DIVE Center

 

+1 305 924-1340

Reef Dive Sites

French Reef (20-40 ft, OWD)

The triangle-shaped French Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area is north of Molasses Reef and approximately six nautical miles southeast of Key Largo.  French Reef is known for its many caves and arches, easily accessible even to novice divers. At the south end is Hourglass Cave, named for its shape. Christmas Tree Cave is named for the large conical star coral mound that rises over the top located at the beginning of the coral formation.  French Reef is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

 

Information courtesy of NOAA: floridakeys.noaa.gov

 

Depth: 20-40 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD

Molasses Reef (15-35 ft, OWD)

Easily accessible, Molasses Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area is the most heavily visited reef in the Upper Keys – perhaps the world – for diving. Molasses is famous for its clear water, many fish, and numerous boulder corals. It is a classic outer reef with a well-defined spur and groove system of coral development.

At the central portion of Molasses, offshore of the light, are a large ship’s winch and historic Spanish anchor.

Molasses Reef is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

 

Information courtesy of NOAA: floridakeys.noaa.gov

 

Depth: 15-35 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD

Key Largo Dry Rocks (15-20 ft, OWD)

Key Largo Dry Rocks is home to the “Christ of the Deep” statue, a nine foot bronze statue that sits in a sand channel on the offshore side of Key Largo Dry Rocks in less than 25 feet of water.

Key Largo Dry Rocks is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

The buoys are situated in a circle around the reef. Vessels must navigate around the outside of the buoys, as trying to cut across the SPA to buoys will result in grounding on the reef.

 

Information courtesy of NOAA: floridakeys.noaa.gov

 

Depth: 15-25 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD

Pickles Reef (15-25 ft, OWD)

Pickles is a large, shallow reef area where divers and snorkelers can view well-formed corals. The name comes from cement-filled pickle barrels sunk here during the Civil War. These barrels are now covered with the largest pillar corals in the Keys. Numerous ledges and crevasses attract juvenile and tropical fish of many species. Look for purple sea fans, conchs, and the occasional lobster too.

 

Pickles is close to Molasses Reef, and the wrecks Duane and Bibb.

 

Depth: 15-25 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD

Snapper Ledge (15-25 ft, OWD)

Snapper Ledge is a shallow reef in 25 feet of water off of Key Largo. Because of the countless Yellowtail Snapper (hence the name) found at the site, this ledge is a local favorite and a highly recommended dive spot. Often, the schools of fish are so thick that you cannot see through them. You can usually count on seeing a few nurse sharks along with green and spotted Moray Eels. Other frequent sightings include Goat Fish, Hog Snappers, Trunk Fish, Sea Urchins, Crabs, Lobster, Nurse Sharks, Spider and Arrow Crabs, Rays, Octopus, Corkscrew Anenome, Eel, Cleaner Shrimp, Butter Hamlet, and Hawk Fish.

One of the largest and healthiest Boulder Brain Corals (Colpophyllia natans) in the Upper Keys can be found on Snapper’s Ledge. This site is an exceptional location for both snorkeling and diving — a serious “Must Dive” site in the keys.

 

Depth: 15-25 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD

Conch Wall (55-110 ft, OWD, AOWD)

Conch Wall is located South of Conch Reef. The wall itself runs Southwest from the Aquarius Habitat for almost half a mile. Three mooring balls are attached to the top of the reef at about 55 feet. From there, the wall drops off on the seaward side to 95 to 110 feet. Dense Coral formations and numerous Barrel sponges cover the reef providing shelter for smaller fish from schools of Amberjacks, Groupers and Reef Sharks. Rare Black Coral can be found along the wall at about 85 feet and Eagle Rays tend to school in the deeper water.

Due to the currents frequently found on Conch Wall, This is typically conducted as a Drift Dive. This offers divers the opportunity to cover a lot of area, see the most of the reef and maximize their limited bottom time.

 

Depth: 55-110 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD to AOWD

Conch Reef (16-100 ft, OWD, AOWD)

Conch Reef is located approximately nine kilometers south of Tavernia Key. It is one of the most thoroughly developed coral reef systems in the Florida Keys. Typical depths range from 20 to 100 feet. Conch Reef contains a Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) which is a rectangle approximately .07 square nautical miles. Some of the areas are marked as research only. Access to the reef can be done through Key Largo. Currents can run from moderate to strong, making the ease of the dive variable at times. During times of strong currents, this area can be an adequate site for drift dives.

There are many acclaimed shallow dive sites near Conch Reef. Depths at the mooring buoys average 16 feet. Also within the conch reef system are two noteworthy sites: the NOAA “Aquarius” Habitat and the Conch Wall. The former is located in 60 feet of water and is within the system. It is a research vessel which attracts many tropical fish, jacks, and tarpon. Although the availability of this dive site fluctuates, it is currently off limits to divers. The Conch Wall slopes from 50 to 110 feet. Its main features are large marine life and barrel sponges. Highlights of the reef include rare pillar coral, octorals and basket sponges as well as thousands of conch shells. Many observe a variety of gorgonians and, due to the depth of the site, pelagic fish can also be spotted. This site is popular due to its year-round visibility and changing land contours.

 

Depth: 16-100 feet

 

Dive Level: OWD to AOWD

“Christ of the Deep” Statue (25 ft, OWD)

The Christ of the Deep statue rests in 25 feet of water and was a gift to the Underwater Society of America in 1961 by industrialist Egidi Cressi.

 

History

 

The Christ of the Deep statue (alternately known as Christ of the Abyss) is one of three statues

forged by artist Guido Galletti. The original Christ statue is submerged in the Mediterranean Sea off San Fruttuoso on the Italian Riviera where it was placed in 1954. The second statue, placed in 1961, rests off the coast of St. George’s, Grenada. The third and final casting of the statue rests in 25 feet of water in Key Largo Dry Rocks, six miles east of Key Largo, Florida. The statue perches atop a three-tiered concrete base which weighs nine tons.

Key Largo Dry Rocks is a patch reef comprised of spurs and groove formations. Divers will encounter large Brain corals, Sea Rods and Sea Whips. Due to the shallowness of this site, it is extremely popular with snorkelers as well.

Reserve Your Adventure Now!

Trips to the Christ of the Deep Statue are scheduled to depart at 1:00 in the afternoon. To allow yourself enough time, please plan on checking in with our office crew by 12:30 p.m.

Information courtesy of NOAA: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov

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