tropical fish are only a few of the many special treats that are awaiting snorkelers here at this magical park. The beach stretches for an impressive 2.5 miles and offers not only easy snorkeling directly from the shore, but also good diving as well.
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