Surf's Up Magazine

Snorkeling in Miami: Where to Go

  • Date: February 21, 2024
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Searching for the best snorkeling in Miami (and nearby?) In recent years, South Florida has become a go-to destination for those seeking sunny weather and water sports activities.

What better way to spend your time than snorkeling in the gorgeous waters off Miami beach, where you can see an array of sea life while getting a tan at one of the most stunning beaches in America?

Looking for an underwater adventure? Miami is the perfect place to find reefs, wrecks, and bays. With clear turquoise water and a host of marine life from small fish and barracudas to manatees and the occasional humpback whale, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in this beautiful city.

Miami is home to some of the best snorkeling spots in the world. The destinations outlined in this article are a must-see for anyone looking to create an unforgettable vacation.

snorkeling in miami
Snorkelling in Miami

Best Snorkeling Spots in Miami

Below we’ve outlined some of the best spots to snorkel in and around Miami. Read on to learn more.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, situated in the Upper Keys of Key Largo, is not only the first underwater park in America but also infamous for its 70 nautical miles of coral reefs and marine life.

This state park has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972 and open to visitors since 1963. It was named after Everglades conservationist John D. Pennekamp.

This park is perfect for those who want to explore and learn new things. You can take snorkeling lessons before venturing out on your own. Or you can pay a little extra for someone to guide you around the area.

The duration of this excursion is two and a half hours, with the lesson being an hour long and the excursion itself being an hour and a half. This leaves you with plenty of time to explore the reefs surrounding the area and experience all that marine life has to offer.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has two different snorkeling locations that you can visit while offshore. If you need to, you can also rent gear for your excursion. Lastly, if you want a more private experience, contact the park in advance and request it.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is one of the best places for snorkeling in Miami, with half-day and full-day trips available.

Tour guides at the Biscayne National Park are educated and passionate about the area, making them excellent sources of information.

What makes this experience so special is that you have the opportunity to visit a shipwreck when conditions permit. The Mandalay is one of the most renowned wrecks in the vicinity, and you can swim around it and investigate while snorkeling at the site of the shipwreck.

Among the wreckage lies schools of colored fish that swim around the native flora and fauna. The Mandalay was a schooner that sunk in 1966 on Long Reef.

In addition to seeing the local reefs, the marine life here is unrivaled. On previous excursions, patrons have seen sea mammals that include stingrays, hogfish, yellow snappers, parrotfish, angelfish of various colors, and coral canyons . Those who are truly lucky have also been able to see an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, which is native to the area.

When you come, be sure to watch for the many turtles who love swimming in the clean turquoise water. It’s definitely one of Miami’s best spots for snorkeling!

biscayne national park
Biscayne National Park

Pompano Beach Drop Off

The Pompano Beach Drop Off is a unique experience that is worth the trip out of the city. It is located around half a mile south of the Pompano Pier and is home to an abundance of marine life, including various coral species, sea whips, sponges, and more. The Drop Off is known for its world-class reef dives and wrecks.

In Florida, this site is infamous among locals who refer to it as the “Wreck Capital”. The name is based on the high number of wreck dives in Hillsboro Inlet.

This drop off stretches for one full mile and has 25 mooring buoys including Copenhagen and the Nursery.

The Copenhagen Archaeological Preserve is located near the fourth buoy on one end of the reef, while ledges and undercut holes can be found at the opposite end. The Pompano Beach Drop Off has a depth of 15 – 26 feet and is 350 yards from shore.

Vista Park Reef

If you find yourself in Southern Florida, be sure to swing by the Vista Park Reef. You’ll find it situated in North Fort Lauderdale, and it boasts an impressive array of marine life, including snappers, damselfish, spadefish, soft corals, grunts, and more.

It’s definitely a stop worth making if you’re interested in getting up close and personal with some of the area’s most beautiful creatures.

Just a short swim from the beach access at Vista Park, this 100-yard wide and 18-foot deep reef is perfect for anyone looking to explore.

Vista Park Reef is perfect for beginners who have never snorkeled before. The shallow water will help you get acclimated to the experience and ease into it before taking more difficult trips.

Dry Tortugas National Park

If you’re prepared to drive 3 hours away from Miami, Key West is the perfect destination. Although it may be a bit of a trek, Dry Tortugas National Park will not disappoint.

The rankings speak for themselves. This national park made up of seven different islands is consistently ranked as one of the best snorkeling spots in Key West.

The snorkeling here is incomparable and the wide array of brightly-colored marine life will leave you speechless.

In addition to living coral, you’ll see tropical fish in every hue imaginable, queen conchs, rainbow runner, and so much more. The marine ecosystem is truly one of the highlights of this experience.

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, these coral reefs are a snorkeler’s dream come true. The 5-15 feet depth range makes it easy and fun for beginners while still providing plenty to see for more experienced swimmers.

The shallowness of the water is a non-issue because everyone who comes, regardless of skill level, has fun and walks away with a positive experience.

If you love snorkeling and being in the water, Dry Tortugas National Park has a camping site where you can spend the night.

Bring along your camping gear and double-check the website to make sure there is space before leaving. The season, weather conditions, and other things can stop the camp site from being able to help you.

dry tortugas national park
Dry Tortugas National Park

Devil’s Den Spring

Devil’s Den Spring is perfect for anyone looking to have a unique snorkeling experience in Southern Florida. With ancient fossil beds dating back over 33 million years, this privately owned business has become a popular destination among those seeking an adventurous snorkeling trip.

With its crystal-clear water and ancient rock formations, Devil’s Den Spring is a popular destination for snorkelers. The spring is kept at a constant temperature of 72 degrees year-round, making it perfect for an underwater adventure.

All snorkeling sessions at the spring last 90 minutes, and no experience is necessary. Though all trips must be planned in advance. You can either bring your own gear or rent it from the facility for an additional charge.

Blue Heron Bridge Waterway

Blue Heron Bridge Waterway is a snorkeling and diving haven that’s primarily local but has been known to attract tourists from all over. It’s tucked away under the Blue Heron bridge, which provides incredible views of the colorful fish below. This place is non-commercialized and maintains its natural beauty. It truly seems like you’re in another world when you’re exploring it.

This spot is perfect for diving and snorkeling because it’s free of charge. The area boasts a plethora of marine life, including sea robins, flying gurnards, dolphins, stargazers, batfish seahorses, and even an Atlantic mimic octopus!

The Blue Heron Bridge Waterway is only recommended for experienced snorkelers, as there are no experts present to help in an emergency. Keep in mind that high tide only lasts for around one hour, so plan your trip carefully.

West Palm Beach

Did you know that West Palm Beach is one of the best places to go snorkeling when you’re visiting Southern Florida? With the third largest reef in the area, it’s no wonder that tourists flock here to enjoy the crystal clear waters.

If you’re looking for a breathtaking beach vacation spot, look no further than West Palm Beach, Florida.

With its shipwrecks, limestone formations, and corals, not to mention the soft sand and pristine water, it’s no wonder this is such a popular destination. In addition to its natural beauty, West Palm Beach features well known attractions like Red Reef Park, Peanut Island, and Phil Foster Park.

If you want to avoid the crowds, check out Gulfstream Park and Coral Cove Park. They’re less popular than some of the other parks, but they still have beautiful scenery and wildlife. You can also go on private tours or take snorkeling lessons (for a small fee).

miami snorkeling
Snorkeling Over Coral

Peanut Island

Peanut Island is located near West Palm Beach in Riviera Beach. The clear blue water comes from the Port of Palm Beach inlet. Peanut Island is a popular destination for activities like kayaking, paddle-boarding, and snorkeling.

Because of its rocky shoreline and proximity to the Port of Palm Beach, you can see a number of different types of marine life when you visit. This includes sergeant majors, angelfish, parrotfish, and other ocean creatures.

If you want to go snorkeling, head over to the Eastern shore of Peanut Island where there is a rock pile. The chances of seeing ocean life are high here. You might even see a manatee during winter if you visit the Southernshore and its lagoon.

Yankee Clipper Rocks

The Yankee Clipper Rocks is a coral reef located just 75 feet from shore in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that is perfect for those looking to find reefs without having to travel too far out into the water. With depths ranging from 6 to 14 feet, this rocky reef is home to a number of different types of marine life, including soft coral and sea whips, as well as worms and tropical fish.

If you have never been snorkeling in Miami before, this is a great place to start. The lifeguards here will ask you to bring a diving flag with you so they can help if anything goes wrong.

You can enjoy the experience of snorkeling on your own while still being supervised from a distance. Plus, there is public parking available, making it easy for everyone to get to.

Hollywood North Beach Park

Hollywood North Beach Park is open to the public and located on Sheridan Street in Fort Lauderdale. The lifeguard tower next to the beach’s entrance offers swimmers a deep area to swim out from, with depths ranging from 13 to 20 feet. This section of the beach is 175 yards away from shore.

This is a beautiful area where you can find tarpon, barracudas, snook, nurse sharks, and a variety of other tropical fish. The ledges here are 2 to 4 feet high and play host to most of the marine life. You’ll see sand patches in between the ledges.

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