6 Best Scuba Diving Spots in Florida’s Coral Reefs

Top Florida scuba diving spots

Florida’s extensive coastline and warm, clear waters make it a haven for scuba divers. The state’s coral reefs offer vibrant marine life and diverse underwater landscapes that attract divers from around the world.

Here are the some of the best scuba diving spots in Florida’s coral reefs, ranked from the very good to the absolute best:

Florida law says you and any passengers need to wear life jackets on jet skis. These jackets must be approved by the Coast Guard.

Sombrero Reef, Marathon

Best Florida scuba spots

Location: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Depth: 2-30 feet

Visibility: Up to 70 feet

Cost: $100-$150 per two-tank dive

Starting the list is Sombrero Reef, located off the coast of Marathon in the Middle Keys. This spur-and-groove coral formation is a protected area within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The relatively shallow waters make it perfect for beginners, and the large brain corals and staghorn formations are teeming with colorful parrotfish, angelfish, and the occasional sea turtle. With its easy access and abundant marine life, Sombrero Reef is a fantastic spot for those new to scuba diving.

Looe Key Reef

Florida coral reefs diving

Location: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Depth: 5-100 feet

Visibility: 50-100 feet

Cost: $120-$180 per dive

Looe Key Reef is renowned for its spectacular coral formations and diversity of marine life, making it one of the most popular diving destinations in the Florida Keys. The reef offers a range of diving experiences from shallow coral gardens to deeper reef walls. The area is famous for its annual underwater music festival, which aims to promote coral reef protection and eco-awareness among divers.

Molasses Reef

Scuba diving in Molasses Reef

Location: Key Largo, Upper Keys

Depth: 10-70 feet

Visibility: Up to 100 feet

Cost: $125-$175 per two-tank dive

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful dive sites in the Keys, Molasses Reef features an impressive array of coral and dense schools of tropical fish. You can easily reach this site by renting a jet ski or smaller boat.

The site is well-suited for both beginners and advanced divers. Highlights include numerous sea fans, brain corals, and the chance to see nurse sharks and sea turtles. Its high visibility and breathtaking underwater scenery make it a diver’s paradise.

French Reef

Location: Key Largo, Upper Keys

Depth: 15-100 feet

Visibility: 50-100 feet

Cost: $130-$180 per dive

French Reef offers an exciting underwater adventure with its many swim-throughs and caves that shelter marine life such as moray eels and lobsters.

This site is particularly popular for night dives, where divers can spot nocturnal creatures like octopus. The reef’s complex structure also hosts large predatory fish, including barracudas and groupers, adding thrill to the dive.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dive spots near Miami

Location: West of Key West

Depth: 10-100 feet

Visibility: 50-100 feet

Cost: $200-$350 for a liveaboard dive trip

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the most remote and pristine diving locations in Florida. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, it features coral reefs, shipwrecks, and a vast array of marine biodiversity.

Divers often encounter massive schools of snapper and grouper, alongside vibrant coral formations. The isolation of Dry Tortugas means less dive traffic and a more untouched underwater environment.

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Florida reef scuba diving spots

Location: Key Largo, Upper Keys

Depth: 25-50 feet

Visibility: 50-100 feet

Cost: $125-$175 per dive

Topping the list is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the United States. This park covers approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove swamps.

The park’s “Christ of the Abyss” statue is a famous underwater point of interest among divers. The clarity of the water, the abundance of marine life, and the variety of diving sites within the park make it the crown jewel of Florida’s diving spots.

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