Clearwater might not be the first place you think of when it comes to the best snorkeling in Florida.
But with its powdery white sand, crystal clear water and wide variety of exciting sea life, it’s definitely a snorkel spot worth exploring.
Here are the best spots for snorkeling in clearwater.
Best Snorkeling In Clearwater Florida
Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island plays host to a wide range of fun activities, but if snorkeling is your main interest then you should to head to Honeymoon Island Beach.
Honeymoon Island Beach is located towards the north of the island, which is where the reef is located, and provides probably the best snorkeling Clearwater has to offer.
A lot of the reef is within shallow waters. Waters which are beautifully warm and clear for much of the year, and teeming with a variety of fish both large and small.
There’s also every amenity you could want in order to spend an entire day here exploring the area including;
- picnic area with tables and grills
- restrooms & shower facilities
- kayak and bike rental
- The entre fee is $8 per vehicle
The neighboring Caladesi Island State Park, (which used to adjoin Honeymoon island until separated by a Hurricane), can also be snorkeled. It is however less impressive in terms of the amount of marine life to be seen.
Egmont Key, a small island only accessible by boat, has possibly the best snorkeling that the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area has to offer.
There are multiple tour operators to choose from that sail to the island regularly, each offering an exciting day of snorkeling and island exploration.
On the boat ride to the island you’re likely to see dolphins, manatees and rays. Then whilst snorkeling Egmont key you’ll get to see the amazing sunken ruins of Fort Dade, as well as the masses of tropical fish that reside amongst them.
Sand Key Park
Sand Key Park receives over 1 million visitors per year.
Avid beach goers and snorkelers from all over come to explore Sand Key for its 95 acres of beautiful nature trails, beaches and parks.
The park is a popular location for snorkelers due to the abundant sea life, especially swimming among the artificial reef located off-shore.
The reef is 150 yards from the shoreline and is easily findable thanks to the buoys marking it’s location. Obviously due to its distance from the beach you need to be confident in your ability to swim that far (make sure you have some decent fins!). Paddling there via kayak is also another option however.
Whilst you’re snorkeling Sand Key Park you’ll see a variety of tropical fish, and if you’re lucky you can also spot dolphins swimming in the distance.
The park is open from 7am until sunset each day, is free to visit and has a wide range of amenities and activities to keep you busy for the whole day.
Amenities include: showers, restrooms, lifeguards, loungers and umbrella’s available for rent, playgrounds, dog park,
Activities include: surfing, bird watching, picnicking, kayaking, scuba diving, hiking and snorkeling.
Clearwater beach is a vacation hotspot thanks to its powdery white sand, clear warm waters and family friendly atmosphere.
As one of the most popular beaches in Florida you can expect to have a fun day out with the whole family, with plenty to see and do.
However.. the snorkeling directly from clearwater beach doesn’t offer much to see at all.
For that you really need to head to the sites previously mentioned in this article (Egmont, sand key or Honeymoon Island).
Clearwater beach does on the other hand offer you the opportunity to join a snorkeling tour (of which there are many to choose from) to be able to explore all the best nearby sites the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.
When Is The Best Time To Snorkel In Clearwater?
Tampa, aka the ‘sunshine city‘ averages around 361 days of sunshine per year so is a great spot to visit year round. But the warmer sea temperatures in the Spring to summer months of April to September provide the very best ocean conditions.
It’s also worth mentioning that Crystal River, one of Florida’s best snorkel spots is only a 90 minute drive north from Clearwater beach, and offers the opportunity to be able to swim up close with manatees!