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Snorkeling On Florida's Gulf Coast

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Siesta Beach in Sarasota and Caspersen Park in Venice

The Gulf coast of Florida is generally much calmer ocean that resembles, at times, a rolling lake. Waves are seldom much bigger than 2-3 ft. As far as beaches go, Florida abounds with many great beaches, but, Siesta Beach in Sarasota continually wins the "Best Beach" in America award (although, there are many similar to Siesta) mainly for its vast size of very white sand that glistens when the sun bakes down. Siesta is very wide and long plus there are plenty of amenities to support burned out beachcombers. However, its secret that not many know of is that it offers shallow dive snorkeling at its most southern end. It IS one of the few places on the Gulf that has limited coral growths that tropical fish love. The underwater algae attaches to the various limestone formations that create a snorkeling event. Granted, this is NOT anything like snorkeling in the Florida Keys at their Marine Sanctuaries like Sombrero, Alligator or Looe Reefs, but it does provide things to do at this beach other than sunning. One could say that the snorkeling at Siesta Key is for newbies, kids, or others just interested. The water is usually clear and snorkeling is close to shore in mostly shallow water.

In reality, the snorkeling spot is actually in Crescent Beach, that is part of the most southern section of Siesta. Getting there by car is quite easy:

1. Take Hwy 41 to Stickney Point Rd

2. Take Stickney Pt. Rd west until the T intersection (Midnight Pass Rd)

3. Turn left at signal. Beach Access #12 will be on your right. This is the only place for public parking (20 spots). This address is 6490 Midnight Pass Rd. NOTE: If you turn right at the T intersection, Siesta Beach is a few miles on the left.

4. From the parking lot, you will need to walk about 10 minutes to the left until you reach Point of Rocks ( literally, a large amount of rocks can be seen in the surf). Continue to pass the seawall to the other side where a small beach sits.

Caspersen Park

About 30 minutes south of Sarasota is another popular spot, Venice. Great for boating, kayaking, biking along a 20 mile long paved bikeway (or mountain biking at Jelks or Carlton Preserve in wilderness), it also provides limited snorkeling at Caspersen.

Behind this park is the Intracoastal Waterway boaters use, while the other side faces the Gulf. The park offers a less crowded beach experience and is as beautiful as Siesta. Along many parts of the beach, rock formations jet out from the surf. There is a rugged look about this part of the beach and sea creatures love rocks While you won't any coral or much plant growth, small tropical fish and crabs dwell among the rocks. The depth is from 3-8ft. Caspersen is also known for its many prehistoric shark teeth fossils that wash up on the shoreline. Many visitors spend hours sifting the sand looking for them.

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