Surrounded by water on three sides, Florida has a plethora of snorkeling options. In fact, the Florida Keys island chain, 120 miles long, contains the continental U.S.'s only living-coral barrier reef. The sights are gorgeous, as marine life flows out of every crack and crevice.
Snorkeling in Destin
Destin Snorkel (destinsnorkel.com) offers all-day outings from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The boats cruise around the waters off Destin all day, and you can come and go by shuttle as desired. The tours are open to all ages and abilities. Destin Snorkel provides equipment to patrons, and it's sanitized daily. The Reef Runner package leaves HarborWalk Village Docks at 9 a.m. and stays out until 4 p.m. As of 2011, the price was $30 for adults. Access to a beach and kayaks is included in the price. The Two Stop Snorkeling Tour leaves at certain times through the day and stays out about three hours. The boat Kokomo takes you to the Bay or goes to the mouth of the Destin Pass in the Gulf of Mexico. After one hour of snorkeling, the Kokomo goes searching for dolphins. The cost, as of 2011, was $28 per person.
Snorkeling in Florida Keys
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (www.pennekamppark.com) in Key Largo is home to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The formations contain thousands of fish and other marine wildlife. The U.S. government established the sanctuary to protect the marine habitat, and as a snorkeler, you can see it all. The state park offers a 2 1/2-hour snorkeling tour departing at 9 a.m., noon, or 3 p.m. A boat brings you to the reef, which is 3 to 8 miles off the Keys. You have about 1 1/2 hours in the water, and you can get on and off the boat as desired. As part of the trip, each passenger receives a safety vest. However, you'll need to rent snorkeling equipment. Adult tickets cost about $30 in 2011. For an additional fee, you can hire a personal in-water guide.
Snorkeling in Crystal River
Fun 2 Dive Scuba and Manatee Tours (fun2dive.com) offers snorkeling adventures with manatee in Crystal River. Since its opening in 1995, this trip has been popular among families and is appropriate for children aged 3 and up. Children and adults get very close to the majestic animals. During the encounter, the tour guide educates participants on manatees. Fun 2 Dive provides snorkeling equipment and wet suits, as well as snacks, drinks and sunscreen. Participants also get a shower after the tour. The cost is $90 per person as of 2011.
What to Bring
Most snorkeling guides offer equipment as part of the fee. Check the guides' literature to see what's included in your trip. Plan on sunscreen, towels, snacks and a camera to fully enjoy the snorkeling experience. You may also want to bring a cooler and personal care products such as a hairbrush.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images