With the opportunity to see 6000+ seemingly extraterrestrial species of marine life, Key Largo is the dive capital of the world. Snorkeling in Key Largo is for you if you want to see stunning coral reefs and oodles of aquatic life. This region of the Florida Keys has some of the most scenic locations and iconic underwater spots in the coastal US. The warm, clear water all year round makes Key Largo snorkeling some of the best in the world. With the world’s largest third-largest coral reef, some of the most astonishing shipwrecks and other underwater wonders like the Christ of the Abyss, snorkeling in Key Largo is a top of the bucket list trip.
What’s It Like to Go Snorkeling in Key Largo?
Key Largo Snorkeling offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be in the water with so many varieties of fish and marine creatures. You could have the chance to experience sea turtles, stingrays, and even sharks in their natural environment. Imagine swimming next to coral reefs teaming with angelfish, snappers, barracudas, blue tangs, and tons more! Molasses Reef, The Sea Gardens, Grecian Rocks, and The Elbow are some of the best places to find all this marine life. At Grecian Rocks, you can see parrotfish, brain coral, rays, and goatfish. Molasses Reef is another favorite for visitors, and has many different coral formations, sea turtles, and even nurse sharks.
Snorkeling in Key Largo has even more to offer than the fascinating marine life. There are many incredible shipwrecks to explore. You can even adventure to a Spanish shipwreck right from one of the beaches at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The Christ of the Abyss statue might be the most popular attraction for Key Largo snorkeling. It is a massive statue of Christ that remains underwater near the Dry Rocks snorkeling spot.
You can snorkel right off the beach from two spots, but for the most unforgettable experience, it’s best to go out on a boat tour or charter a boat. There are no coral reefs right off the beach, so out on the water, you will be able to see more fish and other kinds of marine life. If you want to try snorkeling from the beach, visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. If you choose to charter a boat for your trip, you can make it to all the wild places like The Elbow, Snapper Ledge, and even Craysfort Reef.
Key Largo’s Climate
Key Largo is the start of the Florida Keys and is only about an hour away from Miami, so the great food and lively people are always part of the experience. The warm weather throughout the year ranges from 60° to 90°(F). The Key Largo water is the hottest in the summer months, although that is the rainiest time of year. During the summer, water temperatures stay around 80°(F). The water is colder during the winter months but never gets colder than 60°(F). This mild-to-warm climate makes Key Largo an excellent dive and snorkel location year round.
The Top 7 Snorkeling Spots Near Key Largo
There are many spectacular spots to snorkel in Key Largo, but here are our top 7 in no specific order:
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a popular spot for Key Largo snorkeling. It is the only place in Key Largo where you can snorkel from the beach. There are two designated beaches where you can snorkel in an enclosed bay surrounded by mangroves with seagrass on the bottom. There are no coral reefs inside the park or in the bay, but still, lots of neat fish to see. Another popular attraction inside the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Spanish shipwreck that you can snorkel from the beach.
The Christ of The Abyss – Dry Rocks
Another popular place to snorkel in Key Largo is Dry Rocks and The Christ of The Abyss. Dry Rocks has a couple of patches of shallow reefs ranging from dry to 15 feet deep and is fun snorkeling for any experience level. The Key Largo Snorkeling spot gets its name because the rocks stick out of the water at low tide. The Christ of the Abyss is very close by and incredible to see. It is a 9-foot bronze statue of Christ that sits at the bottom of the ocean. The top of the bronze statue is about 10 feet underwater. For that reason, this location can be more fun to scuba dive, but it is available for snorkelers to explore, and you can see it just fine from the top. The figure is a replica of II Christo Delgi Abissi located in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy. Some of the wildlife that you will see at Dry Rocks and The Christ of the Abyss are barracudas, rays, and colorful coral reefs. There is no shortage of tropical fish and marine life at these locations.
Grecian Rocks is a great place to go snorkeling in Key Largo. It is an excellent location for beginners or experienced divers because it has a mix of shallow reefs and deeper parts up to 25 feet deep. This snorkeling spot is only about a mile south of Dry Rocks. Some of the sea life that you can spot in Grecian Rocks are rays, parrotfish, barracuda, blue tang, and brain coral. On the ocean floor, you can see queen conch shells and seagrass.
If you find yourself snorkeling in Key Largo, you must go to Molasses Reef. Molasses Reef is one of the most visited reefs in the world! The water is clear with a variety of depths. Molasses Reef is so full of life that it might be the spot with the most sea life in Key Largo. So many marvelous coral reef structures that the fish love to swim around. From brain coral and elkhorn coral to massive spur and groove coral. Some of the animals you can spot are sea turtles, eels, goliath groupers, and endless amounts of tropical fish.
The Elbow Reef gets its name because of the angle shape it has. This spot can be fun to explore with more than just marine life to see, and a bit more snorkeling experience will help make this location more fun to snorkel. Elbow Reef is home to some remarkable coral, nurse sharks, clownfish, blue tang, and more.
At The Elbow, you can see an old Civil War shipwreck from 1866 when a 752-ton steamer sunk. You can snorkel two more sunken ships at The Elbow that you should not pass up. The fish and marine life that has now made the old ships their home is such an experience to see. Don’t skip this spot if you want to snorkel some shipwrecks in Key Largo.
The Sea Gardens
The Sea Gardens, also known as Mosquito Bank, is a smaller reef but another fun spot for people of any level to have a great time exploring. Throughout The Sea Gardens, you will find different tropical fish and healthy soft coral. Some of the different kinds of coral here are finger coral, fan coral, and lobed star coral. The size of the coral here may surprise you. Some span from the seafloor almost to the surface.
Northeast of The Elbow, Carysfort Reef has acres of shallow reef systems to explore. Carysfort Reef has an abundance of marine life ranging from the elkhorn coral gardens near the historic lighthouse to tons of fish near Carysfort Ledge. The water is shallower closer to the lighthouse, but the depth increases the closer to the ledge you get. The formation of The Carysfort reef is unusual and shaped like a double reef, making it a fascinating landscape to navigate.
With so many notable places to go snorkeling in Key Largo, it is a top of the bucket list trip. The kind people and tasty cuisine combined with the incredible snorkeling make it an unforgettable experience!
See more incredible Key Largo dive sites. For a snorkel or scuba experience you’ll never forget, book a trip with Silent World Dive Center today!