Alexander Springs, Florida

7 of the Best Places for Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

With its warm weather, crystal-clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and a wide variety of sites, Orlando in Florida has great snorkelling spots for people of all ages and abilities. Not only that, in Florida, you’ll find the only living coral reef in the continental United States. In fact, the Florida Reef is the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world. The Florida Reef is home to a wide variety of tropical fish and marine life. The best time to go snorkelling in Orlando is from late November to May to avoid hurricane season. Ready to explore this mesmerising underwater world? Don those flippers and grab your mask, as here are some of the best places for snorkeling in Florida near Orlando.

7 of the Best Places for Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

1. Blue Spring – Drive time: 48 min

Blue Spring State Park is located west of Orange City. At less than an hour’s drive, it is one of the nearest snorkel spots to Orlando. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. However, it is prohibited to snorkel with the manatees. You can snorkel this designated Manatee Refuge during all other seasons apart from winter.

2. Alexander Springs – Drive time: 1 hr 5 min

Alexander Springs is located along the Florida National Scenic Trail. It is a first-magnitude spring. This means it is one of the largest springs in the state, and it discharges at least 100 cubic feet of water per second (cfs), or about 64.6 million gallons per day (mgd). The spring pool is a constant 72°F year round and extraordinarily clear. It is a great place to snorkel close to Orlando, and it is incredibly scenic, too, as a floodplain forest of maples, sweetgum, and cabbage palms surrounded the spring.

Alexander Springs, Florida

3. Silver Glen Springs – Drive time: 1 hr 19 min

Silver Glen Springs is a first-magnitude spring and the main attraction of the Silver Glen Springs Recreation Area of Ocala National Forest. The springs of Silver Glen lie along the edge of the Big Scrub of the Ocala National Forest. With constant 73°F crystal-clear water, Silver Glen Springs is a popular swimming hole, and snorkelers can meet the fish face to face. If the sun is shining, look at the bottom of the spring basin as rainbows spread across the floor. When snorkeling here, you must stay within the marked boundaries of the swimming area to avoid damage to sensitive underwater habitats.

4. Rainbow Springs – Drive time: 1 hr 46 min

Rainbow Springs is a first-magnitude artesian spring formation in Marion County. This is another safe snorkeling area as you can only do so in the buoyed swimming area. However, you can rent a boat if you want to venture out further. This spring has been used for nearly 10,000 years and is Florida’s fourth largest spring. The visibility here is excellent, the average depth in the natural swimming area runs from 5 to 18 feet, and the water temperature averages 72 degrees year-round.

5. Blue Heron Bridge – Drive time: 2 hr 31 min

At Blue Heron Bridge. you can rent equipment to explore the underwater world and its array of fish. This spot is nice and safe as there is a guarded swim area of Phil Foster Park. You can also enjoy guided snorkel tours with local experts who provide information while you enjoy your marine adventure. This is a great way for children to learn more about wildlife.

Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

6. Biscayne National Park – Drive time: 3 hr 50 min

Add this place to your list if you don’t mind a bit of a drive to get to a great snorkel site. It is a wet and wild day trip from Orlando. Situated 40km south of Miami, Biscayne National Park is one of the best places to snorkel in Florida, as you’ll see sea turtles, dolphins, rays, tropical fish and invertebrates. However, it is super popular, so to beat the crowds, rent a boat or book a tour and head about 15km (9 miles) off the coast just south of Miami.

Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

7. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – Drive time: 4 hr 50 min

If you want a very scenic drive and don’t mind staying overnight, the journey to this snorkel site is worth the effort. The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States of America. The coral reef here is so beautiful and diverse too. It is the perfect spot to come and enjoy picnics, walks and hikes. However, most people come here to scuba and snorkel the coral reefs and the marine life that calls the coral home, for instance, parrotfish, wrasses, damselfish, snappers, grunts and barracudas. You also see lobster, sea cucumbers, urchins, shrimp and anemones.

Snorkeling in Florida near Orlando

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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