Your Tampa Bay Snorkeling Guide
If you plan to visit Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or any part of the Tampa Bay area, you should consider a snorkeling adventure as part of your trip. This area allows one to snorkel from the shore, in the bay, or by boat out in the ocean. Tampa Beach has powdery white sand that is soft and consistently warm all year round. Waters here are turquoise, clear, and warm year-round. Tampa is often called the “Sunshine City” because it averages 361 days of sunshine a year.
- Best snorkeling spots in the Tampa Bay area
- Coral reefs
- Snorkeling in Clearwater Beach
Best snorkeling spots in the Tampa Bay area
Clearwater Beach is known for its bright white, sugar-soft sands, clear water, and good weather. In 2018, it was named TripAdvisor’s #1 Beach in America. People love this beach for swimming, snorkeling, sunning, and recreating because it is always clean, safe, and family-friendly. Every day, the sand is raked and groomed, and every day, lifeguards carefully keep watch during daylight hours.
The water is calm and clear, so it’s ideal for beginners and young snorkelers who haven’t quite mastered the art of swimming in the ocean.
There are several hotels, restaurants, and fun attractions in the immediate vicinity, so when you finish snorkeling, there is still plenty to do.
You can find Clearwater Beach and the Pier 60 Fishing Pier that sits atop 1 Causeway Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33767.
Caladesi Island & Honeymoon Island
Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island used to be one until a devastating 1921 hurricane hit the area, splitting the island into two parts. The islands can be reached by boat, ferry, or on foot if you are willing to walk in from Highway 60, which runs from Clearwater to Caladesi Island.
Waters here are calm, shallow, clear, and monitored by a lifeguard, usually from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Since Caladesi Beach is a little out of the way, but if you’re looking for some place less crowded than this is the place to go. Here, you’ll likely see coral, colorful varieties of fish, and even a dolphin or two!
Honeymoon Island is even quieter than Caladesi Island. It is intentionally non-industrialized, making the area feel more cozy and quaint.
Go to Honeymoon Island Beach to see a large reef teeming with stingrays, sharks, manatees, gopher tortoises, sea turtles, dolphins, fish, coral clusters, and deep crevices on the ocean floor. You’ll also find many species of birds, large and small, on the island and in the air above you.
Caladesi Island State Park can be found at 1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698. You can find Honeymoon Island just north, at 1 Honeymoon Island, Dunedin, FL 34698.
Treasure Island Beach
Treasure Island has about four miles of beachfront perfect for families, and kite flyers! Each year, Treasure Island hosts a kite festival.
Treasure Island Beach offers a large beachfront and gentle waters with mild waves. If this wasn’t family and child friendly enough, there is a clean, well-maintained playground area right on the beach too. When you finish snorkeling for the day, make sure you find the Osprey Trailhead to hike the island’s interior. Bring your bug spray to ward away mosquitos and be camera ready for wildlife sighting—bald eagles, hawks, ospreys, great horned owls, tortoises, and more can be found here.
Pro tip: Tampa, also known as the “Sunshine City,” averages 361 days of sunshine a year, making it the perfect destination for boating and on the water experiences even in the fall and winter months!
Shell Key & Egmont Key
Shell Key and Egmont Key are great for snorkeling, swimming, and sea shell searching. Wildlife and marine life are abundant here, as is the rich history. Be sure to ask your guide (should you choose to hire one) to tell you all about it. Both keys are on the National Register of Historic Places and serve as a state park and National Wildlife Refuge. You are highly likely to see at least a few of the following creatures:
- Nurse sharks
- Gopher tortoises
- Sea turtles
- Tropical fish
- Sea birds
- And more!
Underwater, you’ll find sunken ruins of gun batteries that slowly eroded and collapsed into the ocean in the 1980s. Take advantage and snorkel Shell Key and Egmont Key, rising water levels are eroding these keys at an alarming rate. Most of the shore is 3 feet deep, but further out (like the ruins) is in 9 feet deep water.
Are there coral reefs in Tampa?
There are coral reefs in Tampa, but they are artificial. Most of these are concrete reef balls, broken debris, shipwrecks, bridge rubble, and retired military equipment. Here are twenty-two reefs for snorkelers to spot near Tampa, Florida:
- Dunedin Reef
- Clearwater Reef
- Madeira Reef
- Treasure Island Reef
- St. Pete Beach Reef
- St. Petersburg Bay Reef
- Picnic Island Reef
- Picnic Island Pier Reef
- Port Tampa Reef
- Howard Frankland Reef
- Courtney Campbell Reef
- Ballast Point Pier Reef
- Bahia Beach Reef
- Port Manatee Reef
- Egmont Key Reef
- Bulkhead Reef
- Southeast Tampa
- Manatee River’s Emerson Point
- Meisner Barge
- Seven Mile Reef North
- Three Mile Reef North
- One Mile Reef North
There are even more reefs that are further offshore and scattered across the entirety of Florida, which you can find here.
Snorkeling at Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is an ideal family-friendly beach. It’s easy to access, with warm and shallow waters. If you’re new to snorkeling or with a group of mixed experiences, Clearwater Beach is a great snorkeling spot! These waters are protected giving you and your group a sense of safety and boost in confidence. You’ll get to see sea urchins, crabs, sea stars, and snails are among the common finds. Did we mention Clearwater Beach waters has great visibility?
More Tampa guides
- The Best Restaurants on the Water in Tampa
- All of the Islands in the Tampa Bay Region
- The Best Rivers and Lakes in Tampa Bay for Boating
- The Complete Tampa Bay Boating Guide
- A Guide to Fishing in St. Petersburg, Florida
Are you ready for your snorkeling trip in Tampa, Florida? All you need now is a captained boat, you can find one here!
Boatsetter is the go-to app for boat rentals and on-water experiences. Whatever the adventure, we’ve got a boat for that—Set sail, start the party, go yachting, make your trophy catch, and hone your watersports skills! Download the Boatsetter app (App Store | Google Play). Make sure to follow @boatsetter on Instagram, and tag us in all your boat day pictures for the chance to be featured.