Mangrove Marina

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The Ultimate Guide to Snorkeling in the Florida Keys: Tips, Spots, and Marine Life Encounters

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If you’ve ever wanted to explore under the sea, now is your opportunity. The brilliant and clear turquoise waters of the Florida Keys teem with marine life, offering the perfect window into an exotic new world. There’s simply no bad snorkeling spot here, and at Mangrove Marina, we make it easy for you to get started on the underwater adventure of a lifetime.

Snorkeling Basics

Water temperatures here in the Keys tend to be comfortable even in the cooler winter months. Expect them to be around 70 during the coldest times of the year and as warm as the mid-80s during the height of summer. This means that wetsuits are largely optional. In most cases, you won’t need them.

The water tends to be flat and clear as long as the weather is obliging, but if a storm rolls up, you can expect waves and some underwater murkiness that could somewhat obstruct the view. That’s okay! There’s still plenty to see and do as long as you find the right spot to explore. There are no bad places to snorkel here in the Keys, but the best snorkeling can be found on the coral reefs just offshore. You can access these reefs via boat. Beginners might try their luck in the calm, waist-deep waters of Anne’s Beach, which offers sandy channels, turtle grass, and lots of small marine creatures.

You won’t need much special equipment to get started: a simple mask, snorkel, and fins will do just fine. You can bring your own or pick up what you need at one of our many dive shops.

Know Before You Go: How and Where to Snorkel

Snorkeling is fairly easy even for beginners. If you know how to float, then you can likely snorkel. Start by floating on your belly with your fins or flippers up. Move gently through the water, avoiding stirring up the ocean floor and clouding your view. Use flowing kicks from your hips for smooth movements that won’t wear you out.

Keep your hands and fins clear of the reefs to avoid damaging them. If water gets in your mask, hold the top of the mask and blow through your nose to clear it even underwater. At Mangrove Marina, our ship store is happy to answer any of your questions, including questions about the best places to snorkel, including:

  • John Pennekamp State Park, the first undersea park in the United States with a replica Spanish shipwreck, the Christ of the Abyss, a living reef, a tropical lagoon, and a seagrass ecosystem
  • Cheeca Rocks, which feature massive coral and thousands of colorful tropical fish
  • Molasses Reef, which is just off Key Largo and features incredibly clear water, abundant coral, and numerous tropical fish
  • Alligator Reef Lighthouse, which overshadows a gully housing more than 500 species of fish and dozens of hard and soft coral
  • Davis Reef, which features a shallow ledge and plenty of colorful tropical fish, coral, and a statue of Buddha
  • Hen and Chickens Reef, which looks exactly as you’d expect it to look with diverse marine life that includes colorful sea fans, sponges, and fish

Out in the reefs is where things can get really interesting. The water here is deeper and can be rougher, but you’ll have the chance to meet turtles, sharks, and more in the bright, clear waters of the Keys. You can snorkel just about anywhere, and you’ll find plenty of fish and sea life near bridges and pilings, but remember to use dive flags and snorkeling vests for safety. Use the buddy system for safety.

Most importantly, remember to be safe and have fun. Contact Mangrove Marina today to learn more or to make your reservations! 


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