Looking for Good South Florida Shore Snorkeling 2023

By Martha Lee

I am looking for good south Florida shore snorkeling. Unfortunately my last snorkeling trip to Florida was marred by poor weather and hurricane destroyed sites. So this time I am asking for help from folks who have snorkeled good south Florida spots RECENTLY, in 2023.

Please recommend good shore snorkeling places (could do boat tour also) in east or west south Florida, with good months of year to go. I am considering visiting in the fall but am flexible. My main goal is fun snorkeling, avoiding stormiest seasons. I will be driving down from North Carolina.

Thank you.


    • Thanks, Judy! I checked out South Florida Beach Divers and Snorkelers, but they are running mostly scuba outings these days. So I joined South Florida Snorkel Group on Meetup, and I’m hoping to go on an outing with them. They go to places like Pompano Beach, Blue Heron Bridge, and Turtle Reef, places I have not heard about before.

  1. I am considering a fall or winter trip to south Florida and would like to know of the best locations and expected weather. I would be flying from WA State.

  2. While the Florida Keys’ best snorkeling is out at the reef, accessible only by boat, there is still fun, lower cost snorkeling off beaches and around the piers at many bay side resorts.

    At two places we’ve stayed on Tavernier we snorkeled off the resorts, not going out too far and staying next to the water’s edge, which is often cut down or dredged to make it deep enough for boats. Under many small piers and boats were lots of fish, lobster, nurse sharks, etc. Huge schools of juvenile fish are there in the mangroves that often separate properties.

    For beaches, John Pennekamp is pretty reliable. This past winter I saw a moray eel and a tiny sea horse, along with the usual snappers, grunts and hogfish. All right off the beach (Cannon Beach) in the park.

    • Can you still snorkel out at the reef despite the impact that the seaweed has had on the Keys? I’m curious if boat tours have been cancelled (or altered) this summer.

  3. Thanks so much, everyone! And even more comments on this topic are welcome. I’m glad it will be helpful to other travelers.

    I have often gone to south Florida in the winter, when the weather is great for being on land, but for too many days the water has been rough. If anyone has any advice about fall, I would love to hear it.

    Sometimes I come in summer for calmer water, but my last trip was late summer and very stormy.

    And I would love to have the names of the resorts on Tavernier where snorkeling was good for Andy C. I usually camp and don’t know the resorts.

    • The best weather for snorkeling will be in late spring. It can be nice into summer, though I find it too hot for me out of the water. Fall is hurricane season, so I would not recommend it.

      On Tavernier we’ve stayed at Island Bay Resort and Atlantic Bay Resort.

  4. I live in Tavernier in the Upper Keys. Three days a week I swim the jetty at Founders Park, which is at the 87 Mile Marker. I have swum and snorkeled all up and down the Keys for years, and the jetty is the best shoreline snorkeling I have encountered. Just yesterday I was swimming with numerous parrotfish, angelfish, pork fish, grunts, mangrove snapper, sergeant majors, barracuda and others. You can also encounter nurse sharks, manatees, lobster, stingrays and moray eels there.

    The beach at Founders is the only good public, non-resort sand beach in the Upper Keys and is really nice. From the beach go to the right side (as you face the water), take the path through the mangroves and turn left to proceed out to the jetty. On the jetty, which is a strip of land between the open sea and the marina, walk out to the fence. Right before it is a break in the boulders where you can enter the water.

    Once in the water swim to the right and proceed on out to the point and around the bend to the miniature lighthouse. You will definitely encounter a lot of sea life. The water is almost always calm and clear. Commercial snorkel boats bring paying customers there regularly.

    Fall is very good, at least up to about the end of November, though this year I swam through the whole winter.

    If you come to the beach Monday, Thursday or Saturday between 2 and 4 o’clock, I will gladly give you a personal tour with my dive flag.

    • Thanks so much! If I make it as far south as Tavernier on this trip, I will definitely take you up on your generous offer of a tour.

    • I am planning to be in your area Oct. 15-18, 2023, so I will come to the beach on Monday, Oct. 16. I would love a tour and am looking forward to it!

    • Coming tomorrow Monday Oct 16. Looking forward to it!

      I will be the one with the old fashioned styrofoam flag snorkel and long sleeved rash guards.

  5. If you are looking for decent shore snorkeling in South Florida, and you aren’t all the way down in the Keys, I would recommend Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach. It doesn’t really look like the kind of spot that you’d bother snorkeling, until you look in the water and see how many snorkel tubes are bobbing around out there. It is a little beach positioned under the bridge over to Singer Island in the West Palm Beach area. There is a snorkel trail set up with fish-attracting artificial reef structures.

    While there is no coral other than a few Siderastreas there is a tremendous amount of fish. We saw Blue Angelfish, Four-eyed Butterflyfish, Queen Triggerfish, and a Rock Beauty in amongst the myriad of Sergeant Major Damselfish to name just a few. What was really cool was the presence of some really big fish, like huge Southern Stingrays, massive Green Moray Eels, Tarpon, and Nurse Sharks. I never would have guessed there were such cool fish to see in such an unassuming spot, but they were there and in really good numbers.

    Come early for parking as it is a very popular snorkel and dive spot as well as a very busy boat launching ramp. It is best snorkeled on an incoming tide because beautiful clear Gulf Stream water flows in to the park then. On a receding tide it can be a bit murky with freshwater runoff from the land clouding it up.

    • Thanks so much, Iain, putting Phil Foster on my list. I have heard good things about Peanut Island too, but then I learned that the best snorkeling area there was deliberately destroyed by the park admin because it was too difficult to supervise. Is Peanut Island still worth snorkeling?

      • I snorkeled at Phil Foster a couple of years ago and it was a good. My friend was staying at the Marriott vacation condos on Singer Island, and so we signed on there with a guide to take us through the water over by the bridge. I found that helpful because it’s kind of a big area and he also warned us about making it through the current to the calmer water. He knew the best spots to check out.

        I can’t remember his name, but I thought I’d let you know that if you’d like a guide, there are some. This fellow was in a shack on the hotel’s beach area, but it was an independent company that was offering tours, etc. I would not go on a weekend because of the parking situation.


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