The Florida Keys are home to the only living coral reef in the US, which means snorkeling in Key Largo is sure to be one of your vacation highlights.
To enjoy the top reefs, head out on a boat trip by catamaran or yacht. The shallow waters are perfect for first-time snorkelers and families. Check out our guide to decide which of these Key Largo snorkeling tours is best for you.
Where are the best places to snorkel in Key Largo?
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
The turquoise waters surrounding the Florida Keys are the reason snorkeling tours from Key Largo are so popular. This protected haven is a portal into the mysterious underwater kingdom, where you can swim with tropical fish and spot exotic sea creatures.
During a snorkeling tour, there are several reefs to discover, including Molasses, Elbow, and French. The boat captain will choose the daily locations according to the prevailing conditions.
There are over 500 species of fish flitting about the coral, such as sergeant majors, Bermuda chubs, and angelfish. Keep a look out for southern stingrays too, as they glide gracefully by on their search for food.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Lying offshore to the east of the Overseas Highway, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a real highlight on snorkeling tours from Key Largo. Sprawling across 70 nautical square miles, this vibrant marine playground is the first undersea park in the country.
Cruise through mangrove swamps and seagrass beds on your way to the coral reef, then snorkel among some of the most diverse aquatic life in the world. Parrotfish, barracudas, and yellow striped snappers are frequently spotted, and visitors are often graced with the presence of sea turtles and moray eels.
For an eerie yet magical experience, swim down to the famous Christ of the Abyss – a 9-foot-tall bronze statue that has been submerged near the dry docks. This is a popular dive site, but the top of the statue is visible for snorkelers too.
What are the best snorkeling tours from Key Largo?
All snorkeling tours from Key Largo are enjoyed by boat, enabling you to easily access the best reefs. There are two types of trip available:
Group snorkeling tours
Taking a small group snorkeling tour is the cheapest way to explore the marine parks around Key Largo. The boats tend to be catamarans or yachts, with comfortable seating and plenty of room for everyone. Passenger capacity is up to 38 guests, and it never feels crowded.
Group trips stop at some of the most famous reefs in the area, giving you ample time for snorkeling and swimming. Longer excursions stop at multiple sites. Non-swimmers are welcome to join the group and remain on deck relaxing in the sun during the snorkel sessions.
Private snorkeling tours
For an exclusive boat trip why not choose a private tour, which can be very cost-effective if you are with a group of friends. Taking a private charter allows you to avoid the crowds and tap into the captain’s local knowledge when it comes to finding quiet reefs teeming with wildlife.
Relax on deck with drinks and snacks as you sail out to multiple reefs, then jump overboard to swim with shoals of fish. Keep your camera handy for the turtles!
How much do snorkeling tours from Key Largo cost?
Snorkeling tours from Key Largo are priced according to the trip length and guest capacity.
- 2.5-hour group snorkeling tours in the Marine Sanctuary cost $51 per person.
- A 3.5-hour group trip to the Marine Sanctuary or Pennekamp State Park are $56 each, stopping at 2 different snorkel locations.
- Private snorkeling tours are $430 for 2.5 hours, $604 for 3.5 hours, and $745 for 4 hours. These include water, soda, snacks, and towels.
What other water activities can I do in Key Largo?
Key Largo is an idyllic location for all manner of water sports, which can be enjoyed in the year-round sunshine. The most popular activities include boat trips, scuba diving, and kayaking, with jet ski tours a fun option for adrenaline junkies.
Where do Key Largo snorkeling tours leave from?
All small group snorkeling trips from Key Largo depart from various points along the Overseas Highway, and you will be escorted to the boat from here. Check your joining instructions for the exact location.
Most private excursions leave from Caribbean Drive on Key Largo Dock, opposite the Marriott Courtyard Hotel. One exclusive tour also embarks from Shoreland Drive on Largo Sound – parking is outside the Jules Undersea Park with a short walk down to the dock.
How long does a snorkeling tour from Key Largo last?
Key Largo snorkeling tours last either 2.5 or 3.5 hours, with the option for a longer 4-hour trip if you go on a private excursion.
When is the best time for a snorkeling tour from Key Largo?
Key Largo enjoys relatively constant temperatures throughout the year, making this a great place for snorkeling at any time. The water is always warm enough to swim in and many visitors prefer to snorkel in just a bathing costume.
The Florida Keys can get busy during winter with visitors flocking to embrace the sun, but it never feels too crowded and there are plenty of quieter snorkeling spots to visit. If you want to avoid the peak season, come during Spring when the weather is lovely and there are fewer tourists around.
Want to make the most of your snorkeling tour from Key Largo? Then here are a few handy tips to get you started.
- Book your snorkeling trip online ahead of your visit to grab the best deals on your chosen dates.
- Pack plenty of sunscreen as well as a hat and sunglasses to protect from the rays, which always feel more intense out on the water.
- Remember not to touch the coral reef or its marine inhabitants to help preserve this precious underwater ecosystem.
- Arrive 45 minutes before your departure slot to allow time for boarding and ticket checks.