Diving Longboat Key
Longboat Key is surrounded by magical beaches and pleasant scenery but many people wonder where to go snorkeling/diving while vacationing on Longboat Key? You will find that snorkeling along the grass flats can be enjoyed by all ages and reveals a small glimpse into Florida’s thriving marine community. You will see marine life that includes sea urchins, crabs, clams, scallops, sand dollars, sea stars, and smaller fish. You will find that the grass flats are some of the best places to go snorkeling along with the bays and lee sides of the surrounding islands.
Beer Can Island is a very popular snorkeling location but may require you to get off the beaten path to find this little Florida gem. Although it is not an actual island – more like an attached hook of land best reached by boat, you will find good shelling opportunities and close-up views of the local wildlife. Shelling is best done in the morning when the tide is low. The shell seekers will be delighted to find such beautiful shells while enjoying the spectacular view. Most bird lovers will find that the isolated beach is a perfect place to spot ospreys, herons, gulls, skimmers, pelicans and other waterfowl wading at the surf line and stalking in the shoreline mangroves. The shoreline away from the pass is ideal for slipping on your gear and snorkeling calm waters.
Lido Key is another popular place to enjoy snorkeling in and around Longboat Key. Most people that come here come for sunbathing but the bayside of South Lido Beach holds a quiet snorkeling opportunity where you can sport crabs, clams, sea urchins, scallops, sand dollars, sea stars, and smaller fish. Bradenton Beach is always a hot spot for snorkelers and divers alike. Salt water beach diving is always god on this side of the coast. You will find the dive site about 100 yards off the third pier on Bradenton Beach, specifically the southernmost pier. You will find many colorful sponges and soft coral while your down there along will large stingrays, grouper, snapper, and hogfish. You may be one of the lucky ones that encounter a barracuda, a dolphin, a shark, or a goliath-grouper!
Years ago, locals dumped concrete about 250-300 yards offshore which also helps attract fish and serves as a home for soft corals and sponges to develop. This spot is a little deeper so you will find that the visibility is likely to be better, but we recommend only exceptionally strong swimmers should try to go out this far! A good snorkel/dive day is totally dependent on the weather, especially in this area. Strong winds coming from the west can drastically reduce visibility to about two feet–making it impossible to see what’s in front of you and rendering your dive virtually useless. Check the weather often before your diving day because the weather can change quickly in a matter of an hour while you’re staying in Florida. You will find many places to rent or buy snorkeling gear scattered around the island so if you decide to get a wild hair to do something new, even the smallest shop of Longboat Key can accommodate. One of the most popular dive sites, the Regina Sugar Barge, is located just north of the intersections for Gulf Drive and Cortez Road. If your feeling up to it, you should consider diving this hot spot for marine life. We promise you won’t be disappointed!