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bcool Feb 25th, 2007 07:31 PM

snorkeling, Florida
My sis and I (50 - 56 y/o) and 2 nieces (15-25 y/o)hoping to come to Florida to swim and snorkle the end of April or 1st of May. We're looking for 2-3 bdroom house on the beach for appx $1000/wk. Prefer small, safe community we can walk to shops/eateries in. Don't need big city night life. Probably flying into Orlando and would like something within cpl hour drive. Guess we could fly into Altanta...would that be a logical option? Good snorkeling along the panhandle? I've read posts warning of Red Tide/Red Drift Algae - what's that? Not terms this Colorado bunch is familiar with! The girls have never snorkeled and I want to introduce them to it. Hoping for an interesting area we won't have to boat to. Any turtles around? Appreciate any help you have to offer. bcool

ajcolorado Feb 26th, 2007 08:18 AM

You might want to look at Lauderdale-By-The-Sea which on the Atlantic coast. You can fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. They have a snorkel trail. Here's a description:

"Known as the “Diving Capital of South Florida,” Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is famous for the coral reef that is only 100 yards away from the beach, attracting a flood of tourists every year. There is also a snorkel trail along an artificial reef that is 12- to 14-feet deep. The city is an ideal vacation spot, filled with motels, hotels, restaurants and a fishing pier. The city is 5 miles from four museums. It is also just up the beach from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and a short drive from John U. Lloyd Beach State Recreation Area."

You can request a free visitors guide:

AustinTraveler Feb 26th, 2007 08:28 AM

bcool, just so you know, you have two threads going and now both have answers. Just click on your name to see both of them.

I grew up in the Panhandle of Florida and that is definitely not a good place for snorkeling. No turtles either except when they're nesting and then you need to stay away from them.

The beaches in the Panhandle are the prettiest in the state though and a great place to take kids. I would just forget the snorkeling. They'll have so much fun on the beach they won't miss it.

My suggestion is to check out the Emerald Coast beaches - Grayton Beach, Seaside, etc. Pensacola Beach is also a great area but just be aware that there is a lot of construction going on from hurricane devastation two years ago.

keywester2 Dec 13th, 2007 03:10 AM

I was a charter captain for almost ten years in Key West during the 90's. Every day I would take between 40-50 people on an all day snorkeling trip on a large sailing catamaran to many of the reefs surrounding Key West. While a great deal of the coral has been damaged by storms and runoff in the last 20 years it's a wonderful place to go for open water snorkeling were you are only 4 or5 fee above the coral for the most part. While some of the coral has seen better days the sealife if abundant and varied. I have many underwater shots of large sea turtles, sharks and smaller fish from my years there. The sharks only seemed to show "uncomfortable" interest if one were spearfishing and had a bag of fish on his or her belt. I still highly rate the Key West and Islemorado (on the way down) for some of the best snorkeling in the U.S>

cd Dec 13th, 2007 05:54 AM

We took our kids and grandkids snorkleing in Destin, Florida, while the boat ride was fun, we were disappointed in the snorkleing. Like you, we wanted to introduce them to the beauty of 'under the water world' We hardly saw a thing! So, based on our experiences, I could not recommend the panhandle.

Ralphie Dec 13th, 2007 08:30 AM

JOhn Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo has good snorkeling (at least it did in the80s/early 90s )

If the tide is right you can even stand on the sea floor (but don't stand on the coral)

MiamiBeachMomma Dec 13th, 2007 08:16 PM

I would also the Florida Keys is the best place for snorkeling (fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.) Key Largo is the furtherst North - that is where John Pennekamp is - which is great for kids, 1st timers. Key West is also a great option - (much further drive South, but lots more to do, see, and eat.) Throughout the Keys you will find dive/snorkel operators that take you out and provide gear for rent.

NeoPatrick Dec 13th, 2007 08:22 PM

I realize some people get upset when this is pointed out, and yes the information now being given might come in handy in the future for other readers. But realize that this post was back in February and was about a trip to take place this past April. Giving specific advice to this poster seems a little late.

Ralphie Dec 14th, 2007 10:05 AM

Thanks for pointing it out NeoPatrick, I didn't notice the date of the original post, and I'm not upset.

But don't forget that there might be other readers planning a snorkeling trip who might benefit from the advice, even if it's outdated to the original poster.

rm_mn Dec 14th, 2007 10:58 AM

People like me that are thinking about a trip to Florida to snorkel read every post about snorkeling in case there is something I'm missing in my planning.

markrosy Dec 14th, 2007 02:15 PM

I would second the thoughts re the Panhandle - great sealife but you are not going to see it in the murky water - sailed there 4 years ago and was frustrated by the water - BTW the Tiger Sharks do not make good company either!

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