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The Dive Sites and the Coral Reefs.

The Dive Sites and the
Coral Reefs.

These Florida Keys dive sites are in the beautiful coral reefs where the most abundant bright and colorful marine life is in this vast Marine Sanctuary. (SPA) Sanctuary Preservation Area.

Most of the reefs are regulated, that means that not fishing or lobstering is allowed and is strictly prohibited. Divers are advised not to touch the corals or not to grab anything as souvenirs.

Beautiful school of yeallow fish swimming around the corals.

There are some areas where spear fishing is permitted but regulated. Get familiar with the regulations once you are here for an enjoyable diving season.

It's very important for the local economy of the State of Florida the preservation and restoration of the Florida Keys Reefs.

Coral Reefs preservation is a priority!

Corals and torpical fish

There are some areas where spear fishing is permitted but regulated. Get familiar with the regulations once you are here for an enjoyable diving season.

Very important it's for the local economy of the State of Florida the preservation and restoration of the Florida Keys Reefs. Coral Reefs preservation is a priority here!

Dive Sites in Key Largo

Underwater photo of the statue of the Christ of the Deep, the famous dive site in the Florida Keys.
  • Key Largo Dry Rocks / Christ of the Deep. 10' to 25' feet deep.

This dive site is famous! And probably has the most visits of all. It's a 9 feet tall bronze stature of Jesus Christ resting on concrete base with open arms that seems to be welcoming the divers.

Located in the Dry Rocks Reef near Key Largo, in the heart of the John Pennekamp Marine Sanctuary. The statue is not in very deep waters, 15' to 25' feet only, and for this reason is accessible to divers and snorkelers alike. Possible the top pop of the Florida Keys dive sites at the John Pennekamp in Key Largo.

Location: 25°07’.20”N-80°18’.00”W.

  • Grecian Rocks. 5' to 25' deep.

Located near the area of Dry Rocks. Is an excellent dive site for snorkelers. The shallow reefs absorbs the shock and impact of the waves, for this reason the waters are very settle and calm even on the windy stormy days reason for what the site has this abundance of bright color fish and coral.

This site is perfect for beginner snorkelers and children.

Location: 25°06'39"-80°18'16"W.

  • The Turtle Reef. 15' to 25' deep.

The Turtle Reef is at the northernmost area of the John Pennekamp Marine Sanctuary, you will find most of the marine species here.This site is better for divers and snorkelers with some degree of experience.

Location: 25°17’.00”N-80°12’.30”W

  • Molasses Reef. 10' to 50' deep

This reef located south of Key Largo within the Marine Sanctuary is one of the most popular dive sites in the world because of the abundance of marine life and the diversity of the well preserved tropical coral reefs. The reef starts in the shallow waters and descend to a deep of 50 feet. One of the most colorful of the Florida Keys dive sites.

The visibility is normally good.

Location: 25°00’.50N”-80°22’.20W”

This site is good for beginners or advance divers and snorkelers.

  • French Reef. 10' to 100' deep.

Extraordinarily beautiful dive site this one southeast of Key Largo! No wander is so popular.

Caves, arches, tunnels, canyons, ridges, all this in the middle of the coral reefs. The habitat of innumerable fish species and tropical coral reefs.

Location: 25°02’.06”N-80°20’.58”W

  • Carysfort Reef. 30'-70' deep.

It's the most distant of the dive sites in this area. Is a beautiful an interesting dive site that goes from the shallow waters for snorkelers to the deeper waters for the experience scuba divers.

Abundance of marine life and coral. Because of the distance from other dive sites is not visited so often.

Location: 25°13' 00" N-80°12' 53"W.

  • Carysfort South.

It's an extension with a similar configuration and famous for its Elkhorn coral gardens. Regarded as one of the most reef-building corals in the Caribbean.

The wreck (cannon balls, pins, ballast stones) of the 1695 British man-of-war H.M.S Winchester can be found in this reef incrusted in the coral approximately at 1.5 miles southwest of the Carysfort Reef Light.

Location: 25°13’.19”N-80°12’.41”W

The shallow upper section is superb for snorkelers and the deeper section for beginner and advance scuba divers.

  • The Blue Hole. 30'-75' deep.

(Not to be confuse with the Blue Hole of the Red Sea in the coast of Egypt which is considered the World's Most Dangerous Dive Site)

Located in the Key Largo vast reefs, the Blue Hole descends gradually from a depth of 30 feet to a sandy seafloor 70 feet below. This dive site is for advance and intermediate experience divers.

Dive Sites in Islamorada

School of tropical fish around the coral reefs.
  • Cheeca Rocks. 5’ to 15’ deep.

This beautiful site has a large collection of brain, mushroom, star and soft coral, with sandy patches where angle fish, turtles, queen triggers, parrotfish, spotted rays and schools of snook and tarpon swim by occasionally. This is a perfect Florida Keys dive site to capture great quality pictures.

Excellent for beginners, snorkelers and families looking for a beautiful dive site on their vacation.

Location: 24°54’.14”N-80°36’.57”W. At only three miles southwest of Windley Key.

  • Conch Reef. Shallow to 110' deep.

The reef is famous for the abundance of barrel sponges that cover most of the reef's field. The deep ranges from 50' to 100' on a slope the ends at the base of the reef. There is a sand strip that runs parallel to the reef that gives contrast to the reef's edge.

A wide variety of tropical reef fish and marine species can be observed here. Also species that live in deeper waters can be seeing frequently at this reef.

Location: 24°57’.11”N-80°27’.31”

  • Little Conch Reef. 20’ to 30’ deep.

It's a long reef with grooves and spurs, crisscrossed by cliffs or ledges. Full of coral heads, sea fan and tube sponges.

This one is for divers with some experience and advance.

Location: 24°56.49N-80°28.59W

  • Davis Ledge Reef. 20' to 75' deep.

This is the location where you will find the statue of Buddha smiling at you "Rub the Buddha's belly for good lock" everyone does it! Plenty of sea life, schools of small fish by the thousands, norse sharks, lobsters, parrotfish, angelfish, giant turtles and green moray eels around these deep water's coral reefs.

Davis Ledge resides within the confinements of the SPA (Sanctuary Preservation Area) marked by yellow buoys 4 miles Southeast of Plantation Key.

It's also a fishing spot due to the abundance of fish in this reef.

Divers love this spot!

Good for novice, experience divers and snorkeling.

Location: 24°55’.20”N-80°30’.15”

  • Pickles Reef.

Great place for a second dive this one. This reef have more length that width, has an elongated shape, a combination of reef and sandy seafloor, is a beautiful reef with great scenes for photography. Unlike most of the reefs this one is not within the Sanctuary Preservation Area.

Location: 24°59’.16”N-80°24’.52”W

  • Hens & Chickens Reef. 12’ to 38’ deep.

The name given to the reef comes from the fact that the reef when seeing from the air appear like a mother hen surrounded by chickens. The reef is a spectacle of tropical fish and corals.

Location: 24°56’.05”N-80°32’53”W

  • Crocker Reef. 40’ to 75’ deep.

Not in the Sanctuary Preservation Area. This reef, or better to say this collection of reef formations scattered on a wide area is a great dive site for advance and intermediate level divers.

Location: 24°54’.30N”-80°31’.30”W

Dive Sites in Marathon

The Great Barracuda.
  • Sombrero Reef and Light House. 5’ to 30’ deep.

One of the largest and most beautiful reefs in the Meddle Keys, Abundant on spurs and groove reef formations with an immense amount of coral (brain coral, gorgonians, lettuce and finger corals) Norse sharks, great barracudas, sting rays and a diverse marine life had made this reef their home.

The site is famous for the natural coral bridge known as “The Arch” which is large enough to swim through.

The reef is in the Sanctuary Preservation Area of the Florida Keys and rules are enforced. And is indeed one of the best of the Florida Keys dive sites. Thousands come here every year!

Great for snorkeling, and beginner scuba divers alike.

Location:24°37’.40”N-81°06’.35”W-* 8 miles off shore of Key Colony Beach.

  • Marathon’s Meddle Reefs Coffins Patch. 10’ to 20’ deep.

Most of these locations are not deeper that 25’ with an abundance of aquatic life and corals. A stake-iron pipe that extends several feet out of the water marks these locations.

Marathon has more of these shallow water dive, perfect for snorkeling throughout the meddle Keys.

Location:24°41'50"N-80°57'50"W-3.5 miles east of Key Colony Beach.

  • The Doughnut (Donut). 5’ to 25’ deep.

This 100 yard diameter reef shaped like a doughnut is very popular for night dives. Is easy to navigate doe to its circular shape, go around to circumnavigate the reef. The best ledge of the reef is located to the northwest. Beautiful coral formations are in this reef.

Good for all level divers and snorkelers.

Location: Coffin’s Patch.

  • The Gap. 50” to *80’ deep.

It descends from 50’ to 80’. Is a beautiful spot for a wall dive. Doe to the depth you’ll see angel fish, deep sea fish and other marine life as well as large coral heads rising up to 10’

You might encounter strong currents occasionally.

For intermediate or advance divers.

Location: 24°39’.95”N-80°58’.39”W-Four miles south of Key Colony Beach.

  • Pork Fish Reef. 15’ to 30’ deep.

One of the mast sections of the Adelaine Baker’ s wreck can be found on the reef edge. A ledge reef where you find nurse sharks, sting rays and variety of colorful tropical fish.

For all level divers and snorkelers.

Location: Four miles south of Duck Key-same area where you find the wreck of the Adelaine Baker.(see page about ship wreck dive sites on this web site)

  • 40 to 60, or the Edge of Night Reef. 40’ to 60’deep.

Gets the name because the top of the reef being at 40’ and drops to 60’ to the sandy button. Beautiful colorful fish and coral in this reef.

  • Critter Ridge. 15’ to 35’ deep.

Find almost any sea critter you can think of in this reef! Dolphins, angel fish, eels, turtles, conchs, other tropical fish and beautiful variety of coral as well.

Good dive for novice and snorkelers.

Dive Sites in the Lower Keys and Key West

The beautiful angel fish with other tropical.
  • Sand Key. 5’ to 70’ deep.

One of the most popular and visited snorkeling and diving spots in the keys. The reef is formed by ditches, channels, gullies and rock fingers with a sandy bottom between cliffs. Abundant elkhorn, staghorn and other coral live here. The red and white iron light house provides a point of reference to locate the reef.

All levels of diving and snorkeling.

Location: 24°27’.15”N-81°52’.40”W.-Red and white Iron Light House between Sand Key Channel and Rock Key Channel, Key West.

  • Sambo Reef. 10' to 60' deep.

Three separate areas of very healthy coral, where large numbers of tropical fish and marine life feeds, live and reproduce.

The Sambo Reef complex divides into three separate sections:

Easter Sambo. (this area for scientific research on the Florida Keys Coral Reefs)

Middle Reef. (this section comprises large sandy areas that separate it from the two other areas)

Western Section. (The area is part of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Ecological Reserve) This section of the reef is rich on the large spiny lobster, tropical fish and elkhorn, brain and star coral. Here under 75' of water lies the wreck of the tugboat The Aquanaut, a popular dive site.

Location:Eastern 24°29'50"N-81°39'.80W / Meddle 24°29'70"N-81°42'00"W / 24°28'81"N-81°42'87"

  • Looe Key Reef. (Designated Marine Sanctuary) 5’ 30’ deep.

One of the best preserved and prolific reefs on the entire Florida Keys. Containing a wide variety of corals, like the sea fan, the monastera, elkhorn, and soft coral. The many sea species of the keys are all here.

The war ship HMS Looe, ran aground on this reef in 1744, some remains of the ship can be found between two sections of coral near the east end of the reef.

This dive site is for all level divers and snorkelers.

Location: 24°32’.50”N-81°24’.22”W-South of Big Pine Key.

  • Content Keys. 5’ to 15’ deep.

This shallow water dive site is rich in rounded starlet, coral heads and other corals. Colorful fish, stone crab and the giant spiny lobster are abundant here. Favorite place for lobstering and fishing also.

Good for snorkeler and all level divers.

Location: 24°47.85N-81°30.00- North of Summerland Key.

  • Key West Harbor. 30-50’’ deep.

This dive site is located directly at the north end of Simonton Street where is a boat ramp that gives access to this diving area. The heavy commercial boat traffic here makes this a different diving experience.

Only for experience and advance level divers who want to have an out of the ordinary and adventurous diving experience. This one is completely different to the other Florida Keys dive sites.

Location: Key West Harbor.

  • South Beach Patches. 15’ to 25’deep.

You’ll find interesting patches of corals and reefs running at the southernmost part of Key West, at the end of Duval, Simonton, and White Head Street, the beaches and south of the airport.

Location: Southern shore of Key West.

  • Rock Key and Easter Dry Rocks. 5’ to 40’ deep

A reef formed by long fingers of coral, and sand filled narrow chasms with steep cliff walls forming underwater canyons of scenic beauty.

You’ll find some 19th century remains of ships wrecked among the corals.

For all levels divers and snorkelers.

Location:24°27’.20”N-81°51’.35”W- Dry Rocks.

  • The Outside Reefs. 40’ to 220’deep.

These are the reefs located in the Gulf Stream all along the main shallow reefs of the Lower Keys.

Encounter a variety of pelagic sea life and deep sea coral on these reefs.

These deep sea dives are for experience divers.

  • Western Dry Rocks. 5’ to 120” deep.

These are undamaged and exuberant coral reefs. Staghorn, elkhorn and other colorful corals as well of large marine life, sting rays, groupers, snappers, turtles and barracudas making this an excellent dive site.

For snorkelers and novice or advanced divers

Location: 24°26’.69”N-81°55’.58”W-Farther away from other reefs and 6 miles southwest of Key West and west of the Sand Key Light House.

  • Cottrell Reef or the Gulf Side Reef. 5’ to 25’ deep.

Located the area of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Cottrell Key includes two other islands, Big Mullet Key and Little Mullet Key. The reefs in this area are beautiful, covered by gorgonians and sponges and providing habitat to a wide variety of reef fish.

The best of Florida Keys dive sites for snorkelers and novice divers.

Location: 24°36.75N-81°55.64W. Located on the Gulf side of Key West near Cottrell Key, west of the old light house.

  • Marquesas Keys. 5’ to 30’ deep.

The circle of 9 uninhabited islands group, 3.5 miles across is part of the bird sanctuary and a National Wilderness Areas of the Lower Florida Keys.

A large collection and clusters of corals as well as abundant sea life and fish can be found on the southern edge of these islands in very shallow waters.

The many ship wrecks attract schools of fish and large marine life.

The islands have long sandy beaches and places for anchoring.

Excellent for snorkeling and diving.

Location: 24°34’20”N-82°07’10W”-30 miles west of Key West.

  • Dry Tortugas. 20’ to 30’ deep average.

The most remote of the Florida Keys dive sites. Is this cluster of seven islands called Dry Tortugas, located at the edge of the main shipping channel between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic famous for its marine life, sea turtles and birds. The Dry Tortugas National Park, the Wild Life Refuge and the Marine Sanctuary are great tourist destinations.

This is where Fort Jefferson( the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere) was built in the 1800’s.

The intact reef system that runs through this area is part of the 3rd largest in the world. Great for snorkeling, scuba diving and spear fishing.

Location: 24°38’00”N-82°55’12”W-70 miles west of Key West.

View of an under water artifitial reef in the Florida Keys.

This list includes the best and best well known of the dive sites in the Florida Keys.

There are a few others out there that could be mention as well, since the area of the Marine Sanctuary is so broad.

Places where the coral reefs are in the Florida Keys.

The Marine Sanctuary covers an area of 2, 800 square miles and has a great impact on the preservation of this natural treasure of the Florida Keys!

Also find awesome ship wreck sites ...Some not to deep, for the inexperienced divers or snorkelers. And some that would be a challenge for the more experienced deep water and technical divers.

Florida Keys Diving Experience.

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The Key West Historic Light House and other Museums and Landmarks.

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This is Canon Beach, in the  John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo.

John Pennekamp.

Kitesurfing in Islamorada, right at the Whale Harbor Marina.


View of the Bahia Honda State Park's Beach taken from the top of the old bridge.

Bahia Honda.

Beaches in Key West.


A tourboat with tourists from the Zafary Park Center on the Everglades.

The Everglades.

Hotels in Key Largo.