Subtropic offers a snorkeling trip to local reefs with about two hours of underwater time. We purchased tickets at the small booth by the dock the morning of the trip and got right on the catamaran. All of our equipment was provided, including snorkels, masks, fins, and a float vest. This was nice because I didn't want to have to carry my own equipment around for the rest of the day. As an experienced snorkeler, I wasn't very happy about having to wear the vest, but we were not made to inflate them all the way.
The boat had a crew of two - a captain and a dive master. As the captain took us out of port, our dive master welcomed us and explained what we could expect, with emphasis on safety rules. When we reached the reef, the dive master explained how to enter and exit the water and let us go a couple at a time off the side of the boat.
This was my first reef trip, and I hadn't expected to see too much. I'd read that the reefs in the Keys are in bad shape. I hopped into the water, waited a moment for the bubbles to clear, then gasped in wonder through my snorkel. It was amazing! It was like being inside a giant aquarium with fantastically colorful fish I'd never been in the water with before. There were parrotfish, tarpon, a baracuda, and a nurse shark. We saw jack, grouper, and lots of other little guys whose names I never learned. I even watched a lobster dance around below. I was most profoundly struck by all the color. I will never forget it.
After we had enjoyed that reef for a while, we got back on the catamaran and went to the second and final stop. The crew served fruit and water while we were underway. We had a nice view of one of the screwpile lights from the water, and the second stop let us explore around some sunken boat parts. On the trip back in, I saw a loggerhead sea turtle peering up out of the water.
The whole experience was great due to the wonderful diversity of life. I highly recommend this trip with Subtropic. They are reputable, safe, and so much fun!