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Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

Kansas City
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Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

We are planning a vacation to Florida but the kids want the best snorkeling. We do not want to travel to the Keys. Any suggestions.

Thanks

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Florida
Florida
United States
69 replies to this topic
Hernando, Florida
Destination Expert
for Destin
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1. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

FL is a pretty big state. There are good places to snorkel in Destin. Look at the top questions on the top right of the page.

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Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Florida
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2. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

St Andrews in Panama City and Destin both have Jetties that are pretty popular for locals to go to. You can get on a boat in Destin that will take you out or the Panama City one rents gear right at the park for pretty cheap. Navarre, a little to the West is in the process of building a snorkel park, but I'm not sure how far a long it will be by the time you come.

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Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Navarre
Navarre
Florida Panhandle, FL
Santa Rosa Beach...
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3. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

I guess I am the "snorkeling expert" on this board. The best snorkeling on the Gulf side of Florida is probably in the Panhandle at the Panama City (St. Andrew) and Destin jetties. While these are certainly not coral reef environments, there are many, many fish and the typical visibility is a somewhat greenish 20 ft. There are also a lot of crabs and hermit crabs that kids will enjoy observing. There is one spot at the Destin "finger" jetty that is perfect for kids, although it is a small area and can get crowded in the summer. Farther south on the Gulf coast in FL, the water is too murky near shore for any decent snorkeling. I have also had a great time renting a pontoon boat in Panama City Beach and snorkeling the sea grass beds behind Shell Island. There aren't as many fish as the jetties, but it is extremely easy snorkeling in shallow water and you never know what you might find. There are usually stingrays there.

Here are some pictures I have taken snorkeling around Destin and Panama City (note that conditions are not always as good as these photos show). You will have to copy and paste this link because for some strange reason a direct link doesn't work in TripAdvisor:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/31486092@N05/sets/72157623233580500/

By the way, contrary to what you might think, the snorkeling is not that good in the keys unless you take a boat trip to the reefs 7 miles offshore. The best snorkeling right off the beach in FL is around Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton.

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Florida
Florida
United States
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach
Florida Panhandle, FL
Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Shell Island
Shell Island
1,737 Reviews
Panama City Beach, FL
Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale
Broward County, FL
Kansas City...
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4. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

How's the water temp in mid to late March? We are heading to Destin with another family March 19. Can't wait.

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Destin
Destin
Florida Panhandle, FL
Santa Rosa Beach...
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5. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

It will be chilly - in the 60s. The water is just starting to warm up in late March. For snorkeling, you would need a wetsuit.

Edited: 2:13 pm, February 15, 2012
Kansas City...
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6. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

That is what I figured you'd say. I'm the only one with a wetsuit so we'll probably stick with the pool this time.

oklahoma
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7. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

To: Hawkfish Thank you so much! We are coming from Oklahoma and this is exactly what I was looking for. This was very important to our trip planning.

Edited: 4:54 pm, March 03, 2013
Santa Fe, Texas
1 post
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8. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

What is the best time of the year to go to Panama City to snorkel, best visibility, and best locations

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Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach
Florida Panhandle, FL
UK
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9. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

The panhandle to PCB are really north Florida temp wise, so I would not rec swiming in theopen ocean before May w/o a wet suit of some sort really.

In general, you need reefs for snorkling and West coast FL doesn't have them. The only reefs are in the keys and Palm beach county.

So, if you want to snorkle off jetties and piers, do look at time of year/water temps and I don't rec doing it anywhere people might be fishing (as that attracts preditors).

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Florida
Florida
United States
covington,la
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10. Re: Best place to snorkel on gulf side of FL other than the Keys

can I tell you manatee story again?

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