So you fly into Miami, maybe Ft Lauderdale, and a little over an hour later you’re driving across a bridge onto the first island of the Florida Keys, Key Largo. You see the natural beauty of this unique ecosystem all around you. Plush green tropical islands surrounded by blue water and bridges spanning the distance between them, sometimes over distances too far to see both ends. Beautiful and unique in North America. This is why the Florida Keys are sometimes referred to as “America’s Caribbean”. After your drive down from the mainland, you are in Key Largo. You’ve heard it said that the best diving Florida Keys is in Key Largo, right? Could this be true and if so, why?
Key Largo is one of the longest continuous land masses separating the waters of the Florida Bay, (the West side of the islands), from the water flowing through our reefs on the Atlantic side, (the East side of the islands). These Florida Bay waters, and then the Gulf of Mexico waters farther south, have a different temperature and salinity content than the waters on the Atlantic side of the islands. When you have these waters mix over the reefs, it is damaging to their development. Hence, Key Largo provides the largest barrier to this happening and has always therefore had a larger, healthier reef track than the other islands in the Florida Keys. So yes, the “best scuba diving Florida Keys” is off Key Largo!
To be more specific, the largest, most dynamic reef in all the Florida Keys is Molasses Reef off Key Largo. It is by far one of the most famous Dive Sites not only in the Florida Keys, but also all the Caribbean! According to the REEF Foundation, Molasses Reef has one of the largest and most diverse fish populations in all the Caribbean, we are proud to say! The best scuba diving in the Florida Keys in general is off key Largo, specifically, the best dive site in the Florida keys is Molasses Reef.
When divers explore for the “best scuba diving Florida Keys“, they need not travel past the first island in the Florida Keys chain coming south from Miami. Key Largo is known as the “Dive Capital of the World” for good reason, it’s close, and beautiful!
Key Largo is the first island you drive to from the Florida mainland. About an hour drive south from Miami you will come to the bridge at Jewfish Creek, considered the “entrance” to the Florida Keys. Once across this beautiful bridge you are in Key Largo, commonly called the “Dive Capital of the World”. Many Key Largo dive sites are just minutes away now!
The “Florida Keys Reef Track” is the only coral barrier reef in the continental United States, and is the third largest coral barrier reef in the world. According to Wikipedia, “the densest and most spectacular reefs are found to the seaward of Key Largo (in and beyond John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park) and Elliott Key where the two long keys help protect the reefs from the effects of water exchange with the Florida Bay”
We can humbly confirm this, from direct experience! Scuba Divers that are “in the know” understand that Key Largo scuba diving is the best in the Florida Keys. Dive Sites here reflect the diversity and abundance of marine life found in these protected waters. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Most of our Reef Dive Sites are in relatively shallow water depths, making them very attractive to beginning divers as well as student scuba divers looking to complete their certification dives in clear, blue, shallow reefs with lots of marine life! These shallow reefs provide the ideal environment for newly certified divers and student divers looking to complete their training on a reef. We go out to these Key largo dive sites daily, every day of the year, and can provide the scuba training any day of the year also!
“Key Largo Dive Sites are Perfect for Newly Certified or Student Scuba Divers”
Key Largo also offers advanced Dive Sites, and is home to several deeper wrecks including the world’s largest artificial reef, the 510 foot USS Spiegel Grove. Another artificial Key Largo dive site is the US Coast Guard Cutter “Duane”, sitting upright in about 125 feet of clear blue water. These 2 plus a few others provide Key Largo dive sites for the seasoned scuba diver and for those who are interested in Advanced training.
The most popular reef in the Florida Keys, as well as anywhere in the Caribbean, is the Molasses Reef Dive Site. It is the largest, most lively reef and according to the REEF Foundation, some of the greatest abundance and diversity of marine life in the Caribbean. This is confirmed, once again, unofficially by our scuba divers who absolutely love this Key largo dive site!
Bottom line, Key Largo is known for its shallow reefs and deep wrecks. The shallow reefs provide world class diving for scuba divers of all ages and the deep wrecks offer excitement for scuba divers of all levels of training. Divers find out quickly why the diverse Key Largo dive sites have enabled the Florida Keys to be known as the “Dive Capital of the World”!
– Your Sea Dwellers Dive Center Staff
For 25 years now, Sea Dwellers has been teamed up with the Holiday Inn Key Largo Resort in offering one of the most popular Key Largo diving packages in Key Largo. Why has this been so successful? A couple simple reasons really.
Your Boats are just Steps from your room!
One thing we hear from our divers is they love the convenience of our diving packages. Our boats are just steps from your room at the Holiday Inn Key Largo Resort. Scuba divers can wake up, go eat a full buffet breakfast at the Resort, and then stroll on out to their dive boat…couldn’t be and easier! After a couple of great dives on our reefs and wrecks you are brought right back to your dock and a minute or two later you are back in your room. Your Dive Center is also just across the highway for easy access.
The Holiday inn Key Largo Resort has many amenities to enhance your diving package. 2 pools, outside Tiki Bar, full service restaurant “Bogie’s Cafe” and one of Key Largo’s newest restaurants, “Skipper’s Dockside”…a wonderful tropical diving experience harking back to the Florida Key’s early days! This is one of the best Key Largo diving packages on the island!
Our boats are fast, custom built dive boats that will wisk you to your morning or afternoon dive sites quickly and comfortably. Most of your Dive sites are within 30 minutes from the Marina!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo has been in business in the Florida Keys since 1974. We know how to treat our divers, we know what they want. There are other options for you here, and we know that how we treat you makes the difference and accordingly out experienced staff provides you a safe, comfortable, no-rush environment for scuba diving in Key Largo.
“We’ve Never Forgotten that Diving is Fun”
And lastly, we offer great scuba diving in Key Largo! Our reefs offer some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the Caribbean, (according to the REEF Foundation, as well as our customers). The Florida Keys is known for it’s schooling fishes, as well as other marine life not seen in other places in the Caribbean. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary provides protections for our marine life and our scuba divers benefit greatly!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center & the Holiday Inn Key Largo Resort have been offering Dive & Stay Packages together for over 25 years. We offer great pricing discounts for any length of stay any time of year! Beautiful Hotel Resort, fast Dive Boats, friendly staff, and great diving are all here for you at a great package price. Call toll-free 1-800-451-3640 any time 7 days a week for your Key Largo Diving Package quote, we’re sure to have what you are looking for down here in beautiful Key Largo!
-Your Sea Dwellers Staff
As most of you probably know by now, Key Largo was very fortunate that Hurricane Irma veered west and ended up making landfall almost 80 miles south of the island in the Lower Keys. Conversely, we feel deeply for our neighbors in the Lower Keys for getting the direct hit from the Hurricane. They are suffering from the effects and can use any and all support. See link for Irma Hurricane Relief…
Despite Key Largo’s close call, we had some concerns of course about our reefs as a result of 100 mph winds. Your Sea Dwellers staff went diving yesterday on Molasses Reef and French Reef, which were the areas of biggest concern for us. Sea Dwellers Instructor Dave Jefferiss was on the trip and was kind enough to provide a video of the dives. You can gauge for yourself, but we’re happy to report that the reefs fared well. The sand channels have been dredged out some, which always happens when we get high winds, but more so than normal due to the length of time that we felt these winds from Hurricane Irma.
Irma was the first Hurricane to make landfall in the Florida Keys in 25 years, (Andrew 1992).
We feel very lucky here in Key Largo, and accordingly we feel for our brothers in the Lower Keys. One of the ways we feel lucky is the state of our reefs, little affected by the winds we did get. One of the best ways you can help support all the Florida Keys is by booking a vacation down here as soon as you can. Key Largo and Islamorada are already open for business, and very soon the Lower Keys will be open also, as we are very resilient here with these storms.
You can visit the Florida Keys Tourist Developement website to help you plan your next visit, and the Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo Website to plan your Key Largo scuba diving vacation right away, we’re open for business and looking forward to diving with you soon! Special thanks to Dive Instructor Dave Jefferiss for the video clip!
Your Sea Dwellers Dive Center Staff –
One day, maybe you’re watching something on cable, something with people underwater, scuba diving on some beautiful reefs; or maybe it’s just something you always wanted to do and you just decide, “now’s the time”! But one day you decide to do…get Scuba Certified!
So then you call Sea Dwellers Dive Center to book your Course and begin your journey to becoming an Open Water Scuba Diver in the beautiful Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary! After weeks of waiting and completing your online academics, you’ve finally arrived! You’ve done most of the hard work ahead of time, and now to put what you’ve read to practice and take your first breaths underwater. You’ve picked the best diving the states have to offer for your first open water dives and to begin your adventures as a certified scuba diver.
The morning of your first day you arrive at the shop and get your rental gear for the next few days of diving. You meet up with one of our instructors at the pool and there, you learn to set up your gear and take your first breaths underwater. For many people, this is an exciting and new experience that causes a bit of anxiety. The anxiety will slowly fade away as you become more comfortable with the gear and begin practicing skills in the pool. You start in the shallow end to get acclimated and as the pool session continues, you make your way to the deep end to do more skills and get a feel for how the gear works.
After you complete your pool session, you have some time to grab lunch at one of our many local restaurants.
After lunch, you head over to the dock where you get ready to go out for your first ocean dives. By the time the dive boat arrives at the site, your Scuba Instructor has given you a briefing and explained what skills you’ll be doing and what wildlife you may be seeing. When we are at the site, your instructor will be awaiting your giant stride entrance into the water and your first open water scuba dive in Key Largo. Nothing is quite like the first time you put your mask in the water and see the beautiful reef ecosystem below you that is unlike any terrestrial environment you’ve seen before. The vibrant colors of both corals and fish, and the diversity of species located only 30 minutes from shore is something that looks like it belongs in the movie Avatar more than Earth. After your first dive, you and your Scuba Instructor will get ready to do your second dive of the day and explore more of the reef.
On day two, we take our dive students to do another pool session. This extra pool session is to ensure the maximum comfort and mastery of the skills required to become a certified scuba diver. After this session, you will again have a break for lunch and be joining us on the dock for the afternoon dive. By day two, the comfort levels are higher and the dives become more enjoyable. The reefs will be teeming with life and more of these dives can be spent seeing the wildlife around you. After these four dives and the completion of all the skills, you are now a certified diver! But that’s not the end of your Open Water certification journey with Sea Dwellers.
For our open water students, we include three days of scuba diving. This is 2 more open water dives than is required, and 2 more than most others offer! Our Certification Course has been very popular, and this is one reason why. The more diving you are able to do the more comfortable and proficient you become in the water. This is our Philosophy, and from the feedback we’ve gotten, most agree with it! Finally, you will be given a temporary dive certification card and you are free to dive on your own (with a buddy, of course!) sans instructor and skill demonstrations!
Lots of family fun! Come on down and join us for some Key Largo Scuba Diving!
– Divemater Natalie
by Divemaster Natalie
So you’re a certified diver and you’ve been diving for awhile now. You you love to dive so you’re thinking, “what’s next?”
How about increasing your knowledge and abilities in the water? If you’re considering advancing your education in scuba diving, or if you aren’t sure why you should there’s a few excellent reasons to continue your learning;
The more you practice your buoyancy, the better you’ll get! And trust me, you can be controlling your buoyancy by your breathing just like your instructor in little time! Buoyancy seems really hard and awkward when you’re first learning to dive, but just like with anything, the more you practice the easier it gets. And once you have buoyancy down, you’re able to be a lot more comfortable in the water.
Typically, as you progress in your diving, you tend to acquire your own gear and figure out what you like. This is important as it goes hand in hand with your comfort level in the water. The more dives you have with a certain type or BCD or regulator will not only help you get used to how that gear should feel but also how it works. One of my favorite parts of continuing my dive education was actually learning how the gear functions and where and what can go wrong. By having this deeper knowledge of the gear and its function, I am more comfortable in the water and figuring out solutions if something seems wrong.
Advancing your education is a great way to explore new and different types of diving and learn how to be a better diver. When I took my Rescue Diver course, I learned a lot about the science of how diving affects our bodies, which is very important to understand. In addition, advanced courses are able to get more into detail about the very broad information you’re given in your open water course. Because you get into more detail about functionality of gear, effects of pressure on a body, and stress and response, you in turn become not only more comfortable with your equipment, but you learn how to improvise should you need to.
There are so many different paths you can take in diving that continuing your education could simply mean opening up new locations or types of diving. If you’re really interested in photography, you can pursue the underwater photography specialty. If you really want to try ice dives you can get dry suit certified. If you’ve always wanted to explore underwater caves there’s a specialty for that too! Continuing your education is a great tool to see something new or different if you’re starting to feel like you need something new. And by the way, scuba diving Key Largo reefs and wrecks offers divers plenty of material to photograph with our great marine life!!
If you’ve ever thought about pursuing a career in the dive industry or a marine related field, having advanced education looks great on resumes. Since getting my advanced dive certifications I have been able to participate in research on the reefs as well as AGGRA coral surveys, biodiversity surveys and removing invasive lionfish off the reefs. I have also gotten a job in the dive industry and has opened up possibilities I couldn’t have received in other fields.
Advanced Adventurer Certification – taking your scuba diving to a higher level!
At Sea Dwellers Dive Center we offer the “Advanced Adventurer Course”, which includes 5 specialties over 3 days of diving. A deep dive, and a navigation dive are required, and then you get to choose 3 more specialties from a list that includes things like Peak Buoyancy, search & recovery, underwater photography and many more! Those interested can check this link to our Advanced Diving Course page!
Overall, my choice to advance my education has helped me expand my horizons and opportunities in my career in scuba diving and I have met an incredible network of dive professionals and future dive buddies here at Sea Dwellers Dive Center!
– Divemaster Natalie
Sea Dwellers’ Instructor Daniel shows us his take on Key Largo diving! An awesome video that highlights the great and diverse Marine Life scuba divers experience while diving Key Largo!
All the creatures are here, and most importantly, the Octopus! We’re partial to Octopus, as some of you may know…this one was awesome, don’t you think? Moray eels, turtles, sharks both Nurse & Reef…you name it it can be found on the reefs while scuba diving Key Largo! The marine life in Key Largo is unmatched in the Caribbean, as those who have been diving in the Caribbean know…it’s our little secret!
A big thanks to Daniel, for this awesome video, but also for working with us this Spring! Daniel is a great Instructor, and a great guy, he will be missed! BTW Daniel is now in Hawaii, gonna provide some great Instruction there and enjoy Paradise, Pacific style! All the best to him and we hope to see him again in Key Largo!
While looking at some amazing photographs that Photographer Andrew Jalbert captured while diving Key Largo last year, (all pics in this article were taken by him while diving off the Sea Dweller III), I realized that we are seeing a few good signs these days for our reefs. While certainly the coral reefs continue to face struggles in the Florida Keys as well as around the world, (much more on that in future posts), we are happy to report that the Marine life on our reefs is doing pretty darn well! In 2016, we were happy to report that our staff and our divers saw plenty of the usual suspects that the Key Largo reefs are known for; smaller tropicals and schooling fishes…and all as healthy and abundant as it’s been for decades! We attribute much of this to the conservationist muscle of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! But there’s more…
Several years ago we started seeing something more frequently while scuba diving the Key Largo Reefs…Reef Sharks! This trend has continued we’re happy to say, and it’s not uncommon for our scuba divers to see up to 5-6 reef sharks on a single dive! Not only is this good for our scuba diving, but according to most Marine Biologists, this is generally considered a good sign for the coral reef ecology. According to the “Coral Reef Alliance”…
These remarkable animals are incredibly important for overall ocean health and, in particular, for coral reefs. Sharks are often “apex” or top predators, helping to regulate species abundance and diversity while maintaining balance throughout an ecosystem. – Coral Reef Alliance
This is also an area we are happy to report seems to be doing well on the Key Largo dive sites, according to what we are seeing from our divers. Divers and snorkelers have been seeing turtles with some regularity, not as frequently as the Reef Sharks are appearing, but several times weekly at this point. Loggerheads and Hawksbills are the main species we see here. And who doesn’t like scuba diving with Turtles?
And finally, we wanted to add this in..the Reef Squid! This is a guy that has always been around our Key Largo reefs, but many of us just miss them while we’re scuba diving because they’re not easy to see. Are our scuba divers seeing more of them now? Honestly I have no idea. But underwater photographer Andrew Jalbert got this shot of one while diving off the Sea Dweller III and we just HAD to publish it here…isn’t it one of the most amazing shots you’ve ever seen of a Reef Squid?
We feel that most reef species have done quite well for abundance and diversity over the last couple decades, from what we can simply observe from diving Key Largo every day for a couple decades. We know there are some good signs as well as bad signs for our reefs here in Key Largo, as well as for reefs around the world. And while it is very important to talk about the bad things, we thought it would be good to take a little break and talk about some of the good things we’re seeing and experiencing while diving Key largo reefs & wrecks. We believe the Marine Life is one of the good stories!
Special thanks to Professional Photographer Andrew Jalbert for letting us use these amazing photographs he captured while scuba diving Key Largo off the Sea Dweller III last Fall! Check out his website for more beautiful photos of the Florida keys and the Caribbean! jalbertproductions.com
While we have always taken great pride in our Instruction, in 2015 we made a decision, and a commitment; In an era when people seem to have less and less time, and Scuba Certification Courses seem to get shorter and shorter, we simply decided to go the other way and offer more. We believe that Scuba Diving is something to be taken seriously, and being comfortable and safe is paramount. So we decided that we were not going to just offer the same old course in the minimum time required. We wanted to exceed the standards by simply offering more dive time in the pool and the Open Water. Sure, this could cost us we thought; people seem busier than ever these days working harder, longer hours. Everyone seems to have less time, especially for the “expendable” stuff, like vacations…and Scuba Diving. So this could cost us, couldn’t it? Well, first let’s talk about what this means to “Offer More”…
So how to go about producing a “better” scuba diver? Well of course it all starts with the Instructor. We’ve always taken this very seriously and feel that we’ve always offered well trained & experienced Instructors who share our “Sea Dweller Philosophy”. You won’t get an “newbie” here!
Second, instead of just offering the minimum pool and Open Water diving required for a course…we decided to simply “Offer More”; More pool time, more diving. We decided to double the pool time normally offered here by most in Key Largo, and also incorporate an extra day of diving on our reefs…6 dives total instead of the required 4 to complete scuba certification course.
After having a couple seasons to gauge the effectiveness this simple idea, we are proud to say that it appears that we have made a good decision! Our criteria? Our customers of course…and the feedback we have gotten has been overwhelmingly positive! Almost all of our students have loved the idea of more dive time in the pool & Open Water. As it turns out… most folks WANT the most they can receive when pursuing certification in Scuba Diving!
And we really do believe that we are producing better trained scuba divers! Another benefit, we are producing a more committed scuba diver…and so far we’ve been seeing a higher percentage of our newly certified divers back down here for a follow up dive trip! We believe that the more time people can spend in the water for training, the more comfortable they will be with scuba diving and consequently the more enthusiastic they will be about coming back down to dive! They are, simply… happier divers when they leave our Dive Center with their “C” Card!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center is committed to Scuba Instruction, Open Water Certification and above. We believe in the SSI “Diver Diamond” Philosophy…Knowledge, Skills, Equipment & Experience is the road to being a safe, comfortable and therefore committed scuba diver. We achieve this by “Offering More” than the minimum required to you as our students. We have been certifying scuba divers in Key Largo since 1974, and we are proud to say we have produced many good, happy scuba divers over the decades. And now we’re making it even better for you, which is better for all of us. Key Largo diving has never been better!
Your Sea Dwellers Staff –
While “surfing” the web for Florida Keys info and news, I came across a very nice article from “The Daily Meal” website titled “12 Ways the Florida Keys Are Unlike Anywhere Else on Earth”. Its a cool article, and a cool website for foodies by the way, please check it out when you can.
It got me thinking about our islands down here, the Florida Keys, and how unique they really are to the North American Continent. The Florida Keys is the only area on the North American continent that exhibits traits of a “Tropical” environment by definition, (although technically just north of the official tropical zone boundary). The rest of South Florida and parts of Texas and Mexico have sub-tropical conditions.
The Florida Keys have been referred to as America’s Caribbean” for a myriad of reasons, starting with the “tropical” environment listed above. But they are also home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America. Obviously as many know, this makes it the go-to spot for scuba diving for most Americans. No passport required!
When you are in the Keys, doesn’t it just feel like you are in the “tropics”? Meaning everything that we simply think of when talking “tropics”! Lots of sunshine, (the most sunny days in North America), palm trees, beautiful blue water surrounding you at every turn….seafood shacks, great fishing, great Key Largo scuba diving, (oh, I already mentioned that didn’t I?). You get the picture?
The Florida Keys are simply, “one of a kind”. Probably not a secret to many of you, and why you keep coming down to visit us year after year! We hope that continues, and we think it will if the last few years are any indication…Key Largo and the Florida Keys have been busier than ever! Come on down, the sun, seafood, palm tress and great scuba diving are here waiting for you!
Sea Dwellers Dive Center Staff –