Top 7 Islamorada Snorkeling Spots
Islamorada is a stunning key in the central area of the Florida Keys and one of the best places in the United States. You’ll find incredible coral reefs, some of the densest and most diverse fish populations, plenty of interesting natural formations, shipwrecks, sunken pieces, and so much more. Without further ado, here are seven Islamorada snorkeling spots:
- Islamorada Sandbar
- Marathon Sandbar & Vaca Sandbar
- Anne’s Beach
- Library Beach
- Founders Park Beach
- Alligator Reef
- Hen & Chickens Reef
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1. Islamorada Sandbar
The Islamorada Sandbar, or Whale Harbor Sandbar, is a great place to snorkel because it has shallow waters that are easy to navigate and see down to the bottom. The sandbar and the surrounding ocean floor are soft and gentle to walk or wade on.
The south side is much shallower, so most boats choose to anchor on the north side. Beware that there are usually a dozen or more boats here to party, chat, and have a good time. If you enjoy finding lost jewelry, souvenirs, and other trinkets, this could be your snorkel spot.
2. Marathon Sandbar & Vaca Sandbar
Marathon Sandbar is on the edge of Key Vaca Cut and part of the main Marathon Sandbar. The sandbars protrude from the ocean like small islands and are barely submerged under calf-deep waters.
The main sandbar has milder parties and a few families who visit, while Vaca Sandbar is much quieter, with fewer tourists. It gives you great views of Sunset Park, Cocoa Plum Beach, East Sister Rock Island, and Sandy Point. People love to come to this area to snorkel because it is so peaceful, with sandy ocean bottoms, great visibility, and some schools of fish nearby.
3. Anne’s Beach
Anne’s Beach is small but excellent for new snorkelers. Snorkelers will love how shallow and tame the water is, making it ideal for novices and children. You’ll likely see moving sandbars, seagrass beds, rays, skates, horseshoe crabs, and several types of fish. Some areas are marshy, so pay attention to them, but they are great for exploration. The sand is very fine and mushy, so it pulls you down and can be awkward to walk or wade on.
There are restrooms on the north end of the beach, too, so you don’t need to stress about finding one nearby. The views here are picture-perfect too.
4. Library Beach
Library Beach is a secret snorkeling spot that not many people know about. It got its unofficial name from the library that stands in front of it. This hidden gem has a small channel inlet with mangroves, and the beach is only about one hundred feet long. This long inlet protects the beach from big waves on windy days, so it’s perfect for newer snorkelers who haven’t developed a lot of confidence or strength yet.
Overall, it is a great location with clean and well-maintained facilities. Young families will love the playground that is by the water.
5. Founders Park Beach
Dock at Plantation Yacht Marina and then get out into the water with your snorkeling or scuba gear because this is a great shallow spot. Most of the water is only three feet deep, so it is protected from large fish and sharks, something parents of smaller children can appreciate.
Swim out to the rocky portion or go to the mangroves to see many bright and colorful fish, many of which are in tight schools. Nurse sharks, spiny lobsters, string rays, jellyfish, and reef fish are common here. Black-tipped reef sharks, snapper, and barracudas are rarer sights you may have the pleasure of spotting.
After you explore the water, come back onto land to let your kids play on the playground, you can play a game of sand volleyball and then have a picnic or grill out at the picnic tables and tiki huts near the water’s edge. They also have showers and restrooms on-site.
6. Alligator Reef
This reef is named after the USS Alligator ship that sank in 1825 while fighting a fleet of ships from pirates. Now all that remains are ballast stones; you can find them at the base of the 136-foot-tall Alligator Reef Lighthouse. Tons of reef animals, coral, sponges, and other marine life live here, so be sure to stop and enjoy the underwater scenery.
7. Hen & Chickens Reef
When you approach the Hen and Chickens Reef from the top, you’ll notice that it closely resembles a mama hen with her little chicks. This interesting sight is created by a patch reef with giant coral heads.
This diverse reef is home to Star Coral, Sea Rods, Sea Fans, Boring Sponges, Vase Sponges, Finger Sponges, Brain Coral, Purple Coral, Finger Coral, Fire Coral, and Christmas Tree Coral. Tropical vibrant fish such as blue tang, grunt, and angelfish thrive here and will easily be seen when you snorkel or scuba dive.
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