WHERE TO DIVE
DIVE SITES IN THE
An amazing variety of diving is available in the Keys, and there is diving for every taste, desire, and skill level. Choose from wrecks, reefs, shallow or deeper dives, diving with dolphins or visit an underwater park! And, you don't have to go deep to see some interesting wrecks and sea life.
KEY LARGO DIVE SITES
THE ELBOWThis site is named for the angular shape of the reef, and offers a classic spur and groove formation at a depth ranging from only 12 to 35 feet. Here you'll find the Civil War Wreck, a 752-ton steamer sunk in 1866 featuring amazing Elkhorn corals.
THE CHRIST OF THE DEEP STATUEOne of the most photographed dive sites in the Keys, this is a shallow dive of only 25 feet and the main attraction is the statue that was cast in Italy and donated to the Underwater Society of America by Egidi Cressi, an Italian industrialist and diving equipment manufacturer. It is a 9-foot-tall bronze duplicate of the Christ of the Abysses statue, which stands in 50 feet of water off Genoa, Italy.
BENWOODAt 20 to 50 feet, this wreck is a good dive for many levels of divers. The wreck, what's left of a British ship that sunk in 1942, lies in a large patch of sand. Sea life includes grunts and porkfish.
BIBB & DUANEThese two Coast Guard cutters were sunk in 1987 as part of an artificial reef program sponsored by the Keys Association of Dive Operators and are for more experienced divers with depths ranging from 45 to 130 feet. The Duane lies upright in about 100 ft. of water. The Bibb overturned while sinking and lies on her starboard side in XX feet of water. This area is prone to swift currents.
SPIEGEL GROVEOne of the most popular Key Largo dive sites, the Spiegel Grove was sunk in 2002 and currently is largest vessel intentionally sunk to make an artificial reef. This ship is 510-feet long, and although originally lying on its side, the wreck shifted into its current upright position by Hurricane Dennis.
ISLAMORADA DIVE SITES
SAN JOSE AND INFANTEThis site offers two galleons belonging to the famous Silver Plate Fleet of 1733 that were reportedly lost in a hurricane off the Keys. This site is great for the newer diver at only 12 to 15 feet. There is not much left of the Infante except some timber planking from the ship's deck and ballast stones scattered over roughly an acre. The San Jose is in several pieces and, along with its cargo of ballast stones, is also scattered about the dive site.
EAGLEAt a depth of 75 to 120 feet, the Eagle is a 287-foot freighter that was sunk in 1985 as part of the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association program. The hull is mostly intact, apart from large holes in her side. Because the remote location is beyond the protective areas of the reef, and the current can be strong, only experienced divers should dive it.
ALLIGATOR REEFThis reef was named after the USS Alligator, a schooner which ran aground here in 1825. The remains are still visible in 25 to 30 feet, southeast of the famous light tower. You'll see spurs and grooves as well as more isolated coral heads. Also expect to see deep ravines and coral crevices.
MARATHON DIVE SITES
DELTA SHOALAt a mere 6 to 25 feet, this site, perfect for snorkeling and the beginner diver, offers two interesting wrecks - the Delta Shoals barge and the Ivory Coast wreck. Here there are plenty of soft corals and an array of fish life. The Ivory Coast was a slave ship that sunk in 1853, although little is recognizable any more.
THUNDERBOLT WRECKThe Thunderbolt is a 188-foot Navy research vessel that was intentionally sunk in 1986, and sits upright in 120 feet of water. There are many ways to enter the hull and explore the wreck and the marine life making it their home.
The Adelaide Baker was sunk in 1889 in just 18-29 feet of water. The ship was built in 1863 and was 153 feet long with a beam of 35 feet and a hold of 21 feet. She sunk while bound for Savannah with a load of sawn timber. The remains of the wreck cover more than 1400 feet.
LOWER KEYS DIVE SITES & KEY WEST
LOOE KEY REEFAlthough this is fairly shallow at 5-35 feet, it's one of the most interesting and prolific reefs in the Keys. The frigate H.M.S. Looe accidentally ran aground in 1744 and its remains lie in shallow water at the eastern end of the reef. The only remains visible are the ballast and anchor. An unusual reef that contains a variety of corals, sea fans and innumerable fish species. Looe Key is a designated marine sanctuary.
ADOLPHUS BUSCHThe Adolphus Busch was sunk in December 1998 as an artificial reef. Prior to sinking, it was cleaned and prepared for divers by way of cutting large holes for swim throughs. Check out the Jewfish living there -- the largest weighs in at about 400 pounds. At 110 feet, this dive should be considered an advanced dive and divers wishing to dive the ship should have at least an Advanced Open Water certification.
ALEXANDER'S WRECKThis ship was purchased from the Navy and sunk by local commercial salver Chet Alexander, and is a lesser-known dive spot that is only occasionally visited by dive boats. This wreck lies on its side in 45 feet of water and is home for an amazing array of fish and the hull itself is covered with Leavy oysters. Be careful around the jagged metal of the hull that's been hit by passing boats.
AQUANAUTThe tugboat Aquanaut is a 55-foot wooden salvage tug that sits upright in 75 feet of water on the edge of the Gulfstream on a flat sandy bottom. The wreck is intact and in nearly perfect condition. You'll see a variety of fish life, and here a macro lens is very useful. For the intermediate diver.
Looking for gold?The Atocha, a Spanish galleon that was discovered by Mel Fisher off the Marquesas Keys coughed up a fortune in gold, silver and jewels that was beyond anything anyone had seen before. Previously, the site was off-limits to the recreational diver, however pre-arranged full-day dive expeditions can be arranged through a Key West dive operator.
New wreck coming soon!Click here for info on the proposed sinking the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenburg in 2008.