Snorkeling Cheeca Rocks is a real treat. The depths range from about eight feet down to about 20; perfect for snorkeling and freediving down to take some pictures.
2023 Coral Bleaching Event – Please note that very high water temperatures in the summer of 2023 have caused widespread coral bleaching and death in the Florida Keys. So the descriptions on this page are not accurate. If you wish to see healthy coral reefs we now recommend you visit the Coral Triangle.
With a short boat ride from the Islamorada area you can access this patch reef. Because this reef lies about halfway between the Keys and the barrier reef, you will often find that the water is “greener”. It will have more algae growth in it and will generally not be as blue as the locations farther out.
When we went it was slightly overcast and the water was pretty “green” and cloudy, but it was wonderful nonetheless. But you can definitely see in the pictures and video that visibility was not great.
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What We Saw While Snorkeling Cheeca Rocks
Really snorkeling Cheeca Rocks was much better than we expected it to be. There were many medium sized fish and generally tons of fish, in schools and solitary. From the moment we jumped in the water we were face to face with lots of fish. It was a surprise.
We saw Hogfish, huge Green Moray Eels, Bluehead Wrasse, lots of grunts, chubs and young jacks, huge parrotfish, including lots of Midnight Parrotfish, Queen Angelfish, Blue Angelfish, Foureye Butterflyfish, Gray Angelfish, and Blue Tang.
We also got to snorkel with our first turtles in the Keys at Cheeca Rocks. We found one lively turtle that had a missing flipper in the back. It got around very well without it.
Foggy Masks, Fin Blisters and Angry Snorkels!
Poorly fitting, cheap gear, can ruin your trip. See our snorkeling equipment reviews and fitting suggestions to make sure your next trip is great.
Besides the fish, we saw nice corals while snorkeling Cheeca Rocks. We saw huge Brain Corals, Star Corals, Lobed Star Coral, and Fire Corals. There was also a profusion of sea rods, fans, and plumes. We also noticed a fair amount of sponges, including Branching Vase Sponges. We also saw some sea urchin – the West Indian Sea Egg variety.
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Find a Boat Company
We suggest you use TripAdvisor to look for current companies running snorkel trips out of Islamorada and reviews of them. The link below goes to a community post with some boat company ideas too.