One of the many benefits of owning a boat is the adventure that awaits underneath the surface. Snorkeling is a great way to explore the depths of the sea without requiring much equipment or skill and is a safer alternative to scuba diving. With over 95 thousand miles of coastline and three different oceans surrounding the USA, there is no shortage of exploration space. Become one with nature as you dive into a whole new ecosphere with schools of vibrant fish, coasting sea turtles, lively reefs, and so much more. Here are our top 5 snorkeling destinations in the USA.
The Dry Tortugas National Park — 70 miles west of Key West — is one of the most desired and remote snorkeling destinations in the world. Although named by Ponce de Leon for the abundance of sea turtles, you will likely spot a variety of other subtropical marine life including live coral, juvenile gamefish, tarpon, and more. Less than one percent of Dry Tortugas is above water, so snorkeling is the perfect activity to explore the historic shipwrecks and natural reefs that this destination is well-known for. Some of the reefs are over 12,000 years old, formed by a mixture of coral species, including two rare and endangered corals— the Elkhorn and Staghorn.
Maui is known as the #1 Hawaiian Island for snorkeling, showcasing three well-known snorkeling spots, including South Shore, Kaanapali, and the Upper West. These areas include Maui’s most popular snorkeling sites: Molokini Crater, the underwater reef, and Turtle Town, the best spot to see an abundance of sea turtles with minimal crowds. Molokini Crater, one of only three sheltered volcanic calderas in existence, located just 2.5 miles off Maui’s south shore, is unlike any other snorkeling destination featuring a crescent-shaped, partially sunk volcano islet revealing calm waters and rich aquatic life.
La Jolla is a picturesque village off the coast of San Diego and home to a protected 6000-acre marine refuge better known as La Jolla Ecological Reserve and Underwater Park. The protected waters house an incredible variety of sea creatures and provide a rare opportunity to see marine life up close, making this one of the top snorkeling destinations in the USA. La Jolla cove is one of the most popular snorkel sites due to the calmer waters, high-rise cliffs, and migratory leopard sharks that show up during the summer months. Underwater adventurers will likely see dolphins, rays, sea lions, and other marine life in and around this area. The seven La Jolla caves near La Jolla Cove are also a great place to explore and only a five to ten-minute swim from The Cove.
Known as the Bermuda of the North, Block Island sits off the coast of Rhode Island and offers 17 miles of shoreline and a national wildlife sanctuary. Surf Beach, situated on the south end of Crescent Beach, is the perfect spot for snorkeling due to the rock formations that create an ideal habitat for reef fish and other marine life; and a breakthrough that keeps strong waves from emerging. This snorkeling destination is best experienced in the summer months when waters reach around 70 degrees; otherwise, you may need a wetsuit to enter the water. Summer months also typically bring juvenile tropical fish close to shore from the warm Gulf waters.
Accessible only by water and located at the mouth of an inlet in West Palm Beach, Peanut Island makes a terrific destination for snorkeling. Not to mention, the crystal-clear blue waters are protected and accentuate an abundance of marine life. Especially along the eastern shore, where piles of rocks in breakwaters provide a structure that attracts sea life. Explore the mangrove channels, the Peanut Island snorkeling lagoon, and artificial reefs for an underwater haven of aquatic life and stunning landscapes. Common sightings around these areas include manatees, lobster, sponges, barracuda, green moray eels, and much more. The best time to snorkel is during high tide when peak visibility is available.
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