Florida Best Beaches Guide to Scuba, Snorkel and Surf

Fun far from the shore

While powdery white sands and blowing palm trees make the Florida shores postcard-perfect, not everyone comes to the beach for the sand. With so much under the waves to offer, we couldn't stop at 10 - we'll give you a dozen top beaches for those who love to venture past the shore.

Best Beaches to Scuba and Snorkel

Some of the Florida's best scenery lies under its emerald waters. Reefs, rainbow-colored fish, shipwrecks and even submerged art provide scuba divers and snorkelers some of the most sensational diving in the country. Our recommendations for the best scuba and snorkel beaches are:

  1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef: The first underwater park in America, this park has shallow-water reefs, submerged art and more than 50 varieties of coral.
  2. Looe Key: Described as "unsurpassed" by Skin Diver Magazine, its abundant coral, unique shape and varied depths have earned Looe Key top honors.
  3. Bahia Honda: The Bahia Honda Channel creates ideal diving conditions close to one of the best wedding destination beaches in the state.
  4. Panama City Beach: Panama City does nothing in half measures - even the underwater life is big. Don't be surprised to see dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays on your dive.
  5. Fort Lauderdale: Divers of all abilities will enjoy exploring the unique three-tiered natural reef, parts of which can be reached simply by walking into the ocean.
  6. Egmont Key: Accessible only by boat, this barrier island has intriguing snorkeling, especially near the fort.
  7. Hutchison Beach: Shipwrecks and artificial reefs will keep both novice and advanced divers enthralled.
  8. Fort Walton: Sea life close to shore and ultra-clear waters make Fort Walton an ideal site to explore Florida's underwater world.
  9. St. Andrew's: This state recreation area has more than 50 reef sites both fish and divers adore.

Best Beaches to Surf

California and Hawaii aren't the only states with swells made for riding. Despite the calm waters that provide clear views scuba divers and snorkelers crave, the following beaches definitely make some waves:

  1. New Smyrna: With little undertow and great break waves, this beach has some of Florida's top surfing. If the waters are too calm, Walt Disney World is less than an hour's drive away.
  2. Sebastian Inlet: With the best surfing on the East Coast and unspoiled mangrove-lined rivers nearby, this state park has much to offer.
  3. Shell Island: This barrier island is a remote destination for those who like to catch the waves while avoiding the crowds.
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Florida Beaches Guide