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Snorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life Underwater

Snorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life UnderwaterSnorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life Underwater

Our spectacular national parks often bring to mind visions of towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and perhaps beautiful ocean vistas, but are not typically associated with destinations that are ideal for snorkeling.

Surprisingly, there are a number of parks in which you can experience the beauty of life underwater with no passport required. Consider these three if you'd like to take a journey beneath the deep in some of our nation's best parks.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas is located about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida, only accessible by boat or seaplane. Considered the crown jewel of U.S. snorkeling, this cluster of seven islands is home to brilliant coral reefs, a sunken ship, a wide variety of colorful fish and an abundance of sea turtles in the waters that are about as warm as the outside temperatures -- typically mid-60s in the winter and up to 90 degrees during summer's peak.

Snorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life UnderwaterSnorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life Underwater

The most affordable option for getting there is a high-speed catamaran on the National Park Ferry, the Yankee Freedom III, with adult fares running $165 round trip. The journey is part of the adventure, with an on-board naturalist providing information on the park's surroundings. The ride includes a continental breakfast; on the island you'll receive snorkel gear, instruction, and lunch.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is one of the most accessible parks in the U.S. for snorkeling, located just outside Miami, Florida. Here you'll find a unique combination of jade-colored waters, emerald islands, and coral reefs that are home to 512 species of fish as well as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and manatees.

Snorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life UnderwaterSnorkeling in Our U.S. National Parks? Three Ideal Parks to Experience Life Underwater

Sunshine can be found year-round in this subtropical climate, and it's a perfect place for those who've never been snorkeling to learn. A number of outfitters offer tours that include instruction, equipment, as well as pointing out the best of the hidden wonders found underwater.

Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park includes half of St. John and nearly all of Hassel Island in the Charlotte Amalie harbor on St. Thomas, situated about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

This U.S. National Park is famed for its spectacular diving and snorkeling opportunities, and it is one of the best when it comes to underwater destinations that don't require a passport. Here you'll find everything from shallow, calm, and crystal-clear waters for even the youngest snorkelers at Cinnamon Bay, to Trunk Bay, consistently named one of the best beaches on the entire planet.

There is very little temperature difference between summer and winter, with the warm, translucent waters filled with vivid multicolored fish and some of the world's most brilliant and beautiful coral reefs. This is home to 302 species of fish as well as sea turtles, with the skies offering 140 varieties of birds and the land filled with lush, tropical forests, wildflowers, and breathtaking views.

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