A terrific option for snorkeling in Key West is the Sebago group, I have used them a few times and always been pleased. www.keywestsebago.com
Tours geared towards dolphin sites http://www.wilddolphinadventures.com/play.html This group bills themselves as "A wild dolphin watching ecology tour and swimming snorkeling trip to Key West "
As far as dolphin swims, I am afraid the dolphins kept in captivity are the only guaranteed "swim" experience. Some are more responsible than others. You have a couple choices for these from Orlando http://www.discoverycove.com/en_promotions.aspx
on down through the Keys. Marathon www.dolphins.org, Key Largo -www.dolphinworld.org and Islamorada www.theaterofthesea.com/dolphin.swim.htm
We took the 11 a.m. Sunny Days snorkeling trip on the Cruzan Cat primarily because it was the cheapest one we could find that did not require us to drive 30 miles to the state park. Turned out to be a very good decision. It was a small group of 15 people.
As other tours typically go out at 9 and 2, we were the only ones out on the reef. We did two reef stops w/ about 45 minutes at each one.
It was unusually choppy that day but we were able to snorkel just fine.
The first stop was good but the second was great!
While I have seen more variety in some places in the Caribbean, I have never seen the quantity of fish we saw at the second stop on this trip. Instead of just a fish here and there, it was schools of tropical fish all around you.
The captain, Graham, and the lifeguard, Teresa, made sure we had a great time. They provided lots of soft drinks.
We went with the group "Fury Catamans". Snorkle gear and drinks are included with your snorkle trip. It was a nice boat with easy access stairs to get in/out of the water. They take you out to the third largest reef in the world; its about 7 miles from land. It was my first time snorkling and I was surprised at how easy it was and how well I could see in the water. The only downer was when all the jelly fish started floating our way. My friend got stung so we got back on the boat. Then everyone else started getting back on because of the jellyfish. What was suppose to be a 2 hour snorkle turn into only 45 minutes because of the surprisingly amount of jelly fish! But don't fret if you want to snorkle, that was a rare occurance. The workers told us that jelly fish are more likely to be encountered in Sept/Oct, and even then it is not normally as bad as what we saw.
What an inexpensive treat for us! It cost like 30bucks to snorkel in a coral sanctuary for 2 hours. Take an hour ride to the spot and jump in. They provide drinking water, and equipment, but you can always bring your own. Be sure and pack an underwater camera.
On the return to the island, there were sandwiches and beer served. What a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
There are many tours in Key West for snorkeling. We saw boats go out packed with 40+ people that were all crammed up and looking miserable and uncomfortable. Instead, we opted for an all day kayak/snorkel/fish tour from a smaller boat with a captain and a guide (and their dog), and 8 guests. They had plenty of food and drinks on the boat (and even had a cookout). They took us to secluded places where we could see no other people or boats, only wildlife. We went on a very adventurous kayak ride through mangroves. Went snorkeling (saw a large shark!) and even had some time to relax. It was such a great way to leave behind the bars of Duval street and remember what it is that brought so many people to Key West in the first place!
Sebago has several catamarans that you can ride the high seas on with groups of other people. We met some terrific people on our boat and spent the rest of the evening with them drinking pina coladas at Sloppy Joes. The catamaran captain with his 2 able bodied mates sails you out into the sea for about one hour while you bask in the sun and look for dolphins, of which we saw none but we did see a giant sea turtle! The cost was about 30$ per person for four hours.
The water is so beautiful and blue! We took a catamaran out for snorkeling! It was $34pp and included all your gear (snorkel, mask, fins, vest) and water, beer & wine. The crew was very friendly and shared tons of info with a smile! The ride on the boat out to the reef was worth the $34 all by itself! It was beautiful! You only need to remember to bring a towel for drying off and an underwater camera.
I've also taken the Fast Cat out to the Dry Tortugas. That trip was amazing! I think it was $90 - worth every dime! The trip out there is beautiful and the fort and snorkeling is really fun. Again, a fun staff and the sodas & beer flow. They also provide lunch on the trip to the Dry Tortugas.
The BLUE "Q" a 42' Catamaran. Outstanding Captain, Captain Steve, and Crew on this "all Gay" daysail. (they let me on anyway, saying that I would probably be Gay by the time we got back !!) That made me a little nervous, but I need not have been. Everyone was very polite and friendly.
The cruise I was on was "clothing optional", so if you are not Gay or not up to this kind of adventure, this boat is NOT for you.
This is an exceptionally clean boat and exceptionally well managed. The food is good too. We snokeled out in the Gulf Stream - quite a treat in February! Wonderfully warm and clear/clean water. A little "skinney dipp'n" in the Gulf Stream and you feel reborn!!
A big, fast, and comfortable boat. Easily the best deal in Key West.
Do diving or snorkelling. I had arrange to do some technical divres on USS Curb, and lugged my diving gear as appropriate. We got blown out in the end, but still managed to get a couple of reef dives in, and more interesting, dives on 'Cayman Salvager' and 'Joes Tug'
Water is warm which is the main reason to a New England diver - and fairly clear, though I did have a 10' viz dive.
To tell you truth I havent done it yet$$But I did fly planes out of there.It would be a great activity and a beautiful spot to do it and different from other things in Key West
Do a snorkel or dive trip especially if you missed it further up the keys.
Visit nearby coral reefs via the 65 foot catamaran, The Fury.