SCUBA diving isn't the only way to get up close and personal with marine life. You may not get to go as deep without a tank, but if you know where to dive, a snorkel, mask, and fins are all you need to see the underwater world of coral, fish, and even whales and sharks. The best part: snorkeling requires minimal effort, time, equipment, and no certification. Here are thirteen of the best places in the world to mingle with sea creatures — no training necessary.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Florida
The 2,900-square-nautical mile sanctuary stretches from Key Largo, less than 50 miles from Miami, to Dry Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West. Those needing a quick snorkel escape can hit Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which even offers guided tours and equipment rental. Or, drive 122 miles to Key West and take the two-hour ferry to Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park where the only crowds are huge schools of fish. Snorkel over clouds of grey snapper and three-foot silvery tarpon along the moat wall. Grouper, barracuda, and reef fish hang out among sets of pilings left from Navy coal piers built in the 1800s. Some 30 species of stony and soft corals thrive in the warm, clear water around the island. Return on the afternoon ferry or camp on the island for a moonlight snorkel experience.
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