Florida

Diving Adventures, Maps & Trails

the Keys Dive-sites
Maps & Trails
Hiking Everglades National Park



Maps & Trails

Southern Florida –    Key Largo –    Islamdora –   Over view –   Key West –    Key West (Old Town)


the Keys Dive-sites, including:
KEY LARGO DIVE SITES

TURTLE REEF
Depth Range: 25 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Moderate
Experience Level: Intermediate

Located at the northernmost site of the Key Largo Marine Sanctuary, most reef species are represented here. Site is relatively shallow, visibility usually good as it’s location protects it from the strong currents lying beyond but it is influenced by tidal currents passing through Hawk Channel.

CARYSFORT REEF
Depth Range: 35-70 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/Nothing to Moderate
Experience Level: Intermediate
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º13.80 80º12.74

Because of its distance from the more central dive sites, comparatively few divers visit this reef although it is of exceptional interest and beauty offering a variety of dive options from shallow to deep dives. The shallow upper section of the reef abounds with marine life and is perfect for snorkelers.

CARYSFORT SOUTH
Depth Range: 20 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/Nothing to Moderate
Experience Level: Intermediate
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º13.00 80º13.06

A natural extension of Carysfort Reef, similar in its configuration and displays a double reef structure. It’s famous elkhorn coral gardens make this reef a highly attractive location. South of the reef lies the remains of the H.M.S. Winchester, a 933 ton British man-of-war that sank in 1695 after running aground on the reef.

THE ELBOW
Depth Range: 12-35 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/Nothing to Strong
Experience Level: Novice
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º08.82 80º15.19

Named for the angular shape of the reef, it is a classic example of spurs and grooves meandering down the slope of the reef. The coral fingers are extremely well-defined and are separated by level passages of clean sand; some of the spurs are high enough to be considered miniwalls. Corals and fish abound here but wrecks hold the secret to the appeal of this site. The Civil War Wreck, a 752 ton steamer sunk in 1866 has lovely fingers of elkhorn coral situated at depths of 6-18 feet. The remains of two more wrecks, probably a tug and a barge are also scattered in this area.

KEY LARGO DRY ROCKS
Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Moderate
Experience Level: Novice

By far the most famous dive in the Key Largo Marine Sanctuary. The Statue of Christ of the Abyss (also known as Christ of the Deep), rests on a concrete base located within a short canyon. This area is also celebrated for its marvelous specimens of brain coral and the eastern side of the reef displays classic coral fingers which are rich in marine life. Smoky, the celebrated barracuda, is a regular here. This area also includes Grecian Rocks an extremely popular reef among snorkelers.

GRECIAN ROCKS
Depth Range: Shallow to 25 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Moderate
Experience Level: Novice

Grecian Rocks is an exceptionally popular reef for snorkelers. The grass and sand on the back side provide good anchorage, and the shallow reef buffers the waves so the waters are very calm even on windy days. It is very easy for snorkelers to swim from the boat up to the reefline where the corals and brightly colored fish abound.

THE CHRIST OF THE DEEP STATUE
Depth: 25 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Moderate
Experience Level: Novice

The Christ Statue was cast in Italy and donated to the Underwater Society of America by Egidi Cressi, an Italian industrialist and diving equipment manufacturer. It is a 9 foot tall bronze duplicate of the Christ of the Abysses statue, which stands in 50 feet of water off Genoa, Italy. Set in a beautiful reef area known for its outstanding brain corals, the figure of Christ stands silhouetted against the blue waters of the ocean, His arms upraised to the surface. This dramatic and memorable picture is one that most diving visitors to the Keys shouldn’t miss.

THE BENWOOD
Depth Range: 50 feet offshore, 20 feet inshore
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Strong
Experience Level: Novice to Intermediate
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º03.16 80º20.02

An English built cargo vessel lost in a tragic chain of events in 1942. The Benwood rests on a level expanse of sand noticeably lacking in coral growth, so apart from the wreck itself there is comparatively little to see. Its fractured stern lies directly beneath the marker at a depth of 2 feet, while its bow points offshore at a depth of 45 feet. The bow section looms up out of the sand, in contrast with the rest of the ship which is almost wholly submerged.

FRENCH REEF
Depth Range: Shallow to 100 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/Often Strong
Experience Level: Novice to Advanced for deeper dives
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º02.06 80º21.00

An exceptionally beautiful site, the ever popular reef is crammed full of caves, canyons, ledges, tunnels and swim-throughs. French Reef is home to innumerable fish species.

BLUE HOLE
Depth Range: 30-70 feet
Current Conditions: Variable/None to Moderate
Experience Level: Intermediate

A relatively deep site, slopes gently from a depth of 30 ft. down to the sandy seafloor, depth 70 ft. To find the Blue Hole itself, look for two sand chutes running from the slope of the reef to its base; south of the chutes a type of mound thrusts its way upwards out of a deep canyon. The seafloor is of clean sand, without the well-developed staghorn and elkhorn colonies observed elsewhere.

MOLASSES REEF
Depth Range: Shallow to 40 feet
Current Conditions: Strong northerly current usually
Experiece Level: Novice to Intermediate
Latitude/Longitude Coords: 25º00.74 80º22.40

Reigns as the world’s most popular dive site. The reef comprises a classic spur and groove system which begins near the surface and falls of gradually to a depth of 55 ft. It is washed by the Gulf Stream, so visibility is usually excellent. Impressive concentrations of marine flora and fauna cover just about the entire tropical reef spectrum.

BIBB & DUANE
Depth Range: 50-130 feet
Current Conditions: Strong northerly current(Gulf Stream)
Experience Level: Advanced

Latitude/Longitude Coords: 24º59.71 80º22.77 (Bibb)

Latitude/Longitude Coords: 24º59.38 80º22.92 (Duane)

Twin 327′ coast guard cutters were painstakingly sunk in 1987 as part of an artificial reef program sponsored by the Keys Association of Dive Operators. The Duane, more frequently dived because of her depth, lies upright with a slight list to starboard at a depth of about 100 ft. The Bibb overturned while sinking and lies on her starboard side; you will begin to reach the ship’s exterior at a depth of 95 ft. Both ships are a equally rewarding dive with a fascinating history. With extremely powerful currents you may occasionally have to postpone your dive.

Near Islamadora


Hiking Everglades National Park

At first sight, The Everglades is an unending expanse of tall shimmering razor grass and occasional clumps of trees on small islands where the ground rises a few inches above a wet plain. Not exactly inspiring when compared to soaring mountains and rim-rock canyons. But the Everglades offers spectacles of its own for those who have the patience and keen ears and eyes to truly appreciate them. More than a ‘river of grass,’ the 1.5 million-acre park is also a place of junglelike hardwood hammocks, stands of cypress, pinelands, freshwater sloughs, mangrove swamps, and such tropical trees as gumbo-limbos, strangler figs, and royal palms. About one-third of the park is composed of Florida Bay and its tiny islands, or keys. Although the numbers of birds and variety of species have declined considerably from their once incredible richness, birding in the ‘Glades is still impressive. Roseate spoonbills, pelicans, white ibis, wood storks, limpkins, skimmers, kites, frigatebirds, bald eagles, and many types of herons are just some of the species present. Among the local wildlife are whitetail deer, black bear, raccoon, river otter, and the endangered Florida panther and American crocodile. Alligators are common in the great sawgrass marshes. Colorful butterflies and other insects are plentiful, as are many species of reptiles and amphibians.

Getting Away:

The terrain is not conducive to overland travel. It actually has a very irregular limestone surface that is wet in summer and full of alligators and snakes. The flats of sawgrass can tear garments-and human flesh-to ribbons. Better to plan your excursion by kayak or canoe. The Wilderness Waterway, which must be one of the most unusual trails in America, twists 99 miles through the marine estuaries and seashore along the southwest reaches of the park. Although much of it is marked, you must be proficient in the use of compass and nautical charts. The waterway is a haven for water birds, fish, sea turtles, porpoises, and the endangered gentle giant, the manatee. The entire trip from Everglades City to Flamingo (or vice versa) can be done in as little as five days-if you hurry-but you should allow seven or eight days to savor the surroundings. Other paddle trips, ranging from one-half day to four days, are available. Write or call for details.

Camping:

Backcountry campsites are accessible by boat, foot, or bicycle. Permits are required and are issued from the ranger stations on a first-come, first-served basis 24 hours before the start of your trip. Most canoe-access camping is on ‘chickees”-elevated wooden platforms built over the water with a roof and a toilet; others are on shell islands and wooded hammocks. Use is heaviest in the area closest to the Flamingo and Everglades City embarkation areas. Avoid summer-the semitropical heat and insect levels are intense. Biting insects are present all year, but are manageable (usually) from December to April, Florida’s dry season. You will need to arrange a drop-off or pick-up well in advance. The park can supply information on outfitters and shuttle services.

Worth Mentioning:

Before you go, contact park headquarters to verify that your information about the Everglades is up-to-date and correct, and to check for possible local closures due to weather conditions. Fishing is fun, but don’t eat your catch. Release any fish you hook since mercury levels are among the highest in the country. Good reading: Everglades: River of Grass by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (a Florida classic). For planning a canoe trip, consult: Guide to the Wilderness Waterway of the Everglades National Park by William G. Truesdell, and Boat and Canoe Camping: Everglades Backcountry & Ten Thousand Islands Region by Dennis Kalma.

Access:

The main park entrance is 10 miles southwest of Homestead/Florida City on Rt. 9336. From this center, a paved road meanders down to Flamingo where there are tent and trailer campsites and concessions. Everglades City, at the northwestern corner of the park, is 67 miles west of Miami and can be reached by the Tamiami Trail off Rt. 41. There is no regularly scheduled public transportation to or within the park.

For More Information:
Everglades National Park, 40001 State Road
9336, Homestead, FL 33034; (305) 242-7700.

Publications and related products are available from the Florida National Parks and Monuments Association, in care of the park; (305) 247-1216.

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