By Jim Westphalen (Shelburne, VT)
I wanted to share my experience with snorkeling Higgs Beach in Key West, Florida. We had a snorkeling trip booked two days in a row to go out to Looe Key Reef as recommended on this website. Unfortunately the winds were high and we got skunked both days.
Someone told us about snorkeling off Higgs Beach in Key West. It ended up being the best off-the-beach snorkeling (in the Keys) we’ve ever done. There is an old pier that juts out from where the new pier ends and it has become a reef of sorts. Many different species of reef fishes as well as some big animals too. We saw a very large eagle ray and many barracuda in this spot.
If you can’t boat out to a reef, I would highly recommend this as an alternative.
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Nicole & Galen – Mar 29, 2019 – Snorkeling Higgs Beach, Key West
Hi Jim, thank you for taking the time to share your experience snorkeling Higgs Beach in Key West. On our Key West page, we mention that beach as a shore snorkeling possibility and to make sure to swim out to the remains of the old dock. Sounds like there is a lot of sea life to see that makes it worth the swim out. If you have any pictures, let us know and we will post them on this page.
Good shore snorkeling opportunities are not common in the Florida Keys so we are glad that you found an option worth sharing.
Higgs Beach is included in the Key West Marine Park, managed by Reef Relief. There are a number of beaches along that coast of Key West that are part of the park.
Pamela Thomas – Mar 30, 2019 – Appreciated
Thanks Jim. Snorkeling off a beach is often disappointing, so it’s nice to get this update.
Andy C. – Apr 7, 2019 – My Higgs Experience
I haven’t been back to Higgs Beach since Irma tore through in 2017, but I snorkeled there twice on my previous trip. You can walk out on the pier a ways and then use steps to get down into the deeper water.
On my last snorkel, in May 2015, I saw a Green Moray Eel stick its head out from underneath some old bottom debris, lots of grunts, snapper and sea urchin. Lots of coral growth along the outside edge of the old pier, great for macro photography. The closer you look the more tiny fish you can see.
Swim directly back to the beach over the sandy area to find sting rays.
They rent beach lounges and umbrellas and there are showers close by, as well as a terrific restaurant, Salute, just off the sand.
Michael – Aug 12, 2019 – Higgs Beach – Thanks for the Post!
I just got back from Key West and took the advice from this post and snorkeled this beach. It did not disappoint! We saw many soft and hard corals and sponges. We saw a six foot nurse shark, barracuda, parrotfish, Sergeant Majors, grunts, yellow and blue tangs, damsels, Porkfish, Rock Beauties, wrasses, and a couple more I haven’t identified yet. Water clarity was variable but about 10-15 feet. This spot is perfect for beginners with water depths around the old pier being less than 10 feet. Parking and access are free!
This spot is a must given access limitations around Key West (they don’t have beaches). I found this area not heavily traveled either meaning there were not a lot of people snorkeling around you.
Heather – Dec 15, 2020 – Thank you!
Thanks so much! We’re looking forward to checking this out today. Cheers!