Key West Diving & Snorkeling
Key West Fl offers some of the best dive and snorkel spots in the world. The crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean allow visitors to peek into the underwater world of colorful coral, tropical fish, shipwrecks and artificial reefs.
The popularity of Key West boating makes finding dive charters and snorkeling charters a breeze. Key West snorkeling is a fun and relatively easy activity to arrange. Simply book a charter trip, which can be found at many of the local Florida Keys marinas, and off you go. Most of them have gear and equipment, so you won’t have to rent or bring anything. Key West diving requires more planning as you must be certified to SCUBA dive. Don’t forget to bring your certification card with you. Courses and advanced instruction are available in some areas.
Sand Key Lighthouse is one of the most popular spots for both snorkeling in Key West and diving in Key West. Many charters will combine snorkelers with divers on their excursions. This is nice if you have a large group of people with varying interests and experience levels.
Named for the HMS Looe, which ran aground in 1774, Looe Key Reef Marine Sanctuary is located off of Big Pine Key. This groove and spur reef has a unique U shape and features angel fish, parrot fish and barracuda as well as interesting coral formations such as star, staghorn and brain. Snorkelers and divers of varying experience levels can enjoy this reef.
Sinking the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenburg in 2009 allowed it to become an artificial reef for a variety of coral and marine animals. This popular diving spot is located about seven miles off the coast of Key West in 140 feet of water.
History buffs and SCUBA divers will appreciate the tale of the Spanish wreck Atocha, which was discovered off the Marquesas Keys by Mel Fisher and his crew. Wrecked in 1622, this ship and its fleet held gold, silver, jewels, Spanish coins and much more. The wreck itself is not available to divers, but the treasure trove can be seen at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.