East of Islamorada, the snorkeling at Hens And Chickens Sanctuary Preservation Area is well known for its brain coral formations and purple sea rods. The Hens And Chickens area is a patch reef in 5 to 20 feet of water with a typical 20 to 30 feet of visibility. This is a good snorkeling dive site on a windy day due to it's protected location. The best time for snorkel...
East of Islamorada, the snorkeling at Hens And Chickens Sanctuary Preservation Area is well known for its brain coral formations and purple sea rods. The Hens And Chickens area is a patch reef in 5 to 20 feet of water with a typical 20 to 30 feet of visibility. This is a good snorkeling dive site on a windy day due to it's protected location. The best time for snorkeling Hens And Chickens is during slack tide for visibility. While snorkeling, you may encounter yellowtail snapper, parrotfish, surgeonfish, grouper, grunts, hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, stingrays and angelfish. Keep in mind that the water here is known for its surges and currents.
To reach Hens And Chickens snorkeling in a private boat, use the Harry Harris Park boat ramp. The Hens and Chickens area is located 2 nautical miles southeast of Snake Creek. It is marked by several buoys and there is a lighted tower. The reefs are best near buoy #2 and also east of buoy #6.
Tip - After snorkeling at Hens And Chickens, check out the Morada Bay Beach Café on Islamorada.
While the snorkeling at Hens And Chickens 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, Hens And Chickens is the 13th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 40 snorkeling dives in the Florida Keys. Several of the better snorkeling spots are nearby Hens And Chickens including Alligator Reef, Indian Key State Park, Davis Reef, Founders Park, San Pedro Underwater Park and Cheeca Rocks.
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