Sombrero Beach Snorkeling Guide

It's so cliché to flock to Key Largo or Key West for snorkeling and scuba getaways, but those "in-the-know" suggest that the real action lies beneath the surface of the azure waters in the Middle Keys. More specifically the best snorkeling in the Florida Keys is said to be found at Sombrero Beach, on the south side of Marathon. Due to its oceanside location, this is also known to be one of the best places to watch the unobstructed setting sun descending into the Atlantic waters at the end of an invigorating beach day.

Safe, Fun, Exploration For All

Sombrero Beach is a stretch of public beach just two miles off the Overseas Highway. The palm tree-lined, white sand shores of Sombrero Beach open the world of snorkeling to young and old alike, regardless of experience level. The gentle conditions of the shallow water area make for a preferable training ground for the newest of snorkelers, with the deeper waters just a wisp away to serve seasoned pros seeking fresh new challenges. Bordering sea grass beds, sand flats, and the rock shelf offer safe shore snorkeling opportunities rife with starfish and undersea crustaceans, so it's no surprise that this is a popular choice for both local and vacationing families.

Sombrero Reef

Photo Credit: mmmundrick via Instagram

Located just eight miles offshore, Sombrero Reef is the third largest barrier reef in the world and the largest reef in the Middle Keys. This beautiful 30 acre coral reef dive site ranges in depth from 2–30 feet, providing a thriving habitat for thousands of tropical fish, vibrant corals, sponges and other marine life. The site is home to assorted small canyons and sea cave arches to explore. Possibly the best snorkeling spot in the Keys, Sombrero Reef features a spur-and-groove formation right on the edge of the barrier reef where the Sombrero Lighthouse stands. With a focal plane of 142 feet, the offshore iron lighthouse is the tallest of Florida’s six reef lights, deactivated in 2015.

Area Wildlife And Seasonal Residents

Photo Credit: ryleypaigephoto via Instagram

As far as marine life, you can't get much more diverse than the vast array of species that inhabit the waters around Sombrero Beach! In addition to assorted corals, sponges, sea fans, and plumes - Hogfish, Wrasse, Parrotfish, Angelfish, Scorpionfish, Stoplight, Damselfish, Snapper, Barracuda, Blue Tang, and countless other fish species also call the reef area home. The reef is a regulated Sanctuary Preservation Area, so fishing and lobstering are strictly prohibited. From April into October, Sombrero Beach is also a loggerhead sea turtle nesting site. While prime time for snorkeling falls between March and September, we kindly ask that you observe protected areas of the beach that are off-limits to guests during nesting season.

On-Site Facilities And Regulations

When it's time to come up for air, kayaking is another favorite activity to consider. For your Sombrero Beach shore time, there are plenty of convenient amenities to be found on the beach. Enjoy a lunch break at the shady picnic pavilion complete with barbecue pits, while the kids burn off some energy on the playground or volleyball court. Modern changing rooms, restrooms, and showers are also on-site for public use. There is ample free parking at the top of the beach. and handicap access on a wide, flat path. Dogs on leashes are welcome to join in on the family fun! Sombrero Beach is found (appropriately) at the end of Sombrero Beach Road from Mile Marker 50 off the Overseas Highway. The park is open from 7:30 AM until dusk.

Local Snorkeling Guides And Services

To maximize your snorkeling experience and safety at Sombrero Beach, consider a guided excursion with local professionals!

Spirit Snorkeling of Marathon • 305-743-4403

Starfish Snorkeling Tours • (305) 481-0407

Further Adventures

Keep your Florida Keys snorkeling adventures going with day trips northward to Islamorada and south to Big Pine Key and Bahia Honda State Park - or check out Curry Hammock State Park for natural exploration a little closer to your Marathon Florida vacation rental!