10 Freshwater Snorkeling Spots with Exotic Fish | LakeWizard

Key Takeaways

  • Discover vibrant freshwater ecosystems where you can snorkel with exotic fish.
  • Enjoy easy accessibility and comfortable conditions at top snorkeling spots.
  • Experience diversity in freshwater snorkeling from Florida’s springs to the clear lakes of the American West.

Wondering where you can spot exotic fish without diving into the ocean?

You’re in for a surprise!

The world of freshwater snorkeling is brimming with vibrant ecosystems, and you don't have to be a seasoned diver to enjoy them.

Freshwater snorkeling can reveal an underwater spectacle teeming with exotic fish, right in our own backyard.

From Florida's crystal springs to the mysterious waters of the American West, there are numerous spots where you can immerse yourself in the serenity of freshwater habitats.

Trust us, you won't need a saltwater tank to experience the thrill of swimming alongside colorful fish.

These freshwater spots offer clear visibility, comfortable swimming conditions, and the chance to connect with nature in a unique way.

Ready to dip your toes into some of the most picturesque snorkeling spots across the country?

Table of contents


Devil's Den Spring (Florida)

Have you ever fancied snorkeling in a spot that's not just any old pond or lake?

Let me take you to Devil's Den Spring, a snorkeling haven with water as clear as your intentions for adventure!

This prehistoric gem is nestled near Williston, Florida, and it's not your typical snorkeling site - we're talking an underground spring, folks!

Why Devil's Den Spring?

  • Clear Water: The visibility is spectacular, making it a fabulous spot to observe the local aquatic residents.
  • Exotic Fish: You'll encounter fish species from catfish to bass, all within an arm's reach.
  • Ancient Appeal: Snorkeling here is like taking a dip in history. Feel the charm of prehistoric Florida!

Need-to-know for Snorkelers:

  • Time Limit: You have a generous 90 minutes to explore under the surface.
  • Equipment: Snorkeling gear is a must, but if you don't have your own, rentals are available.
  • Reservations: Remember, you've got to book your spot in advance.

Please note, this spot doesn't allow general swimming, but who needs swimming when you can snorkel in such an incredible place?

And keep in mind, the folks at Devil's Den are all about conserving this natural wonder, so expect a well-managed and respectful snorkeling experience.

Got your snorkel and fins ready?


Because at Devil's Den Spring, every peep into the water is a peek into the past.

Don't forget, you'll need to call 352-528-3344 to reserve your slice of snorkeling paradise.

Happy snorkeling!

Crystal River (Florida)

Ever imagined snorkeling in a spot where you can greet the friendly manatees?

Crystal River in Florida is that dreamy locale, where you don't just meet fish, but have the chance to swim with the gentle giants of the sea.

Isn't that something to tick off your bucket list?

Here's the scoop on snorkeling in this fascinating spot:

  • Three Main Snorkeling Sites: Three Sisters Springs, House Spring, and Jurassic Spring are where the magic happens.
  • Tours: It’s super easy to book a boat tour. Typically, they run for 2 to 3 hours, and prices hover around $60 to $80 per person.
  • Manatee Season: Visiting during manatee season boosts your chances of spotting these serene creatures. Plus, the water visibility is top-notch!

But wait, there's more!

While large, lumbering manatees are the stars, don't forget the supporting cast of freshwater fish like largemouth bass and bluegill.

Crystal River isn't just clear by name—it's like looking through glass, making it perfect for spotting an array of underwater life.

So, whether you're a snorkeling newbie or a seasoned pro with your own fins and mask, have you considered adding Crystal River to your must-visit list?

With the promise of exceptionally clear waters and personal encounters with aquatic wildlife, it's a no-brainer for an unforgettable freshwater adventure.

Ready to dive into a world where fish are friends, not food?

Crystal River is waiting for you!

Blue Spring State Park (Florida)

Have you ever dipped your toes in waters that stay a cozy 72-73 degrees year-round?

Well, at Blue Spring State Park, that's the refreshing reality!

This aquatic haven in Orange City, Florida is not just a hotspot for humans looking to beat the heat; it's a beloved winter home for manatees, those gentle sea cows that we can't help but adore.

Interested in snorkeling with a backdrop of exotic freshwater fish?

You're in luck!

Blue Spring State Park is a snorkeler's dream.

Glide through crystal-clear waters and you'll spot gar, tilapia, and a variety of colorful sunfish.

It's like finding Nemo, but in Florida's freshwater!

  • Location: 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, Florida
  • Accessibility: Just a 40-minute drive from Orlando
  • Water Temperature: A cool 72-73 degrees Fahrenheit

Did we mention manatees?

From the park's overlooks, you can witness hundreds of these majestic creatures during the winter — an experience that's as rare as it's unforgettable.

And if you're an early bird, start your day with a nature walk on the boardwalk at 8:30 AM, or rent kayaks and paddleboards for an aquatic adventure.

  1. Activities to Try:
  1. 8:30 AM: Nature walk
  2. 9:00 AM: Kayaking or paddleboarding
  3. 10:00 AM: Boat tour (Optional)
  4. 11:00 AM: Swimming in the springs
  5. 12:00 PM: Picnic lunch
  6. 1:00 PM: Museum visit or exploring nature trails

Remember, while encountering a shimmering school of fish or a curious manatee, always respect their home.

Keep your hands to yourself, and your memories will surely last a lifetime.

Who's ready for a splash-tastic adventure?

Rainbow River (Florida)

Ever dipped your toes into water so clear you could practically see fish smiling back at you from the riverbed?

If you haven't, then you're in for a treat at Rainbow River!

Located in southwestern Marion County, near Dunnellon, Florida, it's the snorkeling utopia you've been dreaming of.

Why is it so special?

Rainbow River is fed by natural springs, ensuring that the water is crystal clear and a constant, cool temperature year-round—perfect for escaping that Florida heat!

And, oh boy, the aquatic life here is like peeking into a live aquarium.

Get ready to say hello to friendly turtles, watchful bass, and curious sunfish.

What can you expect?

  • Visibility: Legendary clarity, making underwater encounters stunningly vivid.
  • Length of the River: 5.7 miles of snorkeling paradise.
  • Max Depth: You can explore up to 25 feet deep, and every inch is worth it!

Now, how about the creatures you'll be rubbing fins with?

It's not just about the fish—although catch-and-release fishing is encouraged—the ecosystem here is rich and diverse.

You're practically guaranteed to come across a variety of underwater wildlife that'll make you consider marine biology as a career change!

Don't worry about packing heavy; you can paddle up, rent a kayak, or go full mermaid and snorkel your way back.

This adventure is just an hour and a half drive north of Tampa.

And trust me, it’s a drive worth every minute.

Rainbow River is not just a snorkeling spot—it's an experience that will become a technicolor memory in your adventures album.

Dust off that snorkel gear, and don't forget your underwater camera!

Homestead Crater (Utah)

Have you ever imagined snorkeling in a crater?

Well, let's talk about Utah's very own Homestead Crater, where you can swim alongside fish in a 10,000-year-old geothermal spring.

The water is a toasty 95°F (35°C) all year long—no wetsuit necessary!

Imagine basking in these warm waters while gazing at tilapia darting around—definitely not your typical snorkeling scene.

Key Details:

  • Depth: 65 feet
  • Visibility: Up to 40 feet (12 meters)
  • Location: 700 North Homestead Dr, Midway, UT 84049, USA
  • Contact: (435) 657-3840 or [email protected]

Isn't it fascinating to think that the crater, with a 400-foot diameter, is actually a limestone dome?

And get this: above you, there's a 55-foot limestone formation.

It's like snorkeling inside a giant natural aquarium, isn't it?

  1. Activities Available:
  1. Snorkeling
  2. Scuba diving (get certified right here in the lower 48 states)
  3. SUP yoga
  4. Swimming
  5. Soaking

Planning Your Visit: The crater beckons you to its clear, azure waters Monday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and opening hours are extended on weekends, making it perfect for an aquatic adventure at almost any time.

Be sure to make reservations—this spot is beloved by locals and travelers alike, and you wouldn't want to miss out!

Snorkeling in Homestead Crater is more than just a dip in the pool; it's an adventure into the heart of geothermal wonder.

Don't you just want to jump in?

Lake Tahoe (California/Nevada)

Have you ever wondered what it's like to explore an underwater world that's crystal clear and brimming with life?

Welcome to Lake Tahoe!

Nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, this mesmerizing body of water straddles two states, California and Nevada, and is a snorkeling paradise you won't want to miss.

  • Donner Lake: While not directly in Tahoe, it's the less crowded cousin just north of the big lake near Truckee. For the best snorkeling adventure, head to the public piers on the north shore.
  • D.L. Bliss State Park: Easy to reach. Enter from Highway 89 and discover a place where crawfish convene, and schools of fish thrive among the rocks.

Ever imagined swimming alongside trout in waters so limpid you'd think they were polished glass?

Here's where the fun begins:

  1. Sand Harbor Beach: With its mammoth boulders and fallen trees, the scenery here is spectacular. Parking's a premium—so be an early bird!
  2. Speedboat Beach: Next to Kings Beach, this snug spot is all about the big rocks and views worth the squeeze—albeit with limited parking and beach area.
  3. Secret Cove: True to its name, it's a hideaway perfect for those chilling, yet awe-filled, underwater experiences.

Each spot in Lake Tahoe comes with its own set of quirks, be it parking challenges or a bit of a temp drop—yep, it can get chilly!

But the sight of the underwater terrain is something to write home about.

So, why not grab your snorkel and tickle your adventure bone?

Remember, those aquatic snapshots will be epic—gotta cherish and share every moment of that Tahoe blue!

Try to spot the exotic fishes because trust me, they're not shy!

And if you do feel a nip in the water, that's just Tahoe’s way of saying 'hello!'

Clear Lake (Oregon)

Have you ever fancied snorkeling in crystal-clear waters while being surrounded by a sunken forest?

Well, pack your fins and snorkel because Clear Lake in Oregon is the spot you've been dreaming of.

Imagine gliding over trunks of ancient trees submerged thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption — doesn’t that sound like exploring another world?

At the heart of Willamette National Forest, Clear Lake is home to vibrant aquatic life.

With visibility over 100 feet, you'll spot not just the eerie beauty of the underwater forest but also schools of rainbow trout and the flashy silver sides of kokanee salmon.

  • Average Surface Temperatures: About 43 degrees Fahrenheit year-round
  • Popular Activities: Snorkeling, diving (notable for being an altitude dive at 3100 feet)
  • Facilities: Camping areas, cabins, boat rentals (note: motorized craft are not allowed)

Remember, this isn't your typical beachside snorkel.

The lake's altitude and the cool water temps mean packing a wetsuit is a smart move.

That way, you can stay comfortable as you discover the underwater spectacle.

No worries about motorized boats disturbing the peace or muddying the water — they're not permitted here.

Instead, you get unobstructed views of the lake's fresh, algae-free water.

Don’t have your own gear?

You can easily rent what you need from the nearby facilities.

And after a day of underwater exploration, kick back at the local cafe or recount your adventure by a campfire.

So, are you ready to take the plunge into the refreshing waters of Clear Lake?

Conasauga River (Tennessee/Georgia)

Have you ever fantasized about exploring an underwater wonderland, teeming with vibrant fish right where Tennessee meets Georgia?

Welcome to the Conasauga River, a snorkeler's paradise that's just waiting for you to plunge in.

Imagine floating on the water's surface, peeking into a bustling world below.

Yes, the Conasauga River is exactly where you can experience this captivating marvel.

Here, the freshwater visibility allows you to spot an incredible variety of fish—think colorful darters, energetic bass, and shimmery shiners.

With turtles, tadpoles, and salamanders joining the party, it's no wonder why the river is compared to swimming in an aquarium.

  • Location: Southeast Tennessee/Northwest Georgia
  • Notable Fish: Darters, Bass, Shiners
  • Dive right in: Snorkel tours available (mask, snorkel provided)
  • Tours: June-August, Thursday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Guide Services: Available with expertise on the local aquatic life
  • Cost: Approximately $30 (includes guide and equipment)

Cherokee National Forest encompasses part of the river and makes the whole experience hassle-free by offering guided tours.

Thinking about water temperature?

Don't fret; wetsuits are provided to keep you cozy.

And don't worry about getting your own gear; they've got you sorted with masks and snorkels.

If you're a do-it-yourself type, the Conasauga River Snorkel Hole is found near the Georgia-Tennessee state line.

It's a self-guided adventure that will have you counting fish rather than sheep by the end of the day—thousands call these waters home!

With snorkeling programs running through the warmer months, there's plenty of time to plan your visit.

Fancy a glimpse of the aquatic biodiversity?

The river also harbors endangered species, underlining its ecological importance.

So, why not dive into the Conasauga River and marvel at the underwater spectacle?

It's an unbeatable freshwater snorkeling experience that just might become the highlight of your summer.

Who knew snorkeling in Tennessee and Georgia could rival ocean explorations?

Now you do!

Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Florida)

Ever been snorkeling in a natural aquarium?

You might want to add Ichetucknee Springs State Park to your bucket list.

Nestled in Fort White, just north of Gainesville, Florida, this gem showcases crystal-clear waters year-round—a solid choice for those wanting a glimpse of freshwater fish up close.

Why go snorkeling here?

  • Water Clarity: The springs pump out millions of gallons of fresh water daily, making visibility a dream come true.
  • Fish Galore: Fancy swimming with mullet, gar, or sunfish? They’re all here, along with other aquatic buddies, just waiting to say hello.
  • Constant Temperature: The water is a cool 72°F every day, ensuring a refreshing dip whenever you visit.

Getting There and Tips:

  • Address: 12087 S.W. U.S. Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038. Pop it into your GPS and you're on your way.
  • Best Time to Visit: Aim for May to September. The water’s just right, and the summer vibes are in full swing.

Remember to hit the North Entrance for the best spots.

And hey, don’t forget your snorkeling gear.

While the park is a hub for tubing, the underwater scene is the real show-stopper.

Just imagine you're floating in a cool, lazy river, surrounded by a dance of colorful fish—doesn't that beat your usual pool day?

So, what's stopping you?

Jump in, the water’s fine, and the fish are friendlier than your average aquarium resident.

Trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you later!

Blue Hole (New Mexico)

Have you ever imagined snorkeling in a desert?

Picture yourself floating over shimmering fish in the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

This isn't your average pond—it's an artesian well and cenote that offers a unique underwater adventure.

  • Depth: 81 feet
  • Diameter: 60 feet
  • Water temperature: 60°F – Refreshing!
  • Location: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM
  • Hours: 7 AM-7 PM

The Blue Hole is a desert oasis with water so transparent, you'd swear you can see forever.

Or at least 81 feet down, which is no small feat!

This means, as you snorkel, you're diving into a world that feels as vast as the ocean, yet cozy as your local swimming hole.

Can you believe this place is smack dab in the middle of the desert?

You'll find more than just awe-inspiring views here.

The local fish, like colorful koi and crafty catfish, might just sneak up to say hello.

And the best part?

All this is available year-round.

Talk about a snorkeler's paradise!

Remember though, there are no lifeguards, so safety is in your hands – well, and fins.

Pack your snorkeling gear, but if you forget something, don't fret!

There’s a dive store on-site.

Be sure to soak up the desert sun, but also plan for a chill as you dive into the 60°F water—brrr, talk about a natural cooler!

And just a tip: bring a fast-absorbing microfiber towel.

Trust me, it's a game-changer.

So, what are you waiting for?

Dive in, the fish are waiting!