Snorkeling/ScubaTravel Tour Reviews

The 7 Best Snorkeling Tours In Key West – [2019 Reviews]

The Florida Keys Offer Incredible Reefs And Wildlife For Snorkeling - Try One Of These Tours

Best Snorkeling Tours in Key West

 Key West Dolphin Watch Snorkel TourKey West: 2-Stop Reef Snorkel TripKey West: Snorkel & Sunset
editors choice
Departure Point631 Greene St. Key West, FL 33040 631 Greene St. Key West, FL 33040Margaritaville Resort, Fury Booth
Departure Time9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 5:00 PM9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 5:00 PM4:30 PM
Duration 3 hours (approx.)3 hours (approx.)3 hours (approx.)
IncludesSnorkeling equipment and instruction, soda and water, complimentary beer, wine, or champagneSnorkeling equipment and instruction, soda and water, complimentary beer, wine, or champagneSnorkeling gear, snorkeling instruction, great music, complimentary beverages

Also see: Snorkeling in the Florida Keys


Quick Answer: The 7 Best-Rated Snorkel Tours in Key West

  1. Key West Dolphin Watch & Snorkel Eco Tour
  2. Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip
  3. Key West: Rum & Reggae Afternoon Snorkel & Sunset
  4. Key West 3-Hour Snorkeling Adventure
  5. Wild Dolphin Sail & Shallow-Water Snorkel
  6. Islamorada Eco-Adventure and Snorkel Cruise Tour
  7. Half-Day Cruise with Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour

Snorkel Tours in Key West Reviews

#1 Key West Dolphin Watch & Snorkel Eco Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: 631 Greene St. Key West, FL 33040
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 5:00 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment and instruction, soda and water, complimentary beer, wine, or champagne
Your first experience aboard the luxury catamaran is the local dolphins. They love to play in the shimmering, warm waters of the Gulf and you can see them up close as they have fun, dine on the small fish, and enjoy their own life of luxury.

Expand To See More

The snorkeling destination you’ll head to is inside the Key West Wildlife Refuge. This means there is a ton to see and explore under the surface of the water. Shallow water depths here make it much easier to get close to the underwater wildlife.

Along all your travels, you can rest assured that this tour is certified Dolphin SMART. With this certification, the tour is recognized as being aware and responsible when it comes to the dolphins in this area, as well as their natural habitat.

On the way back from your adventurous snorkeling trip, you’ll be able to sit back and relax with a complimentary beer or glass of wine or champagne. If you’d like to experience a beautiful Key West sunset, be sure to book the evening tour.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: 631 Greene St. Key West, FL 33040
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM, 5:00 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment and instruction, soda and water, complimentary beer, wine, or champagne
The 57-foot catamaran affectionately known as “The Reef Express” will take you out to the coral reef just off the shores of Key West. Not only will you get there comfortably, but you’ll also get there fast so you can spend more time exploring the underwater world instead of traveling.

Expand To See More

Once at your first snorkeling destination, you will be given all the snorkeling gear you need as well as expert instruction, so you know how to use all it. Your professional snorkeling guide will also give you some great tips on how to make the most out of your time in the water.

After snorkeling at this first reef location, you’ll jump back aboard The Reef Express and head to the second. Just as beautiful but very different from the first, you’ll encounter all manner of underwater wildlife.

On your way back shore, sip on a glass of chilled wine or champagne, or sit back with an ice-cold beer. If you have chosen the evening tour, before heading back to the marina your captain will find the perfect place out on the ocean to give you the perfect view of a legendary Key West sunset.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3 Key West: Rum & Reggae Afternoon Snorkel & Sunset

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Margaritaville Resort, Fury Booth
  • Departure Time: 4:30 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
  •  Includes: snorkeling gear, snorkeling instruction, great music, complimentary beverages
When traveling the tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Key West, you’re truly in another world. A world found nowhere else. Why not complete the experience with the relaxing rhythms of popular reggae music? It surely sets the mood for some fantastic snorkeling adventures.

Expand To See More

Once you’ve reached your snorkeling destination along the only living coral reef in North America, you will receive all the state-of-the-art snorkel gear you need. You’ll then also receive a quick lesson in how all this gear works and some tips on how to make the most out of your time in the water.

Descend the “stairway into the sea” and meet unique marine life up close and personal. Just remember: don’t touch! Some of the reef wildlife here can be seen nowhere else making this a fun and unique experience.

Back aboard your luxury catamaran, you’ll be able to take off your gear and relax in style as your captain heads out to find the premier spot to enjoy a Key West sunset. As you do, partake in a cold beer, chilled wine or champagne, or even a signature, tropical beverage… rum punch.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4 Key West 3-Hour Snorkeling Adventure

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Margaritaville Resort, Fury Booth
  • Departure Time: 9:30 AM, 1:00 PM
  • Duration: 3 hours (approx.)
  • Includes: snorkeling gear, snorkeling instruction, complimentary beverages
The Fury catamaran will be ready and waiting for you to board from their booth at the Margaritaville Resort. This catamaran has both a sun deck so you can catch a few rays while you’re headed out to the reef, or a shaded lounge if you’d rather relax out of the sun.

Expand To See More

As you travel to your snorkeling destination, your professional guide will explain all the gear to you as well as how to use it. Before descending the “stairway to the sea,” your guide will send you off with a few last-minute tips for your trip to an underwater wonderland.

When it’s time to head back to the shore, a freshwater rinse is available aboard the catamaran. Bathrooms are also available if you wish to change into fresh clothes you brought with you. For the morning tour, there will be complimentary bottles of water, sodas, beer, and wine.

However, if you choose the afternoon tour, not only might you snorkel in a different location, but you can also add a little more tropical to your adventure. This tour is called “Reef & Ritas” and you won’t want to miss sitting back with a margarita while traveling on the warm, Gulf waters.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5 Wild Dolphin Sail & Shallow-Water Snorkel

key west snorkel image

As far as the bucket list of snorkeling goes, swimming with dolphins tops the list. And a shipwreck visible from the ocean surface isn’t far behind.

On this amazing little excursion you may actually do both. While it isn’t a guarantee with weather and seasonality that you’ll be swimming among the dolphins, the shipwreck isn’t going anywhere.

Click To See More

Take a catamaran ride on the spacious and comfy Echo to the waters just off of Key West on the way to a shipwreck dive and a shallow water coral reef dive.

Echo departs from the old seaport called Key West Bight.  You will then begin the journey into clear blue waters off the Key West coast for this exciting 4-hour adventure.

Wide-body catamarans are a quick and comfortable type of sailing vessel.  And the professionally-captained Echo is a well-maintained vessel, suited to carrying passengers under sail or power.

But you won’t feel rushed to get to the dive sites on this chill boat ride as you take in the sites and search the horizon for dolphins, turtles and other sea life.

Best Snorkeling in Key West: Shipwreck Snorkel and Wild Dolphin Encounter Tour

The Wild Dolphin Sail and Shallow-Water Snorkel is also an excellent option for guests who won’t be taking part in the snorkeling, but who would rather relax with a beverage and take in the scenery while looking for dolphins and other sea life.

On the return trip you’ll be served fresh fruits, snacks and beverages.  Beer and wine is available for guests over 21 years of age.

Note: All snorkeling equipment is provided onboard Echo and is sanitized prior to use.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:

Editor's Choice - Best Snorkeling Tour in Key West


 #6 Islamorada Eco-Adventure and Snorkel Cruise Tour

florida keys snorkeling

The Eco –Adventure and Snorkel Cruise combines the ecology of the Florida Keys with the history of the Florida Keys. It is a unique water tour experience that covers some 13 miles of the Florida Keys in and around the island city of Islamorada.

Click To See More

Islamorada is situated in the upper stretch of the Keys about 80 miles from Downtown Miami and 80 miles from Key West, making it easily accessible to many travelers.

Cruising on a 30 foot Parker power boat this tour can cover more territory than sailboat-based snorkel tours.

If snorkeling the reefs is what interests you most then the tour can be tailored to hit as many of the area’s beautiful reef structures as possible.

Best Snorkeling In Islamorada: Eco-Adventure and Snorkel Cruise Tour

Other activities can be selected on the tour which include:

Features of the Eco Adventure Tour:

  • Sightseeing at Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park
  • Tarpon feeding at Robbie’s Marina
  • Tour of the Matheson House (1919-built)
  • Visit to Indian Key Historic State Park

The Coast Guard-certified captain knows the history and highlights of the region and can explain the history, as well as the natural ecology, of this unique marine destination.

Eco –Adventure and Snorkel Cruise tour gives its guests a variety of experiences from which to choose.

The boat is comfortable, speedy and spacious. There are padded seats with back rests for rougher seas and also a much-appreciated bimini shade top covering the entire center console.

So this trip is for great for snorkeling, power boat cruising, sightseeing and just plain relaxing around the islands and reefs of Islamorada, Florida.

The added bonus is the historical backdrop from which to take in the whole experience and to actually get some “local flavor”.

It’s not the typical touristy “brochure-type” tour.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:

Editor's Choice - Best Snorkeling Tour in Key West


#7 Half-Day Cruise with Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour

Key West Snorkeling: Half-Day Cruise with Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour

If kayaking and snorkeling are on your list of preferred water activities in the Florida Keys, then the Half-Day Cruise with Kayaking and Snorkeling is a good opportunity to do both in one combined excursion.

The tour leaves from the Westin Marina in Key West by sailboat and takes you through the canals and waterways of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.

Click To See More

There you are free to navigate the maze of mangrove-clustered islands in a kayak and experience a variety of tropical birds, sting rays and game fish.

Occasionally small sharks are also spotted in the crystal clear waters.  After kayaking you will snorkel over a colorful, living coral reef – home to hundreds of marine species.

Tropical fish, rays, lobster and eels are commonly spotted along with predatory fish including barracudas.

The guide(s) on this tour will provide instruction for both kayaking and snorkeling. And they are well-informed about Florida Keys history and its abundance of marine wildlife.

Key West Snorkeling: Half-Day Cruise with Kayaking and Snorkeling Tour

Half Day Snorkel Tour Highlights:

  • Includes sailing, kayaking and snorkeling in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge
  • Choose from a morning or afternoon departure on a sailboat with room for up to 21 people
  • Snacks and beverages are included in the tour package  (Beer, wine, sodas and water are available)
  • All snorkeling equipment is provided and included in the tour package

Whether you’re an avid snorkeler or you enjoy kayaking – or you like both – then this half-day sailing cruise is ideal for you.  Don’t miss out on a half day of spectacular water activities in the Florida Keys.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:

Best Snorkeling Tour in Key West


Snorkeling in the Florida Keys

As many of us have found while living or vacationing in Florida, snorkeling can be a hit-or-miss proposition.

With nearly 1200 miles of coastline, Florida offers a plethora of shore types, open-water visibility conditions and sea floor compositions.  The quality of the snorkeling experience varies widely throughout the coastline of Florida.

But Key West offer a consistent and favorable snorkeling experience all yearlong with clear visibility and hundreds of colorful, and accessible, living coral reefs from which to choose.

best snorkel tours key west

Many Key West snorkeling reviews address the topics of Florida Keys snorkeling from shore and snorkeling in the Keys without a boat. Here we will open up the kimono to see all that the Keys has to offer in breathtaking snorkeling by guided tour boat.

I grew up on the West Coast of Florida and I’ve snorkeled and spearfished extensively there, as well as throughout the Florida Keys. In my experience it’s all about local knowledge and access to the best snorkel spots.

I’m talking about the kind of locations which the typical tourist will never know about nor experience.

Since we were kids the proposition of staying below the surface of the water while still breathing the surface air was simply fascinating.

For as long as we dared we could stay facedown in our neighbor’s pool and experience a whole other world – underwater – without concern for holding our breath or “running out of air”.

As we ventured into the natural world of ocean snorkeling it became a challenge of adequate water clarity and reasonably calm surface conditions.  if things were just so then an incredible array of wildlife could be experienced including fish, shellfishes, crabs, coral and marine plantlife.

Weather conditions have everything to do with underwater visibility and the overall quality of the snorkeling experience. Luckily, the snorkeling excursions listed above are based in the Florida Keys where visibility is excellent – nearly swimming pool clarity.

And sea life thrives in the year-round warm  water of the Keys.

Snorkeling Class for Beginners

The Ideal Snorkeling Experience

For those who have experienced great snorkeling they know that visibility is numero uno and what’s in the water to be seen is a close second.  Coral reefs are the most popular attraction for snorkelers.

Because they offer color, diversity and of course – fish.  Even the famed, magnificent moray eel, and its relatives, hang in and around the reef.

The ecosystem of a living, growing coral reef has fascinated the scientific and naturalist community ever since the first underwater excursions discovered reefs using diving helmets in the 1800s.

Coral Reef in Key West snorkeling

The existence of pristine blue waters and a healthy, living coral reef which is just a few feet below the water’s surface is a remarkable site.

Water depth, like visibility, plays a large role in the snorkeling experience.  If marine life is in deep water then it’s unlikely to be fully-visible using just snorkeling apparatus.

Likewise, if a man-made structure such as a ship or boat wreck is too deep to be accessed by snorkeling then it warrants looking for snorkeling sites with more shallow depths.  We’ll talk more about water depth in the “Be Safe – Know Your Limits” section below.

Ideal conditions for snorkeling exist when water clarity and reasonable water depth exist, (anywhere between about 4 feet and 25 feet) and there is interesting marine life or man-made structures to view.

Some examples of underwater features for snorkeling:

  1. Multi-colored reef structures

  2. Rocky shorelines

  3. Offshore rock formations

  4. Man-made reef structures (concrete debris etc.)

  5. Man-made wrecks (boats, ships etc)

Florida Keys Snorkeling

There are said to be some 600 species of sea life on the reefs surrounding Key West and the Florida Keys chain of islands.  It will depend on your mode of accessing the reefs as well as the seasonal weather conditions whether you experience some, or many, of the aquatic wonders of the Florida Keys.

Some reef structures may be near the shore and accessible by “walk-in snorkeling” while most of the reef structures of the Florida Keys are only accessible by boat.

The Florida Keys are a one-of-a-kind ecosystem and living coral is a fragile organism. Standing on reefs and touching coral will break it, therefore separating it from the coral farm and killing it.

Federal and Florida state regulations, as well as Monroe County statutes, are in place, and well-enforced, to protect coral reefs from damage and deterioration.  Nonetheless, water pollution, sedimentation and tourist impact have taken a toll on the coral reefs in recent past.

Spearfishing is strictly regulated because of the impact it has on living coral as well as the game fish populations of the Florida Keys.  The rules and regulations on spearfishing in the Keys can be tricky. For more information of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the regulations for spearfishing in Monroe County, Florida see the following:

http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/

http://www.fla-keys.com/pdf/Spearfishing-2014.pdf

Always be respectful of the reef system and obey these guidelines to ensure the future of the ecosystem for generations to come.

Snorkeling Safety

Being deemed a “good swimmer” is a relative matter.  And when snorkeling in open waters such as the Florida Keys you should always be respectful of the physical challenges, as well as the dangers.  Especially in wind and choppy seas the snorkeling experience can be physically demanding.

As mentioned above some underwater features will be too deep to access using just a mask, snorkel and fins rig, and are better suited to scuba diving.

It is important to know just how far you can free dive, and hold your breath safely, and as a good rule of thumb don’t push the limits until you’re comfortable with more depth and duration.

Very few snorkeling accidents are reported.  Nonetheless, it’s good practice to stay safe and be respectful of your own physical human limits.  A great day of snorkeling should not be a laborious undertaking.

And a lot of the coral reef structures of the Florida Keys can be witnessed when just floating on the surface above the reef.

Be safe and have fun in the underwater playground in Key West. If your new to snorkeling, see our beginners guide on how to snorkel and what gear you need.

Professionalism
Price / Value
Diversity
Duration

We chose Key West Dolphin Watch & Snorkel Eco Tour as oour Editor's Choice for the best snorkel tour in Key West, Florida.

User Rating: Be the first one !

Notice:

OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Richard Moore

Richard is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in the U.S.A. , Mexico and Central America. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys road touring, dual-sport and motocross riding. Richard lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
Close