Diving is a natural for the Keys. Experience the Florida Keys under water! Every part of the Keys has unique diving activities. Some of these special diving experiences in the Keys are listed below.
The Upper Keys:
In Key Largo and Islamorada, where KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has two exclusive locations, Mariners Resort Villas & Marina and the Historic Tavernier Inn
Some of the most iconic dive and snorkel sites off Key Largo include:
* Statue of Christ of the Abyss - This famed bronze statue rises so close to the water’s surface that it can be easily viewed by snorkelers as well as divers. The statue is nestled between the coral formations of Key Largo Dry Rocks reef in just 25 feet of water.
* Spiegel Grove – This 510-foot Navy transport ship was sunk in June 2002 as the latest addition to the Key Largo area’s impressive shipwreck portfolio.
* Molasses Reef - High profile coral heads and massive congregates of tropical marine life define this popular reef.
* Benwood Wreck - A casualty of World War II, this shipwreck is now home to huge schools of grunt and porkfish.
* The Elbow - This reef offers several historic shipwrecks, as well as the thrill of face-to-face encounters with friendly moray eels and barracuda.
* Bibb and Duane - These twin 327-foot US Coast Guard cutters were sunk intentionally as dive attractions in 1987 and now are virtually cloaked in colorful coral and gorgonian.
The Middle Keys:
In the Middle Keys, KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has the Village at Hawks Cay Villas on Duck Key, Indigo Reef Resort Villas & Marina and the Coral Lagoon Resort Villas & Marina vacation rentals in Marathon\
MARATHON – MM63 – 47
As seen from the air, Marathon and the Middle Keys appear as emerald isles set amid a sea of turquoise. Marathon’s reefs offer great variety in coral formations and fish life. The crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean reveal a marine wilderness comprised of an extensive spur-and-groove coral complex and numerous well-developed patch reefs. Each reef is populated by a vast array of Caribbean tropical fish and invertebrates, with the fascinating addition of both modern and historical shipwrecks to complete the tremendous sport dive appeal of the region. For more information on Marathon, drop by the Chamber of Commerce at mile marker 53.5 or call 1-800-262-7284.
* Adelaide Baker – This historic shipwreck features a pair of huge stacks in only 25 feet of water, a vivid reminder of the days when steamships plied the Florida Keys.
* Sombrero Reef – This traditional favorite of the Marathon dive portfolio is marked by a 140-foot lighted tower. Coral canyons and archways provide refuge for schools of grunt and snapper while solitary barracuda appear to stand sentinel.
* Coffin’s Patch – This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six distinct patch reefs, each with a unique identity defined by a predominant coral species. For example, at Pillar Coral Patch dozens of intact pillar coral heads thrust their fuzzy polyps to snare passing nutrients. Snorkelers will especially appreciate the shallow elkhorn forests found throughout Coffin’s Patch in less than 20 feet of water.
* Delta Shoals – Here a vast network of coral canyons fan seaward from a sandy shoal, offering wonderful opportunities for both diving and snorkeling amid elkhorn, brain, and star coral heads.
* The Thunderbolt – This 188-foot ship is the queen of the Marathon wreck fleet. Sunk intentionally as a dive attraction on March 3, 1986, she now sits perfectly upright in 115 feet of water. Her superstructure is coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jacks, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures.
The Lower Keys:
In the Lower Keys, KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas has the Coral Hammock Resort Villas and Kings Point Marina & Condominiums vacation rentals
KEY WEST – MM4 – 0
Key West’s largest and most pristine reefs are located several miles off shore and are best visited with the help of professional dive and snorkel charter services. However, fascinating snorkeling is also available from shore along the south side of the island in the Key West Marine Park The park is operated by the non-profit group Reef Relief and the City of Key West.
* Sand Key – One of the many popular reef destinations off Key West. This islet, marked by a large iron lighthouse delights both snorkelers and scuba divers with an abundance and variety of coral and marine life. With over ten miles of coral reefs of varying depths. Sand Key offers visitors endless opportunities to enjoy some of the best diving in the Caribbean!
* Joe’s Tug – This classic tugboat sits totally upright in just 65 feet of water, an idyllic setting for close encounters with Goliath Grouper, spotted morays, barracuda, and horse eye jacks.
* Ten-Fathom Ledge – Here, unusual coral caves and dramatic overhangs provide refuge for both lobster and grouper, while pelagic life frequently parades in the blue water to seaward.
* The Cayman Salvor -This 180-foot. steel hulled buoy tender, also known as the Cayman Salvager, was intentionally sunk as an artificial reef in 1985. She now sits upright with cavernous open holds providing refuge for baitfish and grunts, as well as a resident jewfish and green moray eel.
* Nine Foot Stake – This patch reef in 10 to 25 feet, is perfect for either scuba or snorkel exploration and is noted for beautiful concentrations of soft corals and juvenile marine life.
* Kedge Ledge – One of the highlights of this lovely reef is the remains of a pair of coral encrusted anchors lost from 18th century sailing vessels.
* The Atocha – While not a local dive site, the Atocha was discovered by treasure hu nter Mel Fisher in the waters off Key West. With so rich a wreck nearby, its hard to dive these waters without wondering what bit of history or bounty might be concealed beneath the convoluted corals and vast reef structures.
* Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg – Since being sunk to the bottom in under two minutes’ time on May 27, 2009, the second-largest ship in the world to be made an artificial reef sits encrusted with Gorgonian corals and algae.
More than 100 confirmed species of fish have taken up residency, such as parrotfish, yellow and blue tangs, barracuda, a variety of snapper, mackerel and hogfish, as well as deep water pelagics. Vandenberg sits upright approximately seven miles off Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, welcoming divers from all over the world to explore its massive superstructure. The ship represents the southernmost part of the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, a series of intentionally sunk vessels that begins off Key Largo with the former Navy landing ship dock Spiegel Grove.
These are some of my favorite experiences in the Florida Keys. If you’re coming down to visit and stay with us at the KeysCaribbean Luxury Resorts & Marinas in our vacation rentals, share some of your favorite experiences with us …
Visit our blog next Tuesday with updated experiences in the Florida Keys…