From Key West to Key Largo, the Florida Keys span 110 miles and are a tropical wonderland and paradise for Scuba divers which you can visit without ever having to leave the United States.
The Florida Keys is the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only living coral reef in the United States. Starting with John Pennekamp State Park in the upper keys, down on through Islamorada and into Key West, the Florida Keys offer some of the best Scuba Diving sites and experiences in the world. Key Largo, the first key, has been called the Scuba Diving Capital of the World, and with good reason. Here you will find John Pennekamp State Park, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – a 2800-square mile protected sanctuary for coral and dozens of aquatic creatures. The Sanctuary is divided up into six distinct dive sites, each with its own special attractions to scuba divers.
Benwood Wreck – A casualty of World War II, This shipwreck is now home to huge schools of grunt and porkfish and is a good shallow wreck for all levels of divers.
The Speigle Grove – a 500 Ft Vessel, intentionally sunk in 2002
The Stature of Christ Abyss – a 9-Foot Stature resting just below the surface nestled among coral formations
The Elbow – Another popular area reef, it features several historic shipwrecks, as well as the excitement of getting up close to curious and friendly moray eels and barracuda.
Molasses Reef- a popular coral reef, brimming with sea life
Bibb and Duane - These twin 327-foot US Coast Guard cutters were sunk intentionally about a quarter mile apart in about 120 feet of water to be dive attractions in 1987 and now are virtually cloaked in colorful coral and large schools of Barracudas can be commonly seen around the wreck.
Next on our Scuba tour of the Florida Keys we come to Islamorada. Known more for its sport fishing then diving, Islamorada, like all of the keys still abounds with some great dive sites and views of marine life. The best-known dive site in Islamorada is Alligator Reef, don’t worry it’s named for a ship that went aground there in the 1800’s not the predatory reptile. The half-mile long reef system is home to hard and soft corals, sponges and many species of tropical fish, and can be enjoyed by snorkelers and beginner scuba divers. The unusually named Hens and Chickens Reef is a popular dive location with scuba diver from all over the world. This patch reef contains giant coral heads that create caves and holes that often rise from the sea floor very close to the water’s surface, allowing even snorkelers to explore them. Under water photographers call Davis Reef in Islamorada the most picturesque reef in all of the Keys. Continuing South, Marathon and Big Pine Key also sport some wonderful and diverse dive sites until we arrive at what some believe is the best Scuba Diving in the world – Key West.
Key West offers recreational scuba divers anything and everything they imagined Scuba to be when getting certified. Divers find the best place for an adventure in Key West is Sand Key Lighthouse Reef. This ten-mile reef system has several species of coral formations at varying depths, making it appealing to snorkelers and divers of all skill levels. Cavern and Cave divers will love Ten Fathom Ledge with its caves and dramatic overhangs that provide shelter for all kinds of marine life, including lobsters and grouper. For wreck divers while the world famous Atocha is off limits to visiting divers you can dive in some of the same waters as this amazing treasure find on several other wrecks.
The Florida Keys just have so much to offer the underwater explorer. Hundreds of species of tropical fish and other marine life frolic among the coral reefs and wreck spots for your scuba diving pleasure. Most dive sites are a short boat ride from the shores of the islands and there are dozens of highly professional dive operators who make the keys their home who are ready to make any dive trip to the Florida Keys unforgettable.