Miami Beach Snorkeling: The Best Free Snorkeling Spots

South Miami Beach - Miami Beach Snorkeling: The Best Free Snorkeling Spots

If you have a staycation trip planned for Florida and to go snorkeling in Miami beach FL, you may be wondering what the snorkeling is like. There are some places where snorkeling is really no good, like snorkeling Myrtle Beach, which is why it’s important to know what the Miami Beach snorkeling is like before you book your trip.

Miami Beach snorkeling isn’t that special to snorkel, as it is mostly sandy bottom, but the waters are warm, shallow with mostly good visibility so you can see the seabed. You will see reef fish, crabs and stingrays, and the further you swim from the shoreline the more interesting it becomes.

The best way to do more diving or snorkeling is to book yourself on a scuba diving liveaboard. You can check the latest and best deals on liveaboards using the following window:

Can you snorkel at the beach in Miami?

You can snorkel Miami Beach, but the main beach in Miami itself isn’t great for snorkelling, as it’s mainly sandy bottom. But if you go to South Beach or to Biscayne National Park, there are some great snorkelling spots where you can see stingrays, tropical fish and even manatees.

When is the best time to snorkel Miami Beach?

The best time to snorkel Miami Beach is from late November through to May, as this is outside the hurricane season. But this is when the sea water temperature is below 24C (76F), and may mean you wear a thicker wetsuit.

But you can snorkel all year at Miami Beach. But after a hurricane has hit the area you may have to wait until the sea calms down, and after the sand and silt has settled so you can see underwater again.

Is it safe to snorkel in Miami Beach, Florida?

It is safe to swim in Miami Beach for most of the time and for most people, as the waters are shallow. But at certain times you need to be aware of and be careful about riptides which can wash you out of your depth, or red tides that can sometimes affect the waters off Miami.

The following video is of a news report of a family that got into trouble in a rip current on Miami Beach, Florida.

Rip currents pull family out to sea in Miami Beach
Woman remains in critical condition after she and four other members of her family nearly drowned Thursday in South Beach

To stay safe when swimming or snorkeling in Miami Beach FL, you should follow the guidance given by the local authorities of Miami or the signs on the beach.

For example, when the yellow flags are raised to warn of rip currents, don’t go swimming or snorkeling, unless you are a very strong swimmer and know how to deal with a rip current if you get caught in one. Also, make sure you know how to spot a rip current from the beach too. search worldwide destinations

Is Miami Beach good for snorkeling?

Miami Beach is okay, but not that special for snorkeling for the following reasons:

  • Clear visibility: For snorkeling to be good, the visibility needs to be clear from the surface to the bottom so you can see the seabed. The visibility at Miami Beach is mostly good, which means the snorkeling will be good too. But the sandy bottom can get stirred up, which will reduce the visibility and make it more difficult to see things.
  • Shallow waters: To enjoy snorkeling off any beach, the depth of water needs to be shallow enough to ideally see the seabed. The waters off Miami Beach are shallow enough for snorkeling, which is what makes it an ideal snorkeling beach.
  • Interesting rocks to explore: The seabed off Miami Beach is mostly a sandy bottom, which is why it’s not ideal for snorkeling, but there are a few rocks as you swim away from the shore, but you can snorkel next to the groyne at South Pointe, Miami Beach as there’s more sea life there. It is these rocks that provide the fish with shelter and food, which also makes Miami Beach snorkeling more interesting.
  • Coral reefs and fish: There’s not much in the way of coral reefs directly off Miami Beach to snorkel, unless you join a snorkeling tour, but there are reef fish just off the beach and you may see tarpon too when snorkelling Miami Beach.

This first video is snorkeling directly off South Miami Beach, where you’ll discover there’s not much to see, other than a sandy bottom and not much sea life.

But as with snorkelling anywhere, it’s about timing and where you go. In the second video below, you’ll discover a good spot to snorkel at Miami Beach, but in the first video you’ll see how at times this can be a bit boring.

Snorkeling in South Beach Miami, FL

But that’s part of the enjoyment of snorkeling and scuba diving, as you never know what you are going to see when you go. Nature is ever changing and gives you surprises all the time.

Please watch the following video taken off Miami Beach at South Pointe next to South Pointe Pier and groyne, which isn’t very exciting (but then please watch the video after this one too).

Miami Snorkeling South Pointe Beach

In the following video, you’ll enjoy a series of clips snorkeling South Pointe, South Miami Beach. You’ll discover that on occasion you’ll see nurse sharks, cuttlefish, stingrays, a number of small tropical fish, and even a friendly manatee.

Snorkeling South Pointe, Miami

Are there coral reefs in Miami Beach?

There are no coral reefs in Miami Beach for you to snorkel, but there are a few manmade structures like the South Pointe Pier and groyne that create underwater habitats that attract more sea life.

See below for other spots off Miami Beach where it’s more exciting to snorkel too.

South Beach Miami Snorkelling

The snorkelling at South Beach Miami is better, especially near South Pointe Pier and groyne where you can spot sea life that make the groyne their home.

This can include stingrays, manatees and various tropical fish.

Good places to snorkel near Miami Beach

Whether you live in or near Miami Beach, or if you are on vacation in Miami, there are loads of great places nearby to go snorkelling, which include:

  1. South Pointe Pier and groyne: The snorkeling near South Pointe Pier and groyne is better than on the main beach of Miami, which is due to the underwater habitat created by the groyne rocks.
  2. Biscayne National Park: Biscayne National Park is a 50 minute drive from Miami Beach and offers some great snorkeling. You will need to pay for a snorkeling boat trip, as the park is situated about 15km (9 miles) off the coast of Florida, south of Miami.
  3. Key Largo: Key Largo on the Florida Kays is a short hour and 15 minute drive south of Miami Beach, where you can snorkel in the shallow waters of Key Largo and the coral reefs.
  4. The “Jose Cuervo bar” artificial reef Miami beach: This manmade reef is located in South Beach Miami and is roughly 137 metres (150 yards) southeast of the Second Street lifeguard station on Miami Beach. It is a 22-ton concrete margarita bar that was sunk on May 5th, 2000 during Ocean Realm Splash, nicknamed ‘Sinko De Mayo’ (see videos).
22-ton concrete margarita bar was sunk on May 5th, 2000 during Ocean Realm Splash, nicknamed ’Sinko De Mayo.’ Designed with a dive flag roof, six bar stools and a protective wall of tetrahedrons

Another video of snorkeling the Jose Cuervo Underwater Bar snorkel site.

Jose Cuervo Underwater Bar Snorkeling Destination in Miami

Does Miami Beach have sharks?

There are sharks in Miami Beach, which would include reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, spinner sharks, nurse and tiger sharks.

You don’t need to worry about the sharks in Miami Beach, as humans are not on the menu and sharks are pretty much everywhere in any case.

What to see snorkeling Miami Beach

There is the chance to see the following sea creatures when snorkeling Miami Beach, but always remember this is nature and nothing can ever be guaranteed:

  • Tarpon: Tarpon are large fish growing to over 2 metres (6.5 feet) long. Tarpon often come in close to beaches to hunt other fish, but tend to hunt at night like sharks. Tarpon are often mistaken for sharks due to their size and shape and will lurk in the shallows during the daytime.
  • Turtles: There are turtles in the area around Miami and the Keys, so there’s always the chance you may spot a sea turtle snorkeling Miami Beach if you’re lucky.
  • Octopus: Octopus are in the area of Miami, but these tend to prefer rocky or coral reef areas, which provides them with shelter and protection. But you never know when you might be lucky enough to spot one near a rocky outcrop or next to a groyne.
  • Cuttlefish: There are plenty of cuttlefish in the warm waters off Miami Beach, you just have to keep your eyes peal to see them. Often times cuttlefish will be swimming in a group.
  • Crabs: There’s always the chance to spot crabs scuttling across the sandy bottom, but you are more likely to spot these next to a groyne or near rocks.
  • Atlantic guitar fish: Atlantic guitar fish are very difficult to spot, as they disguise themselves on the bottom and are often partly covered in sand.
  • Pufferfish: The warm tropical seas around Miami are home to pufferfish, and you may be lucky to spot one of these cute fish. But this is more likely on reefs or rocky outcrops.
  • Tropical fish: As the Florida waters are tropical, there are plenty of tropical fish to spot when snorkeling Miami Beach area.
  • Stingrays: Stingrays are bottom feeders and burrow in the sand to find molluscs and shellfish, so there’s every chance you’ll see these swimming along the sandy bottom of Miami Beach.
  • Blue Tang: Blue Tang can be seen in large shoals around reefs and next to rocky outcrops or next to groynes.
  • Sharks: There are a number of sharks that patrol the beaches and waters of Miami. Sharks spotted off Miami beach include tiger sharks (see video below), hammerhead sharks, nurse sharks, blacktip sharks and believe it or not, great white sharks too (see below*).
  • Grey mullet: The coast of Miami sees the grey mullet migration (mullet run), and if you’re luck you may see this phenomenon when you’re there. Be careful when swimming or snorkeling in or near the mullet migration, as these large shoals of fish attract feeding sharks and tarpon, and you may get bitten by mistake if you are next to the feeding frenzy.

* You may like to read this article, which explains the great white sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean too. But you don’t really need to worry about great white sharks in Miami Beach, as the great white sharks will mostly be in deeper waters offshore.

The following video from the BBC captures the grey mullet run in South Florida, where blacktip sharks and tarpon feed on this huge shoal of bait fish.

Shark devours wall of mullets – Seven Worlds, One Planet | BBC Earth – blacktip sharks and tarpon hunter the mullet of Miami Beach Florida
Blacktip sharks, pelicans and tarpon feast on millions of grey mullet as the fish migrate along the coast of Florida.

Another video of the mullet run, this time further north of Miami Beach, but you’ll see the feeding sharks and tarpon in this video and the mullet trying to escape by jumping out of the water.

Mullet Run 2017 🐟 Sharks! 🐟 Aug. 15, 2017
Sharks and Tarpon! Taken August 15th 2017 on Hutchinson Island, Jensen Beach, Florida.

The following drone footage captures a large tiger shark swimming in between swimmers in Miami Beach. Notice how close this tiger shark gets to the swimmers, and yet it doesn’t attack them. This is because the tiger shark is hunting for the prey it eats, which doesn’t include humans.

So whilst this appears scary on first viewing, it isn’t really that worrying, as this tiger shark is just going about its business and is ignoring the people in the water. If it was hunting the swimmers, it would not have hesitated to attack them, as they are easy-prey. But this tiger shark is not hunting humans, so it didn’t attack them.

Drone Footage Captures Tiger Shark Roaming Close to Swimmers in Miami’s South Beach Shore
Drone footage shows a tiger shark roaming very close to swimmers on the shore of South Beach in Miami, Florida

Metal detecting Miami Beach snorkeling

One way to make Miami Beach snorkeling more interesting is to get yourself an underwater metal detector.

In the following video Mr_Blaha finds a few bits of metal whilst snorkeling with his metal detector off Miami Beach, which includes a toe ring, an earring, a few pennies, a bit of old rusty metal and a bottle cap.

See What We Found Treasure Hunting In South Beach Miami (Underwater Metal Detector & GoPro POV)
We went treasure hunting in South Beach Miami Florida. It was not the best day, but the underwater metal detector was a lot of fun!

I hope you enjoyed this page about Miami Beach snorkeling

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about Miami Beach snorkeling), please comment below with your questions.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Miami Beach Snorkeling: The Best Free Snorkeling Spots

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been a scuba diver since diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1989. After his first dive he trained as a BSAC diver in the UK. He attained his Diver Leader certification with BSAC. He then went on to become a scuba diving instructor, teaching others how to dive and was voted as Diving Officer and Treasurer for the Saffron Walden BSAC club too. Russell has dived all over the world, including the UK, on liveaboards in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, South Africa and the USA. Russell is experienced in all dive types, including drift diving, deep dives that involved decompression stops and recreational dives too.

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