23 awesome snorkel spots within driving distance of Orlando

Snorkeling is essentially scuba diving, but without the expensive certification course and threat of an embolism. Basically, anyone can do it and Orlando is centrally located between some of Florida's best spots. What we have here are a few of our favorite places to splash around that aren't too far from Orlando. We also listed a few great snorkel spots that are definitely a haul, but well worth the drive if you've got a long weekend.

Captions by Rachel Stuart

 

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Alexander Springs
49525 County Road 445, Altoona, FL 32702
Drive time: 1 hr 6 min
Grab your snorkeling gear and plan a trip to Alexander Springs any time year-round. The turquoise waters also welcome swimming, scuba diving and canoeing, so you may have to compete for a spot in the 72-degree water. 
Photo via raisingfloridaboys/Instagram
Alexander Springs
49525 County Road 445, Altoona, FL 32702
Drive time: 1 hr 6 min
Grab your snorkeling gear and plan a trip to Alexander Springs any time year-round. The turquoise waters also welcome swimming, scuba diving and canoeing, so you may have to compete for a spot in the 72-degree water.

Photo via raisingfloridaboys/Instagram
Fort Pickens Jetties
Pensacola, FL
Drive time: 6 hr 23 min 
Interested in snorkeling among pinfish, pipefish, seahorses and other species? Gulf Islands welcomes snorkelers who are looking for historic sites to explore, including the 1906 wreck of the tugboat Sport and the USS Massachusetts. The jetties at the northwest corner of the Fort Pickens seawall is also a popular site to snorkel, where depths can drop to nearly 50 feet.  
Photo via wandering_wallaby/Instagram
Fort Pickens Jetties
Pensacola, FL
Drive time: 6 hr 23 min
Interested in snorkeling among pinfish, pipefish, seahorses and other species? Gulf Islands welcomes snorkelers who are looking for historic sites to explore, including the 1906 wreck of the tugboat Sport and the USS Massachusetts. The jetties at the northwest corner of the Fort Pickens seawall is also a popular site to snorkel, where depths can drop to nearly 50 feet.

Photo via wandering_wallaby/Instagram
Blue Heron Bridge
900 Blue Heron Blvd. East, Riviera Beach, FL 33404
Drive time: 2 hr 31 min
To observe the array of fish at the Blue Heron Bridge, snorkelers are welcome to rent equipment, including masks, fins, snorkels and mesh bags, for up to two days for $20. Surface swimming is allowed with snorkels in the guarded swim area of Phil Foster Park, as long as no other regulators are used for breathing. There are also guided snorkel tours from local experts to provide information while you enjoy your marine adventure. 
Photo via idiaz7/Instagram
Blue Heron Bridge
900 Blue Heron Blvd. East, Riviera Beach, FL 33404
Drive time: 2 hr 31 min
To observe the array of fish at the Blue Heron Bridge, snorkelers are welcome to rent equipment, including masks, fins, snorkels and mesh bags, for up to two days for $20. Surface swimming is allowed with snorkels in the guarded swim area of Phil Foster Park, as long as no other regulators are used for breathing. There are also guided snorkel tours from local experts to provide information while you enjoy your marine adventure.

Photo via idiaz7/Instagram
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
Drive time: 4 hr 50 min 
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States, covering about 70 square miles. Bring a group of friends and go on a two-and-a-half hour snorkeling tour for about $30 each, or about $25 for those under 18. The state park also started a new private snorkeling charter at its Club Snorkel division, which allows for a personal and relaxed snorkeling experience.   
Photo via freedivingfanatic/Instagram
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL 33037
Drive time: 4 hr 50 min
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the first undersea park in the United States, covering about 70 square miles. Bring a group of friends and go on a two-and-a-half hour snorkeling tour for about $30 each, or about $25 for those under 18. The state park also started a new private snorkeling charter at its Club Snorkel division, which allows for a personal and relaxed snorkeling experience.

Photo via freedivingfanatic/Instagram
Rainbow Springs
19158 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Drive time: 1 hr 46 min 
While snorkeling in Rainbow Springs is only allowed in the buoyed swimming area, snorkelers can venture out from the campground or from boats once outside of the headsprings. This spring has been used for nearly 10,000 years, and it is known to be Florida’s fourth largest spring. 
Photo via loganfazio/Instagram
Rainbow Springs
19158 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432
Drive time: 1 hr 46 min
While snorkeling in Rainbow Springs is only allowed in the buoyed swimming area, snorkelers can venture out from the campground or from boats once outside of the headsprings. This spring has been used for nearly 10,000 years, and it is known to be Florida’s fourth largest spring.

Photo via loganfazio/Instagram
Silver Glen Springs
5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Drive time: 1 hr 19 min 
The springs of Silver Glen lie along the edge of the Big Scrub of the Ocala National Forest. Although scuba diving is not permitted, snorkelers can take a trip to the springs and enjoy the cultural heritage of the area. And if the sun is shining, be sure to take a look at the bottom of the spring basin as rainbows spread across the floor. 
Photo via j_macalua/Instagram
Silver Glen Springs
5271 FL-19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Drive time: 1 hr 19 min
The springs of Silver Glen lie along the edge of the Big Scrub of the Ocala National Forest. Although scuba diving is not permitted, snorkelers can take a trip to the springs and enjoy the cultural heritage of the area. And if the sun is shining, be sure to take a look at the bottom of the spring basin as rainbows spread across the floor.

Photo via j_macalua/Instagram
Blue Spring
2100 W. French Ave., Orange City, FL 32763
Drive time: 48 min 
Blue Spring’s crystal clear spring run is open for snorkelers to wander. Although it is prohibited to snorkel with the manatees, this designated Manatee Refuge allows snorkelers to explore the 72-degree waters during all seasons excluding winter, as the spring provides a safe refuge for manatees during this time. 
Photo via pattymilian002/Instagram
Blue Spring
2100 W. French Ave., Orange City, FL 32763
Drive time: 48 min
Blue Spring’s crystal clear spring run is open for snorkelers to wander. Although it is prohibited to snorkel with the manatees, this designated Manatee Refuge allows snorkelers to explore the 72-degree waters during all seasons excluding winter, as the spring provides a safe refuge for manatees during this time.

Photo via pattymilian002/Instagram
Salt Springs
13851 N. Hwy 19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Drive time: 1 hr 28 min 
Salt Springs is home to an abundance of marine life and aquatic vegetation, so snorkelers are sure to come across some unique habitats. Snorkelers can see striped bass, mullet and small fry, along with needle fish and blue crabs. The 72-degree waters pump approximately 53 million gallons of water per day. 
Photo via carryonsteven/Instagram
Salt Springs
13851 N. Hwy 19, Salt Springs, FL 32134
Drive time: 1 hr 28 min
Salt Springs is home to an abundance of marine life and aquatic vegetation, so snorkelers are sure to come across some unique habitats. Snorkelers can see striped bass, mullet and small fry, along with needle fish and blue crabs. The 72-degree waters pump approximately 53 million gallons of water per day.

Photo via carryonsteven/Instagram
Point-of-Rocks
Siesta Key, FL
Drive time: 2 hr 27 min
Located at the southern end of Crescent Beach, Point-of-Rocks begins on the beach and extends out into the water for nearly 300 feet. While the rocks serve as home to fish and other marine life, snorkelers are able to view the habitats in the water that is generally less than 5 feet deep. And although the low tide may not allow for much exploring of the waters, the natural outcropping of flat, smooth beach rock is enough to take your breath away. 
Photo via carliemariebeal/Instagram
Point-of-Rocks
Siesta Key, FL
Drive time: 2 hr 27 min
Located at the southern end of Crescent Beach, Point-of-Rocks begins on the beach and extends out into the water for nearly 300 feet. While the rocks serve as home to fish and other marine life, snorkelers are able to view the habitats in the water that is generally less than 5 feet deep. And although the low tide may not allow for much exploring of the waters, the natural outcropping of flat, smooth beach rock is enough to take your breath away.

Photo via carliemariebeal/Instagram
Wekiwa Springs
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712
Drive time: 29 min 
The clear waters of Wekiwa Springs State Park are open from 8 a.m. for swimmers and snorkelers to roam. Snorkelers are welcome to explore the cool, 72-degree water of the state park, but make sure to note that snorkeling is not permitted in Wekiwa Springs Run, Rock Springs Run or the Wekiva River.
Photo via colefactory/Instagram
Wekiwa Springs
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, FL 32712
Drive time: 29 min
The clear waters of Wekiwa Springs State Park are open from 8 a.m. for swimmers and snorkelers to roam. Snorkelers are welcome to explore the cool, 72-degree water of the state park, but make sure to note that snorkeling is not permitted in Wekiwa Springs Run, Rock Springs Run or the Wekiva River.

Photo via colefactory/Instagram