The Best Reefs in the Florida Keys for Snorkeling and Diving

Donald Dirren

August 21, 2022

Several popular reefs in the Florida Keys are perfect for snorkeling and diving. Sombrero Reef, Molasses Reef, Hen and Chickens Reef, and Cheeca Rocks are among the best spots in the area. The corals are pristine, and you can see many species of colorful fish. If you are new to snorkeling and diving, these places can be a good place to start.

Molasses Reef

The Molasses Reef is located six miles off the coast of Key Largo and is a great place to snorkel and scuba dive. The reef is home to a large anchor and various marine life. The site is one of the most popular snorkel sites in the keys. Dive shops in Key Largo bring snorkelers to Molasses Reef. It is a beautiful and popular destination for beginners.

The Molasses Reef complex is home to hundreds of different types of sea life. Several areas feature spur and groove coral formations, swim-throughs, and other features that make this a great place for beginners and more experienced snorkelers. The reef is also home to nurse sharks and huge schools of Parrott fish. It is a great diving destination for those looking for a relaxed and fun diving experience.

Hen and Chickens Reef

A shallow coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is called the Hen and Chickens Reef. The Hen and Chickens Shoal Light was installed here for a time during the twentieth century. It is located southeast of Plantation Key within the Sanctuary Preservation Area. You can find a variety of fish, including jacks and nurse sharks, at the Hen and Chickens Reef. You can visit the Hen and Chickens Reef by boat or kayak.

Hen and Chickens Reef is a shallow coral patch located off Plantation Key. The reef is home to many species of colorful coral. The coral patch features star, plumes, and candelabra coral. You can also see a green moray eel at this dive site. The corals at Hen and Chickens Reef are very healthy. Therefore, you can expect to see green moray eels, lobsters, and a variety of other fish at this dive site.

Cheeca Rocks

One of the top snorkeling spots in the Keys is the Cheeca Rocks. The reef is a shallow patch of coral just a mile south of Islamorada, Florida. It has eight to twenty feet in depth and is great for taking pictures. The reef is also shallow enough that you can anchor your boat. However, you should use a mooring buoy to avoid damaging the coral formations. The reef is home to many different types of fish, including lionfish, stingrays, and parrotfish. The coral reefs are abundant, too, so you can see many different species.

If you prefer snorkeling in shallower waters, you should head to the Hens and Chickens. This reef is a short boat ride from Islamorada. You can also head to the Alligator Reef, which is more distant but is also home to an abundance of tropical fish. You can swim right next to the lighthouse and view the coral and tropical fish.

Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef in the Florida Keys is one of the most popular snorkeling locations in the state. Once home to vibrant sea life, this reef has undergone some changes in recent years. You can snorkel on a spur-and-groove reef formation or dive to depths of approximately 25 feet. There are many different types of coral and various colorful tropical fish, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, rainbow parrotfish, and French and queen angelfish. There are also some barracuda and hogfish to be found here.

Sombrero Reef is the third largest barrier reef in the world and is located in the Middle Keys. This underwater site has colorful coral formations, mini coral canyons, and unique sponge formations. It also has a natural coral bridge, making it an interesting underwater environment for all levels of snorkelers. You can snorkel from a boat or shore at this unique place, although you should be aware of turtle nesting season to avoid disturbing these eggs.

Fort Jefferson

When it comes to snorkeling and scuba diving, the waters around Fort Jefferson are some of the most beautiful in the Keys. This barrier reef contains colorful fish, crazy coral, and a few alien-looking plants. Scuba divers and snorkelers can experience the eerie history of the Fort and its surrounding area. Fort Jefferson is a popular dive site that many dive centers include in their day trips.

Located in the Dry Tortuga Islands, Fort Jefferson is a great place to take a dive and observe marine life. These islands have some of the healthiest reefs in the world. Visiting the area will let you take a closer look at the diverse underwater life that makes the Keys so unique. There are various types of fish, including rays, corals, and even a threatened American crocodile.