South of Islamorada, the snorkeling at Alligator Reef is very popular for diverse marine life and purple sea fans. The Alligator Reef Sanctuary Protection Area is marked by a 136 foot lighthouse and has several mooring buoys. In the 8 to 50 foot deep water, you can expect to see snapper, surgeonfish, parrotfish and baracudas among hard and soft corals. During an Alligator Reef snorkeling trip, keep your eyes open for a wreck within the Santuary Protection Area.
To reach the snorkeling in a private boat, use the Indian Key Fill boat ramp. After snorkeling, check out the Morada Bay Beach Cafe on Islamorada.
While the snorkeling at Alligator Reef is possible year-round, most snorkelers usually shoot for March through September. There is usually some rolling surf at most snorkeling sites off Islamorada, 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, Alligator Reef is the 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in the Florida Keys.