The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and also a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean. This gulf is largely surrounded by the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. It is a vast ecosystem that supports marine animals, deep-water fishes, whales, dolphins, sharks, and lots of smaller fish on which they feed. The Gulf of Mexico is the 9th largest body of water in the world. It has some 3,400 miles of shoreline and it covers 940,000 square miles.
Did you know that some of the most fascinating snorkeling sites in Florida can be found along the western coast of the state near the Gulf of Mexico? Curious snorkelers will be able to swim with manatees and spot marine life on this side of the Sunshine State. Aside from that, they can also travel back in time by hunting for prehistoric shark teeth and as well as explore underwater ruins that can date back to the late 19th century.
If you’re looking for a new destination to visit for your snorkeling adventures, you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give some of the best locations to snorkel in the Gulf of Mexico.
Crystal River Preserve
Crystal River is located in Citrus County, Florida. It is on the northeast side of Kings Bay and the Crystal River which is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. It is just about 90 minutes north of Tampa and on the west coast of Florida. It is a great spot if you’re looking for a unique snorkeling experience. When you snorkel in Crystal River, you will be able to swim with 1000-pound manatees. It’s because there are about 400 of these gentle giants in this place during winter months. In fact, Crystal River is the only place in Florida where you can swim with manatees in their natural habitat legally.
Before you go snorkeling here, tour guides will show you a video that will teach you how to behave in the water with the manatees. Some of the important rules when snorkeling in Crystal River are, do not disturb a resting manatee, do not surround manatees, do not poke or grab manatees, do not feed them, and do not trespass into a designated sanctuary. You will definitely have a great time snorkeling near manatees in this place.
Egmont Key, St. Petersburg
Egmont Key is an island located in the Tampa Bay. It transports visitors back to another era because, in just a short ferry ride, you will be able to visit this 400-acre state park in St. Petersburg. Egmont Key is home to gopher tortoise and a variety of seabirds as well. You will be able to snorkel in this secluded island and spot the sunken ruins of Fort Dade which was built in the late 19th century.
There are companies such as Island Bay Adventures and Dolphin Snorkeling Cruise which lead excursions to Egmont Key. In fact, snorkelers are likely to spot dolphins here popping up out of the water while they’re on a boat ride going to the island. If you want to see wonderful marine life and as well as history when you go snorkeling, Egmont Key in St. Petersburg is the best snorkeling spot for you.
Destin is located on Florida’s Emerald Coast. It is popular for its white beaches and emerald green waters. It is also a well-known vacation spot along the Gulf of Mexico and one of the best snorkeling destinations there. It originated as a small fishing village but it is now a popular tourist destination. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, more than 80 percent of the Emerald Coast’s 4.5 million visitors each year go to Destin. It is considered as the Luckiest Fishing Village and it claims to have the largest fishing vessel fleet in the state of Florida.
When you go snorkeling in Destin, you will be able to get a glimpse of the marine life which includes fish, nurse sharks, rays, and sea turtles. If you’re looking for a popular place along the Gulf of Mexico to snorkel in, Destin is a great choice for you.
Venice in Florida is located along the Gulf Coast which is just south of Sarasota. It is nicknamed the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World” because you can visit this place to hunt for fossilized shark teeth. There’s actually no scuba certification needed to be able to start hunting for shark teeth. All you need is to wear your snorkeling mask and fins and swim close to the shoreline while keeping an eye out for some prehistoric shark teeth. Aside from snorkeling, you can also bring a kitchen sifter here and find some shark teeth in the sand to bring home as souvenirs. If you like discovering things underwater when you go snorkeling, Venice, Florida is the best place you should check out along the Gulf of Mexico.
These are some of the best locations to snorkel in the Gulf of Mexico. All of them looks wonderful and you will definitely have a great time admiring the underwater world in these places. If you are heading to Florida soon, you can also check out our post on The Best Snorkeling Spots in Florida for options.