Snorkeling and Scuba diving unlocks a new world, one that offers amazing adventures and underwater encounters. Explore beautiful coral reefs full of candy-colored sea fans, schools of exotic fish and friendly creatures. Swim face-to-face with a sea turtle or saying hello to a stingray hiding in the sand. New and Experienced divers can do all of this and more in the Florida Keys and Key West. Watch the videos to see more.
Key Largo is the Diving Capital of the World and home to the world’s first underwater park John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park.
The famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue was placed approximately in 7.5 meters (25 ft) of water near Dry Rocks reef. The reef is shaped like a hand with sand channels between the fingers. The center of the reef is open and has a good variety of soft corals. Being a relatively shallow dive site the Dry Rocks offer opportunities for snorkelers as well as divers.
Key Largo is best known for its shallow reefs like Snapper Ledge in 25 feet of water. This reef may be small in size, but it makes up for that in the huge numbers of fish. You will see hundreds of schooling fish such as its namesake Snapper as well as Grunts and Goatfishes. Moray Eels and Nurse Sharks will also delight.
French Reef is a very popular dive site with its many swim-through reef formations. French Reef has the largest relief of any of the reefs in the Keys with many shallow caves formed in large coral heads. These allow for easy through passage for scuba divers. Many fish species call this reef home including a large population of nurse sharks and moray eels.
The 510 foot USS Spiegel Grove is one of the largest artificial reefs in the world. It sits upright in 130 feet of water. Due to her massive size, you will first reach the wreck at about 65 feet. Considered one the premier artificial reefs in the world, it is a can’t miss for the experienced Scuba divers. There is so much marine life that made a home of this wreck. You will be impressed with the resident Goliath Groupers.
Alligator Reef is a spectacular reef system in the Upper Keys perfect for both snorkeling and scuba. You can see more species of marine life than you can count. The 136-foot tall Alligator Reef lighthouse marks the spot and adds to the beauty. Pickles Reef is a shallow area great for snorkeling and photographing, with numerous sea creatures and tropical fish.
Pickles Reef is a shallow reef great for snorkeling and photographing. You will think you are in a tropical marine aquarium with numerous sea creatures and tropical fish.Intrepid
For the more experienced Scuba divers, exploring The Eagle, a Dutch freighter that lies in 110 feet of water, is not something to be missed. The Eagle lies on her starboard side three miles northeast of Alligator Reef Light. On the night of December 19, 1985, while waiting to be sunk as an artificial reef next to the Alexander Barge, the Eagle broke from her moorings. Her port anchor was dropped to prevent further drifting in the current and she was sunk at that spot.
Looe Key Diving
Snorkeling Looe Key can be very exciting. You may be surprised when it comes to some of the larger fish. Looe Key is a big reef, about five miles offshore, with a large variety of depths and water conditions. Famous for having bigger species like sharks, grouper, tarpon and rays. Even the smaller species of fish are bigger here since Looe Key is right on the reef edge.
Key West Diving
Sand Key is a great place for relaxing and enjoying calm waters. The first-class site for snorkeling has good Scuba diving on the ocean side. For beginners, it is best to stick to the northwest portion of the key. There are ledges that drop from 45 to 70 feet. The reef around the island has several rock fingers and gullies and is home to grouper, barracuda, and loggerhead turtles. Elkhorn and fire coral are also abundant. You will also enjoy an incredible view of the Sand Key Lighthouse.
By the sound of her name, you would think “Joe’s Tug” is a tugboat. Actually, she is an old steel hulled shrimpboat. This 75-foot boat at the pier in Key West in 1986. It was raised and cleaned in preparation for sinking as an artificial reef in Miami. The night before it was scheduled to be towed north, a group of locals towed it from the Key West harbor. While enroute, to wherever they were headed, she sank in the current location. This wreck is home to some very friendly moray eels, goliath grouper, and other fish. An easy and rewarding dive for both beginners and experienced divers. Visibility is usually very good due and offers a great photographic location with a wide variety of corals and marine life.
The Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg is now the largest artificial reef in 140 feet of water seven miles off Key West. The Vandenberg is 10 stories high in the water column. It is at the top of the structure that most of the ship’s interesting attributes are located, some purposely cut from one part of the ship and welded elsewhere to make attention-getting dive spots from bow to stern, all trimmed to reach 40 to 50 feet of the surface. One dive on the Vandenberg could reveal both shallow and deep-water fish such as Goliath grouper and sailfish, attracted by the clouds of bait expected to school around the wreck. Of course, it will take multiple dives to get a real sense of its scale.