As certified PADI Divemaster, one of Captain Bill’s all-time loves in snorkeling and diving and right here are some of the best anywhere in the world and arguably the best anywhere in the Continental US.
There are many options that will have you in the water fast. No long boat rides that beat you up. In fact just about anywhere we go from the Gulf to the Atlantic is perfect for getting in the water. For safety and comfort trips can accommodate four passengers.
Our main snorkel and dive site is the World famous Looe (Pronounced LOU) Key Reef and is just over three miles offshore, located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The reef is five square miles and is named after HMS Looe, which ran aground on the reef and sank in 1744. The reef is home to parrots and surgeonfish on the north side; barracudas and jacks on top of the reef; grunts, butterflyfish, and angelfish on the reef crest; sharks and rays cruising on the reef. Almost immediately upon tying up at the reef the Yellow Tail Snappers will begin to congregate under the boat. On many days there will be an Entire Eco-System located under the boat, giving you the feeling, you are swimming in an aquarium. The reef is home to a family of Goliath Groupers (Known as Jew Fish) and will also congregate right under the boat. Ranging from very shallow to 35 feet this is a great site for diving and snorkeling. The shallow waters allow for long bottom times and an opportunity for freedivers to get up close and personal.
Another very easily accessible area located in just 18 or less of water is the Newfound Harbor Key Sanctuary Preservation Area. This half-mile square inshore patch reef is just outside of the Harbor Entrance off Little Palm Island and partially within the Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve. See a variety of corals, angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, damsels, wrasses, grunts, and snappers. This is great for beginning snorkelers or youth as it is shallow, free from large predators, and in generally calm waters.
A favorite site because of the features in and out of the water is the American Shoal Lighthouse, activated in 1880. Just over eight miles from the harbor entrance this is a very cool dive as the base of the lighthouse supports a variety of life in just four feet of water. The lighthouse was active until 2015 and is hardly crowded with generally calm shallow waters this is a great spot to swim and relax. If you are coming to Lower Keys this really is a must-see attraction as on February 1, 2019, it was announced that the lighthouse would be given away freely to any government agencies, educational agencies, non-profit corporations, or any community development organizations who wanted to use it for “educational, park, recreational, cultural or historic preservation purposes.” While we do not know what this means one thing or sure is that it will be changed from its original state.
For an Advanced Dive opportunity, we recommend the MV Adolphus Busch which is a cargo ship that was launched on 20 December 1950 and was wrecked at Port-au-Prince on 24 September 1998 under the name Ocean Alley. Purchases by the August Adolphus Busch IV and named after his great-grandfather, Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser-Busch. It was ship stripped out and sunk on 5 December 1998 as an artificial reef to help improve marine habitat. It rests upright on a sand bottom at an average depth of 80 feet with a maximum depth of 110 feet. The wreck is fully penetrable and can be entered through the bridge or cargo holds. Reef fish are common on the site, as are large jewfish, eels, sharks, and large pelagic fish.