Shore Snorkeling Along Florida's Southeast Coast - Riviera Beach to Dania Beach
by Susan Barker
(Delray Beach, FL)
Florida's southeast coast has some great places for shore snorkeling, especially if you like seeing lots of tropical fish. The video below shows the top seven spots we found after years of living in Florida, from Riviera Beach down to Dania Beach.
The seven snorkeling spots are: - Phil Foster Park, Riviera Beach - Peanut Island, Riviera Beach - Ocean Inlet Park, Boynton Beach - Delray Beach & the Delray Wreck - South Inlet Park, Boca Raton - Commercial Blvd, Fort Lauderdale - John U. Lloyd Park, Dania
All sites (except Peanut Island) are easily accessed from shore and with the exception of an entrance fee at John U. Lloyd Park in Dania, all are free. Some spots even have free parking, others cost a few dollars. Peanut Island (although very close to shore) is accessible by boat and there are a number of ferries which service it for a minimal fee.
Although some of the sites have small patches of soft corals only a few have small amounts of hard coral. Many are man-made rock reefs constructed as fish habitats. The exception is Commercial Blvd which has a very unique reef structure.
The exciting thing is that on a good day you never know what you will see. We've seen just about every fish that we've ever seen snorkeling throughout the Caribbean and have even seen large eagle rays and some small mantas at different times.
The best time to snorkel here is when the weather is calm and it has been dry for a while. When there is much rain the agricultural and residential runoff from the inlets frequently clouds the water and lowers visibility considerably.
Two years ago we had a drought throughout the spring and summer which was very bad for the water supply but great for snorkeling as we spent almost everyday snorkeling a different site. Last year was a disaster as it was exceptionally rainy and visibility was minimal.
If the ocean is rough Peanut Island and Phil Foster are protected as they are inside the inlet. It's very important to time your snorkel so as to be there on a rising to high tide for water visibility. The same is sometimes true of the spots by the inlets depending on how much rain there has been during the past week.
We are warm water people so don't snorkel much during the winter here as the water temps are around 74-76 degrees and we really like those warm 80+ waters.
Important Update!! August 1, 2013
Yesterday I went snorkeling at Peanut Island and found that the entire fish habitat along the rocks had been destroyed. The lifeguard said it was hard to see swimmers who went around the rocks during a strong tidal current so the park basically demolished the entire rock system which had started to grow live hard and soft corals and attract a large variety of fish. Now there are only very small fish, mainly Sergeant Majors. This was a radical solution as they could have just built a small stairway over the rocks leading up to a bridge as when the tide was strong it would just push you around to a protected area right by the bridge by the lagoon.
Also, the Delray Wreck has been almost buried in sand as a result of Hurricane Sandy last fall. There is still a small part sticking out and it could eventually be uncovered by another storm but there are very few fish now. I've made a short video showing exactly where to snorkel at each of the seven sites along with a few pictures and short video clips from each site:
Hope this information helps answer some questions about shore snorkeling in Florida.
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