Key West is one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the entire world. One of the reasons why it’s such a hot destination for tourism, is its rich blue waters and pristine beaches.
As you can imagine, these waters are inhabited by all kinds of interesting sea critters, which also make it a top snorkeling and sailing spot!
We’ve taken it upon ourselves to try out just about every snorkeling and sailing tour on the island, to bring you the best of the best. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the top Key West Tours!
Top Key West Snorkeling Tours
The 7 Best Rated Key West Snorkel Tours For 2021
- Key West 3-Hour Snorkel Adventure
- Key West Sunset Snorkel Sail Trip with Open Bar
- Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip
- Key West 3-Hour Coral Reef Snorkeling
- Key West Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Eco Tour
- Key West Catamaran Tour with Snorkeling & Water Activities
- Key West Rum and Reggae Afternoon Snorkel and Sunset
Now lets take a closer look at the Key West snorkel tours so you can find the right one for you!
Key West Snorkel Tour Reviews
- Departure: Depends on option booked
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Snorkeling gear and safety equipment, drinks
- Other: Relaxing sailing tour with lots of entertainment
Starting things off on the right foot, we bring you the 3-Hour snorkel adventure. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to enjoy a day on the water, this is one of the most effective methods!
Perfect for sharing with a significant other, or a small group, this snorkel / sailing trip is packed full of entertainment. The catamaran itself is magnificent, and looks like something from a Mediterranean village.
You’ll get an authentic sailing experience, with full 360-degree views of your beautiful surroundings.
From the moment you board, you’ll notice that the crew pays special attention to making sure everyone has a positive experience.
They are very friendly, helpful, and make sure that everyone is safe onboard (they only sail when weather conditions are ideal).
Once at the snorkel site, you will get to see the pristine coral reef and see and the beautiful sea life. All gear is provided and the crew will show you how to safely snorkel the reef.
You’ll sail by many interesting places and photo op spots like Mallory Square Sunset Celebration where you’ll see all kinds of entertainers, the Historic Seaport, Fort Zachary Taylor, and much more.
These are also great places to check out beforehand or after your sailing tour, if you don’t feel like going back to the hotel yet!
- As you take in the views, you’ll get to enjoy the unlimited drinks and appetizers. We found both to be tasty, so it was nice that they were unlimited!
On the way back the music will set the mood for some dancing or just a romantic viewing of the sunset painting citrusy colors across the sky. If you have a few hours to spare, don’t miss this one!
- Departure: 201 William St, Key West
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Snorkeling gear and safety equipment, appetizers, drinks
- Other: Combines snorkeling with smooth, relaxing sailing
If sailing catches your attention, but you’re also one of those hands-on types of people, you’ll love our next tour. The Sunset Snorkel Sail Trip with Open Bar is designed with fun and adventure in mind! You’ll be able to snorkel over one of the biggest coral barrier reefs in the world for part of it, and the other part, enjoy some live entertainment and drinks.
The 3-hour tour is a comprehensive one, and if you don’t want to spend all day out on the water, it’s a great option.
The captain and crew are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and will tell you all about the sights and history of the area.
Not only that, but they know exactly where to go so you can make the most of your time out on or in the water.
To start off, you’ll board “The Sandy Cat”, which is the island’s newest catamaran. As you can imagine, it’s in great shape, smooth on the water, and comfortable. The captain will sail out to the perfect spot for snorkeling, moor, and let everyone gear up and jump into the water.
All snorkeling gear and safety equipment rentals come included, so you just have to bring yourself and a sense of adventure.
You’ll have the opportunity to swim over North America’s largest living barrier reef, which really is a sight to see. It’s something that everyone should do at least once.
Once you’ve had fun hanging with sea life for an hour, you’ll climb back on board, where you’ll start heading back to the port.
- During the relaxing journey, you’ll get to have some fun listening to a live DJ while sipping from an open bar!
You’ll sail past Mallory Square and wave at all of the people on shore having a blast, too! The energy is contagious, and definitely sets the tone for the rest of a great night – whether you want to head into the nightlife or have a relaxing rest of your evening afterward.
- Departure: 631 Greene Street (corner of Greene and Elizabeth streets)
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Top-of-the-line snorkeling gear, professional instruction, complimentary soda and water, complimentary beer, wine and champagne
- Other: Great for avid snorkelers, or those who want to be
If you’re really into snorkeling, or want the chance to try it more in-depth, you have to check out our next tour. The Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip doesn’t include just one, but two snorkeling stops so you can explore various underwater sights!
Lasting 3 hours, you’ll be able to take time to get comfortable with the gear and being underwater, with guides to show you exactly what to do.
Start off the tour by heading onto the speedy “Fury” catamaran, jetting out to the first stop for your snorkeling adventure. The Reef Express measures 57 feet long, and is designed for equal parts speed and luxury. Not only that, but it’s the fastest way of getting to the reef, as we’re not wasting any precious snorkeling time here.
Once you get to the reef, you’ll be given pro-quality snorkeling gear: a snorkel, mask, fins, and vest. At this time, the crew will also offer you with their professional knowledge on how to snorkel the “correct” way.
- Safety is the top priority here, and they make sure you know how all equipment works and the proper precautions to take.
After you get up close with the brightly-hued marine dwellers and the reef itself, you’ll get back on the catamaran to head to the second location. Both stops encompass 1.5 hours of snorkeling in total, in the 3-hour trip.
You can also choose the optional Double Dip Sunset Combo Trip, where your boat will head out to the perfect spot on the water to watch the breathtaking sunset. They’ll offer a complimentary flute of champagne as you and the rest of your group toast to an amazing day out in the tropical waters of Key West.
- Departure: Office located on Lazy Way Lane
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Snorkeling gear & instruction, round-trip catamaran ride, local taxes and fees
- Other: Nice balance of active snorkeling and relaxing on the deck with drinks
This is yet another tour that’s excellent if you’re already into snorkeling, or would like to try it out for the first time in a nice climate. The Key West Double Dip: 2-Stop Reef Snorkeling Trip lets you explore around the only living coral barrier reef in all of North America, and one of the largest in the world!
The knowledgeable crew will teach you all about the local species and history of the area, making for a great afternoon or morning!
We really like both the morning and afternoon sessions, though with the morning option, you can typically expect much fewer people and boats out on the water.
Regardless of the time you choose, you will have a friendly, professional captain who knows the best spots to explore. This is going off of both their experience, along with the day’s water and wind conditions.
Once you’re in the best location, you’ll get ready to snorkel. Guides offer very clear and concise instructions and will offer all necessary gear, so you’re set up for success.
- We really appreciated their lighthearted, entertaining demeanors, while still making sure everyone is safe and comfortable in the water.
While they can’t guarantee anything, there are solid chances that you’ll be able to see some marine life other than the reef! Bright parrot fish, rays, lobsters, and more are hanging around!
Once you’ve had sufficient time snorkeling, you can head back to the vessel and enjoy a complimentary drink while you warm up on the sun deck, or hang out in the shade. As you head back, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins!
- Departure: 631 Greene Street
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Top of the line snorkeling equipment, professional instruction, complimentary water and soda, complimentary beer, wine or champagne
- Other: Great for nature/animal lovers who want to see dolphins
Snorkeling is a load of fun as a sport. However, some people like snorkeling and sailing for the opportunity to get close to the sea life that exist below the surface.
With the Key West Dolphin Watch and Snorkel Eco Tour, you’ll learn all about these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, and even get to see them! Hop aboard a fast catamaran to get out quickly to see the Key West dolphins.
The tour includes a very knowledgeable, fun-spirited crew that knows exactly where to look for spotting all kinds of sea creatures!
Lobsters, rays, all kinds of fish, crabs, dolphins, and perhaps even some small sharks may make an appearance!
The bottlenose dolphins are naturally playful and you’ll get to watch them as they swim and jump around. The crew will speak about how to best protect them, and keep the species well-preserved.
In fact, this tour is offered by the only company in the Keys with the respected “Dolphin SMART” certification. This is a country-wide program that works to educate others on how to keep the dolphins safe.
Afterward, you’ll head to the Key West Wildlife Refuge and put on your gear to snorkel in the shallow waters.
- This is a great opportunity if you’ve never snorkeled before, as you’re surrounded by experienced guides in an area that’s known to be calm.
Once you’ve splashed around and explored enough, you will ride back with your group and quench your thirst with a complimentary chilled beer and wine!
- Departure: Located on Lazy Way Lane
- Duration: 6 hours
- Includes: Roundtrip catamaran ride, use of jet skis, paddle-boards, kayaks, parasails, and snorkeling gear, breakfast, lunch, and snacks, drinks, local taxes & fees
- Other: Comprehensive tour full of all kinds of fun in the water, with meals included
Are you on the hunt for a tour that offers a full day or afternoon of fun? If so, then you have to sign up for the Key West Catamaran Tour with Snorkeling & Water Activities!
You’ll get to explore the crystalline, turquoise waters of Key West through all kinds of fun activities alongside the rambunctious crew of the catamaran that will take you out to sea and back!
- This 6-hour tour can be scheduled in the morning or afternoon, making it easy to plan around other activities.
You’ll start out at Key West’s Historic Seaport neighborhood, which is quite interesting in itself. Get on the catamaran and start your sailing while partaking in a mouthwatering continental breakfast to start the day off right.
Once you’re comfortably full and have a steady energy supply, you’ll stop at a coral reef located approximately 7 miles off shore. As it’s both sheltered and shallow, it’s great for snorkelers of all experience levels.
Keep in mind that all required gear and professional instruction is included. You’ll spend about an hour here, checking out this watery world complete with brightly-colored fish and coral.
We feel confident that the crew can answer just about any question you may have about the water, the area in general, and the sea life.
After you get out of the water, you’ll get to hang out on the deck and grab some rays, or in the shade under the covered area.
No time is wasted, where the captain will start guiding everyone over to the next destination, which is a floating water park! This park is a load of fun, as you can imagine. Kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing, paddle-boarding, or just catching a tan – you can do it all here. Use of all of the park is included, so try whatever you’d like!
Lunch includes all kinds of delicious plates, from peel-and-eat shrimp, fried chicken, meat and cheese plates, bread, salads, fresh fruit, fresh chocolate chip cookies, and more!
- Departure: Local partner’s booth on the pier at Opal Key Resort and Marina
- Duration: 3 hours
- Includes: Top-of-the-line snorkel gear, professional instruction, complimentary beverages
- Other: State-of-the-art luxury catamaran
Who doesn’t want to have some rum and reggae while in the Florida Keys? Experience both with the Key West Rum and Reggae Afternoon Snorkel and Sunset. This Caribbean-themed snorkel tour is lively, lighthearted, and a load of fun!
Your tour will start off by climbing aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran that has plenty of space to move around with ease and stretch out. It’s very luxe, and designed to keep you comfortable for the entire ride.
The crew makes sure to keep the reggae playing from the first moment you step on the boat, creating a laidback vibe and friendly environment.
Once you arrive at the reef, the crew will fill you in on proper precautions to take and any other tips before you head into the water! Top-notch snorkel gear will be provided, and the crew will give you a brief on how to use it.
Once you feel comfortable, you can check out the coral reefs, various species of fish, and other marine animals! The 3-hour tour makes sure that you have enough time for everything, but are never rushing.
- Afterward, you’ll get back on the catamaran and enjoy some complimentary rum punch, beer, wine, and champagne!
You’ll start to feel all worry melt away, as you are sipping delicious rum in paradise, with the gentle ocean breeze on your skin.
With the sun setting, the golden hues will reflect off of the water, creating an incredible vibe that’s also perfect for snapping some photos. This is a tour you absolutely have to repeat!
Key West Tour Guide
Air – Getting to Key West is pretty easy if you’re within the United States. However, even if you’re outside the country, it isn’t complicated at all. Most major airlines serve Key West, including American Airlines, Delta, Allegiant, United, JetBlue, and more. There are also various charters which serve the island, if that’s more your style.
Alternatively, you can arrive to Miami International Airport, and choose to drive there. This may be a cheaper way to go, depending on the time of year. If you’re driving from MIA, you can simply take LeJeune Road heading south to 836 West. Take the Florida Turnpike South toward Key West. It will end at US 1 in Florida City, and you’ll follow US 1 South until you get to Key West.
Train – The Amtrak has routes all over the country, and can take you as far south as Fort Lauderdale. Once there, you can get a transfer to the Keys Shuttle.
Shuttle – There are various shuttle services which make stops from the mainland and the Keys. The Keys Shuttle is the best in our opinion, offering door-to-door services to/from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale airports various times a day, every day. Not only that, but they offer charters to events like weddings, dinners, and more.
The Florida Keys Express Shuttle is also a great way to get to/from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and MIA airports. You can choose a Mercedes Benz van or SUV limousine, so it’s definitely a more luxurious option.
Water – You can also get to Key West by sea! The Key West Express has high-speed ferries from Ft. Myers Beach and Marco Island. These will pull into the Key West Bight Ferry Terminal located right in the center of the Historic Seaport Terminal which is very well-located. Many of the tours we just covered take off right around here.
Getting around Key West is a breeze, considering it’s pretty small at just 2 miles wide by 4 miles long! If you’re driving, then you’ll have no problem moving around. Driving is very easy here if you’re already used to driving in the US. However, if you aren’t going to be driving, there are plenty of other options.
Walking – Thankfully, the island is very flat and very easy to walk around – even if you aren’t in the best shape. Not only that, but the neighborhoods are very charming, genuinely beautiful, and full of character. Walking is probably the best way to really get to know the area, as you see everything up close and personal. Plus, the climate is wonderful and the air is fresh.
Taxis – Taxis serve the entire island, and they’re easiest to get by calling ahead. While you can hail one from the street, this tends to be a bit less reliable as most are heading to calls. However, if you’re at the airport, you’ll see a line of them waiting for arrivals so they can take them to their hotel.
Ride Sharing – There are now Uber and LYFT operating on the island, which tends to be more convenient for many people as you can just call a ride from the app.
Cycling – Aside from walking, biking is another excellent way to get to know the city. You’ll find a ton of locals using their own cruisers to get around and you can rent one for around just $50 for a full week! There are plenty of rental places around, though make sure you’re following the local rules. For example, bike lights are a requirement for nighttime riding. You can ride on all sidewalks, except for the Duval Street sidewalk.
Mopeds – These are absolutely common among locals, however, they can be quite dangerous. There’s no helmet law in Florida, and if you get into an accident, it can be serious. Not only that, but you have to follow the laws of the road, too.
Local Transportation – You have buses and trolleys to take advantage of, as well! Both offer day passes, which are very economic and convenient. You can check out schedules online.
Where to Stay
The island has modern to the more historic Old Town. Old Town is almost certainly where you’re going to spend the majority of your time thanks to its unique charm. It’s almost like going back in time, and is so great for walking and entire families. However, you can also opt for a more luxe experience in downtown, Casa Marina resort, or the Historic Seaport.
Truman Annex is named such due to the fact that former president, Harry Truman, had a residence here. The house includes a gift shop for history aficionados. If you head towards the Historic Seaport, you’ll also see the original Pan Am airlines headquarters, which is now the First Flight Island Restaurant and Brewery, an aquarium, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, and much more. It’s also home to some of the best food!
The Historic Seaport neighborhood is perfect if you’re into watersports, watching for sea animals, or just love being on or around sea vessels. If you’re into nightlife and bars, then you have to check out Downtown/Duval Street. This is where you’ll find all the fun: all types of cocktails, parties of all kinds, and so much more.
Restaurants and Eating Out
As you can probably imagine, seafood is a massive part of the Key West cuisine. However, in this rapidly-rising restaurant scene, you’ll be able to find just about anything you’re craving here.
Glazed Donuts – Okay, so maybe doughnuts aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of food, but it’ll certainly change your life for the better! Glazed Donuts is the perfect grab-and-go option for when you’re craving something delicious but don’t have time to sit down. Pick up a fresh cup o’ joe along with a key lime pie doughnut topped with torched meringue or other mouthwatering fruit-filled delights.
Blue Heaven – Located on the corner of Petronia and Thomas street, Blue Heaven truly has something for everybody. For entertainment, you have live music, ping pong, and an overall very laidback vibe that’s so welcoming. It has this romantic feel to it, that makes it a must for any couple. As far as food goes, you’ll see a lot of Caribbean/American food mashups. Don’t forget to try their legendary “Mile-High” Key Lime Pie!
A&B Lobster House – Are you in the mood for fine dining? Then look no further than this charming restaurant that’s been around since 1947. With a stunning wraparound balcony and beautiful marina views, it really calms and sets the mood for an amazing day or night. Caribbean lobster thermidor, strip steak au poivre, and an impressive classic cocktail selection and wine menu.
Smoked BBQ – For something more laidback, you have to check out the Smoked BBQ. It also has a nice view of the water, but has a more “fisherman” type of view that’s fun for anyone. Pulled pork sandwiches with a sweet BBQ sauce were a winner for us, though it also has some delicious seafood.
Café Marquesa – This beautiful restaurant is located inside the Marquesa Hotel. It lies somewhere in-between upscale with homey eats. Fresh Key West seafood is found here, and everything is cooked to perfection. Their desserts are housemade, and sport a kind of Southern feel.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Key West has some booming nightlife, and you’re about to experience it! If you thought the daytime was fun, just wait until the sun sets!
Duval Crawl – You can’t say you’ve been to Key West if you haven’t gone bar hopping on Duval Street. As we mentioned, this street is filled with all kinds of bars and nightclubs. Sloppy Joe’s is a crowd favorite, while Upper Duval is a bit more “sophisticated” and sports all kinds of wine bars, craft cocktail spots, and more refined selections. In-between them, you’ll find something that lies in the center of sophistication and unadulterated fun.
Key West Theater – If you aren’t feeling like going drinking, then check out the Key West Theater. Located in the center of Old Town, it has world-class comedians, musicians, and bands. It also offers community theater productions, and exclusive film screenings. For more “underground” selections, check out the indie movie theater, the Tropic Cinema.
Hauntings Ghost Tour – Did you know that Key West is supposed to be very haunted? This tour is very interesting, and goes over the history of the Hemingway House, the lighthouse, and the famous “Typhoid Mary” ghost. The Ghosts & Gravestones tour is another interesting one if you like exploring the spooky side of things. This one involves hopping aboard a trolley with a narrated tour of the island’s old wooden home history, a Civil War fort and barracks, the haunted East Martello Tower, and much more.
Weather isn’t really ever an issue in Key West, considering it’s one of the sunniest and warmest places all year long in the United States. In fact, even during its “coldest” season (January typically), it still stays over 65 degrees Fahrenheit! August is the hottest, and even then it doesn’t usually get over 90 degrees.
As we’ve mentioned a few times, if you stay in Key West, you have to stroll around Duval Street. No matter the time of day or night, there’s something fun and interesting to do. Reaching from Mallory Square to the Southernmost Point marker, it is home to beautiful homes, gift shops, delicious restaurants, bars, clubs, and more.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum was inhabited by the famous author from 1931 until 1940, approximately. With a beautiful tropical garden, saltwater pool, and historic furniture, it is where he wrote several legendary novels.
If you’re a nature person, you have to stop by the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. If you have children, they’ll definitely love this place that is home to over 50 species of butterflies and over 20 species of exotic birds.
Mallory Square is a great place to hang out with live musical performers, street performers, art, vendors, and more. As you’ll probably be walking near there anyway, we recommend checking out some of the entertainment or the various gift shops.
Mel Fisher Maritime Museum holds all kinds of valuable artifacts, and stories from history. One of which, is the Henrietta Marie, which was once a slave ship that also held countless historic artifacts. The Spanish Santa Margarita is another, which dates back all the way to the 17th century.
The Martello Towers were built back in the mid-1800’s, and were designed to protect Fort Zachary Taylor. Never fully completed, it consists of massive, 8-foot-thick granite walls! Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, which are quite romantic and pretty.
While Key West has some great weather most of the time, there is hurricane season that goes from June 1st to November 30th. However, from August to October, you’re likely to see the strongest storms. It may not be that serious, but it’s definitely something to consider as some storms can be very intense.
If you’re planning on driving, know that finding parking near Duval Street can be nearly impossible at times. You’re better off grabbing a ride share or taxi in this case. You may also be able to ask your hotel if they have a shuttle that can take you to/from the area. If you’re close enough, renting a bike or walking over there is a great option as well.
Driving to Key West is a wonderful experience in itself, as you get to drive over the Overseas Highway. It’s exhilarating, yet somehow it’ll completely clear your mind of any stress or worry – perfect for preparing you for a great time on the Island.
Key West is home to the only living barrier reef in the entire continental United States. Located about 6-7 miles offshore, the Florida Reef can be seen by a cruise or two on our guide!