Florida snorkeling in Sarasota waters is something you may want to try if you don’t want to go for the full scuba diving experience.
All you need is a swim/diving mask, some swim fins and a snorkel and you’ll be able to “spy in” on underwater life.
Snorkeling is a popular alternative to scuba diving because to snorkel you don’t need all the complicated equipment, training lessons, certification, etc.
Check with the resort or hotel where you’re staying for possible additional tips.
They may have suggestions on a snorkeling guided tour or outfitter.
One of the most popular Sarasota area places to go Florida snorkeling is off the south-western tip of Crescent Beach on Siesta Key, south of Siesta Key Public Beach.
It’s a place in the water called Point of Rocks and it’s probably easiest to reach by walking south along Siesta Key’s Crescent Beach.
It’s the largest rock formation of its kind on Florida’s Gulf Coast and it’s the most famous snorkeling location in Sarasota waters. It’s a great place for beginners because the water is rather shallow and clear, most of the time, in this area.
With a formation of limestone rocks extending up through the surface, Point of Rocks is also home to some coral formations with marine life. (By the way, you should never touch coral formations, intentionally or accidentally. The small damage that you may do may take the coral decades to repair, if at all. It is, after all, a living, organism).
Snorkeling there you’ll find a large variety of fish. And legend and folklore has it that Point of Rocks is the starting spot for many a map to pirates’ buried treasure. Aargh! (If you find a map like that while you stay here in Sarasota, please let me know!)
There’s a small Public Beach Access and a tight, narrow parking lot at Crescent Beach, a few feet south of Stickney Point Road on Midnight Pass Road’s west side of the street. Get there early.
Another snorkeling location in Sarasota area waters is about 100 yards offshore of Anna Maria Island’s Bradenton Beach. It’s a 90 foot freighter that sank in 1940; the USS Regina, which was, in those days, a molasses freighter.
One other place you’ll find snorkelers along our Sarasota, Florida beaches is at the south end of Nokomis Beach on South Casey Key. Snorkelers gather there to view fish around the rocks which form an abutment to the north side of the Venice Jetty.
As far as water conditions: (I don’t mean to be redundant here, but:) it is dependent upon conditions: weather, tides, etc.
Most times our Gulf waters are clear and a beautiful blue to aquamarine in color. Look at any of the beach or water photographs on Escape-to-Sarasota and you can see for yourself.
Yes, there are murkier spots of water in places like lagoons and parts of the intra-coastal waterway that can be muddy and murky at times as well as the Venice Jetty, but you won’t be snorkeling there anyway due to the high marine traffic.
Surface temperatures in this part of the Gulf of Mexico, over the course of the year, range from 74 degrees to close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.
For the most part our Gulf of Mexico waters are as clear and beautiful as any in the Caribbean on any given day and on a good day visibility may be 100' or more underwater.
After all, it’s one of the things we’re known for, which keeps visitors returning season after season, year after year.
Tips: Be aware of your surroundings to make sure you’re not snorkeling in an area used by jet skis, speed boats or other watercraft that could be dangerous to your well being. Wear bright colors or deploy dive flags in the area in which you are snorkeling.
Snorkel in a protective t-shirt, wet suit or use lots of sun block so your back doesn’t sunburn badly.
Dehydration can be a concern. Hydrate well before snorkeling if you plan on being in the water for a prolonged period of hours. This will also help prevents cramps.
Always snorkel with at least one buddy. Never snorkel alone.
Snorkeling on or near coral: take caution to avoid contact with coral, which may also be sharp or sting you. It may be home to poisonous creatures. Wear protective gloves. Avoid contact with corals, which are extremely fragile and can be damaged easily, requiring decades of re-growth, or the coral may never recover.
There’s nothing like the experience of snorkeling. If it’s going to be your first time, just relax and take a minute or two to get the breathing part down pat. Then open yourself up to some beautiful underwater sights.
Enjoy. Happy Florida snorkeling!