The shallow waters of Clearwater, Florida, make the area a family-oriented snorkeling destination. The beaches are along the Gulf of Mexico, less than a 30-minute drive west of Tampa. Besides the city beaches, several state parks make fun spots for snorkeling. At least one of the state park beaches is accessible via a short drive on the Dunedin Causeway; the others are a quick boat ride away.
Honeymoon Island State Park gives the feeling of a remote island in the middle of the Gulf. But it’s easily reached by taking the Dunedin Causeway a few miles north of Clearwater. Snorkel close to the beach which can be ideal for families with small children. The park offers swimming, fishing and walks along several nature trails that meander through a slash pine forest. Shelling is also popular here. Amenities include showers and a concession stand.
Three miles of flat, wide beaches and shallow water make Caladesi Island State Park another popular spot for snorkeling with the family. A lifeguard is on duty from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The beach makes a fun spot to beach comb since it’s not raked like other area beaches, so passersby may spot interesting shells and other natural debris. Bring a picnic lunch, and head to one of the covered picnic pavilions or the tables nestled under the palm trees. After finishing snorkeling, rent an ocean kayak from the vendor on the beach and explore the mangrove tunnels on the island’s bayside. To reach Caladesi Island, take the boat that leaves from Honeymoon Island State Park.
Once an abandoned military installation, 400-acre Egmont Key State Park gives visitors a chance to view sea turtles and find sand dollars while snorkeling. Several private ferries make trips to the island. Ferries leave from Hubbard’s Marina in Fort DeSoto County Park. Once the boat reaches the island, explore the island before boarding the ferry for the trip back to the mainland. Snorkeling equipment is available for rent once reaching the beach. The rentals include instruction for beginning snorkelers.
Prefer to visit Clearwater’s beaches for a little snorkeling, head to Indian Rocks Beach or Clearwater Beach. The beaches include full-time lifeguards, bathhouses and easy access to shallow water to practice snorkeling skills. Beachgoers will not see as much marine life at the city’s beaches, but the combination of swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling makes both beaches popular with locals and tourists.