March 28, 2023

The Best Key Largo Snorkeling

Note: Some tour providers on this list may have limited or ceased operations due to COVID-19. Check with your tour operator about availability before you book.

Key Largo, the northernmost and longest of the Florida Keys, is a top destination for divers and snorkelers alike. Bordered by Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the self-titled Dive Capital of the World is home to the first undersea park in the U.S., John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This subaquatic treasure features 70 nautical square miles of sparkling turquoise waters and the shallow-water living coral reefs of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – the only living coral barrier reef in North America and the third-largest living coral reef in the world. These protected and vibrant reefs are home to an abundance of sea life: more than 6,000 species.

One of the most notable attractions when diving or snorkeling in Key Largo is the nearly 9-foot tall, 4,500-pound bronze sculpture known as Christ of the Abyss. It sits deep in the waters of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The statue is the third in a series. The first lies in the waters of the Italian Riviera to honor those who lost their lives at sea. Florida’s statue has been submerged since 1965.

After consulting both expert opinion and traveler sentiment, U.S. News identified the following snorkeling tours as the best available. In addition to vibrant reefs, shipwrecks and statues, snorkelers could see angelfish, parrotfish, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and dolphins, among other marine life.

Note: Wearing sunscreen is encouraged, but you must wear reef-safe sunscreen.

Paradise Island Charters – Key Largo Snorkeling Tours – Snorkel Tour

Paradise Island Charters offers two four-hour excursions daily. The snorkeling locations vary by the day and time, but could include trips to Christ of the Abyss (weather permitting), several shallow reefs, the wrecks of the USS Spiegel Grove and SS Benwood, or the wreckage of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Duane. Tours leave at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., but check-in is one hour before departure. Each trip has a maximum of 15 passengers and prices start at $60 for adults and $50 for children 10 and younger. Passengers on the boat must be at least 2 years old and a minimum of 4 years old to snorkel. Pricing includes two locations, snorkel gear, reef-safe sunscreen, and a cooler for personal beverages and food. Wetsuit rental is available for an additional fee. Patrons rave about the guides and professionalism of the crew. They appreciate the small group and rate it as a five-star experience. The company also offers scuba trips and private charters.

Sundiver Snorkeling Tours – Shallow Reef Snorkel

Sundiver offers daily, 2 1/2-hour tours to the reefs at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The 9 a.m. trip features the Christ of the Abyss statue, while the noon and 3 p.m. tours provide views of an abundance of marine life, including tropical fish and possibly sea turtles, lobsters, starfish and rays. A sunset and snorkel reef adventure is also available seasonally and sets sail at 5:30 p.m. Prices for all tours start at $50 for ages 13 years and older and are $35 for children 12 and younger. Riders of all ages – who are not swimming or snorkeling – can come on board for about $35 per person. Anyone younger than 18 that plans to snorkel must be accompanied by an adult. Prices include a mask, fins and a safety vest. Most reviewers say the crew is knowledgeable and friendly, and describe the experience as memorable. The company also offers private snorkel charters.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – Snorkeling Tours

To snorkel within John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, you’ll want to sign up for one of the park’s official tours. After a short boat ride, you’ll be given a brief snorkel lesson at the reef before having time to explore the waters on your own. Note that crew members do not act as guides and the boat stays moored for the duration of your time at the reef. The 2 1/2-hour excursion departs six times a day and features up to 1 1/2 hours of water time. The 9 a.m. 4 1/2-hour extended excursion boasts even more snorkeling time with at least two stops at different locations. Prices for the short trip start at $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for ages 17 and younger. The cost for the extended snorkel is approximately $40 per person. Equipment rental is an additional fee on both tours. Personal in-water guides are available for $45 for the first person and $15 for each additional snorkeler, up to a maximum of six. Patrons describe the experience as incredible and praise the crew and the reasonable prices. Private snorkeling charters are also available.

Caribbean Watersports offers morning and afternoon sail and snorkel trips in the tropical waters of Florida Bay. These 2 1/2- to three-hour excursions include about an hour of water time and scenic sailing to see the mangrove islands, manatees and dolphins. Prices for the 9:30 a.m. Sip-n-Splash Mimosa Cruise and midday departure start at $80 per person for tourgoers 13 years of age and older. Fees are about $55 for kids 3 to 12; children 2 and younger ride for free. Prices do not include taxes or gratuity. Private charters are available for the same excursions and cost approximately $850 (plus tax and gratuity) for a maximum of eight people, with additional pricing available for up to 24 passengers. Reviewers rave about the friendly and accommodating crew. They also enjoy the food and beverages on board. The company offers a tour of the surrounding wildlife and a sunset cruise, parasailing and water sports rentals.

Snorkel Key Largo’s three daily trips take snorkelers to several patch reefs in the shallow waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Islamorada. The company offers a 2 1/2-hour 9 a.m. departure, a four-hour excursion at 12:30 p.m. and a 2 1/2-hour sunset trip at 5 p.m. The two shorter trips go to one location with one hour of water time. The midday tour stops at two sites and features two hours of snorkel time. All three tours operate daily and include snorkel instruction, gear and a safety vest. Tour-takers praise the captain and crew for their expertise and approachability. They also say that it’s an excellent experience for families, highlighting the abundance of marine life. Prices start at $45 for adults and $40 for children 10 years old and younger for the morning trip. Fees increase about $5 per person for the midday and sunset excursions.

Keys Diver – Snorkel Trip

This company offers four daily snorkel tours and a seasonal sunset cruise. The 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 2. p.m. and sunset (5:15 p.m.) trips last 2 1/2 hours and include one hour of water time. Serious snorkelers will want to book its 4 1/2-hour excursion at 12:15 p.m., which allows two hours of snorkeling and, depending on weather conditions, the opportunity to see Christ of the Abyss. Prices start at $32.95 for anyone 11 years of age and older and $29.65 for children ages 5 to 10 for the shorter trips. The cost for the extended adventure is about $45 for ages 11 and older and $40 for children 5 to 10. Prices include snorkel gear and a safety vest. Tourgoers rave about the knowledgeable and helpful crew and say the price for the tour is reasonable. Some describe it as their best snorkeling experience yet. Keys Diver also offers private custom scuba dive charters.

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