Monday, June 17, 2024

The 6 Best Key Largo Snorkeling Tours

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 offers plenty of attractions and things to do, including John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This subaquatic treasure (known as the first undersea park in the U.S.) 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 marine 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 other two lie in the waters of the Italian Riviera and on land at a port in Grenada 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 that is not made with harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Sundiver Snorkeling Tours – Shallow Reef Snorkel Tour

Price: Adults from $65; kids from $55
Duration: 2.5 hours

If you’re traveling with kids or first-time snorkelers, consider this tour. Sundiver offers daily tours to the reefs at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The 9 a.m. trip features a visit to 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. Reviewers praise the knowledgeable, friendly crew and the well-equipped boat. Travelers also describe the reef as beautiful and report seeing lots of fish.

Prices include a mask, fins and a snorkeling vest. An adult must accompany snorkelers younger than 18. A sunset and snorkel reef adventure is also available seasonally and sets sail at 5:30 p.m. The company also offers private snorkel charters.

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John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park – Snorkeling Tours

Price: From $50
Duration: 2.5 hours

If you have your own snorkel equipment or want to explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park without instruction from a guide, consider signing up for one of the official tours operated by the park. After a short boat ride, you’ll be given a brief snorkel lesson at the reef before having time to explore the water on your own. Patrons describe the experience as incredible and praise the friendly crew members.

Excursions depart several times a day in the morning and afternoon. Note that crew members do not act as guides and the boat stays moored for the duration of your time at the reef. Equipment rentals and personal in-water guides are available for additional fees. Scuba diving and glass-bottom boat tours are also available.

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Snorkel Key Largo

Price: Adults from $60; kids from $55
Duration: 2.5 hours

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. Tour-takers praise the captain and crew for their expertise and approachability. They also say it’s an excellent experience for families, highlighting the abundance of marine life and the relaxing ambiance.

Tours operate daily and include snorkel instruction, gear and a safety vest. The company offers departures at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The company also offers a sunset catamaran sailing cruise.

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Islander Girl Snorkel & Tours

Price: Adults from $59; kids from $48
Duration: 2 hours

The snorkel sites on this tour can change daily, based on the captain’s evaluation of which reefs promise the best visibility and conditions. Sites may include the Hens and Chickens reef, Cheeca Rocks and Pleasure Reef, among others. Reviewers applaud the crew for their friendly, attentive attitudes. They also note the crew is especially skilled at working with kids.

Tours are generally offered daily at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets cover the use of snorkel equipment, water, towels, rum punch, snacks, soft drinks and a guide. The company also offers sunset cruises and sandbar swims at the Islamorada Sandbar.

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Pirates Cove Watersports

Price: From $65
Duration: 4 hours

If you’re looking for a half-day snorkel adventure, consider this tour operated by Pirate Cove Watersports. You’ll make stops at two locations with ample time to explore underwater. Travelers praise the fun, energetic crew and appreciate the short boat ride to the snorkeling site. Reviewers also describe this tour as great for first-time snorkelers.

Trips are generally offered daily at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. If you’re not interested in a snorkeling or scuba tour, consider the company’s boat tours or sunset cruises.

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Silent World Dive Center – M/V Calypso – Two Reef Snorkel Tour

Price: From $75
Duration: 3 hours

In 2022, Silent World Diver Center debuted its new 51-foot Corinthian catamaran exclusively for snorkeling trips to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. During tours aboard the Calypso, you’ll visit two reef sites, including the famous Christ of the Abyss (conditions permitting). Reviewers appreciate the small group size of the tour and report seeing lots of fish and coral. They also applaud the fun, professional crew.

Tickets include the use of snorkeling equipment. Tours depart daily at 8:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. The company also offers scuba diving trips.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can typically expect to pay around $50 to $60 per person to snorkel in Key Largo for two hours, but some longer outings may cost more.

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