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Key Largo Reefs and Wrecks

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White Banks Dry Rocks

Depth Range: Shallow to 15 feet Experience: Beginner to expert

White Banks is a series of two shallow reef patches conected by a sandy channel. Located close to shore, it's currents are low and it is often sheltered from the winds.

It's fish and invertabrae life is enormous and snorkeling along these shallow but brilliantly colored reefs is an excellent experience. Keys Diver usually visits White Banks on our morning and sunset snorkel tours.

 

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Grecian Rocks

GRECIAN ROCKS Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet Experience Level: Beginner to Novice

Grecian Rocks is an exceptionally popular reef for snorkelers. The shallow reef buffers the waves so the waters are very calm even on windy days.

It is very easy for snorkelers to swim from the boat up to the reefline where the corals and brightly colored fish abound.

The sea grass bed is loaded with Queen Conch Shells. Remember, this is a protected area, so not touching - no taking. Just pictures.

As you swim closer to the reef, you cross sandy areas. This is where the rays like to hang out. They bury themselves in the sand, with only their outline showing, and two beady eyes. There are also lots of brightly colored Parrott Fish, brain corals and little Sargent Majors here.

 

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Key Largo Dry Rocks

The Christ Statue

Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet Experience Level: Novice

By far the most famous dive/snorkel 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. This area also includes Grecian Rocks an extremely popular reef among snorkelers and divers.

The Christ Statue was cast in Italy and donated to the Underwater Society of America by Egidi Cressi, an Italian industrialist and diving equipment manufacturer. It is a 9 foot tall bronze duplicate of the Christ of the Abysses statue, which stands in 50 feet of water off Genoa, Italy. Set in a beautiful reef area known for its outstanding brain corals, the figure of Christ stands silhouetted against the blue waters of the ocean, His arms upraised to the surface. This dramatic and memorable picture is one that most diving visitors to the Keys shouldn't miss.

 

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Molasses Reef

Depth Range: 10-70 feet Experience: Novice

This is arguably the most beautiful collection of reefs in all of Florida! Rather than a single site, Molasses is an extensive reef complex with diving depths from about 10 feet to more than 70. There are over 30 mooring balls on Molasses, meaning every location is a new adventure. From the Winch Hole, to the wreck of the Wellwood, the corals and sea life are amazing.

Spur and groove formations, swim throughs and huge schools of Parrott fish, Sea Turtles, Eels and Nurse Sharks make this a popular reef.

At depths ranging from 10-40 feet, Molasses Reef features high profile spur and groove coral formations. This area is also ideal for both snorkeling and diving. At 40-60 feet down, seaward sand chutes separate a gently sloping hard flat bottom adorned by hard and soft corals, along with a variety of sponges. The "drop-off" begins in the 50-60 foot range, and extends downward at various angles to the 70-100 foot range. Excellent drift diving can be found here.

 

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The Elbow

Depth Range: 12-35 feet Experience: Novice

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 miniwalls.

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.

 

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Snapper Ledge

Depth Range: 12-35 feet Experience: Novice

Snapper Ledge is a shallow reef, so named because of the countless Yellowtail Snapper 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.

 

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Wreck of the Benwood

Depth Range: 50 feet offshore - 20 feet inshore Experience Level: Novice to Intermediate

An English built cargo vessel lost in a tragic chain of events in 1942. The Benwood rests on a level expanse of sand noticeably lacking in coral growth, so apart from the wreck itself there is comparatively little to see. Its fractured stern lies directly beneath the marker at a depth of 30 feet, while its bow points offshore at a depth of 45 feet. The bow section looms up out of the sand, in contrast with the rest of the ship which is almost wholly submerged.

The beauty of this wreck, is the fish population! The rising bow is a photographers dream. Summertime has seen huge baitballs that divers can almost loose themselves in fish.

There is a beautiful resident green Moray Eel that lives here. Check under the timbers, and have your camera ready.

 

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French Reef

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

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.

This reef is usually done in conjunction with the Benwood, due to their close proximity. It is truly a beautiful dive, and a great place to practice your navigation.

 

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Wreck of the Spiegel Grove

Depth Range: 60 feet offshore - 134 feet Experience Level: Advanced

The USS Spiegel Grove is a Landing Ship Dock (LSD 32), which has been sunk to create an artificial reef in Key Largo. The vessel is 510 feet in length, 84 feet wide.

he Spiegel Grove is the backbone of the artificial reef system that has formed in this area. Algae, sponges and coral mingle with 130 species of fish to create enormous biodiversity in this region. Divers may see Goliath Grouper, barracuda, large jacks, and a large colony of gobies. Mooring buoys allow divers an easy tie-in and a steady hold. The lines are attached to the ship and allow divers to travel down them until they reach the hull. This is a very popular site. Divers will need multiple dives to become oriented and it may take countless dives for one t o be able to experience all that this massive vessel has to offer. This is a great dive for using multi-level diving techniques and offers an incredible opportunity for exploration and excitement. This is a dive not to be missed. The reef formation that has arisen is impressive and has fostered growth of much pelagic life.

 

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The Wreck of the Duane

Depth Range: 95-130 feet Experience Level: Advanced

Many consider the Duane to be the perfect wreck dive. Before sinking, the ship's hatches were opened and the holds pumped full of water to sink the ship. The Duane sits upright on the sandy bottom at 120 feet offering nearly 70 feet of relief. On clear days the outline of the hull can be seen from far above. The crow's nest and mast become visiible just 50-60 feet below the surface. Many decks and rooms were intentionally left open to allow divers room to explore the interior of the cutter. Bring a divelight if you plan to penetrate the interior. The hull structure is completely intact with the original rudders, screws, railings, ladders and ports.

This wreck is even more impressive because the waters are so clear that visibility is often 100 feet. It is closer to the Gulfstream than most wrecks and reefs and some v ery large fish such as barracuda, amberjack, and cobia are often spotted swimming around the wreck.

 

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