Diving Around Florida
Key Largo (which means Long Key, named by the Spaniards) is one of the closest of the islands to the Florida mainland. Drive south from Miami for about an hour or so, and you will come to the drawbridge at Jewfish Creek. When you cross this bridge, you will find yourself in Key Largo, the first island of the Florida Keys.
Key Largo is the home to the world’s largest artificial reef, the 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove; the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Underwater State Park, and the very famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue. Key Largo is best known for its shallow reefs and deep wrecks. The shallow reefs provide world class diving for scuba divers of all ages and skills. The deep wrecks offer the some of the best wreck diving found anywhere. The magnificent natural coral reefs a few miles offshore are world renowned for their beauty. Underwater treasures await divers and snorkelers who enjoy the colorful, tranquil sealife in these clear, tepid, azure waters. Visitors to Key Largo quickly understand why it is billed as the “Dive Capital of the World.”
Islamorada is actually a “village” of four islands, which include Plantation Key, Windley Key, Upper and Lower Matecumbe Keys, and Long Key. The four islands offer numerous tranquil spots to relax under the sun by day, and then live it up late at night at a beachfront party.
The blue waters off Islamorada offer choice wreck diving. Many reefs are only ten to twenty feet deep and make for fantastic snorkeling and shallow dives. Scuba divers and snorkelers can enjoy the Eagle, Davis, Conch, Alligator and Pickles reefs, Crocker Wall, and the aquarium and fish bowl.
The Islamorada area also features watersports rentals, tennis facilities, bicycle trails, historic hikes, beautiful vistas of both the Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay, and opportunities to swim with dolphins and stingrays.
Marathon is situated at the mid-point of the Florida Keys island chain, which is why locals have declared their home “The Heart of the Keys.” It’s approximately fifty miles north of Key West and fifty miles south of Key Largo, making it one of the very best vacation destinations for diving and seafront recreation.
Talking about divers, there are plenty of coral reefs, wrecks, and drops just minutes offshore. Marathon is home to two of the greatest reefs in the Atlantic: Sombrero Reef and Looe Key. Marathon has spectacular diving for all skill ranges, such as deep drop-offs carved by the Gulf Stream for the experienced open-water diver, and miles of living reefs for those seeking relaxing dives or snorkel trips. Sombrero Reef, one of the most beautiful sections of America’s only living coral barrier reef, lies just several miles offshore and is protected by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. At Sombrero Beach, you’ll find a long, beautiful sandy beach and gorgeous palm-covered patios that are a great place to view the evening sunsets after a day of island living, diving and seafront living. It is also good to know that Marathon has the largest continuous live coral reef system in the Florida Keys.
Of the 42 bridges that connect the Florida Keys, the 7-mile bridge is the longest and can be found on the south side of Marathon. This is a must-visit for all who travel to Marathon.