Where can you snorkel in Key Largo

Private Snorkel Charter

Where can you snorkel in Key Largo to see an amazing coral reef and its inhabitants when you get to Key Largo?

The coral reef in Key Largo is around 5 miles from shore and entails a boat ride of around 30 minutes from any of the harbors in Key Largo to get to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The reef runs along the 16 miles of the island.

The Key Largo reef breaks up to hardbottom in places between the reefs and has many smaller patch reefs between the reefs and between the reefs and the shore.

There are no reefs that you can get to from any shore locations by foot or by swimming although there are some manmade beaches that do have some tropical fish life on them there are no corals reefs there as they are in the mangrove eco system.

A protected area does exist within the land part of the John Pennekamp state park.  This is know as Cannon beach which is a small man made beach alongside Key Largo Sound, an inland water way.  The snorkeling area is a brackish area, around 5 feet deep and has a protective curtain around it. This should not be confused with the John Pennekamp coral reef state park which runs from the shore out to 6 miles off shore.

Grecian Reef

The best reef in Key Largo for all levels of ability is Grecian Reef.  Due to the shape of the reef it is sheltered from the predominant oncoming weather. Grecian reef is within a special protected area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and is a not take area so fishing is not allowed.

Family snorkeling
Family snorkeling is great fun

There are some great sheltered spots that are around 10 feet deep that are great for young children to get their first taste of snorkeling in the ocean and for adults who are a little apprehensive of the ocean. These shallow areas have lots of small Caribbean reef fish and Conch shells

There are also some places on Grecian reef that are more suitable to more seasoned snorkelers where the water is deeper and the fish are bigger. You are likely to see large parrot fish and Barracuda here. The downside is that if there is any current its normally on the deeper side of the reef so its for stronger swimmers.

On both of these areas we often see Spotted Eagle Rays here during their season (May to September). This is a real delight to see these amazing creatures fly through the water.  Most of them are large and measure 3 or 4 feet across.

Key Largo Dry Rocks

Christ of the abyss
Snorkelers with Christ

This is another great reef and the home of the Christ Statue. Some 6 miles off shore and in the National Marine Sanctuary protected area. It is our most requested location but it has its challenges.  The site itself is around 25 feet deep and can be quite frightening for young children and nervous swimmers.  The site is more exposed to the Atlantic ocean and the wave high can be over 2 feet, often with some current so not ideal for first time snorkelers.

Boats are only permitted to moor to one of the provided mooring balls so it can sometimes be quite a swim in the open ocean to get to the statue if its a busy day.

For many people its on their bucket list to do!

Molasses Reef

Two snorkelers in the water taken from 20 feet below them by a SCUBA diver
Snorkellers at Molasses

This is the largest reef in Key Largo and has over 30 places for boats to moor up, during busy times they can all be full! Molasses is predominately a SCUBA diving site and is quite deep for snorkelers at around 25 feet.  It is a large reef that also often has current on it so not great for novice snorkelers and young children.  There are also a lot of boats transiting across the reef and the Glass Bottom boat also goes to this reef.

Where can you snorkel in Key Largo

Our recommendation is that you choose the site you would like to go to that reflects the needs of your family so they can have safe fun.  After all the last this you want to do is to frighten children and spoil their fun.

This means you will also have to choose the charter boat you go with.  Many of the large snorkel boats load up with 40 people and go to a site that may not be suitable or safe for you.  In reality if you put that many snorkelers in the water at the same time all you will see is other people and not much wild life so you may not get much value from you trip.

There are also a number of snorkel sops in Key Largo that do not have their own boats but use other shops big boats to put groups on. We would be wary of this as you do not know who you are going with or where you are going till you get on the boat.

Our Private charter boat tour will assess the needs of your family or group and suggest where we think its best to go given you experience.  This will ensure that you have the best possible time and ensure you do not waste money on a bad trip.