Dive Capital of the World

 

There is so much to explore on the topside of Key Largo, but as the self-proclaimed “dive capital of the world,” what lies beneath the surface is truly magical. From shallow reefs to deep wrecks, colorful fish to vibrant corals, the 33-mile long island offers some of the best sights and attractions under the sea. As Sebastian in The Little Mermaid said, “Darlin’ it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me!”

With so many incredible dive sites to explore, where does one begin? We’re revealing some of our favorites, all within a short drive of Playa Largo Resort & Spa.

Spiegel Grove

Home of the world’s largest artificial reef, Spiegel Grove is one of the island’s most popular dive sites. The 510-foot retired Navy ship – the length of almost two football fields – was intentionally sunk six miles off the coast back in 2002 to create a new reef ecosystem. Tropical marine life and colorful corals immediately began to call the USS Spiegel Grove home, which now sits 130 feet below sea level at its deepest point! Divers are able to spot goliath grouper, barracuda and schools of gobie fish. While the wreck is recommended for divers with advanced open water certifications and above, it continues to be a spectacle for sport divers alike. Fun fact – the ship was initially placed on its side, but when Hurricane Dennis swept through the Sunshine State in 2005, it up-righted the massive schooner!

Photo courtesy of Todd Murray, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Todd Murray, Flickr Creative Commons

Christ of the Abyss

Last week we introduced you to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, but wanted to save the park’s iconic “Christ of the Abyss” statue for this post! Originally designed for Egidi Cressi, a dive equipment manufacturer, the 18,000-pound statue of Jesus Christ sits just 25 feet below sea level, making it the perfect spot for both snorkelers and divers to enjoy. The statue was created by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti and was intended for the waters off Genoa, Italy, but was later donated to the Florida State Park Service. Now, the underwater effigy is surrounded by spotted eagle rays and staghorn and elkhorn corals, making it one of the most photographed underwater dive sites in the world. Do you have your GoPro handy?

Davis Ledge

Key Largo is home to a statue of Jesus Christ, while Islamorada is home to a statue of Buddha. Go figure! Divers visit Davis Ledge for two main reasons: to rub Buddha’s belly, which is said to bring fertility and good luck, and to come face-to-face with nurse sharks, eel, lobster and sea turtles. With a maximum depth of 55 feet, Davis Reef is approved for all certification levels and the easy-to-navigate paths are a favorite for more adventurous night dives.

Hen & Chickens Reef

Unfortunately, divers will find neither hen nor chickens here. Rather, aerial images of this popular Islamorada patch reef resemble a mother hen (the central reef) with her chicks all surrounding her (the smaller, outer reefs). The shallow dive site is just 22 feet below sea level, so snorkelers can easily see the oversized brain and star corals. Some of the corals are so massive that they measure more than 15 feet tall and create a maze-like path for divers. Divers also love this site because of the frequent hawksbill sea turtle sightings, and because of its abundance of angelfish, yellowtail snapper, sergeant major and the popular blue tang. So keep your eyes peeled because you might get lucky in ‘Finding Dory’!

There is so much to explore on the topside of Key Largo, but as the self-proclaimed “dive capital of the world,” what lies beneath the surface is truly magical. From shallow reefs to deep wrecks, colorful fish to vibrant corals, the 33-mile long island offers some of the best sights and attractions under the sea. As Sebastian in The Little Mermaid said, “Darlin’ it’s better, down where it’s wetter, take it from me!”

*Feature image courtesy Wilfred Hdez, Flickr Creative Commons

 
July 21, 2016

Under the Sea: Key Largo and Islamorada’s Top Dive Sites

There is so much to explore on the topside of Key Largo, but as the self-proclaimed “dive capital of the world,” what lies beneath the surface […]
July 5, 2016

Can’t-Miss Attractions in and around Key Largo!

We know that as much as you’re going to love sipping mojitos at our beachfront bar and catching some rays by our infinity pool, you’re also […]