Southeast of Key Largo, a good snorkeling dive is at Pickles Reef where there is plenty of diverse marine life and sea fans in 15 to 25 feet of water. At this boat-accessed snorkel dive site, you can expect to see moray eels, angelfish, grunts, conch, starfish and parrotfish hanging out in the shallow pillar coral and seagrass.
The Pickles Reef Sanctuary Protected Area is marked by several mooring buoys, but use the southernmost buoys for the best snorkeling. Most of the better sights are close to each of the buoys. Try exploring the sand channels where you may spot nurse sharks and hawksbill turtles.
The Pickles Reef is located 4 miles southeast of Rodriguez Key and 2 miles southwest of Molasses Reef. For private boat access, use the Harry Harris Park boat ramp.
After a day snorkeling Pickles Reef, check out the Key Largo Conch House for some cold drinks.
While the snorkeling at Pickles Reef is possible year-round, most snorkelers usually shoot for March through September. There is usually some rolling surf at most snorkeling sites off Key Largo, while you can expect the flatest surf conditions from June through August.
When using a dive boat charter to reach the dive site, make sure to reconfirm the reservation the afternoon prior. Most dive boats select the site the afternoon prior or even the morning of the dive. Also, most dive boats have a minimum passenger requirement in order to leave dock meaning they may cancel at the last minute, so when reverifying the afternoon prior ask how many reservations they have.
To reach the snorkeling in the Florida Keys by air, there are several options. The most popular option is to fly into Miami International Airport (MIA), which is served by all major US and international airlines. Also nearby, a potentially lower cost option is to fly into Ft Lauderdale airport (FLL). From either of these airports, you can rent a car to drive south on the Florida Turnpike a couple hours to reach the Florida Keys (watch out for automated cash-less toll highways along the way). Alternately, you can fly into Key West International Airport (EYW) which is served by several airlines including United/Silver Airways, Delta, USAir and Southwest. If you don’t mind coming into Key West, there is also the regular Key West Express ferry service (4 hours) that runs from Ft Myers.
Overall, Pickles Reef is the 17th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in the Florida Keys.