When it comes to snorkeling in Islamorada, Florida, many people swim from the beaches. The truth is that water clarity is usually quite poor there. In our experience, heading out on a boat into slightly deeper or remote waters gives you crystal clear views of reefs and aquatic life. Here’s our list of the best snorkeling locations near Islamorada in Florida.
Anclote Keys is only accessible by private boat or snorkeling charter, as it is a preserved nature reserve. This stunning island has beautiful white sands that help provide crystal clear waters. Described as an ‘underwater park,’ its seagrass habitat makes it the home for manatee, bottlenose dolphins, tropical fish and sea turtles! You can either drop into the water with some distance to the shore or swim from the island yourself. It’s also a fantastic place to spend the day relaxing, sunbathing or exploring natural wildlife and birds.
Shell Key Preserve
Not far from Anclote Keys is the 1,800 acre Shell Key preserve. Like Anclote Keys, this is teeming with underwater life from tropical fish to sea urchins, crustaceans and maybe even sea turtles. The waters here are usually very calm and safe from other boats. You’ll likely swim across a ray, but don’t worry, these shy fish are harmless and majestic to witness in the flesh.
Shell Key Preserve is most famous for its shelling opportunities, with a wide variety available, most commonly sand dollars. We suggest combining your snorkeling trip with a day of shelling! Like Anclote Keys, Shell Key Preserve has dedicated bird reserves, so take your binoculars!
Robert K Rees Memorial Park
Not far from our Islamorada Snorkeling charter starting point is Robert K Rees, Memorial Park. Here in 3-5′ waters, you’ll find various sandy spots, turtle grass and manatee grass. Some people have even seen a number of completely harmless but incredible 2 to 3′ sharks in the bay’s south. Finally, there are rocky outcrops of old oyster beds here, where you might find scallops, octopus and many inshore fish species!
Robert K Rees Memorial Park is also home to a 650-foot boardwalk and observation tower where you might spot dolphins, cranes and other birds.
Egmont Key State Park
Egmont Key State Park is a hot spot for friendly dolphins. Famous for Fort Dade’s ruins, a Spanish-American War relic, you’ll see beautiful bottlenose dolphins and potentially incredible octopuses and seat turtles in shallower waters.
Things to Consider – Picking the Best Snorkeling Locations in Islamorada, Florida
- Always consider the three Cs – Calm water, clear water, collections (tropical fish, grasses, reefs etc.). These factors will ensure a great, safe time for all age ranges.
- The best collections of colorful fish are around coral reefs, shipwrecks and structures near the listed locations – as your snorkeling charter captain to take you to them!
- The best spots are usually short from the beach, but require a snorkeling charter boat to get you there.
- Snorkeling rarely disappoints, and provides memories that last a lifetime!
Book a Snorkeling Charter in Islamorada, FL
If you’re interested in visiting the best snorkeling locations in Islamorada, FL, then contact Coastal Outfitters today. With a fantastic knowledge for local waters and wildlife, our captains will provide you with the adventure of a lifetime, taking you up close and personal with the ocean’s unforgettable beauty.