With sunny skies, warm weather, and clear water; Florida is a snorkeler’s haven! From the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic, the magic and beauty of the underwater world are calling your name. Whether you’re an avid diver or you’re just getting your feet wet, the Sunshine State has something to offer people of all snorkeling experience levels. Swim alongside dolphins and manatees or explore deep underwater caves. Get ready to pull on your flippers and see what kind of adventures are waiting for you at some of the best places to go snorkeling in Southwest Florida (SWFL).
Where is the Best Snorkeling in Southwest Florida (SWFL)?
As the only destination within the continental United States that offers a subtropical climate, Florida offers year-round snorkeling opportunities. Whether it’s the middle of the summer or a winter retreat, you can jump on in, because the water – and weather – in Florida is always just fine! So, where’s the best spot to see the wonders that await beneath the waves? While the Keys offer the most options, there are several other places to go snorkeling in Southwest Florida, too!
Dry Tortugas National Park
Regarded as one of the best-hidden gems in the Sunshine State, Dry Tortugas National park is situated just 70 miles west of Key West. It’s actually a collection of seven islands, as well as the historic Fort Jefferson. The waters here are crystal clear and the most brilliant blue you’ve ever seen. There are many species of colorful tropical fish and even sea turtles that swim in the waters around this national park. When you’re on dry land, you’ll be able to enjoy tons of history, natural beauty, and some much-needed relaxation.
Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible via ferry or a chartered boat, so you’ll want to plan your trip beforehand. It costs about $190 for the Dry Tortugas Ferry, which includes entrance to the park, breakfast, lunch, and snorkeling gear, as well as a tour of Fort Jefferson.
Fort De Soto
A car ride across the Pinellas Byway will take you to Fort De Soto, where you’ll find some of the most pristine waters and amazing snorkeling on the Florida Gulf Coast. There’s a total of 7 miles of waterfront to explore, as well as several beaches. In fact, Fort De Soto offers some of the best beaches in Saint Petersburg and Clearwater, FL areas.
A submerged section of the fort, known as Battery Bigelow, is located right by the fishing pier. Here, you’ll find lots of crabs, sea urchins, and even sand dollars floating throughout the waters. If you want to stay a while, consider camping, which is a super-affordable – and fun – way to enjoy a trip to this part of Florida and will totally add to the excitement of your snorkeling adventure. There are 238 camping sites, as well as a youth camping area.
Off the coast of Central Florida, slightly north of Ocala, you’ll find Devil’s Den, the most prehistoric of the many Florida springs. To access the site, you’ll need to traverse a set of wooden stairs, which will lead you into a cavern that will totally take your breath away.
Here, you can dive down to 54 feet in the springs over the underwater cavern. The water is crystal clear and it’s always a perfect 72 degrees. Overhead, sunlight shines through holes in the rocks, which creates a mystical glittery-like effect that only adds to the wonder of this unique experience. You can rent snorkel gear or rent it on-site.
In order to access Crystal River, you’ll need to launch a boat off of King’s Bay Park, where you’ll find Three Sister Springs in the Crystal River. The spot, which is located north of the Tampa Bay area, features super-clear water, pristine beaches, and incredible snorkeling opportunities.
The Three Sisters Spring is a section of around 40 natural springs that are collectively known as Crystal River. The spot is famous for its breathtaking scenery and for the friendly marine mammals that live here: manatees! In fact, this is the only spot in the Sunshine State where you can swim with these gentle giants.
Experience an Underwater World of Wonder in Southwest Florida
There are plenty of amazing snorkeling experiences to be had just underneath the waves in the beautiful Sunshine State. Wherever you end up snorkeling in Southwest Florida (SWFL), you’ll be sure to have an amazing time!
Additional Information: Amazing Snorkeling Tips For Beginners That Will Make You Look Like a Pro
Are you ready to go snorkeling in Southwest Florida? Book your adventure today!
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