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Snorkeling In Marathon Florida in 2023: Top Spots from An Insider

snorkeling in marathon florida sea turtle

Are you planning an unforgettable underwater adventure? Snorkeling in Marathon Florida, is the perfect opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty beneath the waves. Nestled in the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon boasts vibrant coral reefs teeming with awe-inspiring aquatic life. As you embark on this exciting journey, prepare to be captivated by the dazzling display of neon-colored tropical fish and magnificent coral formations.

Are you planning your trip to the Florida Keys last minute?

If you are booking your trip to the Florida Keys last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

⭐Top Experiences and Tours in the Florida Keys:

  1. Snorkel Adventure and Sandbar (the top seller!)
  2. 1.5 Hour Waverunner Tour (Highly rated!)
  3. Sunset Cruise from Cheeca Resort (Gorgeous Photos!)
  4. Glassbottom Boat Tour (So popular!)
  5. Key West Sunset Sail & Full Bar (Live music too!)
  6. Key West Shark Adventure (For adrenaline junkies)

🛌  Top Hotels in the Florida Keys:

  1. The Capitana Key West (Key West)
  2. Tranquility Bay (Middle Keys)
  3. Bakers Cay Resort (Upper Keys)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around the Florida Keys? Click here to check rental car rates for Florida!

When you dive into the waters surrounding Marathon, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dozens of incredible reefs, just waiting to be explored. The most famous of these destinations is the 30-acre Sombrero Reef, where you’ll be amazed by the thriving marine ecosystem. Take the time to venture out to reefs such as Looe Key, Big Pine Key, and Money Key to truly experience all the underwater wonders that Marathon has to offer.

As a seasoned Florida local who’s spent countless hours exploring the underwater wonders of the Keys, I am thrilled to share my insider tips and insights on the ultimate snorkeling experience in Marathon, Florida. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro, this detailed guide covers all the bases, from the best snorkel tours to self-snorkeling adventures, and even options for those with or without a boat. So strap on your snorkel gear and let’s dive right in!

A Brief Overview of Marathon, Florida

Marathon, located in the heart of the Florida Keys, is a city you should definitely consider visiting. As part of the Middle Keys, it is situated right along the famous Overseas Highway that connects all the islands of the Florida Keys. This stretch of road is known for its scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf side, making your drive to Marathon a beautiful one.

When you arrive in Marathon, you’ll find yourself in a picturesque paradise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. The city offers an abundance of activities for you to enjoy, including some of the best snorkeling in North America.

You’ll have the opportunity to explore stunning reefs teeming with aquatic life. The area is home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef, where you can snorkel and discover the beautiful ecosystem that the Florida Keys are famous for. You might even have a chance to encounter sea turtles, colorful fish, and other incredible marine life.

In addition to the magnificent underwater world, Marathon boasts a variety of attractions that cater to every taste. You can indulge in delicious seafood at local restaurants, appreciate the beauty of nature at the Crane Point Hammock, or take a leisurely bike ride along the coastline. So, as you plan your visit to the jewel of the Atlantic Coast, make sure to set aside some time for exploring the wonders of Marathon, Florida.

Insider Tip: If you’re hankering for a truly local experience after snorkeling, head over to Keys Fisheries, a local hotspot. Their Lobster Reuben sandwich is the stuff of legends, trust me! Just remember, it’s counter service, so after ordering, keep an ear out for your name over the loudspeaker amidst the bustle. Also, time your visit to Sombrero Beach to catch one of Marathon’s unforgettable sunsets. Pack a picnic, enjoy the peaceful evening breeze, and let the vibrant colors of the sunset paint the perfect end to your day.

Snorkeling in Marathon Florida: The Top Spots

As we venture into this journey, allow me to put on my tour guide hat for a moment. You see, over the years, I’ve had the privilege of becoming quite acquainted with the waters around Marathon. And let me assure you, every corner of this underwater paradise has its own distinctive charm and personality. I’ve had the privilege of snorkeling in Marathon Florida countless times and am happy to be able to share the experience with you.

Now, I’ve poured that experience into crafting a list of the best snorkeling spots you simply can’t miss while you’re in town. For those of you seasoned snorkelers, consider this a confirmation of your favorite haunts. And to the beginners among us, welcome to an adventure that will get you hooked. Without further ado, let’s submerge ourselves into the magnificent underwater world that Marathon, Florida, has to offer.

1. Sombrero Reef

Sombrero Reef, located about 4 miles offshore, is one of the most popular spots for snorkeling in Marathon. As the third-largest barrier reef in the world, it’s home to a wide variety of fish, coral, and other sea creatures. Be on the lookout for queen conchs in this area. With its clear waters and shallow depths, Sombrero Reef is an ideal destination for snorkelers of all experience levels.

2. Looe Key

Looe Key offers another fantastic spot for your snorkeling adventure. This protected marine sanctuary boasts impressive coral formations, abundant marine life, and crystal-clear waters. You’ll find a wide variety of fish, such as parrotfish, angelfish, and surgeonfish, as well as the occasional reef shark or sea turtle.

3. Bahia Honda State Park

For snorkelers seeking both a beautiful beach and easy access to snorkel-friendly waters, Bahia Honda State Park is a perfect choice. The park’s beaches provide easy entry, and you’ll find shallow, calm waters filled with colorful fish and sea life. Here, you can explore different habitats, including seagrass beds and coral outcroppings, making it an excellent location for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike.

4. Coffins Patch

Coffins Patch, a series of patch reefs, offers a more secluded snorkeling experience. These reefs are perfect for those seeking a less crowded and more tranquil environment. The abundant marine life includes turtles, rays, and numerous schools of fish. With depths ranging from 10 to 30 feet, Coffins Patch caters to snorkelers and divers of varying skill levels.

5. Money Key

Another excellent snorkeling spot is Money Key, a small uninhabited island with shallow waters surrounding it. The area is teeming with colorful coral formations and diverse marine life, providing a vibrant underwater experience. Please be respectful of the delicate ecosystem and practice responsible snorkeling practices while exploring this unique location.

6. Boot Key

Boot Key is perfect for those seeking a lesser-known snorkeling spot. The shallow waters and seagrass beds create a home for a wide variety of marine species, including stingrays, nurse sharks, and various tropical fish. The calm waters, combined with the abundant sea life, make Boot Key a fantastic destination for both beginners and experienced snorkelers.

7. Sandbars

Marathon’s sandbars provide a one-of-a-kind snorkeling experience. These shallow, sandy areas offer snorkelers a chance to explore diverse marine life at a relaxed pace. Some of the creatures you’re likely to encounter include starfish, sea cucumbers, and several species of small fish. With easy access to the water and a serene environment, sandbars are perfect for a calm and enjoyable snorkeling experience.

Marine Life Encounter

snorkeling in marathon florida fish

When you’re snorkeling in Marathon Florida, prepare to be amazed by the colorful and diverse marine life that inhabits the area. As you dive into the crystal-clear waters, you’ll be enchanted by the stunning coral reefs, teeming with fascinating sea creatures.

Immerse yourself in the underwater world and observe a variety of fish species, including vibrant angelfish, yellowtail snapper, and the hefty grouper. Don’t be surprised if you spot a few nurse sharks or even a moray eel lurking among the coral. These unique sea dwellers are often seen gliding gracefully along the seafloor or hiding within the crevices of the reef.

You’ll also have the chance to encounter beautiful sea turtles, peacefully making their way through the water. These ancient creatures are a sight to behold, and observing them up close is truly a memorable experience. As you continue to explore, you’re likely to encounter several rays gliding effortlessly along the sandy bottom or hiding under the coral for a quick respite.

As you swim along the reef, you’ll be sure to come across a wide variety of corals, sea fans, and other aquatic plants that provide shelter and nourishment for the many sea creatures that call this marine ecosystem home. Take a moment to appreciate the delicate balance necessary for these incredible habitats to thrive.

Among the many captivating sea creatures you’ll find, be on the lookout for colorful starfish, intriguing urchins, and the delightful sea horses that often grace the waters of Marathon, Florida. These smaller sea creatures add a unique charm to the underwater landscape, and their presence can often lead to a sense of wonder and enchantment.

Overall, a snorkeling adventure in Marathon will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the intricate and diverse marine life that inhabits our ocean waters. So grab your snorkel gear and take the plunge – a world of sea creatures is waiting for you to explore.

Snorkeling Tours and Excursions

snorkeling in marathon florida

If you’re looking to explore the underwater world of Marathon, Florida, snorkeling tours and excursions are the perfect way to do it. With crystal-clear waters and an abundance of marine life, you’ll be amazed by the beauty beneath the waves.

👉The Marathon Key 3 Hour Snorkeling Adventure Tour is one the top choices for snorkeling tours in Marathon. They offer daily trips that allow you to swim alongside colorful fish, turtles, and even stingrays. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will ensure that your snorkeling experience is both safe and enjoyable.

In addition to the amazing marine life, you’ll also get to explore stunning coral reefs around Marathon. One popular spot is Sombrero Reef, which boasts a diverse range of coral formations and an impressive array of sea creatures. Many snorkel tours make stops at this iconic location.

By participating in a Marathon snorkeling tour or excursion, you’ll have an unforgettable experience exploring the vibrant underwater world of the Florida Keys. So grab your snorkel gear and get ready to dive into a world of wonder and adventure.

Here’s one of the latest reviews from a recent customer of this tour:


Highly recommend! A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Jun 2023 We had such a great time on the sunset snorkel cruise. The captain and crew were no fuss but safe. We saw lots of marine life and saw a gorgeous sunset through the clouds before docking right on time.


DIY Snorkeling Spots

If you’re looking for family-friendly spots for snorkeling in Marathon Florida that don’t require a boat, you’re in luck! There are several beaches with easy access to amazing snorkeling sites. Here are some top locations where you and your family can enjoy a day of snorkeling without needing to hop on a catamaran.

Sombrero Beach: Just two miles off Overseas Highway at mile marker 50, the beautiful white sandy public beach of Sombrero Beach is perfect for families with small kids or beginner snorkelers. The calm and shallow waters provide a comfortable environment for everyone to explore the underwater world.

Curry Hammock State Park: Less than five miles from Marathon’s town center, Curry Hammock State Park boasts accessible snorkeling adventures. The warm, shallow waters make this an especially accommodating destination for children and novice snorkelers. Curry Hammock State Park offers two excellent spots, namely Caloosa Beach and Sand Spur Beach, for great DIY snorkeling experiences.

While out exploring, keep an eye out for the starfish that often frequent the shallow areas – they’re a delightful sight to see! And if you’re visiting during the summer months, consider booking a sunset cruise to experience the beauty of Florida’s sunsets from the water.

With these fantastic snorkeling spots available, you and your family can easily enjoy the astonishing underwater scenery Marathon has to offer. Remember to respect the marine environment and follow safety precautions to ensure you have an unforgettable experience.

Boat Vs. No Boat Options

snorkeling in marathon florida with boat

When it comes to snorkeling in Marathon, Florida, you have a couple of options to consider: hopping on a boat or staying close to the shore. Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks.

Boat Snorkeling:

As someone who’s been lucky enough to always have a boat at my disposal when I’m in the Florida Keys, I can’t recommend enough the added flexibility and range it offers for snorkeling. It’s like having a VIP pass to the best underwater shows Marathon has to offer!

Boat Snorkeling is the way to go if you want to widen your horizons and immerse yourself in marine life and surreal coral formations. Top-tier boat tour operators like Captain Hook’s Marina offer impressive snorkeling charters. One of their crown jewels is a trip to Sombrero Reef, where the underwater scenery will make your jaw drop.

But wait, don’t have a boat? No worries at all! Visiting Marathon doesn’t mean you miss out on the boat-snorkeling experience. You can always rent a boat in the Florida Keys for an intimate, customized adventure at sea.

And if handling a boat sounds like too much hassle during your vacation, just hop onto one of the many snorkeling tours available.

We recommend this Marathon Snorkeling Tour if you don’t mind hopping on with others in the group.

And for those that prefer private charters, this one is a private charter from Key West (only about an hour’s drive from Marathon).

Whichever way you choose, you’re in for an unforgettable snorkeling escapade.

However, it’s important to note that boat snorkeling trips can be more expensive and may require reservations. Being in a group means sharing the boat and accommodations with strangers unless you opt for a private boat rental.

No Boat Snorkeling: If you prefer snorkeling directly from the shore, there are still great spots in Marathon to explore. One popular location is at Cannon Beach in Pennekamp State Park. Here, remnants of an early Spanish shipwreck can be found approximately 100 feet from the shore. While this may not compare to the reefs further out, it’s still a worthwhile experience and requires no boat.

Shore snorkeling is generally more budget-friendly and allows for a more flexible schedule since there’s no need to align your plans with tour times. That being said, the marine life and coral formations won’t be as extensive or diverse as those found on boat trips.

In summary, your choice between boat and no boat snorkeling in Marathon, Florida will largely depend on your preferences, budget, and time constraints. Whether you go for a boat tour or decide to snorkel from the shore, you’re sure to have an unforgettable underwater adventure.

Snorkeling Equipment and Safety Tips

snorkeling in marathon florida woman wearing water goggles underwater

Before embarking on your snorkeling adventure in Marathon, Florida, it’s crucial to ensure that you have the proper snorkeling equipment and are aware of various safety tips. This will not only make your experience more enjoyable but also keep you safe while exploring the underwater world.

Firstly, invest in quality snorkel gear, including a well-fitting mask, snorkel, and fins. A properly fitted mask will provide a comfortable seal around your face and prevent water leakage. The snorkel should have a reliable purge valve, making it easier to clear water from the tube. Comfortable fins will allow you more efficient movement in the water, enabling you to cover greater distances in less time.

As you prepare to dive in, make sure to use a dive flag to signal your presence to boats and other watercraft in the area. This is essential for your safety, particularly if you plan on snorkeling near a busy waterway. Keep an eye out for your fellow swimmers and maintain a safe distance from them to avoid collisions.

While exploring the underwater world, don’t disturb the delicate marine life. Avoid touching or standing on rock shelves or coral formations as these can be easily damaged. Underwater cameras are an excellent way to capture the beauty of the ocean without causing harm.

Keep in mind that fishing, lobsters, and some other underwater activities may be subject to local regulations and restrictions. Before participating in these activities, familiarize yourself with the applicable rules and regulations.

When it comes to safety, remember to never snorkel alone. Always bring a buddy and maintain visual contact with each other throughout your excursion. Additionally, stay within your limits and avoid venturing too far from shore or into unfamiliar waters.

Finally, although snorkeling is generally considered safe for people of all ages and fitness levels, certain health considerations should be taken into account. Those with heart or respiratory conditions, or a limited ability to swim, may want to consult a doctor before participating in snorkeling or scuba diving.

By following these tips and using the appropriate equipment, you’ll be well-prepared to safely and confidently enjoy your snorkeling experience in Marathon, Florida.

Weather and Best Season for Snorkeling

marathon florida weather for snorkeling

As a snorkeling enthusiast, you’ll love exploring the underwater world in Marathon, Florida. The best time to snorkel in this area is during late spring and early summer months. During this period, the water is usually very clear, making it perfect for observing the diverse marine life. Additionally, the days tend to be warm and sunny, ensuring an enjoyable experience for you.

Located around Mile Marker 53, Marathon offers a wide range of snorkeling spots along the Florida Keys. The sea temperature here averages 74°F (with a minimum of 72°F and a maximum of 77°F) that’s suitable for snorkeling without feeling too cold. Keep in mind that during the winter months, the sea temperatures can drop to around 24-20°C/75-67°F. In such cases, you might want to wear a wetsuit to stay comfortable.

From November to March, which is the peak season, it’s worth noting that some areas restrict public access to the beaches to protect turtles and their eggs. However, you can still find many other spots for snorkeling and enjoying the crystal clear waters in Marathon.

When planning your Marathon snorkeling adventures, be prepared for occasional weather changes. Pack light layers for clothing and always check the weather forecast before heading out. This way, you’ll make the most out of your snorkeling trip and create unforgettable memories in Marathon, Florida.

Planning Your Snorkeling Adventure

When planning your snorkeling adventure in Marathon, Florida, it’s essential to consider various factors to make the most of your experience. Located in the heart of Florida Keys, Marathon is known for its abundant marine life, stunning reefs, and crystal-clear waters, making it a prime location for snorkeling enthusiasts.

To begin your snorkeling journey, you may want to explore nearby areas, such as Big Pine Key, which is just a short drive from Marathon. This area also boasts fantastic snorkeling spots and offers a variety of fish species, coral formations, and canyons for you to discover.

Researching reviews of different snorkeling tours in the area is essential in selecting the right experience for you. These options create a magical and unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

Before booking your tour, be sure to inquire about their cancellation policy and any possible weather-related issues. It’s crucial to have flexibility in case of unforeseen circumstances, as safety should always be a priority.

When snorkeling in Marathon, you’ll have the opportunity to observe a wide variety of fish species in both shallow and deeper waters. The shallow-water snorkeling options are perfect for beginners, whereas the more experienced snorkeler can explore deeper canyons in the reefs.

Now that you have an idea of what to expect when planning your snorkeling adventure in Marathon, Florida, it’s time to start researching and booking the perfect tour that caters to your desires. Enjoy the beauty and splendor of Marathon’s underwater world, making memories that will last a lifetime.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year to snorkel in Marathon?

The best time to snorkel in Marathon, Florida, is from April to October. During this period, the water temperature is typically warmer, and visibility tends to be better. However, keep in mind that weather conditions can change, so it is always good to check local forecasts before heading out.

Are there any snorkeling tour companies recommended in Marathon?

Yes, there are several highly-rated snorkeling tour companies in Marathon. For example, Saltwater Seafari offers Looe Key Reef snorkeling tours, snorkeling charters, and Big Pine Key snorkeling trips. Another option is Spirit Snorkeling, which has received great reviews for their trips and customer service.

Can you suggest some good snorkeling spots in Marathon besides Sombrero Reef?

In addition to Sombrero Reef, some other snorkeling spots near Marathon include Tarpon Belly Key, Marvin Key, Snipe Point, Sawyer Key, and Newfound Harbor. Each of these locations offers unique underwater experiences and a variety of marine life to observe.

What marine life can I expect to see while snorkeling near Marathon?

While snorkeling near Marathon, you can expect to see a diverse array of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, stingrays, eels, and various species of coral. Some lucky snorkelers might even spot dolphins, sharks, or eagle rays.

Are there any safety precautions to take while snorkeling in Marathon Florida?

Yes, some safety precautions to keep in mind while snorkeling in Marathon, Florida, include:

  • Always snorkel with a buddy or join a guided tour group
  • Wear appropriate gear, such as reef-safe sunscreen, a life jacket or flotation device, and snorkeling equipment that fits well
  • Be respectful of marine life by not touching or disturbing them
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid venturing too far from your group or the shoreline
  • Pay attention to local weather and ocean conditions before heading out

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable snorkeling experience in Marathon, Florida.

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