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Solar Power Snorkeling: Ecotour Key West, Florida

If you’re an eco-traveler passionate about observing wildlife in an ethical manner while visiting the Florida Keys, then Honest Eco Sustainable Nature Tours is the perfect company for you!

Solar Power Snorkeling: Ecotour Key West, Florida

Before even making the 800-mile road trip to the southernmost point of the continental United States, I was already craving the opportunity to snorkel Florida’s subtropical waters. It didn’t hurt that we hit the highway just in time to avoid the near-freezing temperatures in South Carolina, to instead soak in the warm island of Key West.

As with planning any ethical wildlife travels, I made sure my first step was to DO MY RESEARCH. I dove into reviews, websites, blogs, you name it – all to find the perfect eco-friendly excursion that would offer an ethical experience I could support. This effort was surprisingly easy, considering everywhere I looked there was one stand-out company that continued to grab my attention. I had found a company that offered biologist-guided excursions from a solar-powered boat – I hit the JACKPOT!

Honest Eco Sustainable Nature Tours: Key West, Florida

Honest Eco is famous for its eco-friendly boat, affectionately named SQUID! I especially love their fitting squid logo that has its own electrical plug-in tentacle. This custom solar-powered electric boat is the first of its kind in the United States. Between the solar panels and lithium-ion batteries, the SQUID has almost zero environmental impact. Weighing in at just 8,000 pounds, less than two big pick-up trucks, this boat’s lightweight construction allows it to run efficiently on renewable energy. Overall, the SQUID produces one of the lowest carbon footprints of any boat on the ocean today! Its motor is virtually silent and travels through the surf without producing much wake. Even the propellers of the boat are tucked into the hull to minimize the impact of seagrasses, which many sea creatures depend on for survival.  This unique design allows groups to ethically observe wildlife without interfering with their habitat and natural behaviors.

The SQUID is a 35-foot long and 14-foot-wide vessel that can hold 22 passengers. This custom design clearly prioritized a 360-degree view to offer guests unobstructed views of native wildlife from an ethical distance. In fact, Honest Eco as a company is passionate about supporting a sustainable relationship with the wildlife they encounter on their tours. That means they prioritize and balance the needs of the animals with the desire of guests to get an up-close view. Moreover, Honest Eco only observes wild dolphins from the SQUID, instead of sharing the water with them, this helps to reduce negative human impacts on the dolphins.

If all that wasn’t reason enough to book your own sustainable excursion – they were also the first outfitter in the Keys to remove single-use plastic water bottles from tours. Instead, they offer reusable metal water bottles filled with freshwater, that are then washed after each tour. Honest Eco truly is taking all the right measures to reduce their impact on the environment and create an eco-friendly experience for all.

Snorkeling for Wildlife: Key West, Florida

Taking a journey with Honest Eco you can feel safe in the hands of knowledgeable guides that know the area. Both Brady and Bella, two of the staff that lead our tour, were extremely familiar with the Florida reef tract ecosystem and its biology. It was clear how proud they were to work for a company that delivers on meaningful environmental commitments.  

During our four-hour tour, we observed a wide range of animal species – both above and below the surface. Oddly enough, despite our peeled eyes and skilled guides we did not catch a glimpse of a dolphin. 300 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins reside in the waters around Key West, but as with any wild animal, sightings are never guaranteed. However, we were treated to double-crested cormorants, brown pelicans, laughing gulls, and a royal tern above the water’s surface. Right as Brady and Bella were anchoring the boat, we even caught a passing glimpse of a nurse shark surveying the area. Once we tightened our fins and sealed up our goggles, we were able to observe other species within the iconic reef firsthand. During our time snorkeling, we saw angelfish, grunts, sponges, native corals, a triggerfish, and lots of seagrasses. Of course, we practiced the “look, but don’t touch” philosophy for snorkeling to help protect this sensitive saltwater ecosystem.

Brown pelican flying over the ocean near Key West
Brown pelicans are a common sight throughout the Florida Keys.

Booking Your Solar Power Snorkeling Ecotour

For this aquatic journey, I booked Honest Eco’s four-hour “Dolphin Watch” excursion. The vessel left the marina at 9 AM, ensuring plenty of time to snorkel and enjoy the wildlife before docking right around 1 PM. Without even realizing it, we booked our tour on Valentine’s Day which perfectly explained why our group consisted entirely of couples! Nonetheless, Honest Eco provides a quality experience for all ages, singles included! If you’re an eco-traveler that’s passionate about observing wildlife in an ethical manner while visiting the Florida Keys, Honest Eco is the company for you.

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