Travel and Leisure — April 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

Top Snorkel Reefs in the US

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Patryk Kosmider / iStock / thinkstock.com

Patryk Kosmider / iStock / thinkstock.com

Snorkeling is an integral aspect of the beach experience. Although some reefs are a boat ride away, others are located a fins length away from shore.  If you’re looking for amazing color, fertile sea life, and the best of flora and fauna, look no further than these top snorkel reefs located in the US.

Key Largo, Florida
Key Largo is home to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and known to be one of the “Diving capitals in the world.” Snorkel solo or with a tour group at the park. This region of Florida comprises of 323 different species of fish including parrotfish, angelfish, blue tangs, groupers, and yellowtail snappers. Dolphins and turtles are known to be sited throughout the reefs.

Catalina Island, California
Located off the Southern California coast, visitors get to Catalina via boat or plane. The Catalina waters feature incredible visibility with an abundance of marine life and sea kelp forests. In fact, CNN rated “Lover’s Cove” as one of the best snorkeling spots in the world. At the cove, snorkelers discover fish in its most abundant form. Sea stars, eels, anemones, octopi, dolphins and sea lions are commonly seen throughout the waters.

Gloucester, Massachusetts
The Cape Anne region is a popular snorkeling destination, with opportunities located footsteps into the water. The National Marine Sanctuary System features protected waters and is a feeding ground for whales, dolphins and other sea creatures.

Molokai, Maui, Hawaii
This untouched crater is home to fertile sea life and a myriad of snorkel opportunities. The unspoiled waters are located off Maui shorelines and are known to be the best snorkeling spot throughout the Hawaiian islands. With 30 miles of snorkeling, visitors are sure to catch a glimpse at a variety of marine life including the historic giant sea turtle. Tour groups operate year round.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
This popular, and crowded, bay features clear, calm and warm waters. With easy access to the reefs, snorkelers view fertile fish life even in waist deep water. The shallow reef is perfect for the novice snorkeler while experienced snorkelers head to Witch’s Brew, a turbulent cove, and other outer reefs.

Key West, Florida
Key West features plenty of snorkel opportunities for all levels. Shallow reefs are ideal for the novice and for those who like to view glisten coral colors in the sunlight. Snorkeling is available right along shoreline, but hop on a tour or boat toward deeper waters for better views. Sand Key is a small inlet, popular with snorkelers and divers of all kinds. Dolphins are often spotted while on an excursion.

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