Snorkeling in the National Marine Sanctuary

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wildhoney269 on June 9, 2003

Description: Key West is known as one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. All along the Keys is the nation’s largest reef which is a protected sanctuary in the Atlantic Ocean. We decided to go first thing in the morning when the snorkeling is supposed to be the best.

How to get there: We were picked up from the dock at the Wyndham Casa Marina. Our captain drove four of us six miles out to the reef on a speed boat. It was about 15 minutes from the marina to the reef.

What it’s like: The captain of the boat was very friendly and explained about snorkeling and the type of things we would see at the reef. We had to swim about 100 feet from the boat before we started to see the reef. Our trip was at 10am, which is early and a good time to see a variety of fish. We were novice snorkelers and had to go back to the boat a few times to rest and/or fix our equipment, but the snorkeling lasted for about an hour and a half. Various kinds of coral were found including a rare moose coral that was being re-introduced into the area. Also, the government was introducing queen conch, which were about as big as a basketball. We could dive down and pick them up as long as we put them back in the same place. We could not touch anything else in the area. The water ranged from two feed to about ten feed deep. I do not know all the different types of fish we saw but many of them were colorful aquarium-type fish. Some fish were in a cluster of 20 just bobbing next to the reef while others were by themselves hiding under a coral overhang. There was one long skinny silver one that kept following me around and appeared to just stare at me. I found out later it was a barracuda and they behave like that because they are very curious fish. They are at the top of the food chain in the reef and do not have anything to be afraid of. One highlight was when my boyfriend and I literally swam through an entire school of about 200 small striped fish.

Things to bring: Towels and lots of sunscreen. (You may want to bring an underwater camera.) Cost:$49 per person. Mask, snorkel, fins, and drinks were provided.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Florida Reef, Floriday Bay and Gulf of Mexico
Florida Keys, Florida, 33040
(305) 292-5065

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