Go snorkeling in South Florida
I did something amazing this weekend: I went snorkeling off Pompano Beach in South Florida. It was my first time and, if I had to think of one word to describe my experience, it was awesome. It was extremely great. I saw the remains of a shipwreck. I saw a shark (and followed it for a bit and tried not be scared). I saw gorgeous fish. I saw different colors and textures of coral. The water temperature was perfect. I got to work on my tan. I exercised in clear blue waters. And I even got a discount because I used a Travelzoo voucher.
Let me tell you more about it.
The company my friend Jen and I used is called Dixie Divers. Their store where you get the necessary equipment for snorkeling (or scuba diving!) and the vessel are in Deerfield Beach, FL, about an hour north of Miami. Here’s a video they made of what’s it’s like to go snorkeling with them (ignore the cheesy music):
Your morning would begin like this: arrive at the store by 8am (they will tell you to get there at 7:30am, but I’m a rebel) to obtain your gear and then drive 5 min. to the water, park, and get on the boat. Once it departs at 8:30am, you’ll get to relax and gaze at this:
About 30 min. later (I’m not sure how long it took because I was enthralled by the view and the breeze), you will find yourself ¼ of a mile off Pompano Beach, where you’ll get to check out the SS Copenhagen shipwreck. I’ll admit that I was not impressed. What I did enjoy was swimming amid a school of silver fish and detecting some kind of a stingray crawling at the bottom along remnants of the ship. You can swim, explore, float lazily, and tan on the boat for 45 min. to an hour.
After that, you will be summoned back on board and taken for a ride to the Nursery reef, which got its name because its residents include nurse sharks (they are used to divers and, according to one of the Dixie Diver tour guides, do not have teeth. I’m not sure I believe him.). This was my favorite snorkeling site! Plenty of fish! A couple of sharks! Underwater caves! Colors galore! A lovely coral reef! See for yourself:
All this while basking in the rays of South Florida’s glistening sun, your hair gently caressed by the wind, and listening to Sublime, Bob Marley (of course!), and other bands known for their laid-back and uplifting tunes (all this appears to be the delightful trend when boarding a catamaran and sailing off for a sunset cruise or snorkeling trip here).
This trip comes with sodas, water, animal crackers, and pretzels for you to snack on. I brought my own water and asked to have one of the oranges in the cooler because a) my body does not respond well to gluten and b) if I’m going to gorge myself on sugar, it will come in the form of cake or a frozen dessert, not a toxic soda that will, to boot, make me gassy (TMI? Nobody asked you to read this!). So I abstained. You can bring your own snacks and drinks, including beer and wine, and I encourage you to do both if you’re into that.
[Unfortunately,] I am not getting paid to write this review.
Want to go snorkeling?
Other South Florida companies that can take you out on diving, scuba or snorkeling trips or for a sunset cruise include:
- Miami Aqua Tours (leaves from downtown Miami)
- Play Time Water Sports (leaves from Brickell/downtown Miami) – this company is very disorganized and their website sucks. However, I went on their sunset cruise and it was gorgeous. Plus, the tour guides were charming and the trip included unlimited wine, beer, and snacks. Make your reservation a few weeks in advance and you’ll be golden. I might write a review of my trip.
- Miami Water Life Sports (leaves from Key Biscayne in Miami)
Check Travelzoo, Groupon, Living Social, Dealfind, Amazon deals, and others to find discounts for these and other excursions. There are some pretty excellent deals going on. Sign up for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and other cities if you’re planning to visit!
Do your part to protect coral reefs
There are a few ways you can help protect coral reefs:
- Do not rip off pieces of coral to take home. That is selfish and harmful. Even worse, it can upset ecosystem balance. (Obviously.) Don’t do it.
- Do not litter. Don’t be that jerk. Turtles and other marine animals already eat plastic bags because they confuse them for food, such as jellyfish, and birds and fish everywhere are found dead with pieces of plastic in their digestive systems. Throw your junk in the trash or keep it on you until you return to land and recycle or toss it in a trash can there.
- Wear reef-safe sunscreen. What is reef-safe sunscreen? Sunscreen that doesn’t bleach coral reefs and contribute to their destruction. If you forget yours, Dixie Divers sells some at its store. To be sure you can wear it, however, especially if you choose another company, buy it yourself. It’s available at stores like Whole Foods and of course online via Amazon, Vitacost (my favorite), and other websites. I recently bought Kiss My Face SPF 30 sunblock spray through Vitacost and used it on my snorkeling trip. Highly recommended! Just remember to reapply after each dive.
- Do not feed wildlife.
That said, enjoy the adventure!