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Snorkeling - What a Blast!

April, 2006

Last year in the Florida Keys we discovered snorkeling.  We rented the equipment and just walked into the clear water near our campsite.  Here's how Chris remembered it:

"Iíve never snorkeled before and WOW, it was great! I loved it. Itís amazing to see the fish in their natural habitat, to see the grass waving with the waves and to see sponges and various other sea creatures. We snorkeled around until we both couldnít stand the cold water anymore and our teeth were chattering."

So we bought some inexpensive gear, just masks, snorkels, and a dive flag, and planned to visit the Dry Tortugas where we heard there was excellent snorkeling.  It was even better than we expected.  The beach is beautiful, pristine and the water was so clear, it looked like a swimming pool. The wall around the fort has a lot of sea life on it and we snorkeled along the wall on the swimming beach side. There were sea urchins, star fish, coral, and various sea vegetation that we havenít learned the names of yet.  The fish were amazing!  There were so many kinds of colorful fish, it was like swimming in an aquarium.

Here are a few photos we took.  These don't do it justice, just using a disposable underwater camera.  Click each photo in the slide show.


A friendly Baracuda longer than my arm, this was in 4' of water 50' from shore

So this year we're back in Key West Florida, and we go out snorkeling for an hour or more almost every day.  We just walk in from our campsite.  We've seen many Conch as big as your fist, dozens of different fish, many varieties of coral, sea slugs, etc.

If you'd like to go where the best snorkeling is, there are many dive boat operators in the Florida Keys who have scheduled snorkeling trips.  One we hope to take is to Looe Key Reef.  People come from all over to snorkel and dive there.

What equipment do you need?

The BASICS include a mask, snorkel, and dive flag.  You really shouldn't go out without that flag because boaters can't see you.  You can buy a good mask and snorkel for under $40, and a dive flag for around $20.

OPTIONAL equipment include swim fins, water shoes, a floatation vest, and a mesh bag for collecting shells or other items.  These vary in price, but bargains exist.  It would be hard to spend over $200 for it all (unless you just must have top of the line stuff).

Prescription mask.  I'm awfully nearsighted, and I finally bought a mask with prescription lenses.  It allows me to see so much better and really enjoy myself.  Mine is made by EVO, and only cost $80 including two lenses.  They installed the lenses right in the store.  I highly recommend this for anyone who wears glasses.

In summary, snorkeling is inexpensive, fun, and good exercise.  You can do it alone or in pairs or groups, and it never seems to get old because there's always something new to see.  Give it a try!





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