Southeast of Key Largo, the snorkeling at French Reef has easy to explore coral formations in 15 to 40 foot deep water. This Sanctuary Preservation Area has large elkhorn coral stands that provide habitat for parrotfish, grunts, yellowtails, angelfish, loggerhead turtles and nurse sharks.
The French Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area is located 6 miles southeast of Key Largo and is marked by 18 mooring buoys. When accessing via private boat use the Pennekamp boat ramp. French Reef is located within the boundary of John Pennekamp Marine State Park. Before entering the water, make sure to observe the waters since they are known strong currents and surges.
After a day snorkeling French Reef, check out the Key Largo Conch House for some cold drinks.
While the snorkeling at French 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, French Reef is the 29th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in the Florida Keys.