The Best Spots to Go Scuba Diving in the Florida Keys – Don Dirren

Don Dirren

June 27, 2022

According to Don Dirren, there are many excellent scuba diving locations in the Florida Keys, but if you’re new to the sport, it’s best to learn about some of the best dive spots before heading out. Here are some recommendations: Ginnie Cavern, Looe Key Reef, and the French Reef. The first two are a must-see, and you can even try scuba diving with a snorkel at either site.

Looe Key Reef

The reef at Looe Key, located six miles south of Big Pine Key, is the only complete reef ecosystem in the continental U.S. Environmental laws were passed in 1981 banning coral collection and spearfishing in this area. Now, Looe Key Reef offers some of the best scuba diving in North America. You can snorkel and dive with eagle rays and turtles, or simply enjoy the coral formations and colorful fish.

This dive site is great for both novices and experts. There are three ferries out to Looe Key Reef daily. Its shallow, mid-water coral formations are ideal for divers of all skill levels, with depths ranging from seven feet to 30 feet. Its protected waters are home to rare species of fish and coral, including nurse sharks and goliath groupers.

French Reef – Don Dirren

Don Dirren explained that, while the coral formations of the Coral Garden are among the most popular attractions of the Florida Keys. The reef is also known for its caves. Many caves are accessible for even the most inexperienced scuba divers. Named for their shape, Hourglass Cave and Christmas Tree Cave are great spots for snorkelers. The caves are populated by a variety of Snapper, including Gray Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Schoolmaster, and Cubera.

The French Reef dive site is located just a half-mile from Key Largo and is home to sunken anchors, schools of fish, and coral. To truly experience Key Largo’s underwater world, make sure to visit both sites. Both sites offer excellent diving experiences and will leave you with fond memories. But, if you can make it to both dive sites, that would be even better!

Looe Key

In August 1994, the R/V Columbus Iselin ran aground on Looe Key, destroying 164 square meters of coral and more than a hundred feet of reef framework. The University of Miami paid a record $3.76 million to the NOAA for natural resources damage claims. In 1997, NOAA began restoration of the Looe Reef. Snorkelers can enjoy a wide range of sea life, from reef sharks and stingrays to big barracuda.

A dive on Looe Key will take you to the coral reef of the same name, which is home to about 150 species of fish. A few lucky divers may even be able to see a shark or two. The reef is 7,000 years old.

Neptune Memorial Reef

The Neptune Memorial Reef is a manmade underwater columbarium. Its creator intended it to be the largest man-made reef in the world. Its depth is approximately 40 feet. While there are other beautiful spots to dive in the Florida Keys, the Neptune Memorial Reef is the most memorable. You can see the remains of many famous explorers who perished at the reef’s base.

Neptune Memorial Reef is a 40-foot-deep artificial reef designed to help coral grow and improve the health of the ocean. The reef features statues and structures inspired by the lost city of Atlantis. Thousands of marine creatures reside here, and families can purchase cement molds of the deceased’s ashes and place them on the reef. Visitors can also explore the sundial and other ruins of Atlantis.

Christ of the Abyss – Don Dirren

In addition to Don Dirren, scuba divers will find the iconic Christ of the Abyss at Pennekamp Park, located six miles off the east coast of Key Largo. The Italian artist Guido Gallettit donated the 20,000-pound statue in 1961. It is the second casting of the original statue, which can still be seen diving off the coast of Genoa. The statue weighs 20,000 pounds and rises 11 feet above the water surface. The Florida Keys are also home to the first underwater state park in the United States, which is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

In addition to the 8.5-foot-tall bronze statue of Jesus Christ, tourists can also see the infamous Christ of the Abyss. The statue sits in 25 feet of water and is a popular dive site. It is a great sight for snorkelers and divers of all skill levels. The statue is home to many marine species including stingrays, nurse sharks, and several species of popular Caribbean reef fish.