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Snorkeling in the Keys, Sanibel, and Captiva

Discussion in 'Florida' started by Justinfv41, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. Justinfv41

    Justinfv41 Registered

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Scituate, Massachusetts
    Hey everybody, me and the family are heading to Captiva this week for vacation. While we're down there, I want to do some snorkeling and maybe some spearfishing. We are thinking of driving to the Keys for a day, maybe Key Largo, or one of the closer ones. Do you know of any places in the Keys, or in Sanibel and Captiva where I can do some snorkeling/spearfishing?
    Thanks guys.
  2. lmorin

    lmorin Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Hampshire
    Don't know anything about Sanibel and Captiva, as far as snorkeling goes. However, there are ample opportunities in the Upper Keys to snorkel in the Marine Park. Look up Pennekamp State Park as a start. Spearfishing will not be allowed in the parks. You'd have to find a dive op that goes to non-park destinations. Just be aware that a trip from Sanibel to Key Largo is going to be at least 3 3/4 hr each way. Not an easy day trip.
  3. Jupiter31

    Jupiter31 Contributor

    Bear in mind that any decent snorkeling in the Keys requires a boat ride - the reefs are about 6 miles offshore - the near shore snorkeling is poor, and you will not be close to any of the reefs.

    The gulf is not know for good snorkeling, however some operators there do specialize in spearfishing trips vs the Keys, where you need to be outside of the marine park (Pennecamp) to do so.

    Especially in the gulf, you need to be on SCUBA in all likelihood to spearfish.

    Someone who lives there can perhaps provide you with names of operators in the area you are visiting in the gulf - try Conch Republic for info in the Keys on spearfishing charters - sometimes they are offered, but not on a regular basis, and never in the park.
  4. Froid

    Froid Contributor


    Definitely go to Key Largo for snorkeling. Our family has had a place on Sanibel for years, we all go to Key Largo for diving and snorkeling. You will can't compare the snorkeling in Sanibel to the Keys. The keys are far far better.

    If you want to snorkel in Sanibel, go to Cayo Costa. The water is clearer than Sanibel or Captiva. It really depends on the water. It can be clear if the waves are down.
  5. tstormdiver

    tstormdiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Kentucky
    I've snorkeled some off the beaches of Captiva (gulf side). It's great if you're looking at collecting undamaged shells, not for much else though. I found most of the best ones in 6-8ft of water. Be mindful not to take any "live shells". If the shell is uninhabited then it is fair game. Captiva & Sanibel are the shell collecting capitols of the US. It has been several years, but I remember the vis was only about 20ft atthat time. The only warning I would give is to be very careful towards the north end of Captiva; between Captiva & North Captiva Islands. There is a channel with a very deep hole in it. This channel was created during a hurricane some years ago. During tide changes, the current going through the channel can be VERY strong. Also be aware when wading into the water to do the "Sanibel shuffle" with your feet to scare off any stingrays & minimize the chance of being hurt by them.
  6. Justinfv41

    Justinfv41 Registered

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Scituate, Massachusetts
    Thanks guys, I think we'll try to check out that state park, the prices were pretty cheap. I remember going to a beach in Sanibel about 6 years ago though, and I saw alot of fish swimming around, I think they were snook, and another beach with a long jetty, where we found alot of shells underwater. Do you know what beaches those were?
  7. ScubaJoy65

    ScubaJoy65 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Charleston, South Carolina, United States
    @tstormdiver - Thank you for your post. You affirmed my thoughts that shelling off the beach would be the ticket. I'm visiting my parents there over the next two holidays and may try to take in some "scuba shelling" as they live across the street from Boman's Beach. My only concern is "scuba shelling" alone. My boyfriend typically dives with me and won't be there.

    Thanks again!

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