Places to Snorkel With Kids
I’m a big fan of the Florida Keys. Two years ago, my older girls and I stayed at Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key. We also spent time exploring Key West. While we had a few hours to splash around at Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key, we unfortunately did not have any time for snorkeling. I’m hoping to go back again in the spring, and if we do go, snorkeling tops the agenda. Here are six of the best places to snorkel with kids in the Florida Keys.
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Located in Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the nation’s first underwater state park. You can wade into the water and snorkel at Cannon Beach, but if you want to see the coral reefs, you’ll want to take a short ride on a snorkel boat to one of the shallow reefs, like Banana Reef or White Banks Dry Rocks.
2. Sand Key. Located seven miles south of Key West, Sand Key is a good snorkeling spot for families given the calm waters and well-protected coral reefs. Take a morning snorkeling trip with Fury and take time to check out the 110-foot Sand Key Lighthouse, which has been on Sand Key for more than 150 years. Climb the lighthouse for a fantastic view of Key West.
3. Cottrell Key. Cottrell Key is five miles west of Key West and is known for shallow reefs, coral formations and sponges. It’s also noted as a prime snorkeling area for those hoping to spot parrotfish, stingrays, grouper and sea turtles. If you can, book a snorkeling trip with Danger Charters, which prefers to boat out to Cottrell Key first for prime snorkeling.
4. Alligator Reef. In the Middle Keys, try Alligator Reef, which is just off of Islamorada. Here, you’ll find another lighthouse, one that stands 136 feet tall. The half-mile reef is great for snorkeling with plenty of corals sponges and colorful tropical fish in the clear waters. While at the lighthouse, go east to a deeper area teeming with marine life. Try Islander Watersports on Islamorada for snorkeling cruises.
5. Sombrero Reef. One of the best spots for snorkeling in the Florida Keys has to be Sombrero Reef, near Marathon. Head out with Starfish Snorkeling and take an underwater camera since you’re likely to see tropical fish, live coral reefs, even nurse sharks and loggerhead turtles. For little ones, ask the captain for a swim noodle, if you like, to help keep children afloat in the water.
6. Looe Key. Daily snorkeling trips to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary depart from Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key. The coral reef is large and home to a diverse population of tropical fish, including yellowtail, angelfish and parrotfish. If you wish to dive, you’ll be treated to a shipwreck that was brought in some years ago to attract large fish that now live on the wreck.
Heading to Florida? You might also enjoy reading about these Fun Things to do With Kids in Fort Lauderdale.
Where are your favorite places to snorkel with kids?
Photo Credit: Phil’s 1stPix
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