Nothing’s more fun on a tropical vacation than snorkeling, especially with the family. And few places present more rewarding snorkeling experiences than the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. Whether you’re experienced with goggles and an air tube or are looking forward to discovering the underwater wonders for the first time, you’re in store for a great time. It’s just a matter of finding the right place.
Top Places to Snorkel
If you’re staying at the Solara Surfside just north of South Beach, the best snorkeling is just a little more than an hour away. Sundiver Snorkeling Tours, based in Key Largo, caters to all level of snorkelers, including beginners. The company also specializes in family snorkeling adventures and offers discounts for families.
You’ll board the Sundiver III for a half-hour cruise to the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, otherwise known as Pennekamp State Park. The There you’ll snorkel for 90 minutes in coral reefs five to 10 feet deep. You’ll see the underwater homes of turtles, angelfish, grouper and more. The only requirement is that you know how to swim. The expert guides will teach you all you need to know to make the experience enjoyable.
The Sundiver III is a Coast Guard-approved 46-foot custom snorkel boat that departs three times daily. Reservations are not necessary but recommended. For a more exclusive adventure, you can charter the Happy Kat Fun Boat, a Coast Guard-approved 30-foot, high-powered snorkel catamaran that seats only six passengers.
La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino
If you’re staying at the La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino on this carefree island just off the coast of Venezuela, you’re only 5 minutes from your departure point if you book a snorkeling trip with Jolly Pirates Sail Snorkel Swim and Swing. You can opt for a morning excursion or a shorter and less-expensive afternoon one. The “swing” in the company name refers not to music, but the rope swing, one of the activities aboard the family-friendly schooner.
The trips explore the same three sites. You’ll snorkel the shallow waters of Malmok, where you’ll see all kinds of marine life cavorting around rock formations. Triggerfish, yellow tang, even the spectacular queen fish can be seen as well as sea urchins, starfish and more.
At Boca Catalina, a calm, shallow cove, you’ll see the likes of yellow-striped grunts, blue tangs and silvery jacks as well as sponges and several varieties of coral.
You’ll also see one of the top diving and snorkeling spots in the entire Caribbean — the coral-coated wreck of the World War II German vessel Antilla. The 400-foot freighter, sunk by its own crew to prevent its capture, lies in a bed 60 feet below the surface. You’ll be guided by an experienced snorkeling crew for a close-up view of the hundreds of species that reside around the wreckage.
The Hammocks at Marathon
If you’re staying at the laid-back The Hammocks at Marathon resort in the Florida Keys, you’re minutes away from a great snorkeling adventure to historic Sombrero Key Light. The Starfish Snorkeling Tours of Marathon takes snorklers to the Sombrero Reef Marine Sanctuary and the lighthouse three times daily.
You can board the Starfish, a comfortable, high-powered catamaran that seats 40 at the departure point mere blocks from the resort, just north of Seven Mile Bridge. Starfish Snorkeling Tours takes you to the lighthouse, a still-operational lamp atop a 143-foot steel skeleton that was mounted on a submerged reef in 1858. Beneath the surface, the reef is home to countless fish species and acres of incredible living coral.
Starfish Tour guides are experts with first-time snorkelers. And because the snorkeling takes place in areas as shallow as 2 feet, you don’t even have to know how to swim.
No matter which tropical Bluegreen Vacations resort is your vacation base, if you love snorkeling, you’ve practically got one flipper already in the water.