Biscayne National Park | DIVING AND SNORKELING

Reefs in the Atlantic Ocean east of Biscayne National Park's Adams Key

Reefs in the Atlantic Ocean east of Biscayne National Park’s Adams Key

With over 170,000 acres of ocean at Biscayne National Park, there is no shortage of places to go diving and snorkeling. Reefs, mangrove roots, and shipwrecks can all be found in the park, and the most popular spots have mooring buoys to secure your boat, as you cannot drop anchor onto the reefs. The free park brochure that is available in the Dante Fascell Visitor Center shows the general locations of the reefs and wrecks, but you will need National Ocean Survey Chart 11451 for actual navigation. This chart is on sale at the Visitor Center or at any marina or bait store. You can also pick up a Mooring Buoy Location flyer at the Visitor Center that gives latitude and longitude coordinates that you can put into your GPS.

The only problem facing the typical tourist is finding a way out on the ocean. Luckily a nonprofit organization called Biscayne National Park Institute now conducts daily excursions for sightseeing, snorkeling, and paddling. There are also other authorized concessionaires that provide ocean-based activities for visitors. Keep in mind that only authorized concessionaires can bring paying passengers into the park. You can, however, rent a boat from anyone if you plan to operate it yourself. For a list of authorized concessionaires, see the Guided Tours and Excursions web page here on National Park Planner.

Snorkeling at the Mandalay ship wreck in Biscayne National Park

Snorkeling at the Mandalay ship wreck in Biscayne National Park

The only word of advice I have is about snorkeling, as I did not do any diving in the park. If you or your children do not know how to use a snorkel, the open ocean is not the place to learn. I think my seven-year-old daughter swallowed half the Atlantic on her first snorkel breath. However, with her life jacket on she was perfectly happy sticking her masked face into the water and looking at the fish down below. Most people on group snorkeling trips don’t know how to snorkel anyway, so she saw what everyone else did. I think I was the only one who knew how to dive to the bottom and blow the water out of the snorkel upon surfacing, a skill I learned at my semester-long diving course at the University of Georgia.

For those visiting Boca Chita Key or Elliott Key and who want to snorkel, don’t discount the mangrove root system. A lot of fish like to live in there. I found a nice video of a guy snorkeling around the mangrove roots.


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Last updated on November 1, 2023
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