There are many ship wreck sites to be explored in the Florida Keys! Since the times of the first Spanish galleons that cruised these treacherous coral reefs shallow waters, to the ships that had been sunk to serve as artificial reefs for the habitat of marine life.
Some of these dives are only to be intended by the most experienced divers, while others are in shallower waters in the vicinity of beautiful coral reefs, and can actually be done by any beginner diver or snorkelers.
Types of Ship Wreck Diving:
The USS Spiegel Groove was a Navy ship that after serving the US Navy as a cargo and transport ship for over 30 years was decommissioned in 1989, later the ship was sank to be used and converted into an artificial reef, laying in the area of the John Pennekamp Marine Sanctuary.
This dive site is only for experience scuba divers and should not be intended by anyone diving alone! Dangerous dive site specially if trying to penetrate inside of the remains of the ship!
These two coast guard cutters were also sunk to serve as artificial reefs for marine live. They lay very close together so both ship wreck sites can be explored on the same dive.
This one is only for experience diver due to the strong currents in the area and the deep waters.
Location: 24°59.38N-80°20.92W / 24°59’.71”N-80°22’.77”W
The wreck of this Norwegian cargo vessel sunk on a collision with another cargo ship on a fateful night on April of 1942, is resting on a sandy slope near Fresh Reef, interesting wreck dive site to explore. Parts of the vessel are scattered in the sand around the perimeter, and some have become an artificial reef. Is a popular night dive site for novice, intermediate and advance divers.
The remains of this 320' schooner-steamer, two masted ship, built in 1877, mainly for cargo and passenger transport, can be found scattered on the sea bottom floor on an area of 330'. Relatively closed to a famous coral reef dive site "The Elbow Reef".
It's a famous site among divers because of the beauty of the reef and the abundance of marine life in the area, barracuda, nurse shark, green moray eels, spiny lobster, and a wide variety of tropical fish.
For snorkelers, novice or advance level divers.
Location: 25°08'78"N-80°15'35"W. North of the Elbow Tower very close to the wreck of the Mike's wreck..
Transport Steamship believe by many to be the Tomawanda, or the Hannah M Bell, named after the diver who discovered the wreck "Mike"is a great dive site.
Perfect for snorkelers due to the location in the shallow clear waters of the Elbow Reef not far from the wreck of the City of Washington, and the clear waters in the area.
Location: 25°08'68N-80°15'39"W. 300' east of the Elbow Light House half way between the buoys.
In 1733 these two Spanish Galleons were lost during a hurricane in the coast of the Florida Keys and sunk within a mile apart from each other. The remains of the ships, mainly consisting of pieces of wood from the ship's deck and the ballast stones of different sizes are scattered in the area where the wreck is.
This wreck can be explore by divers of all levels since is not in deep waters.
This freighter was sunk in 1985 to become an artificial, reef as part of the Artificial Reef Program. The wreck is undamaged, and it can be greatly appreciated. Is a popular wreck among the advance level divers. The strong currents in this area are to be taken seriously on this dive plan. Only for experience divers.
The reef is named after the schooner USS Alligator, part of the U.S navy antipiracy squadron established in Key West, which run aground in this reef in 1825.The remains of the schooner remain scattered in the area southeast of the Alligator Reef Light Tower. Other vessels had sunk on this reef jagged corals.
Location: 24°50’.72”N-80°36’.94”W- Four miles south of Indian Key.
This 150’ long three-masted iron-rigged and wooden-hull bark, wrecked in this location on January of 1889 while carrying a load of timber bound to Georgia. The wreck is scattered in an area of 1500’.
Location: Four miles south of Duck Key close to Coffins Patch.
The scattered remains of a shrimp boat rest on this sloping reef. Different types of colorful corals and plenty of underwater sea life, “including dolphins” can be observed in the vicinity of the reef.
Perfect for snorkelers and beginners.
Location: Off Delta Shoal Reef east of Sombrero Light.
This shallow dive location is a popular one.
Two ship wrecks can be found in this area. One is the sunken in 1853’s slave ship the Ivory Coast and the Delta Shoals Barge.
Large amounts of coral fingers, fish and marine life can be observed in this site. Perfect for snorkeling doe to the shallowness of the waters here.
Location: 24°37’.79”N-81°06’.50”W-East of Sombrero Reef.
The vessel Thunderbolt was intentionally sunk here in 1986 as part of the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Project, and lies intact below 120 feet of water in a horizontal reef, dropping slightly over the stern. It’s possible to descend quite far into the engine compartment penetrating through the open hatches on the main deck of the ship.
Dive for advance level diver only. “Exert extreme caution when penetrating the interior of any ship wreck”
Location: 24°39’.50”N-80°57’.90”W-Four miles south of Marathon and Key Colony Beach.
The 210’ freighter was sunk intentionally in 1998 to create and artificial reef as part of the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Program. The ship remains in good condition as sits intact on an upright position under 80’ -100’ of water. The site location is marked by a series of buoys.
Large goliath grouper and deep sea marine life can be observed here.
This dive is only for advance divers with open waters certification and is possible for divers to penetrate the interior of the ship.
Location: 24°31’.85”N-81°27’.69”---6 miles southwest of Big Pine Key.
This former navy destroyer was sunk by a local commercial salver and now is a popular dive spot.
The wreck of the Alexander is broken in half with one part lying approximately at 200 yards one from the other half. Part of the hall is at the surface level low tide while the rest is submerged , becoming for this reason a dangerous hazard for marine traffic. The wreck lies on its side forming and artificial reef that is home of thousands of fish, coral and oysters.
Dive for intermediate to advance levels.
Location: Stern 24°37’.50”N-81°58’.92”W / Bow 24°37’.36”N-81°58’.91”W
The wreck of the tugboat Aquanaut lies upright on a flat sandy bottom at the edge of the Gulfstream. Now an artificial reef housing a variety of sea life.
The visibility is good but some occasionally strong currents had to be taken under consideration while trying this dive.
Dive for advance and experience divers.
Location: 24°28’.75”N-81°42’.98”W Very close to the popular Sambo Reef area.
A great site for underwater photography, with excellent visibility, and surrounded by marine life and coral.
This 75’ vessel was believed to be a tug boat at first, later discovered to be a shrimp boat and found by local divers is in good condition and seats upright at the bottom of the ocean, access to the wheel house and other parts of the wreck is possible.
Dive for intermediate to advance level divers.
A 252’ long legendary war German submarine captured by the US Navy and later used for target practice and sunk by the USS Destroyer Robert Owens.
This dive is in a remote location, and is in very deep waters, 200 to 220 feet, this makes it a technical dive site.(technical diving is a form of scuba diving that exceeds the normal range, in terms of time, depth, and technical expertise)
“Only very experience divers should try this dive, and it will require advance training and specialized equipment”.
Location: 24°52’.05”N-83°18’.59” 23 miles north east of Dry Tortugas.
Ship Wreck Sites Video Courtesy of You Tube and Treasure Divers.