Looking for the best snorkeling in Florida?
Few places on the planet offer the variety of snorkeling opportunities that abound in the Sunshine State! There are plenty of jewels and must-see spots along the entire peninsula’s coast, but if you find yourself inland and away from any of our gorgeous beaches, you can take advantage of some incredible natural springs surrounded by lush landscapes.
Most have water that remains at a constant 72 degrees, so snorkelers can enjoy water activities year-round. Remember the rules: always use the buddy system when snorkeling, especially if you are not part of a guided tour, don’t attempt to engage with or feed any wildlife, stand only in sand so you don’t disturb reefs, never touch the coral, and always display a dive flag when you are outside of a designated snorkeling area.
In some of the open ocean spots, snorkelers, divers, and swimmers are sharing the waterways with boats and other watercraft.
Remember your sunscreen and stay hydrated! Keep in mind that weather affects snorkeling conditions, so keep your eye on the sky and watch out for one of Florida’s famous pop-up storms. Visit the links we’ve listed below for updated information on each site’s Covid-19 protocols and ADA accessibility.
Your guide as to where to snorkel in Florida here:
14 Must-Visit Places For Snorkeling In Florida
1. Dry Tortugas National Park – Key West (Florida Keys Snorkeling)
It’s no secret that Key West is home to top-notch snorkeling spots, but visitors to Dry Tortugas National Park will find some of the best skin diving and snorkeling in all North America. Best of all, this remote location is accessible only by boat or seaplane! After a 40-minute boat ride, you’ll arrive at the remote, historic Fort Jefferson.
Grab fins, a mask, and a snorkel from the Yankee Freedom crew and head out toward the reefs. The water maxes out at 15-feet deep, so this is a great spot for beginners to practice and gain confidence. There are many popular areas, but you’ll find one of the most popular spots is approximately 75 yards from the western edge of the edge of the historic Fort Jefferson’s moat wall.
You’ll see tons of colorful tropical fish, incredible specimens of vibrant coral, sea grasses, and other marine life that call South Florida home. Head over to the South Coaling Dock ruins, where more experienced snorkelers can explore the metal pilings of the old docks.
There’s plenty to do once you get out of the water, too. Take a guided tour of Fort Jefferson, walk on the secluded beaches, go birding, or camp out and get a great night’s sleep 70 miles from civilization.
2. Blue Springs State Park – Deland
Tucked away in the quirky town of Deland, Blue Springs is a truly magical place. This unique location offers a different experience that depends on the time of year that you visit!
From November through March, this is winter haven for many manatees, and no water activities are allowed at that time. During that time, park visitors can hike the trail that winds through the lush trees that surround the springs and gaze in wonder as adult and juvenile manatees float peacefully and snack on underwater grasses.
After years of extensive protection efforts by environmentalists and staff, the park is a designated Manatee Refuge for West Indian manatees, and nearly 500 sea cows visit Blue Springs each year. The record is 566 in 2022! When the water is open for human visitors, snorkelers will love their time in the crystal-clear spring run. If you get tired of floating and want a real challenge, swim upstream to reach the spring boil.
Your goggles will give you an incredible underwater view of the spring, and then you can let the current carry you back downstream. Forgot something? No problem! Pop into the concession shop to rent tubes, goggles, or snorkels, secure a locker, or grab a snack.
The fun doesn’t have to stop once you leave the park. You can tune in to the underwater manatee cam and observe these gentle giants once you get home.
3. Half Moon Preserve – Miami
Snorkeling may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Miami, but a visit to Half Moon Preserve will certainly change that – it’s home to one of the most fascinating and storied shipwrecks off the coast of the United States.
Built in Germany in 1908, the Germania was originally a racing yacht commission for a wedding gift. It traded hands countless times before ultimately winding up with the British, who seized it as a prize of war and renamed it the Half Moon in 1914.
It was a floating bar during Prohibition, and the yacht sank in the Miami River. It was raised and used as a fishing vessel until it eventually sunk off the Miami coast in the 1930. Divers discovered the wreck in 1987, but it was not identified until 1990.
The Half Moon is still in excellent condition and is one of Florida’s Seven Underwater Archaeological Preserves! Don’t miss the chance to check out this fascinating piece of history, which is only three to four feet beneath the water’s surface.
4. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – Key Largo
Underwater adventure awaits at the first-ever underwater park in the United States, which offers 70 square nautical miles to explore.
This spot is usually recommended for more advanced snorkelers since the Key Largo beaches are sandy-bottomed. Folks seeking reef snorkeling can take a short boat ride offshore and explore away from the crowds. Private half- or full-day group trips are available, so this is a perfect activity for friends or families traveling together.
You’ll see a diverse variety of incredible fish, colorful coral, and mangroves no matter where you are snorkeling, and make sure you don’t miss the chance to swim around the iconic Christ of the Abyss statue. It is a stunning replica of “Il Christo degli Abissi,”, the original of which is found in Liguria, Italy. After your snorkeling adventure, head over to Canon Beach, where you can see remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck 100 feet offshore!
After you’ve dried off, stroll through the visitor center, which offers natural history exhibits that showcase the park’s unique ecosystem, a theater where visitors can watch nature programs, and houses a 30,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. You can also schedule a guided nature walk that takes you through mangroves.
Website – https://pennekamppark.com/
5. Crystal River – Citrus County
Miles away from any of our famous beaches, Florida’s Citrus County is the only place in the world where humans are legally allowed to swim with manatees in the Three Sisters Spring! The warm spring water offers a popular refuge for the endangered West Indian manatee, and with a snorkel, goggles, and fins you can hover and glide on the water’s surface and observe these gentle giants floating and chomping on grass in their own habitat. You might even see a calf swimming along with mama!
Remember: don’t attempt to touch or ride these incredible creatures. There are stiff penalties in place for anyone who interferes with or harasses them. Be sure to sign up with a reputable tour group to make the most out of your visit. In addition to providing lots of fun facts and information about the local ecosystems, manatee, and other wildlife, most tour companies have gear included in the price of the trip, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own snorkel, mask, or fins
And trust us – even though the water is a constant 72 degrees, you’ll appreciate a wetsuit on the rare chilly Florida day!
6. Biscayne National Park – Miami
This stunning national park is home to mangrove forests and thousands of years of human history, but the best sights can be found underwater!
Sign up for a half-day guided venture that whisks you across the scenic Biscayne Bay on a powerboat. Your expert captain will choose your location based on weather and conditions to ensure you have an optimal experience. An open ocean stop allows you to snorkel around a colorful, diverse coral reef, where you’ll spot hundreds of species of fish and other sea creatures.
If you travel to a shipwreck site, you can see sites ranging from coral-encrusted ballast stones to the mangled underwater remains of modern watercraft. A bayside snorkel will take you near the mangroves, which are home to many sea creatures and fish.
You’ll also find sea sponges and soft coral. If it is one of those rare chilly Florida days during winter or spring, you might visit an island instead! The boats are rigged with shade, and the crew will have drinking water available.
Remember your towels and bring a light jacket so you don’t get chilly on the ride back to shore! Private excursions are available for visitors looking for a more personalized experience.
Website – https://www.biscaynenationalparkinstitute.org/
7. Devil’s Den Spring – Williston
This is definitely one of the coolest spots on our list, and you’ll never forget your visit to this unique location! Legends say that Devil’s Den, located in an underground cavern and featuring more than 60 crevice caves, was a prime spot for outlaws to hide out and escape authorities due to the rough terrain surrounding the area, and visitors will love the underground cavern that evokes the feeling of a Mexican cenote.
Head down the small entryway and head down the steep stairs to find the stunning pool that awaits you (only scuba divers and snorkelers are allowed, no general swimming or casual peeking!).
The beautiful blue water appears to glow thanks to the natural skylight at the top of the cave. You won’t encounter a wide variety of wildlife at Devil’s Den (you might spy guppies, crappie, or catfish), but the coolness factor of exploring this spot more than makes up for it.
This privately-owned locale has become a popular spot due to significant social media fame, so plan ahead to avoid the crowds looking to snap cool selfies for Instagram.
Website – http://www.devilsden.com/snorkeling.html
8. Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary – Bahia Honda Key
You’ll find one of the most spectacular reefs in the Florida Keys at Looe Key, named for the HMS Looe, which sunk in this spot in 1744 while towing a captured French ship! Hop on a modern boat and take a scenic cruise to an area teeming with elkhorn and giant star coral.
Snorkelers will see approximately 50 species of coral and more than 150 species, including angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and yellowtail at Bahia Honda. Forgot your equipment? No problem! Pick up anything you need (and maybe a few things that you don’t!) from the gift shop.
Kayakers can navigate around the whole island and get away from it all. Land lovers will find plenty of activities on the shore, including fishing or biking a 3.5-mile surfaced road. This is also a prime spot for beachcombers!
9. Ginnie Springs – High Springs
You’ll need a whole day (and a night, for you campers out there!) to explore everything that Ginnie Springs has to offer! Visitors can kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board, and you can even take a lazy tube ride down the Santa Fe River, enjoying the wildlife and the natural beauty of Florida’s diverse plants (if you don’t have your own, you can rent a tube at the general store).
Can you find the place where the Santa Fe meets the freshwater spring? Sharp-eyed visitors will spot the delineation. Snorkeling in the river offers you the opportunity to view large gar, catfish, turtles, and many other creatures in their native habitat.
After your tube ride ends, start exploring the springs! Each of the seven natural springs is teeming with wildlife, so keep your eyes open behind your goggles as you snorkel spy some incredible underwater flora and fauna.
Certified SCUBA divers will find cool opportunities here as well, there are multiple magical underwater caves to explore. Don’t want to get wet? You’ll find volleyball, fishing, and more available for those visitors who want to stay dry! Reserve a pavilion for your large group or family gathering.
10. Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest
All the wonders of the Ocala National Forest are for another list, but Alexander Springs is one of the crown jewels! Don’t miss this magical spot, one of only 27 first-magnitude springs found in Florida. Once you are surrounded by the majestic sweetgum, cabbage, and maples, the crowded theme parks will never feel further away.
This happens to be the only spot in the entire forest where SCUBA diving is permitted, and open-water divers can explore the broad mouth of the spring, where the powerful surface boil is visible as far away as the beach.
Best of all, the extraordinarily clear water makes this a perfect spot for beginners and expert snorkelers alike. The naturally sloping spring pool is extraordinarily clear, and of course the water is 72 degrees all year long.
There’s plenty of picnic tables for visitors, and you can rent a canoe to paddle down Alexander Run into the Alexander Springs Wilderness. You’ll see tons of wildlife, maybe even a bear or an alligator basking in the sun!
11. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park – North Palm Beach
There’s no place on Earth like John D. MacArthur Beach State Park! This stunning location encompasses 500 acres and features four unique terrains that give visitors a glimpse of what Florida was like eons before any humans arrived on the scene.
No boat necessary for snorkelers because the gorgeous reef is just a short swim from shore. Made up of limestone, this reef is part of Florida’s Reef Tract and is rivaled in size only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Barrier Reef in Belize. The close proximity of the Gulf Stream means that you can spot a diverse – and at times, truly astonishing – range of marine life, including mollusks, brachiopods, and more.
Be sure to visit the nature center, which features a variety of exhibitions, aquariums, and nature films that showcase why this location is a true ecological treasure. Land lovers can spot many different bird species, including herons, gulls, sandpipers, brown pelicans, and more, or find gorgeous shells while beachcombing. Anglers can fish from the non-swimming areas of the beach!
Don’t miss your opportunity to see the gorgeous satinleaf tree. Take a short hike (less than half-a-mile) on the Satinleaf Nature Trail and marvel at this gorgeous tree and its stunning bronze-colored foliage.
Website – https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/john-d-macarthur-beach-state-park
12. Rock Springs at Kelly Park – Apopka
Chilly by Florida standards, the 26,000 gallons of water that bubble up at the head of Rock Springs per minute are at a constant 68 degrees!
This is a favorite spot for tubers, once you put in at the top of the trail head, it can take nearly 30 minutes to glide your way down the lazy river to the exit area. Waders and snorkelers can see tons of wildlife, including turtles, snakes, snails, and several species of fish. And yes, you just might spot an alligator, particularly during mating season.
Be sure to keep an eye out for shark teeth that have spilled out of the spring! There are several natural areas where folks with sieves may find some true prehistoric treasures. Kids will love the interactive playground, which features swings and slides for when your water fun is done.
Note: only 280 cars are allowed into the park each morning, and the line often forms long before the opening time of 8AM. Plan to be there early to gain entry to this must-see location!
13. Bathtub Beach – Stuart
The unique ecosystem that you’ll find at Bathtub Reef is truly special – and truly fragile! It is created by tiny, tube-building marine worms.
The worms “cement” grains of sand together, creating a vast network of tube dwellings, which means the spot is never the same from one visit to the next. The cool colonies build up over time to create a reef system that breaks waves in the summer months, creating what is referred to as a “bathtub effect.”
The porous rocks and ledges created by these little engineers are a draw for a variety of sea creatures. Peek into the hidey holes and nooks and crannies to spot parrotfish, lobsters, sea urchins, and more. Adventurous snorkelers shouldn’t miss the wreck of the Georges Valentine, where you’ll be able to spot a deck section and a broken mask.
Visitor to this spot may see moray eels, stingrays, crabs, parrotfish, snappers, and more. And you just might spot a shark! After your swim, head to the nearby Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, where you can join in on an evening sea turtle walk led by a guide.
Website – https://www.martin.fl.us/BathtubBeach
14. Phil Foster Park – Riviera Beach
A steady flow of water from the Atlantic Ocean brings an incredible variety of sea creatures to Phil Foster Park! Visitors often spot starfish, snappers, damsels, and squid in the gorgeous, crystal-clear water. The pilings and rocks of the nearby Blue Heron Bridge have always attracted fish and other marine life, but recent upgrades to the park have made this a must-see locale.
Just a short swim from the beach, snorkelers will find an 800-foot-long man-made reef. There’s also a snorkel trail, but there are no markers, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for it. Constructed from 600 tons of rock and six “modules”, this awesome structure has plenty of hiding spots for sea horses, octopi, and many types of fish among the boulders and coral, and you’ll see gorgeous sea anemones waving in the current.
Be sure to make a stop at the western end of the trail, where three beautiful five-foot-long concrete statues of hammerhead sharks reside. These cool statues were created – and donated to the park – by artist Tom McDonald.
Website – https://discover.pbcgov.org/parks/Locations/Phil-Foster.aspx
This list is just the tip of the sand dune when it comes to exploring all the great Florida snorkeling spots that are available for water enthusiasts. Have we missed any? Tell us about your favorite places and must-see hidden gems!