Snorkeling Along the East Coast

The East Coast is the seaboard where the Eastern United States meets the North Atlantic Ocean. It is also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, or the Atlantic Seaboard. There are 14 states that have a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean which are Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, North and South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Some of these states have a temperate climate, with long, hot summers and mild winters, making them wonderful summer destinations. 

There are many things you can do along the East Coast and one of those is snorkeling. It’s because there are many wonderful snorkeling destinations you can visit here. Here are some of the best snorkeling destinations along the East Coast.

1. Key West

a beautiful view of Key West, Florida

Key West is one of the best snorkeling destinations in Florida. This place is filled with lots of loggerhead sea turtles, stingrays, and manatees. It also features a varied ecosystem which makes it easy to combine a snorkeling vacation with other adventures. You can ride a boat here to sail out to the coral reef and look for wild dolphins along the way. You can also take a trip through the mangroves before dipping into the water with your mask and snorkel. 

2. Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island in North Carolina is a great place to have your snorkeling vacation because it features calm and shallow waters. It means that you will be able to take your kids here with you because they can snorkel here safely. This island has a sandy bottom which is home for lots of fish. Aside from that, you can also swim to the shipwrecks here that dot the Outer Banks. If you want to more fun to your snorkeling adventure, you can also add clamming and exploring via a family-friendly tour that will take you to the best spots to snorkel and swim on the island. 

3. Block Island

Block Island is located in Rhode Island. It features crystal clear waters, rough, craggy cliffs, and lush greenery. It is a surprising snorkeling destination with its 17 miles of shoreline and a national wildlife refuge. This island is surrounded by reefs that you will surely enjoy when you go snorkeling. However, the water temperatures here can be chilly and it can go around 70 degrees in the height of summer. 

4. Panama City Beach

a wonderful view of Panama City Beach


Panama City Beach is an uninhabited island in Florida. One of the islands that has the best snorkeling spots here is Shell Island. You can take a shuttle going to this island and enjoy there a day of sun and snorkeling. You can hunt for seashells and watch hermit crabs on the sandy bottom. Aside from that, you can also watch for the dolphins that play in the shallow coastal water. Snorkeling here will also give you the chance to snorkel alongside Florida’s wild dolphins. 

5. Ocean Beach Park

Ocean Beach Park is located in New London, Connecticut. When you go snorkeling here, you will be able to witness beautiful and mysterious sea life such as sea urchins, sea bass, small crabs, and wonderful corals. This place is indeed exciting for snorkeling adventures, however, it can be pretty chilly as well. Therefore, if you plan to visit this place to snorkel, make sure that you have your wetsuit ready to battle the immense cold.

6. Marathon Island

This island is one of the islands in the Florida Keys. From this island, you can go snorkeling in Sombrero Reef which is the third largest barrier reef in the world with a 30-acre coral reef that ranges in depth from 2 to 30 feet. But if you will be going to this island on rough weather days, it is better to visit Private’s Cove which has shallower water. When you go snorkeling on this island, you will be able to see fish, lobsters, sea horses, and lots of plant life. 

7. Virginia Beach

the shore of Virginia Beach


A lot of people might think that Mid-Atlantic states are not a good spot for snorkeling, but once you visit Virginia Beach, it will prove you wrong. You can find Lynnhaven Dive Center in Virginia Beach is a perfect spot for beginners and as well as experienced snorkelers. It is a great place to see beautiful and unique sea fish and sea urchins. So, the next time you visit Virginia, try to do some snorkeling sessions on Virginia Beach because you will surely enjoy here. 

8. Peanut Island

Peanut Island is located in Florida and it is one of the best spots for snorkeling in the United States. It can be found along the Intracoastal Waterway and definitely a great spot that snorkelers will love. This place is open to snorkelers for the whole year. You will be able to explore here the beautiful underwater wildlife of the region. You’ll see here rays, octopuses, squids, and beautifully colored tropical fish. 

9. Key Largo

Key Largo, Florida at sundown


Key Largo is also located in Florida and it is quite popular for its incredible snorkeling options. One of the best places to snorkel in Key Largo is in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It’s because this park houses the only living coral reef in the United States. Throughout the year, the water here is clear and it is a perfect spot for any adventurer who is looking to try something unconventional. 

10. Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key is another snorkeling destination in Florida. It features perfectly blue waves that lap the coral and artificial reefs that surround it. There a 120-foot cargo freighter that was scuttled here in 1998 to create a home for schools of tropical fish. To get to the best snorkeling destinations in Big Pine Key, you need to ride a boat from the coast. When you join a tour to one of the reefs, you will be able to get the chance to see mangrove forests along the way as well. 

These are some of the best beaches you can visit if you plan to go snorkeling along the East Coast. Well, it’s true that California and Hawaii often take credit for the best beaches to snorkel in, but there are also great beaches and snorkeling destinations along the Atlantic Ocean. So, which of these snorkeling spots along the East Coast would you like to visit soon? If you are looking for more snorkeling destinations to visit, you can also check out our post on the Best Locations to Snorkel in the Gulf of Mexico for more options.