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With the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, Florida's waters offer some of the finest underwater excursions in the world. Summer's a great time to hop in.
Underwater Key Largo
Key Largo offers divers and snorkelers access to the the only living coral reef in the United States — and one of the most colorful and vibrant underwater areas in the world. The nine-foot Christ of the Abyss statue is a highlight of John Pennekamp State Park and, at a depth of just 25 feet, it’s accessible to novice divers and even snorkelers.
Sight-sea in Dry Tortugas National Park
For most national parks in the United States, sightseeing doesn't usually include snorkeling, but at Dry Tortugas National Park it's simply how things are done. Brimming with tropical fish, the remote park (accessible only by boat or plane) is one of the best areas in Florida for newbie snorkelers, especially children. Dry Tortugas allows more experienced snorkelers the chance to see the famous Windjammer wreck beneath the depths.
Wreck Dive in Pensacola
Wreck dives abound across the Florida Panhandle, especially near Fort Pickens and the Pensacola Beach area. The historic wrecks that line the coast include a War World I battleship and a Navy barge. Divers can also view an A-7 Corsair plane that fell off a ship, and a few tanks from the Vietnam War that have also been sunk here to serve as artificial reefs.
The Power of Nature in Cape Romano Shoals
Already well known for its boating and fishing opportunities and lore of secret treasures, Cape Romano Shoals near Naples is also famous for the collection of dome houses slowly sinking off its shoreline. The domes, their human value erased by erosion and storms, are on course to become artificial reefs — and are already attracting marine life and curious divers as a result. Due to the fragility of the area, divers are advised not to get too close to those abandoned dwellings and to dive with a buddy — or at least a certified tour group in the area.
Swim with the Fishes in Biscayne Bay
Already a hotspot for fishing, Biscayne Bay is an under-the-radar snorkeling paradise just outside Miami that's worth adding to the itinerary — if only because you'll get a completely different experience than what you'll find in Everglades National Park. Biscayne Bay National Park is set at the beginning of the world's third largest reef. Unlike other snorkeling locations in Florida, snorkelers can only access the waterways by boat. That's a good thing because it allows divers to learn about conservancy efforts straight from the experts before literally diving straight into the colorful reef. Snorkel tours can be arranged through the national park and fill up quickly. We recommend planning a tour during the week so you can explore the reef and the clear waters with a slightly smaller group.