Key Largo in Florida is consistently ranked as one of the top destinations for snorkelling in America. With its warm, clear waters and abundance of marine life, shipwrecks and more, Key Largo is an underwater playground for water enthusiasts. Furthermore, snorkelling in Key Largo allows you to see the Florida Reef, the only living coral reef in the continental U.S. and the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world. The best time to go snorkelling in Key Largo is between December and May. This avoids hurricane season and is when the weather and conditions are perfect for underwater exploration. Ready to dive into Florida’s water world? Here are some of the best places for snorkelling in Key Largo.
7 of the Best Places for Snorkelling in Key Largo
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the U.S. The coral reef here is beautiful and diverse. It is the perfect place to come and enjoy picnics, walks and hikes. However, most people come here to explore the coral reefs and their associated marine life. It is a super spot for snorkelers of all ages and abilities. Beneath the crystal clear waters, you’ll spot parrotfish, wrasses, damselfish, snappers, grunts and barracudas. You also see lobster, sea cucumbers, urchins, shrimp and anemones.
2. City of Washington shipwreck
If you are looking for a shipwreck to snorkel in Key Largo, head to The City of Washington wreck on Elbow Reef. This cargo ship sank in 1917 and the remains, which are in pretty good condition, lie in 5-9 metres (16-30 ft) of water. Whilst snorkelling here you’ll see colourful coral reefs, shoals of tropical fish as well as barracudas and eels. If you are lucky, you might spot some nurse sharks and turtles too.
3. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Covering 2,900 square nautical miles, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects the thriving, vibrant underwater world of the Florida Keys. There are loads of different snorkelling spots here to suit all ages, abilities and interests. The sanctuary is home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef and there is a series of shipwrecks you can explore.
4. Molasses Reef
Located 9.5km off the coast of Key Largo, Molasses Reef is one of the world’s most visited reefs. This spot has great visibility and vibrant sea life. Expect to see huge brain corals and a wide variety of fish, turtles and rays. The only drawback of this site is that is it quite far offshore and weather dependent. Snorkelling is only good when the conditions are calm. So check the weather before you head off.
5. Sea Gardens
Sea Gardens is located in the Mosquito Bank area between Key Largo and Molasses Reef. It is a good spot if you want to avoid the crowds and the big boats. The healthy reef with huge corrals is in shallow waters and it is a great spot for people of all abilities. Keep your eyes peeled for barracuda, angelfish, parrotfish and blue tangs. You’ll also get to see a wide variety of different sponges amongst the beautiful hard and soft corals.
6. Christ of the Abyss
Christ of the Abyss is Key Largo’s most popular snorkelling spot. It is a nine-foot-tall bronze statue of Jesus Christ nestled in the patch reef at Dry Rocks. The water is about 7.6 metres deep, however, the top of the Christ statue is located just 2.4 metres down. At the site, you’ll find soft and hard corals and swim with barracuda, rays and tropical fish. However, this isn’t the healthiest of reefs, therefore the sea life isn’t as vibrant as other spots.
7. White Banks
Located close to shore, with shallow waters descending to 15-feet, the White Banks is a great snorkelling site for both beginners and experts alike. Conditions here are usually calm too. This spot is actually two shallow reef patches connected by a sandy channel. There is an abundance of fish and invertebrates swimming around the brightly coloured reefs. Expect to see parrotfish, damselfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and a whole lot more.