The Florida Keys is the third largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Meso-American Reef in Belieze), and the only living coral barrier reef in the continental US.
The shallow and clear waters provide excellent visibility of the coral reefs and abundant ocean life. Numerous professional dive shops are close by, and offer both scuba and snorkel trips daily, as well as air refills and dive gear, as well as certification and refresher courses.
Key Largo, the Diving Capital of the World, 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.
FLORIDA KEYS REEF TRACT
Key Largo was one of the first areas in the world to dive into conservation of its marine habitat. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was founded in 1960 and the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary was created 1975. As a result, the reef has been protected from spear fishing and coral collecting for more than four decades. This protection has provided a uniquely rich coral environment where the 600 species of tropical fish are numerous and friendly... a veritable paradise for diver and snorkeler.
The Florida Keys Reef Tract runs roughly 221 miles down the south-eastern coast of Florida, paralleling the Florida Keys from Key Biscayne off Miami down to the Dry Tortugas, 70 miles west of Key West, from 1 mile to 8 miles offshore. The proximity of the reef (just a half-hour boat ride from land); the warm, clear water from the Gulf Stream just offshore; and the abundance of marine- and wildlife found here makes the reefs of the Florida Keys one of the most uniquely beautiful and accessible wild areas in the country, from John Pennekamp State Park (more information below) and the National Marine Sanctuary, to the crystal clear waters of Molasses Reef and the underwater caves of the French Reef. You can also explore the 510 ft. U.S.S. Spiegel Grove, the largest wreck ever in dive-able U.S. waters.
With so many spectacular dive spots in the area, it's worth planning your excursions in advance Check out Upper Keys Dive Sites to learn more about the remarkable trips easily available to you from your Pelican base!