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Denison Rendezvous

Top 5 Reefs For Snorkeling In The Florida Keys

Marina Nazario | October 6, 2020

Explore Some Of The Best Tropical Reefs In The US.

The Florida Keys are one of the best spots for snorkeling, fishing, and diving in the continental United States. It boasts the third-longest barrier reef in the world, spanning from Biscayne National Park to Marquesas Key. There are plenty of artificial and natural coral reefs in the Florida Keys that makes for a great destination for snorkelers and divers of every level.

Denison is hosting its 2020 Rendezvous October Escape at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. The team has a fun weekend planned with plenty of time for relaxing, boating, and snorkeling. We scoped out the top five reefs for snorkeling in the Florida Keys and the best boats to take you to each snorkel site. Let’s jump in.

1. Alligator Reef Lighthouse

Best reef for seeing hundreds of colorful fish.

Despite its name, you won’t see any alligators at Alligator Reef Lighthouse. It’s actually named after a ship called Alligator, which sunk in the 1800s. (Although, all that remains today is a pile of stones on the ocean floor.) At this snorkel site, you’ll see hundreds of colorful fish swimming in the crystal clear waters because the fish are attracted to the shade that the lighthouse projects onto the water. The reef extends about 25 feet underwater and surrounds an old 136-foot tall lighthouse tower off the coast of Islamorada, Florida. Alligator Reef boasts excellent visibility that makes it easy to spot marine wildlife. The reef surrounding the lighthouse is bright and shallow, but when you venture into deeper, darker waters you may come across barracudas, nurse sharks, and snappers.

Best Boat To Take You There: Bertram 50 Express Yacht, which will be at Denison’s 2020 Rendezvous October Escape

Coordinates: 24°51’06.5″N 80°37’08.0″W, just off the coast of Islamorada

2. Key Largo Dry Rocks

Best reef for snapping pictures.

Key Largo Dry Rocks is one of the most famous and popular snorkel spots in the Florida Keys. After jumping in the water and swimming around, you may notice a 9-foot tall statue of Jesus looking up at you from the ocean floor. Christ of the Abyss was constructed in Italy and donated to the Underwater Society of America by Egidi Cressi. The statue was submerged in 1965 and placed in the Key Largo Dry Rocks, a reef full of colorful fish, brain corals, and sea fans. The water is about 25 feet deep, so it’s perfect for beginner-level snorkelers. Be sure to snap a picture with Christ of the Abyss to share with your friends and family.

Best Boat To Take You There: Beneteau Gran Turismo 36, which will be at Denison’s 2020 Rendezvous October Escape

Coordinates: 25°07’21.7″N 80°17’50.6″W, about seven miles off the coast of Key Largo

3. Coffins Patch

Best reef for a long day of snorkeling.

Coffins Patch reef is named after a shipwreck that happened in the 18th century. This Florida Keys snorkel site lies within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and is a collection of six different patches of coral reef. The Stake is a great snorkel spot at Coffins Patch thanks to excellent visibility and a shallow area. Here you’ll spot a variety of marine life including yellowtail snappers, blue angelfish, eels, parrotfish, and lobster. You can easily spend the day swimming around the different reefs at Coffins Patch.

Best Boat To Take You There: Excess 48 Catamaran

Coordinates: 24°41’06.0″N 80°57’51.0″W, about four miles east of Key Colony Beach

4. Molasses Reef

Best reef for all snorkel levels.

Molasses Reef is a beautiful coral reef off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. It’s known for crystal clear waters, extra-large boulder corals, and colorful fish. At this reef, you’re bound to see turtles, sharks, grouper, and stingrays. The north end of Molasses Reef is within about 10 to 15 feet of water, making it an excellent area for high visibility snorkeling. As the reef travels to the southwest, it deepens down to 65 feet — a better area for intermediate divers. Anchor at Buoy #7 (also called Winch Hole), to see a large mechanical winch from the 1887 wreck of a 170-foot wooden schooner.

Best Boat To Take You There: Oceanis 51.1

Coordinates: 25°00’54.7″N 80°22’42.6″W, about six miles off the coast of Key Largo

5. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

Best reef for history buffs.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the site of a pre-Civil War fort and home to the largest cache of Civil War weapons in America. The park is located on the southern edge of Key West, making it the southernmost state park in the continental United States. On land, you can explore the historic fort, landmarks, and preserved Civil War weapons. From the beach, you can access the reef and snorkel through the waters to spot yellow snappers, parrotfish, and lobsters. It’s a great spot for beginners who may also want to learn about the history of Key West.

Best Boat To Take You There: The easiest way to access the reef is through Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, which you can get to by car. But the surrounding waters off the coast of Key West are perfect for cruising in a Beneteau Gran Turismo 52 with family and friends.

Coordinates: 24°32’48.5″N 81°48’37.8″W, the southern edge of Key West

Whether you’re heading down to Key Largo for Denison’s 2020 Rendezvous October Escape or simply enjoying a long weekend in the Florida Keys, check out these top five snorkel sites. The best way to get to each reef is through the style and comfort of a high performance yacht. Contact a Denison yacht broker to help you find the best boat to take you to Florida’s tropical coral reefs.