8 Best Places to go Snorkeling in Islamorada 2023

Looking for all the best places to go snorkeling in Islamorada, Florida?

Islamorada is actually on Upper Matecumbe Key but is known as Islamorada because of the town. Commonly referred to as the “Sportfishing Capital of the World” Islamorada is the perfect place to enjoy the waters in the Florida Keys, especially because of its location on the coast. 

When you visit the Florida Keys, you must plan to spend time on the water. Thankfully this can be done in various ways.

You could try boat fishing, kayaking, or even swimming to pass the time. But, if you are in Islamorada, I’d strongly recommend that you plan a snorkeling expedition to explore the stunning coral reefs and crystal clear waters of the area.

There is a lot more you can explore while snorkeling, so you should plan out your days to take in all of the activities and underwater sights on offer.

So if you want to know more about the best places to go snorkeling in Islamorada, look no further!

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of my top picks to save you the hassle of researching. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, feel free to read on!

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8 Best Places to go Snorkeling in Islamorada

1.Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Alligator Reef Lighthouse

South of Islamorada, Alligator Reef is very popular for snorkeling. It offers diverse marine life and is marked by a 136-foot lighthouse with several mooring buoys.

In the 8 to 50 foot deep water, the reef offers snorkelers the opportunity to see and interact with over 500 different types of marine life. Thousands of fish species gather underneath the lighthouse because of the shade it provides from the relentless Florida sun.

You will also have the chance to explore the area under and around the lighthouse in beautiful, shallow clear water – making it a great snorkeling spot! 

2.Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

This park, located in Key West, centers around a Civil War fort. The park covers over 54 acres of land and has been proclaimed as Key West’s best beach, the water at Fort Zachary Taylor is a clear Caribbean blue – a mixture of the Gulf and the Atlantic – that makes snorkeling a breeze.

In addition, Fort Zachary Taylor offers moderate water depths of up to 20 feet. Excellent water quality and offshore rock formations provide you with the opportunity to view both hard and soft corals as well as numerous tropical fish species. How cool is that?

However, you will have to swim out into deep water to stand up properly, so younger snorkeling enthusiasts will benefit from wearing life preservers. You can also rent snorkeling equipment whenever you need it, which is highly convenient!

3.Looe Key Reef

Looe Key Reef,Best Places to go Snorkeling in Islamorada

The Florida Keys are widely recognized for their stunning and well-maintained reefs. Looe Key Reef remains at the center of it all. Located on Big Pine Key, Looe Key is entirely submerged in water depths that range from 7 to 30 feet.

As a result, Looe Key Reef has become a prominent destination for snorkeling enthusiasts because of its beauty and an abundant amount of marine life.

The reef houses over 150 species of fish including parrotfish, barracuda, yellowtail, and moray eel. You will also see coral growth including Elkhorn and Star coral.

The varying depths of Looe Key mean it is an excellent snorkeling spot for people of all skill levels. Water clarity is mostly excellent and sea conditions are generally moderate. 

4.Crocker Reef

Located approximately 4 miles southeast of Snake Creek, Crocker Reef is one of the best and most popular snorkeling spots in Islamorada. Here you will see beautiful coral formations and a small canyon.

Crocker Wall is situated on the south end of Crocker Reef and is a great sea slope dive. It slopes slightly from the reef and goes from about 30 to about 90 feet.

Crocker Reef is far enough out that visibility is usually pretty good, so you can easily see turtles, barrel sponges, and many variations of fish swimming just underneath the surface of its blue waters. Overall, snorkeling trips to this reef are always fun!

5.Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef,Best Places to go Snorkeling in Islamorada

A little further south of Islamorada lies Marathon.

Here you can jump onto a boat and head out on a tour to explore the incredible views offered by Sombrero Reef. With over 30 acres of alive and thriving spur-and-groove coral reefs directly visible through crystal clear waters, you can spot all sorts of colored tropical fish!

Because Sombrero Reef is between 2 to 30 feet deep, it attracts many snorkeling enthusiasts each year. What’s more, you also don’t need to buy or rent any specific diving gear to enjoy the natural beauty offered by this reef.

6.Hen and Chickens Sanctuary Preservation Area

Located in the center of Hawk Channel just off Plantation Key, Hen and Chickens Sanctuary Preservation Area is a 10-minute drive north of Islamorada. If you’re a beginner at snorkeling or even scuba diving, then this protected reef is a great place to start your journey.

The reef itself is close to the shore and is only a short boat ride away, so you don’t have to venture all the way to the edge of the barrier reef. This area also features an incredible coral formation that resembles a mother hen with her chicks.

It also contains giant coral heads that create holes and caves that are very close to the water’s surface. While snorkeling, you should also prepare yourself to see lots of brightly colored tropical fish! 

7.San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park

San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park is the second such park to be established in Florida.

It can be found 1.25 nautical miles south of the Indian Key and encases the historic 90 feet by 30 feet long shipwreck of the San Pedro, now only consisting of ballast stones, and coral.

This ship was part of a Spanish fleet sailing from Cuba but unfortunately succumbed to a hurricane in 1733. Bricks from San Pedro can still be seen in this area!

Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to snorkel and swim through the park’s gorgeous blue waters, explore the shipwreck that is only 18 feet of water, and enjoy the unfiltered beauty of the Florida Keys. 

8.Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park,Best Places to go Snorkeling in Islamorada

Though this park is about an hour north of Islamorada, it deserves a mention on this list. Biscayne National Park is not just a great spot for snorkeling but also serves a much more important role in nature: to protect and guard the northernmost group of living coral reefs living in the U.S. and their ecosystem.

With a surface area of over 270 square miles, over 95 percent of the park is underwater. This means there is plenty of lands to explore via snorkeling.

What makes this place special is the number of eco-tours you can join to explore the area. This includes vibrant coral reefs, a shipwreck, or even a mangrove while you’re on a snorkeling expedition!

Final Thoughts

Islamorada is a prime location in Florida for all things snorkeling.

With so many different places to explore and monumental underwater sights to see, snorkeling in the Florida Keys is an experience you will want to experience at least once in your lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

Well, there you have it, all the best places to go snorkeling in Islamorada, Florida! Hopefully that helped, but if you want more info, we found you a video below.

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