You don’t really need a whole lot in order to go snorkeling, so snorkeling can be a great cheap activity in the Florida Keys… if you are looking to try your luck at some of the best beach snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys.
Otherwise, for the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys you need to get there by boat.
But no matter how you do your snorkeling in the Florida Keys, here are some ideas for your Florida Keys packing list!
First, the quick list of snorkeling essentials for the Florida Keys.
And then a bit more on what to pack in your beach bag for snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
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What do you REALLY need to bring for snorkeling in the Florida Keys?!
Snorkeling is actually a pretty minimalist activity!
So while there is long list of things you can consider…
Really, all you need is to put on a pair of swimming goggles and off you go into the ocean in search of those colorful fish!
So if you’re feeling like you can’t be bothered with all the “snorkeling things” because you’re supposed to be going on a somewhat relaxing vacation…
What are the top 5 things that could be considered the most important for snorkeling in the Florida Keys?!
- Swimsuit or swimming shirt aka rash guard
- Swimming goggles or snorkeling mask with snorkel
- Reef-safe sunscreen
- Water shoes
- WATER! (and snacks)
So, with that said…
If you just want to get out in the ocean without thinking much about it…
Get yourself a pair of swimming goggles, put on your swimsuit and sunscreen, and get in the water and go swimming to see those colorful fish!!
I DO think that water shoes should be on a minimalist snorkeler’s packing list… although really, you don’t NEED them.
But there have been many times that I’ve been happy to be wearing water shoes when snorkeling in the Florida Keys.
If you’ll be wearing fins, you won’t need water shoes to walk into the water, but you still might like them when you’re walking along the shoreline of the Florida Keys.
And the drinking water – it’s hot in the Florida Keys, so stay hydrated!
You may not notice as much as you’re swimming around in water, but it’s still important to keep up that water intake!
Also would be GREAT to bring along snacks!
Snorkeling is a physical activity after all – so you’ll want to refuel after you get out of the water!
Snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys
- Looe Key reef snorkeling in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
- Bahia Honda State Park snorkeling
- Higgs Beach snorkeling in Key West Marine Park
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park snorkeling
See more below about what to wear snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
Here's some info on Florida Keys trip prep!
- Florida Keys snorkeling tour to North America's only living coral reef
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in the Florida Keys
- Do you need water shoes for the Florida Keys?
- Cheapo waterproof phone case for snorkeling
- Personal swim buoy float is perfect for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean
I have a lot of 30-90 second Florida outdoor travel videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly below, it might be because you have an ad blocker. Save the Florida Keys video playlist to watch on youtube later!
There are affiliate links on this page.
More for your time in the Florida Keys and beyond:
- Camping in Bahia Honda State Park
- Snorkeling in Bahia Honda State Park
- Beach snorkeling in Key West
- Things to do in the Florida Keys
- Camping in the Florida Keys
- One day in Key West
- Miami to Key West road trip
- Tampa to Key West road trip
Are Florida state parks open after the hurricane? Check the Florida Park Service website for current closures. (There are many state parks that are closed.)
Are Florida national parks open after the hurricane? Check the National Park Service website for current closures (October 2 update: Most of the Miami side of Everglades National Park is open, except for camping)
A bit more about the top 5 essentials for snorkeling in the Florida Keys
1. Swimsuit or swim clothes
If you want to go with what you already have without buying anything new, then you can wear a swimsuit that you have.
Plenty of people snorkel in regular swimsuits.
And then there are also people who snorkel in swim clothes.
You may consider buying a swim shirt aka rash guard. (A shirt that provides a “guard” against getting a “rash” to exposed skin.)
A swim shirt makes it so that your skin is more protected against the sun.
This means that you don’t have to bother with putting on so much sunscreen too… and don’t have to bother with reapplying sunscreen every so often. (Although it would still be good to apply sunscreen to other skin that’s exposed to the sun!)
Swim shirts can be perfect for snorkeling, other water activities, and even if you will just be out in the sun.
These sorts of swim shirts are designed with UV protection.
Remember, if you’re snorkeling, your entire backside will be exposed for the duration that you’re snorkeling!
I also like to wear a bright swim shirt to be better seen in the water!
Shop swimwear for snorkeling in the Florida Keys:
- Rashguards aka UV protection shirts
- Board shorts aka swimwear bottoms
- Swimsuits for women – amazon
See more for packing for your Florida Keys snorkeling trip: Why wear a rash guard for snorkeling?
2. Swimming goggles or snorkeling mask with snorkel
So after you’ve got the clothes, you now need something so you can see underwater!
To be very simple, and to take up less space in your luggage, you can bring along a regular pair of swimming goggles like these.
You’ll want clear ones so you can see the colors of the fish well!
A note on wearing swimming goggles for snorkeling
If you’ll be wearing swimming goggles, it does mean that you’ll have to come up for a breath often, unlike if you’re wearing a proper snorkeling mask which serves as your breathing equipment as you swim around so you don’t have to come up for air.
So if you don’t want to have to come up for a breath every time you need to breathe, and instead want to be able to look for fish underwater uninterrupted, then you’ll want to get proper snorkeling gear that comes with the snorkeling mask and snorkel (the thing that allows you to breathe while you’re underwater).
Shop snorkeling gear for the Florida Keys
If you’re not used to the strong tropical sun, you might be surprised just how easily you get burned!
Don’t take your chances, and lather up before you head out into the sun for your day’s activities, and throughout the day as you continue to be in the sun!
Ideally, you’ll go for reef-safe sunscreen to help with the ocean environment.
Shop reef-safe sunscreen for snorkeling in the Florida Keys:
4. Water shoes
Aside from the snorkeling mask, you may also consider getting snorkeling fins.
You can buy snorkeling gear as a set with fins.
Fins or no fins when snorkeling in the Florida Keys?
Fins do serve to propel you in the water more quickly with less energy, which means that you can cover more ground… er… cover more water… without as much work.
So, you don’t NEED fins, but you can think of it as helping you see more underwater life in less time!
I generally don’t snorkel with fins and I usually don’t think much of it when I am out there swimming around looking for colorful fish underwater.
But there were some snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys that I did find myself thinking about how fins would be very helpful!
There are some snorkeling spots that had rougher seas with the water pushing you in a certain direction.
This means that if you’re trying to swim against it, you’re using a lot more energy.
Wearing fins would have eased swimming against the waters a little bit by being able to propel further with each kick!
👆 Rolling waves while snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
But in the case that you’ll be snorkeling without fins, then water shoes can be a good idea.
Many snorkeling beaches in the Florida Keys don’t have a completely sandy beach entrance or a completely sandy bottom in the water.
And if you will be swimming directly above coral reef, while you will very much want to avoid touching coral reef that’s below you as you’re swimming, in case your foot accidentally does hit the reef, water shoes can provide protection.
Coral reef can be sharp!
Similarly, if you’re swimming around rocks, water shoes can help protect your feet in case you accidentally kick against the rock.
Shop water shoes for snorkeling in the Florida Keys
- Popular water shoes for swimming
- Popular water shoes for women with thicker soles
- Popular water shoes for men with thicker soles
- More popular water shoes for men with thicker soles
5. WATER! (and snacks)
Stay hydrated in the hot Florida Keys weather!
A few more things to bring for your snorkeling excursion in the Florida Keys!
You can capture those underwater moments with a cheap waterproof phone case like this!
If you won’t be investing in an underwater camera… and you don’t want to spend $50-100 on a waterproof phone case designed specifically to fit your iphone or samsung phone…
Then the next best thing you can have is an cheapo waterproof phone case.
👆 Spot the colorful fishie!
It might take a few practices in the beginning to get a strategy down, but if you don’t want to spend the money on a more expensive case, it is a truly valuable alternative!
The touchscreen doesn’t work underwater, so you need to figure out the button you can click (maybe the volume button) to capture the photo.
For video, you can start it before you go underwater with touch screen, or you can again find a button to start it underwater.
It does have its annoyances to the point where I’ve said to myself I should just get a proper waterproof camera. (Like different buttons get clicked unknowingly on the phone when I’m in the water. I can’t see the screen very well with the bright sun. I think I’m taking a video of the fish I’m seeing, but I somehow got in selfie mode!)
But the waterproof phone case is what I have and I’ve been able to take some pictures and video I’ve been happy with!
Getting a camera float like this one to go with the phone case can be a good precaution just in case you let go of your phone when you’re in the ocean!
I have never dropped my phone, but it does make me feel a little better knowing that my phone will float instead of sinking to the bottom of the ocean!
I have tested the camera float with my phone in the waterproof phone case, and the phone did float!
Even if you get a proper waterproof camera, the camera float can be a good thing to have!
See more for packing for your Florida Keys snorkeling trip: How does a cheap waterproof phone case work for snorkeling?
To be clear, this sort of personal buoy float with a dry bag isn’t meant as any sort of life-saving device.
But a few things can make this type of thing ultra useful when you’re snorkeling.
This is basically a dry bag float with a strap that you put around your waist. (You can also find one without the dry bag part.)
In general, this also makes it so that you can be spotted in the water more easily.
So in a way, this can be nice if you’re not swimming right next to your snorkeling buddy.
Your buddy can look up and easily spot you.
Similarly, if there’s someone in your family who’s staying on the beach or the snorkeling boat and not going in the water, it can be a way for you to be spotted more easily in the water.
You’ll attach the strap to your waist, and then basically you’ll drag the float behind you as you’re swimming. You’ll hardly notice it.
And, not its intended use, but by holding on to it as a float, it can give you a little bit of a break if you’re snorkeling in deep water.
I really liked having this when snorkeling in deeper water in the Florida Keys!
For example on snorkeling tours you might get around an hour of snorkeling time out in the open waters.
So the float can give you a bit of a break if you want to take one instead of having to constantly tread water!
Or you can also swim back to the boat if you want a break.
But no need to swim back to the boat when you have your own personal float!
Even snorkeling from shore, if you’re further out, you can get a rest in the open water!
I pretty much always take this personal float with me when I go snorkeling and didn’t fully appreciate how great it is to be able to take a break now and then until I went swimming and snorkeling in some Florida springs without the float. I didn’t bring it with me thinking I’m not going out that far or long so I will be fine without it.
Well, I was SO wishing I would have brought the float along so I didn’t have to be treading water so much!
I also liked having the personal float because I’d bring my phone (with waterproof case) into the water with me, and when I wasn’t trying to take pictures, I found it useful to store my phone in this dry bag instead of having to swim with the phone in my hand.
You can fairly easily put in and take out small things of the dry bag portion, even when the float is blown up.
Thick beach towel
If you’re going on a snorkeling tour, then the thicker the beach towel, the better!
Well, I made it a point to make sure to bring a thicker towel on snorkeling tours anyway.
Because… the boat ride on the way back!
On the way to the reef that you’ll be snorkeling at, the wind from the speeding boat will probably feel good if it’s a nice day out!
But on the way back from your snorkeling tour, you’ll be wet.
And the wind from the speeding boat can make you feel cold if you’re wet!
A thicker towel gave me a little extra warmth!
There may not really be a spot to do a full on change into dry clothes when you do a snorkeling tour, so it can be good to prepare accordingly.
Maybe this also means bringing extra layers of clothes that you can put on too.
If you’re only going to be snorkeling in the Florida Keys from the beach, then maybe you’ll want a lightweight towel to pack away in your beach bag!
You can give a try to turkish towels like these for a lightweight towel option.
Turkish towels are often thought of as an ideal travel towel.
If you want to get a look at underwater life without getting in the water (or before you get in the water!), you might find some spots that you can see into the clear water from above to see some fish.
In which case, polarized sunglasses can help you better see the underwater life!
👆 As seen from above the water: Spot the little fishies!
Portable phone charger
You don’t want to miss out on those picture-perfect moments because of a dead phone!
Hot weather can also seem to drain your phone battery more quickly.
So make sure you bring a portable phone charger!
I have a few different power banks, but my favorite is my charmast power bank that gets in a lot of charges.
I put my charger in a freezer ziplock bag to protect against sand and water. (Hazards of the beach!)
And bring along an extra USB cord just for the car.
That way you can just keep it in the car and you don’t need to have to keep grabbing it every time you leave the car for an activity or for the night when you’re back at your accommodation!
Windshield sun shade
If it’s going to be a hot sunny day in the Florida Keys, a sun shade for your car’s windshield can help prevent the car from heating up so quickly!
And that’s a bit about what to pack for snorkeling in the Florida Keys!
More about what to bring to the Florida Keys for snorkeling:
Snorkeling spots in the Florida Keys:
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park snorkeling
- Bahia Honda State Park snorkeling
- Looe Key snorkeling
- Higgs Beach snorkeling in Key West Marine Park
HAPPY SNORKELING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS!
👇 Explore the Key West map on google maps!
There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.
Things to pack for your Florida vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're swimming.
More for your Florida packing list
- How a cheapo waterproof phone case works
- Why wear water shoes for the beach
- Why a personal swim buoy is an essential for ocean swimming
- What to pack for Florida beaches
- What to pack for Florida springs
- What to pack for shelling in Florida
- What to pack for snorkeling in Florida