Diving in Key Largo
As you cross the bridge at Jewfish Creek, you are drawn into a whole new world - a world of tropical hardwoods, winding creeks and sparkling aqua blue waters teeming with colorful sea life, gorgeous coral reefs and amazing underwater treasures. The turquoise expanse of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the emerald green waters of Florida Bay and Gulf of Mexico on the other. Barefeet Rentals welcomes you to Key Largo, home to the only living coral barrier reef in the US and the third largest in the world - an island paradise of tropical ambiance and natural beauty.
The Diving Capital of the World
The waters of Key Largo are perfect for all water activities – explore the winding creeks by kayak, set off on a sunset cruise or take to the skies on a thrilling paragliding adventure. However, the treasure of Key Largo lies under the ocean’s surface, amidst the fragile, colorful coral reefs, unique shipwrecks and diverse marine life with over 500 different species of fish, from the impressive schools of blue-striped Grunts to toothy green Moray Eels. It is here you will discover some of the best diving in the world and get a true sense of why Key Largo is known as ‘The Diving Capital of the World’.
Where To Dive In Key Largo
Key Largo is a dream dive destination where well-preserved natural coral reefs lie only a few miles from the shore - shallow reefs for snorkelers and deeper coral-encrusted wrecks for experienced divers. A perfect paradise for both divers and snorkelers.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was established to protect the spectacular and unique marine habitat, 2,600 square nautical miles of underwater delights and natural wonders. Part of this sanctuary is the well-known John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the country’s first undersea preserve, the heart and soul of this diving capital. An extraordinary underwater world of flair and color!
There is a long list of coral reefs and beautiful dive sites. Join us as we share with you the best of the best:
- Christ of the Abyss - Shallow to 25’ – Level: Novice
This famed bronze statue is the highlight of John Pennekamp Park and the most visited underwater dive site in the world. Known for its giant brain coral specimens, the nine-foot statue of Jesus Christ rests gracefully under 20 feet of water, rising close enough to the water’s surface to be viewed by both snorkelers and divers.
- Molasses Reef – 10’ to 70’ – Level: Novice
The massive brain coral heads and pillar corals of the tongue-and-spur Molasses Reef is possibly one of the most beautiful collection of reefs in Florida, offering both excellent snorkeling and diving amidst a variety of tropical marine life, including Turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays and Caribbean Reef Sharks.
- The Elbow (Wreck Reef) - 12’ to 35’ - Level: Novice
This reef offers several historic shipwrecks, as well as face-to-face encounters with friendly Moray Eels and Barracuda. Shallow crystal clear waters make this a perfect site to learn how to dive and a great site for underwater photography!
- City of Washington - 15' to 25' – Level: Novice
The remains of this 320’ ship are scattered on the ocean floor of Wreck Reef - a famous site for the beauty of the reef and the abundance of marine life and colorful tropical fish. Great for snorkeling and diving.
- Benwood Wreck - 50' offshore to 20' inshore – Level: Novice to Intermediate
Dive among huge schools of Grunt and Porkfish on this casualty of World War II, a 360’ shipwreck with clear visibility and loaded with marine life! This is a premier shallow dive good for both snorkeling and diving and is a popular night dive site.
- French Reef – Shallow to 100’ - Level: Novice to Advanced
Known for its swim-through reef formations, shallow caves within the large coral heads and resident southern Sting Rays, this is a very popular dive site. Explore the hidden sea-life of the many tunnels and caves. One of the most spectacular reef areas in the Florida Keys.
- Bibb & Duane – 50' to 130' - Level: Advanced
These twin 327’ Coast Guard cutters lay close together, cloaked in colorful coral and surrounded by large Barracudas. The strong currents and deep waters make this an exciting advanced level dive. Both sites can be explored on the same dive.
- Speigel Grove – 40' to 135' - Level: Advanced
This is the largest artificial reef in the world and is home to incredible marine life. Speigel Grove is a wreck not to be missed! A 510’ vessel that sits upright in 130 feet of water, this wreck requires at least six dives to circumnavigate her once and is only for experienced divers - not to be explored alone! A good site to discover on a guided dive with an experienced instructor.
Dive Tips & Etiquette
We want you to be in the know when it comes to our local dive tips and etiquette:
- The professional dive operators of Key Largo require that divers own an Upper Keys Artificial Reef Medallion. This $10 medallion, good for each calendar year, goes toward the debt that the community has on the wreck. Many Dive Operators require you to have this Medallion to dive on any of the Key Largo artificial reefs.
- It’s illegal to harvest coral in Florida.
- You shouldn’t feed the fish since it destroys their natural feeding.
- Avoid touching or standing on coral, since even the lightest touch can damage it.
- Follow sanctuary rules and taking simple steps to be a good, thoughtful steward of the environment.
- Ask about the weather conditions. Poor visibility, strong winds & surge from waves reduce safe interaction at the reef.
- Remember that even the lightest touch with hands, fins or other dive and snorkel equipment can damage sensitive coral polyps, the small living animals that make up the hard and soft corals at the reef.
- Snorkelers should wear buoyancy control or snorkel vests to allow gear adjustments without standing on the coral.
- Avoid contact with the ocean bottom; properly weighted divers should practice proper buoyancy control. Sandy areas that appear barren may support new growth if left undisturbed.
- Please don't feed the fish; it destroys their natural feeding habits, and avoids any potential injury to you or the marine life.
- If you dive or snorkel on your own, be aware of reef mooring buoys to use instead of anchoring a boat; many dive and snorkel sites are located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and anchoring in these Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA) is prohibited.
- Whether freediving or on scuba, spearfishing enthusiasts (also referred to as "spearos") can find many spots for spearfishing opportunities, although there are regional zones that are protected from fishing within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Key Largo Dive Shops
Here in the 'Diving Capital of the World,' you can expect only the best dive shops and diving professionals offering all levels of instruction, training, and scuba and snorkeling tours.
PADI 5 Star Gold Palm Facility (305) 451-6322 or (877) 727-5348.
Emocean Sports (305) 453-9881 or (800) 809-9881
Quiescence Diving Services (305) 451-2440
Ocean Divers (800) 451-1113
Divers Direct (305) 451-0118
Key Largo Dive Center (305) 451-5844
Islamorada Dive Center (305) 664-3483
Sea Dwellers Dive Center (305) 451-3640
Keys Diver (305) 451-1177
Rainbow Reef Dive Center (305) 451-7171