The most famous and most popular dive site in the Florida Keys is Christ of the Abyss off Key Largo just east of John Pennekamp State Park. The hands of the bronze statue of Jesus raise just 11 feet under the water's surface. The statue is circled by reef and close to the dive sites known as Dry Rocks, Grecian Rocks and The Elbow. This area is a perfect place for beginner divers and snorkelers. The water ranges from 5-120 feet deep, averaging about 30 feet deep. The statue is a popular site for underwater weddings and funerals. People commonly scatter ashes at the statue and some businesses even offer the service to those who would rather not do the scattering their selves.
The area around the statue is very popular and can be crowded, but the spectacle is worth braving the crowd. The area is home to many fish and mammals. Manatees and dolphins frequent the area and are used to the crowds of snorkelers and divers. The area is famous for the abundance of reef fish such as the beautiful Queen and French Angelfish, hogfish and the tiny but tough little darting damselfish. Since the inland key of Key Largo is so large the waters offshore are more calm offering better visibility than offshore the smaller keys where the gulf stream disturbs the waters creating stronger currents and more turbulent, cloudier waters. The schools of fish and the reef fish enjoy the protection the big key and it shows in their abundance. The fish density and diversity off this part of Florida is known to be higher and more spectacular than most of the Caribbean.
For the more adventurous and advanced divers there are countless wreck dives along the keys. Before the lighthouses and modern navigation technology, the Florida Keys were infamous for wrecking ships. The top job in Key West during most of the 1800's was wreck salvaging. Between 1848 and 1859 it is reported that 618 ships were wrecked along the Florida Keys coast. The Wreck Trek Diver Challenge is an ongoing diving activity that dozens of dive shops in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West are participating in through 2014. Participating dive shops offer passage to the wrecks and provide a copy of the 'Official Florida Keys Wreck Trek' logbook. The challenge highlights nine of the Keys' many wreck dive sites: Spiegel Grove, USCG Duane, USCG Bibb, Wreck of the Eagle, Thunderbolt, Adolphus Busch Sr., Cayman Salvager, Joe's Tug and the Vandenberg.
The most popular and famous wreck dive in the keys is the USS Vandenberg, about six miles off the coast of Key West. The 522 foot Navy transport ship was intentionally sunk off the coast of Key West on 2009. The ship is the second-largest artificial reef in the world, after the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany sank off Florida's panhandle coast in the far north of the state. The USS Vandenberg sits in over 150' of water making exploring the bottom of the wreck too deep for typical open water diving. The most interesting features of the dive, like the huge satellite dishes, are found in less than 100' of water. This dive is not suitable for beginners or for training and certification purposes.
Another popular wreck dive that is suitable for less experienced divers is Mike's Wreck, an unidentified ship haul that is accessible from the dive site Elbow Reef not far from the Christ of the Abyss statue off Key Largo. This wreck is in about 25' of water and a great place for your first wreck dive. There are hundreds of large and small wrecks along the keys, many just recently discovered and countless more still undiscovered.
Great local shop. dean is super helpful and certified my 14 year old in the sound. he is patient and knowledgeable. the shop is fully stocked and really cute. I've been diving for 25 years and I wanted my daughter in good hands and she was.