When you are snorkeling Molasses Reef you will not be alone. It is considered the most visited coral reef in the world. It was a top priority for us when we were in Key Largo. We heard that it was the highlight of the area, with its large spur and groove coral reef in a nice variety of depths.
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.
Because this reef is about six miles offshore of Key Largo, sitting on the edge of the barrier reef, conditions need to be fairly calm for snorkeling Molasses Reef. And that is why we have not yet done it. The weather would not cooperate when we were there. But we have heard great things about the wonderful Elkhorn Coral, huge brain corals, abundant sea life, and clear waters. We found the pictures of the reef you see on this page, in the creative commons on Flickr. It is likely you would have to dive down to see the reef as well as in these pictures.
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Choosing a Boat Tour for Snorkeling Molasses Reef
Obviously, you need to get on a boat for snorkeling Molasses Reef. You can get on a tour in Key Largo or at Pennekamp State Park. We are not sure if the large boats from the park or Key Largo go to Molasses as the companies often won’t tell you the destination until you leave. But, you can book a private charter or a place on a boat with a max of six passengers, and you are more likely to be able to visit Molasses. Make sure you get on a snorkeler’s tour, as divers go here a lot and they are diving deeper. Or, you could rent your own boat if you are skilled.
Unless you are using the big crowded boats in Pennekamp State Park, we suggest you search TripAdvisor for boat companies to take you snorkeling Molasses Reef. You can also read reviews of them there.
Along the length of Molasses Reef, boats can choose to tie up to 33 different mooring buoys. We understand that there are shallow enough depths for snorkeling at all but buoys 21-23. Also, the buoys that are nearest the lighthouse are shallower.
What You’ll See Snorkeling Molasses Reef
Because this is one of the farther out reefs, you will find bigger species of fish and sea life in general. Expect to see turtles and rays; they are said to be common here. Goliath Grouper frequent the area. The visibility is also supposed to be excellent because it gets flushed by the ocean currents.
In the video below you can get a little better sense about snorkeling at Molasses Reef. Note that she thinks there are better reefs for snorkelers.