With almost 25 miles of shoreline, Fort Lauderdale has a long beachfront. Although the coral reefs aren’t as evident as further south, a few locations are great for snorkeling. Fort Lauderdale has a few of the best snorkeling sites in Florida. The coral formations that abound in the Florida Keys make their way to the shores of this ocean city and await your exploration.
Although most snorkeling spots here can be reached from shore, a local Fort Lauderdale boat rental is the best way to get to them all and gives them the ability to motor from one site to the next quickly.
Are there coral reefs in Fort Lauderdale?
Yes, there are. A ridge of coral formations runs north to south, from Boca Raton to the south. The distance from shore is several hundred feet to several miles. Although you can access many of these dive sights from land, it is a long swim to a few of these locations.
The best way to get to the coral reefs of Fort Lauderdale is by boat. With a boat, you can moor or anchor and spend all the time you wish exploring the colorful marine life on display.
Where can you snorkel in Fort Lauderdale?
The coral reefs along Fort Lauderdale’s coast are in shallow waters. So, they are great locations for beginning or intermediate snorkelers. But, of course, the best way to get to all of them is by boat.
If you don’t have one of your own, someone in the area will rent you theirs through Boatsetter. Instead of fighting the coastal traffic, you can get to every location on this list by boat, by water.
The Vista Reef Park
Located about a thousand feet from Fort Lauderdale’s Vista Park Beach is a coral formation known as the Vista Reef Park. Snorkelers will find the aquamarine waters that are between eight and 20 feet deep.
The sea life is prolific, and you will see brightly colored tropical fish, colorful coral, sea fans, and other underwater wonders. So pull up a boat, set your divers-down flag, and you can witness this fantastic water park yourself.
An excellent location for beginning snorkelers, in 1900, the SS Copenhagen struck a coral reef off the coast of Fort Lauderdale and subsequently sank. The wreck was visible for years but was eventually destroyed when the US Navy used it for target practice during WWII.
Remnants of the ship remain today, and it is an excellent site for beginning snorkelers, as the water is shallow. There is a lot to see when diving on shipwrecks. Marine life is like the homes made by these wrecks, and you will often see octopus, sea fans, and a variety of tropical fish.
Lying a mere 400 yards from shore, the Twin Ledges is one of Fort Lauderdale’s favorite dive spots. Unfortunately, the ocean bottom here is between 10 and 20 feet deep and may be difficult to reach for beginners.
Although you may not have the skill to dive to the bottom, the vista before you as you gaze toward the ocean floor is awesome. Covered with colorful coral, blue sea fans, and tropical fish, the Twin Ledges is a location you need to snorkel to get the full effect of its beauty.
The reef ledges of Fort Lauderdale run in a generally north-south direction. Therefore, many divers will follow the ledges for some distance. There are several mooring balls available if arriving by boat, so you won’t need to anchor.
You tie up, drop overboard and enjoy the Oakland Ridges. The sea life here includes vibrant coral formations, a variety of different marine life, and lobster.
- Van D. Mizell – Eula Johnson State Park
South of Port Everglades, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park covers 310 acres of Barrier Island. Offshore, there are three reef systems. The closest reef is about 300 yards from shore, the second is nearly half a mile out, and the reef system is two miles from shore.
Snorkeling from a boat instead of the shore lets you see all of the coral reefs of Fort Lauderdale. Without a boat, you can only see the reefs that are close to shore. There are many amenities at Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. It is open from sunrise to sunset every day. Other amenities here include camping, including both RV and rustic sites, as well as rental cabins. So, you can come for a day or stay a week and enjoy the peace of this rural location within a stone’s throw of thriving Fort Lauderdale.
Yankee Clipper Rocks
East of the Sheraton Hotel, which was once the Yankee Clipper Hotel, is the Yankee Clipper Rocks. The rocky area of this reef is about 75 feet from shore. Whether arriving by boat or swimming from shore, you must set out a diver down flag. As you should whenever, you are snorkeling or diving.
The water here is between 5 and 15 feet and is a perfect location for beginning snorkelers. Although you may or may not see lobster here, there are sea worms and a rocky bottom with many tropical fish.
Datura Avenue Shipwreck
The Datura Avenue Shipwreck is just a mile south of Commercial Boulevard, a famous Fort Lauderdale sight for divers and snorkelers alike. The water here is 12 to 14 feet deep.
The dive area covers an area of about 20 by 100 feet. It is an excellent location for beginners to get their feet wet and get used to wearing a snorkel, mask, and flippers. It is a member of Florida’s ‘Museums in the Sea.’ It is home to eels, lobster, cuttlefish, manta, and the colorful tropical fish that make these waters their home.
Please keep it safe when snorkeling.
Wherever you go snorkeling, put out your divers-down flag, so boaters know you are there. It will make your life safer. In addition, it is best to go snorkeling, swimming, or diving with a partner. Then, if you or they get in trouble, they have someone to help.
File a float plan with a friend so that if you are not back when you say you will be, they know to send the cavalry or Sea Tow to help you out. Also, giving your family or a friend an idea of where you are going boating and when you return is good practice.
If you are a first-time snorkeler, it would be best to practice in the shallows. Some of the areas listed here have very deep water for first-time snorkelers. In contrast, others offer shallow spots that are perfect places to practice.
Private snorkeling with a boat rental
Most of the dive sights in Fort Lauderdale are accessible from shore; however, you can see them all in a day or two with a boat. So why limit yourself to being land-bound if you have a choice? Local boat owners will rent you a boat, and you can contact them through Boatsetter.
Whether you want to spend a day snorkeling in the waters of Fort Lauderdale, or several days, you can rent a bareboat or a boat with a captain who likely knows the waters. Either way, your vessel awaits; you only need to book the date.