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Last updated on July 20, 2023
The small French Key has one of the best preserved reefs on the south coast of the island of Roatan. This lagoon has translucent waters that are sheltered by a coral reef and is ideal for snorkeling. Although it is not easy to access, and there is almost always an entrance fee, the abundance of fish, lobsters and coral make it one of the most beautiful snorkeling spots on the island.
French Key is near French Harbor, on the Southern shores of Roatan. It is accessible by one of these three options:
The resorts also offer snorkeling tours in the lagoon, as well as snorkeling equipment rental.
The best option is to enter the water from the main beach of the Fantasy Island Resort (water entrance 1 on the map above). You can also swim to the reef in just a few minutes from Little French Key (water entrance 2). If you are on a tour, follow your guide’s instructions.
The snorkeling area covers a strip that is about 50 yards wide. It is along the inside of the barrier reef between the Fantasy Island Resort and Little French Key. The depth is constant throughout the area (↕3-6ft/1-2m).
If you swim from the Fantasy Island Resort beach, you will first come across sandy areas before the first coral appears (mainly leafy coral) and grows denser. The coral is in calm waters, protected from the waves, and is quite healthy.
You will soon spot large shoals of grunts living near the coral beds. If you move closer to the reef, you will come across a large number of lobsters. They are seldom seen elsewhere and like to nestle in the crevices of the rocks. You can spot them as they are given away by their white antennae.
The rocky shelter is also the chosen home of much more fearsome creatures. Dozens of lionfish have taken up residence in the reef. Sometimes, in groups of 3 or 4, they will rest in the shelter of the coral. They are highly elegant, with their wing-shaped gills, and not aggressive, but you should not touch them as their sting is dangerous.
In this area, more than anywhere else, do not touch anything and do not step on the seafloor.
The lionfish here are an invasive and voracious species that causes great damage to the underwater life of the Caribbean. Unlike in their native Indian and Pacific Oceans, the lionfish have no known predators in the Caribbean.
As you continue to explore, you may also see reef squid, spotfin butterflyfish or bar jacks. It is not unusual, in the deepest area behind the reef, to come across southern stingrays, too. They always swim off straight into the ocean, darting above the sand and the seagrass.
You will probably be surprised by the clearness of the water, highlighted by the white sand beds. The shallow waters make this an ideal spot for underwater photography.
The resorts provide meals as part of a package or to individual customers. This is the only food and drinks on site.
These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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