Famed for its surrounding glistening, turquoise, crystal clear waters, Key West is an international destination for snorkeling, diving and fishing. If you're like me, then you remember Jacques Cousteau and his fantastic underwater adventures. Or.... If you don't know who that is (google him!!), then maybe David Attenborough and his modern day explorations into our undersea wonders, will thrill you.
If you have not taken the plunge to get your full SCUBA certification and interested in "testing the waters", so to speak, then there is not better location to get your feet wet than snorkeling in Key West. No worries...if you can breathe and kick your feet at the same time, then you have all the skills needed for your first snorkeling excursion.
If you want to stay close to dry land, a shore based dive is for you. While you could most certainly just jump in the water most anywhere in Key West and see some extraordinary things the following two places that will make the best use of your island time. One of the most favored places to jump in is Higgs Beach. The area boasts about 16.5 acres of beach front access and is the home of the only shore-accessible underwater marine park in the US.
Under the waves you'll find a multitude of sea fans, soft corals and other flexible organisms as well as important reef building corals attached to the sea floor. The swimming inhabitants include most of the more familiar reef fish; parrotfish, angelfish, blue tangs and maybe even the odd lobster!
Photo Credit: Piqsels
Not too far from Higgs Beach is Fort Zachary Taylor. Here you have to opportunity to either swim in the Atlantic Ocean OR the Gulf of Mexico, as it sits at the junction of these two magnificent bodies of water. Like Higgs Beach it is also the home of a Civil War era battlement and fort.
This is thought to be the premier beach snorkeling spot in Key West, located at the southernmost point region of the island. You can rent your gear here and then just walk into the water and begin exploring.
After working up an appetite, both beaches feature cabana's or pick-nick tables and food vendors.
A quick boat ride a few miles south of Key West is the fairly remote Sand Key and the Lighthouse Reef. This protected area, meaning no fishing, spearfishing or taking of lobster has some of the best offshore snorkeling anywhere. Waters here range in depth of about a foot to around 15'. The lighthouse, built in 1853, of which it was named still stands guard over the reef though it's functions have since been replaced by modern navigation systems. In addition to the usual reef topicals, you may also see the occasional sea-turtle or shark. There are a multitude of dive shops and off-shore excursion companies in Key West, so a good local recommendation from your hotel or B&B is a great place to start.
Video Credit: Yankee Freedom via YouTube
Designated a Florida State Park, you will be enthralled by the experience of a day trip or overnight adventure to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. You may hop on either a sea-plane or take the Yankee Freedom to this remote 100 square mile park. If you don't have your own gear, the Yankee Freedom has complimentary masks, snorkel and fins for you. This is the perfect place for those of any level of experience and age.
When you're ready to book your Key West snorkeling getaway, the Key West Express is your premier gateway to the island life. Year round sailings from Fort Myers Beach and seasonal sailings from beautiful Marco Island, just south of Naples, Florida.
If you want to check out some the other great things to do and see, during your Key West adventure, be sure to check this out!
Hero Image Photo Credit: Piqsels