Readers' Choice: John Pennekamp Coral Reef and State Park
With all due respect to Looe Key, Biscayne National Park, and John Pennekamp, snorkeling holes should offer a stronger sense of adventure than the popular spots. A lack of humans is almost as rewarding as an abundance of sea life. As you travel toward Key Biscayne on the Rickenbacker, cross the bridge on the far side of the cut and then follow the shoreline away from the causeway to the farthest point out. It's not a casual stroll -- mangroves and other obstacles can get in the way -- but out here the current isn't nearly as strong as in the cut proper, and you're likely to observe sharks, barracuda, crabs, rays, angelfish, jack, trout, even the occasional, and thrilling, snook. One gorgeous spring afternoon a solo diver at the location remarked, "Hardly anybody comes out here, but it's worth the trip because you never know what you might see. One time I saw a spinner shark break water, and when I went down, I saw three nice sharks." Most gorgeous afternoons there is no one here. It's not St. Lucia or the Seychelles or Micronesia, but for local waters this place offers everything that Looe, BNP, and Pennekamp do -- everything but the crowds.