Key Largo in the Florida Keys is only an hour from major airports in South Florida and is the favorite destination for divers from around the globe. What makes this island of the archipelago so unique?
Here’s a quick guide to Key Largo diving, known as the “dive capital of the world,” according to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.
Key Largo Diving Attractions Are Unforgettable
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park opened in 1960. The first undersea park in the world features mangrove swamps, seagrass beds and the only coral reef of its kind in the United States are all found in the park which extends for three miles into the ocean.
What Are the Most Popular Dive Spots?
These reefs are located inside or near the John Pennekamp Park and are part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary:
- Molasses Reef
- French Reef
- The Horseshoe
- The Elbow
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary features the third biggest living coral reef system in the world.
What Are the Best Places To Explore?
The Artificial Reef Foundation states that some of the best dive sites off the Florida coast are the Key Largo wrecks and the artificial reefs, which are an alternative to living coral reefs. Shipwrecks that can be explored are:
The Benwood and The City of Washington are ideal for divers of any skill level since they both sit in shallow water and are easily accessible. The wrecks are a good starting point for novice divers.
The Spanish Galleon Wrecks are in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and removing artifacts from the wrecks is prohibited. The Duane, Spiegel Grove, and The Bibb are strictly for advanced divers.
To be granted permission for the advanced dives, you must provide proof of Advanced Dive Certification or have completed two eighty-foot or deeper dives within the last year logged in your book. In some cases, you may participate in a guided dive.
What Is the Best Time To Go To Key Largo?
Any season of the year is great to plan a diving trip to Key Largo. The weather is pleasant. Most of the showers occur early in the morning or late afternoon, and the water is warm.
The shallow reefs off Key Largo are great for all ages and abilities. This video shows the exceptional beauty of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the colorful species of marine life, and what you can expect to see on your dive. 70 nautical miles to explore, each dive at the park is a new experience.
What Is Included in Key Largo Dive Packages?
Dive packages include all your gear including the air tanks and weights. Some dive shops offer discounts for multiple trips or additional pricing for guided tours. Diving courses are available for beginners.