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Scuba Diving in the Florida Keys: Key Largo

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OThe Florida Keys offer a plethora of diving sites for you to choose from. Some of which include Lower Keys, Marathon, Islamorada and Key Largo. Here, you'll find the longest living reef in the western hemisphere, more than 500 wrecks to explore, the world's first underwater hotel and clear waters with visibility up to 120 feet.

Wreck-diving has become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reason. Artificial reefs provide excellent night dive sites and give the natural reef a much-needed rest. Though many of the Keys wrecks are historically significant (e.g. Spanish galleons and Civil War wrecks), others have been created by citizens concerned about the survival of the natural reef.

To go wreck or reef diving, you have the option of taking your own boat or renting a boat. Maps which locate dive sites, nautical charts and any equipment you may need can be rented or purchased almost anywhere in the Keys. It is advisable that you also bring your normal Scuba Diving equipment as well.

Today, we'll provide you a few key diving sites in Key Largo. You may come to find this information may be useful when making any future vacation plans...

THE ELBOW - Named for the angular shape of the reef, it is a classic example of spurs and grooves meandering down the slope of the reef. The coral fingers are extremely well-defined and are separated by level passages of clean sand; some of the spurs are high enough to be considered mini walls. Corals and fish abound here but wrecks hold the secret to the appeal of this site. The civil War Wreck, a 752-ton steamer sunk in 1866 has lovely fingers of elkhorn coral situated at depths of 6-18 feet. The remains of two more wrecks, probably a tug and a barge are also scattered in this area.

Depth Range: 12-35 feet
Recommended Experience Level: Novice

KEY LARGO DRY ROCKS - By far one of the most famous dive in the Key Largo Marine Sanctuary. The Statue of Christ of the Abyss (also known as Christ of the Deep), rests on a concrete base located within a short canyon. This area is also celebrated for its marvelous specimens of brain coral and the eastern side of the reef displays classic coral fingers which are rich in marine life. Smoky, the celebrated barracuda, is a regular here.

Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet
Recommended Experience Level: Novice

FRENCH REEF - An exceptionally beautiful site, the ever-popular reef is crammed full of caves, canyons, ledges, tunnels, and swim-throughs. French Reef is home to innumerable fish species.

Depth Range: Shallow to 100 feet
Recommended Experience Level: Novice - Advanced

BIBB & DUANE - Twin 327' coast guard cutters were painstakingly sunk in 1987 as part of an artificial reef program sponsored by the Keys Association of Dive Operators. The Duane more frequently dived because of her depth, lies upright with a slight list to starboard at a depth of about 100 ft. The Bibb overturned while sinking and lies on her starboard side; you will begin to reach the ship's exterior at a depth of 95 ft. Both ships are an equally rewarding dive with a fascinating history.

Depth Range: 50-130 feet
Recommended Experience Level: Advanced

SPIEGEL GROVE - Sunk June 10, 2002, the Spiegel Grove is the largest vessel intentionally sunk to make an artificial reef. The ship was designed to carry cargo and craft for amphibious landings and was retired by the Navy in 1989. After more than three years resting on its starboard side, waves from Hurricane Dennis pushed the 510-foot U.S. Navy ship Spiegel Grove into an upright position, before the hurricane brushed the Florida Keys July 9, 2005, leaving no significant lasting damage.

Depth Range: 45 to 130 feet
Recommended Experience Level: Advanced

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