Savvy vacationers know that there’s more to the Florida Keys than just nightlife and sunbathing, and it’s underneath the islands’ cerulean-blue waves. The Keys and their surrounding waters are home to the only tropical coral reefs in the contiguous U.S., and exploring them via snorkeling is one of the best parts of a Florida Keys vacation.
If you’re planning a snorkeling vacation, there’s no better spot in the country than the Florida Keys. Whether you choose to book an all-day offshore tour or try your luck at the local beaches, snorkeling in the Keys will certainly add some color to your tropical getaway. We’ve highlighted a few of the best places to stay and play on your next Florida Keys snorkeling vacation.
Whether you choose to make a splash on the Atlantic side or the Gulf side of Bahia Honda Key, there’s a whole underwater world awaiting you. The key’s state park offers peaceful swimming and gorgeous underwater scenery (keep an eye out for sea stars lurking on the sandy bottom). If you’re looking to spend a whole day exploring, book an offshore tour to do some snorkeling at Looe Key. Bahia Honda Key’s snorkeling opportunities are best enjoyed from the comfort of a Little Torch Key vacation rental like this one.
Stay near Bahia Honda State Park in Little Torch Key at Cayo Loco.
Why experience John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park below your feet on a glass-bottom boat when you can see it through a snorkel mask? This incredible state park is easily accessible from a home base in Key Largo. Throw on your swimsuit and snorkel gear and get acquainted with the underwater residents at America’s first undersea park. Bring your underwater camera along and you can capture a photo with the iconic Christ of the Deep sunken statue.
Stay near John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo at Lorelane Lookout.
Just offshore from Islamorada, you’ll find several exceptional snorkeling spots, including the area around the Alligator Reef Lighthouse. The USS Alligator sank here in 1822, and today, the lighthouse that marks the spot is surrounded by colorful marine life thriving in clear ocean water. Parrotfish, grouper, and angelfish are just a few common sightings out at the Lighthouse. Take a tour out to snorkel Alligator Reef before retreating to your Islamorada vacation rental.
Stay near Alligator Reef Lighthouse in Islamorada at Ocean Oasis.
Besides its historic namesake fort, this state park is known for having Key West’s prime snorkeling spot, and you don’t even have to book a boat tour to get there. Simply wade out into deeper water and explore the beach’s marine offerings. Key West may not be famous for its beaches, but this one offers a lovely setting for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. Lucky for you, finding a cute Key West vacation rental is even easier than spotting those silver schools of snapper.
Stay near Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West at Tropical Retreat.