The Florida Key's a Diver's and Snorkeler's Paradise
By Paul Beaudette
With visibility up to 120 feet , crystal clear caribbean water,its no wonder its so popular with the underwater crowd.The keys offer great wreck diving,many of which have been created to enhance your dive experience,along with a world class reef tract.
No dive experience,just stop into one of the many dive shops in the keys and sign-up for lessons,and they'll take you out for your first dive,some shops will even provide free equipment.
Snorkeling is a good way to get started,the keys are surrounded by flats and within those flats are patch reefs,patch reefs are just mini size reefs. From Key West Beach to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo and just about anywhere in between,you should be able to find some good snorkeling areas,if you bring a boat,or rent one, you'll have acces to the ultimate marine playground.
In the lower keys, Looe Key Reef is considered to be one of the most spectacular parts of the reef tract, it lies five nautical miles south of Big Pine Key, Florida and is 5.3 sq. nautical in size. Named after the wreck HMS Looe,a forty four gun British frigate that sank there in 1744,it was designated, The Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary protected by the government in 1981. The Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is one of several areas established by NOAA to protect and manage special marine areas in the U.S.
Snorkeling at the reef I have seen snapper,grouper, sharks,Tarpon,many varieties of colorful tropical fish and something the locals call a bahama Cuda,Huge!!!,probably six feet in length,with teeth an inch long,scares the you know what out of you when that thing swims by .
The keys are always upgrading your diving experience,just last year they sunk the Vandenberg,a 500 ft. troop trasport ship,six miles off Key West and it became the largest artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,and second largest in the world.
Coral started colonizing immediately,after the sinking and she is now home to reef and pelagic fish and just about all of the plants and animals that inhabit a natural coral reef.An orginization called ARK(Artificial Reefs of the keys ) handled the project and did a masterful job in creating the best wreck dive in the world,complete with acces holes cut in the hull and decks for easy diver access.
The next time you would like to do some casual snorkeling or a serious dive all within the conviences of America try The Florida Keys,you'll be glad you did.
Paul Beaudette is an avid fisherman and traveler and you can get more info by visiting his websites
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.