A trip to Florida  would be absolutely incomplete without getting wet. This quick itinerary allows you to experience some of the unique water-based attractions that you can only find in the Sunshine State. There is fantastic snorkeling all along Florida’s coastline, but if you make your home base in Tampa Bay , you’ll also be able to take in some unique underwater sights like manatees and the sponge-divers of Tarpon Springs .
From downtown Tampa , the excellent Caladesi Island State Park  is about 45 minutes away. In addition to beautiful and award-winning beaches, Caladesi offers calm waters that are excellent for snorkeling.
To get to Egmont Key State Park , you have to take a ferry from Fort DeSoto Park, or board a scheduled cruise from the town of St. Pete Beach . While Egmont Key’s isolated nature is necessary in part due to the fact that it’s a wildlife refuge, the small bit of hassle you’ll have to endure is worth it for the excellent snorkeling that can be found just offshore. In addition to sighting schools of beautiful tropical fish, there’s a good chance that you’ll wind up swimming alongside one of the pods of dolphins that frequent the area.
If You’re Here During the Winter—Wake up early for a 90-minute drive to Crystal River , a small rural town on the Gulf coast with a network of warm waterways like the Three Sisters Spring that are a favorite of manatees. You can spend the morning canoeing and kayaking the area, keeping an eye out for the sea cows that lumber along just beneath the surface. Heading back toward Tampa, the small fishing village of Tarpon Springs  is about an hour away. There you can be immersed in the village’s rich Greek history, which includes the legacy industry of sponge-diving. At the very least you can get some really yummy spanakopita.
If You’re Here During the Summer—The reefs along Treasure Coast are about three hours from Tampa. There are excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities along the Treasure Coast. The expansive Vero Beach Reef runs from Sebastian Inlet in the north all the way to Fort Pierce Inlet. It is largely unbroken, quite close to shore, and about half a mile wide. Intrepid divers can spot dozens of species of tropical fish, corals, turtles, manatees, rays, and even sharks. The best reef ledges are in the Vero Beach area, with enormous outcroppings and deep caves that provide superlative diving opportunities.