27 Dive Shops
Part 3: Dive Shops, Airports & Logistics of Diving in Key Largo, (United States)
The Florida Keys are an easy drive in a rental car from Miami
International Airport or Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International
Airport. The drive through the Everglades and along U.S. Route 1, the
Overseas Highway, is stunning.
The Florida Keys are affectionately known as The Islands You Can Drive
To, an appellation that speaks to the obvious fact that the main islands
are connected to the Florida mainland by a system of roadway and
bridges known as the Overseas Highway. Historically the highway, also
known as U.S. #1, evolved from the old railroad bed of Henry Flagler's
"Railroad That Went to Sea". The Key West Extension of the Florida East
Coast Railway connected 30 of the 200 islands that comprise the Keys,
operating for 23 years until a horrendous hurricane in 1935 wiped it
out. The railroad was never rebuilt, but by 1938 the bridges and
embankments were critical components of the new highway and the era of
automobile tourism to the Florida Keys was launched.
Seven Mile Bridge connecting the Middle and Lower keys
the Keys are situated just 70 miles to the north of the Tropic of
Cancer, the line of demarcation for the "tropics". This southerly
setting provides temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 degrees in the
summer, and an average of 72 to 84 degrees during the winter
The Gulf Stream is a massive offshore current that brings warm and clear
water past the Keys from the Caribbean and the Bahamas. The prevailing
onshore wind helps keep the air temperatures consistently balmy, and the
cleansing current of the Gulf Stream helps maintain the crystalline
water clarity for which the Keys are famous.
1950s, when too much spearfishing and coral collection began threatening
the wondrous coral reef off Key Largo, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State
Park was created to preserve this amazing resource. Then in 1975, the
area of protection was enhanced with the creation of the Key Largo
National Marine Sanctuary. By 1981 one of jewels of the Lower Keys reef
tract was protected under the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
legislation, and then in 1990 the entire Florida Keys, including 2,600
square nautical miles of ocean, was established as a marine preserve
under the direction of the Florida keys National Marine Sanctuary.
The dive shops of Key Largo and all along the Florida Keys are required by law to employ U.S. Coast Guard certified captains. Most of the boat trips navigate out between the many obstacles to the four to
six mile offshore reef and wreck sites. Dive shops are very competitive in the Key Largo area and most shops offer all levels of
dive instruction and certification programs. Many also offer the crash course "resort courses" that prepares new or amateur divers for basic shallow dives along side a trained diver. For those who are not comfortable or inerested in scuba diving, the snorkeling opportunities are everywhere and some choose to go along on the day trips and simply snorkel around the boat while others dive. The many beaches of the keys also offer good snorkeling and there is always shopping and lounging while loved ones dive.
Read "Part 1: Overview of Scuba Diving in Key Largo, (United States)
Read "Part 2: Dive Sites, Marine Life & Environment in Key Largo, (United States)