Gulf of Mexico Water Temperatures

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Key West FL (average / Fahrenheit)   69 70 75 78 82 85 87 87 86 82 76 72
Naples FL (averages) 66 66 71 77 82 86 87 87 86 81 73 68
St. Petersburg FL (averages)   62 64 68 74 80 84 86 86 84 78 70 64
Cedar Key FL (averages) 58 60 66 73 80 84 86 86 83 76 66 60
Pensacola FL (averages)   56 58 63 71 78 84 85 86 82 74 65 58
measuring the Gulf of Mexico water temperature photo

The above data is from the National Oceanographic data center. For current water temperatures you can visit their site at

The above temperatures are AVERAGE temperatures during a given month. Also consider that most official temperatures are not recorded at the beach, but by buoys floating offshore, so that the "official" temperatures you see on the weather reports or in the table above are usually a few degrees warmer than the actual beach water temperatures during the winter, and a few degrees cooler than the actual beach water temperatures in the summer. This is because the shallow waters on the beach change temperature more quickly in response to weather conditions than the offshore waters.

Depending on the weather, water temperatures can run 5 to 7 degrees cooler or warmer than the averages in the above tables.  Of course, the further south you go, the warmer the temperatures tend to be during the cooler months. This is clearly demonstrated in the table where the average water temperature in Key West is almost 70 degrees Fahrenheit in January, while hundreds of miles to the north at Pensacola the water temperature is in the mid 50's.


What's Cold Water and What's Just Right?

People have a wide range of preferences and tolerances for water temperatures. Generally, anything above 75 can be enjoyable. Most people seem to prefer water temperatures of about 85 degrees for swimming. The Gulf of Mexico can get into the low 90's during July and August. This is too warm for a lot of people, but I love it. It doesn't cool you off much though. Often during the summer months the water is actually warmer than the air, since the sea breeze along the Gulf Coast keeps the air temperatures in the upper 80's while in Orlando it might be 98 degrees (or higher).

Here's an idea of what water temperatures mean to you

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BeachHunter in the Gulf of Mexico

Beachhunter enjoying 80 degree water.

Copyright: David McRee,