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10 Best Spots for Snorkeling in Key Largo

10 Best Spots for Snorkeling in Key Largo

The Florida Keys are generally considered to have some of the best snorkeling spots in the United States, and snorkeling in Key Largo is a snorkeling lovers’ paradise.

Snorkeling in Key Largo is great for seeing the Florida Reef and is one of the best things to do in Key Largo. Did you know Florida Reef is the only living coral reef in the continental U.S.?

If you want to discover an abundance of wildlife, shipwrecks, and statues, look no further. Here are 10 of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo.

kids on the beach in snorkel gear

Can you Snorkel as a Beginner?

You can definitely snorkel in Key Largo as a beginner. All you need is the snorkel gear and safety vest and the knowledge of where to go. One of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo for beginners is Pennekamp Park at Far Beach or Cannon Beach.

If you have small children, we like this full-face snorkel. Both of our children have this exact one. Atlas started using it when he was 2.5 and instantly took to it as so much fun with it. One of the best ways to get them used to it is by practicing with it first in a pool.

John Pennekamp State Park has two fantastic Key Largo beaches, which are perfect for snorkeling. Start off in the shallow sandy waters, and as your confidence grows, head further out. At Pennekamp Park, you don’t have to be an expert to see some great marine life. Even in the shallower waters, there are plenty of amazing things to see.

Grecian Rocks is also a top snorkeling spot in Key Largo that beginners should visit. Shallow waters and wind protection make this super accessible to first-time snorkelers.

We would suggest going on one of the snorkel trips with a small group or private tour so you can go at your own pace and visit all the best spots, like this snorkeling trip.

Far Beach best beach in Key Largo with sandy shore and palm trees

1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the U.S.’s first underwater park. It is also one of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo, maybe even Florida. The park covers 70 nautical miles, so there’s an abundance of places to snorkel.

You’ll see plenty of fish in Pennekamp Park. There are parrotfish, damselfish, barracudas, wrasses, snappers, and grunts. You can also see lobsters, urchins, shrimp, and sea cucumbers. There’s maybe a chance you can see dolphins and sea turtles too.

Start your snorkeling at either of Pennekamp Park’s beaches, we like to snorkel at Far Beach. This is a great place for families and beginners, as it is easy access you go straight from the beach. Once you’re done with snorkeling, you can relax on one of these Key Largo beaches.

If you are driving to Key West, stopping by the park is super easy and on route. It is located just off the Overseas Highway at mile marker 102.5 and is one of the best places to stop in the Upper Florida Keys on the road trip.

This snorkel tour visits John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and is suitable for beginner snorkelers, but you do need to know how to swim.

Underwater statue of Jesus at the John Pennekamp State Park - Top things to see on a road trip to Key West

2. Christ of the Abyss

One of the most popular Key Largo snorkeling attractions is the Christ of the Abyss. It’s basically a miniature underwater version of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. This tour goes to the Christ of the Abyss.

This nine-foot-tall statue was placed off the coast of Key Largo in 1965. These underwater statues attract fish, which is perfect for snorkeling. You can find the Christ of the Abyss at the reef near Dry Rocks. The water is deep, but the statue’s head is around 2.4 meters below the surface.

Wildlife you can see include barracuda, rays, and colorful tropical fish. There aren’t tons of fish here, but the statue alone is worth a visit. Bring your GoPro and get some epic pictures with the Christ of the Abyss.

Snorkel boat trips and dive boats visit daily. Most scuba divers arrange a dive here with a local dive shop as part of a two-tank dive trip.

man with selfie stick snorkeling in Key Largo

3. The Elbow

The Elbow’s healthy reef makes this one of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo. Elbow Reef is located six nautical miles southeast of Key Largo.

This spot is the best snorkeling in Florida if you’re looking for shipwrecks. Snorkel here, and you’ll find The City of Washington shipwreck. In 1971, a cargo ship sank, and the remains still lie on the seabed. This tour visits the Elbow.

If you go snorkeling here, you’ll see a ton of colorful fish. Not just a single fish. There are shoals of tropical fish waiting to be discovered. It makes for a fantastic underwater photography spot to see the fish among the wreck. If you’re lucky, you might even spot nurse sharks and turtles.

underwater statue Christ of the Abyss in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo Florida

4. Dry Rocks

If you’re snorkeling in Key Largo, you’ve got to check out Dry Rocks. This Key Largo snorkeling spot is one of the most popular. It is also home to the Christ of the Abyss.

There’s an abundance of spectacularly intricate fan corals at Dry Rocks. There’s also brain coral, elkhorn coral, and fire coral. Angelfish, Yellow Tail Snapper, and parrotfish swim amongst the diverse range of coral.

Be sure to check out Minnow Cave, another great spot when snorkeling at Dry Rocks. This is a far less popular spot but with all the same underwater delights. People tend to visit the Christ of the Abyss, so this is a much quieter location.

It’s relatively shallow, and the sunlight comes through the water. Shoals of fish surround the coral cave, creating breathtaking formations.

5. Grecian Rocks

If you’re snorkeling in Key Largo on a windy day, try Grecian Rocks. It’s more protected from the wind, so many dive companies will take you here. This snorkeling tour goes here.

A lot of the reef is shallow, which is perfect for first time snorkelers. But experienced snorkelers also love it here because some areas are 25 feet deep. You can also easily swim from the snorkel boats to this snorkeling spot.

There is an array of brightly colored tropical fish to discover, such as goatfish, parrotfish, barracuda, blueheads, and blue tang (yes, like Dory from Finding Nemo). In addition to fish, the coral is also stunningly vibrant. There are also Queen conch shells sitting on the ocean floor.

6.Sea Gardens

You’ll find the Sea Gardens between Key Largo and Molasses Reef. This is one of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo for avoiding crowds, as it isn’t one of the more popular attractions.

Another big draw of Sea Gardens is the huge corals in quite shallow water. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good snorkel location to learn. You still get all the underwater excitement without the deep water.

One of the best things about Sea Garden is the diverse range of sea sponges. These sea sponges line the seabed and give some added underwater interest. The coral is super healthy here, which attracts a wide variety of fish. Angelfish, parrotfish, blue tangs, and barracudas are all swimming beneath the water.

Best Waterfront Restaurants in Key Largo

two people snorkeling

7. Molasses Reef

Molasses Reef isn’t just one of the best snorkeling spots in Key Largo. It’s world-renowned. People love Molasses Reef because of its incredible visibility and diverse range of species. When the weather is calm, Molasses Reef has some of the best snorkeling in Florida.

Molasses Reef also has some of the most diverse coral species in the Florida Keys. It sits on the edge of the barrier reef about six miles off Key Largo. You’ll see enormous brain coral, as well as groove and spur coral.

If seeing nurse sharks and turtles are on your bucket list, definitely visit Molasses. You can also see eels, as well as numerous other multicolored fish.

8. White Bank Dry Rock

White Bank is ideal if you’re a snorkeling beginner. The shallow water located right near the shore makes for the best place to practice. White Bank isn’t just one reef but two, connected by a sandy channel.

White Bank is in the same area as the aforementioned Dry Rocks. It gets its name because at low tide, the reef emerges above the water. The White Bank is a super scenic area both above and below the water. You are bound to see a lot of colorful fish, as well as the chance to see eagle rays, turtles, and nurse sharks.

woman snorkeling off of the beach in Belize

9. Mosquito Bank

Mosquito Bank doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s a fantastic Key Largo snorkeling spot. Mosquito Bank encompasses Sea Gardens and is found between Key Largo and Molasses.

If you’re looking for a snorkeling and party area, you must visit Mosquito Bank. There are several sandbars at Mosquito Bank. Boats moor in the turquoise water, and people enjoy the sunshine and ocean views. As well as a hangout spot and snorkeling location, it’s also popular for scuba diving.

10. Snapper Ledge

This place is named after the Yellow Tail Snapper. There are tons of snappers at this snorkeling location. Snapper Ledge may be a small coral reef, but it’s a beautiful one. Located within the National Marine Sanctuary, it’s a must-visit snorkeling area.

There are two defined ledges that attract an overwhelming number of fish. I’m talking more shoals of fish than you’ll see anywhere else in the Florida Keys. You can almost guarantee to see huge shoals of schoolmasters, grunts, and snappers. Nurse sharks, eels, and sea turtles are also very common.

If you want a fantastic diving location to guarantee seeing underwater wildlife, this is it. Snapper Ledge is also fantastic for both experienced and beginner snorkelers and divers. Snapper Ledge is around 25 to 30 feet deep. This means there’s plenty of time to observe beneath the water before heading up.

Aerial View of the lower keys and Key West - Road Trip Guide to the Florida Keys

When is the Best Time to Snorkel in Key Largo?

The best time to snorkel in Key Largo is between April and August. Not only is this time refreshing, but underwater conditions are often clear water. If you don’t want to be snorkeling with many people, visit during April or May.

The temperatures are still pleasant during this time, and you’ll be swimming almost by yourself. Swimming during winter is also possible, but you’ll need a wetsuit as temperatures can be between 67-75 Fahrenheit.

If you’re wondering what time of day to snorkel, it’s usually best to start early. People snorkeling in Key Largo report much better visibility in the morning. It’s best to be flexible though, and check the weather conditions before you set out.

Before going out for the day, make sure to grab breakfast in Key Largo. Our top two favorites are Harriette’s Restaurant and Mrs. Mac’s

Did we miss any of the best locations? Do you have any other snorkel charters or charter boats we should include?

Leave a comment below. We are always looking to update our articles to include all the best snorkel locations.