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Scuba Diving in Key West – Complete Guide

by Max
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Scuba Diving in Key West - Complete Guide

Are you thinking about scuba diving in Key West? You’re in for a treat! The Florida Keys are world-renowned for their clear, warm waters and beautiful marine life.

In this guide, we will give you all the information you need to plan your scuba diving trip to Key West. We will cover the best dive sites, where to stay, what to bring, and more.

Why It Is Great for Scuba Diving in Key West

Key West has some of the best scuba diving in the world. The waters around Key West are clear and there is an abundance of marine life. There are also many shipwrecks to explore.

Advanced divers already know that the Florida Keys, and in particular Key West have a lot to offer. Therefore, Key West is a very popular destination for scuba diving, by many considered the best location for diving in the Continental US!

See here also for our guide for scuba diving in Key Largo, another amazing place in the Florida Keys.

The Best Places to Go Scuba Diving in Key West

The clear, warm waters off the coast of Key West are home to an abundance of marine life, including corals, sponges, fish, and turtles. There are also dozens of shipwrecks to explore, making Key West a scuba diver’s paradise.

Here are some of the best places to go scuba diving in Key West:

Best Places to Go Scuba Diving in Key West
  1. Dry Tortugas National Park – This national park is located about 70 miles west of Key West and is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Dry Tortugas National Park is home to the famous Fort Jefferson, which was built in the early 1800s and has since become a popular dive site. The waters around Fort Jefferson are teeming with marine life, making it a great place for both novice and experienced divers.
  2. Molasses Reef – Molasses Reef is located off the coast of Key West and is one of the most popular dive sites in the area. The reef is home to a variety of corals, sponges, fish, and turtles. The visibility at Molasses Reef is often over 100 feet, making it a great place to see a wide variety of marine life up close.
  3. Looe Key Reef – Looe Key Reef is another popular dive site off the coast of Key West. The reef is home to an abundance of coral, sponges, and fish. The visibility at Looe Key Reef is often over 100 feet, making it a great place to see a wide variety of marine life up close.
  4. Tennessee Reef – Tennessee Reef is located off the coast of Key West and is home to a variety of corals, sponges, fish, and turtles. The visibility at Tennessee Reef is often over 100 feet, making it a great place to see a wide variety of marine life up close.
  5. Eagle’s Nest – Eagle’s Nest is located off the coast of Key West and is home to a variety of corals, sponges, fish, and turtles. The visibility at Eagle’s Nest is often over 100 feet, making it a great place to see a wide variety of marine life up close.

Best Dive Shops in Key West

When scuba diving in Key West, you’ll want to find the best dive shops to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are our top picks for the best dive shops in Key West:

  1. Blue Heaven Dive Center: Blue Heaven Dive Center is a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Center that offers a wide range of courses for all levels, from beginner to experienced. They also offer daily boat dives and snorkeling trips, as well as equipment rentals and sales.
  2. Captain Scorner: Captain Scorner is a full-service dive center that offers everything from classes and certifications to equipment rentals and repairs. They also have their own on-site gas station so you can fill up your tanks before heading out on a dive.
  3. C&C Aqua Adventures: C&C Aqua Adventures is a small, family-owned dive shop that offers personalized service and attention. They offer both group and private classes, as well as boat dives and equipment rentals.
  4. Sunset Watersports: Sunset Watersports is a full-service watersports company that offers scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and more. They have two locations in Key West, one at the marina and one at Smathers Beach, so you can choose whichever is most convenient for you.
  5. Lost Reef Adventures: Lost Reef Adventures is a PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Center that offers classes and certifications, as well as equipment rentals and sales. They also have their own private dock so you can easily get in and out of the water for your dives.

What to Expect When You Go Scuba Diving in Key West

When scuba diving in Key West, there are a few things you can expect. The first is that the water will be warm. This is due to the Gulf Stream, which flows through the Florida Keys. The water temperature can range from 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Second, you can expect the visibility to be good. Because of the clear waters and lack of sediment, visibility can range from 60-100 feet.

Third, you can expect to see a variety of marine life. Key West is home to over 600 species of fish, as well as turtles, sharks, rays, and more.

Fourth, you can expect the dive sites to be varied. Key West has reefs, wrecks, walls, and more for divers of all levels to enjoy.

Finally, you can expect excellent customer service from the dive shops in Key West. The staff is knowledgeable and will help make your diving experience in Key West one to remember!

Some Interesting Facts About Key West for Scuba Divers

Did you know that Key West is home to the only living coral reef barrier in the continental United States? This makes it a popular destination for scuba divers from all over the world.

Here are some other interesting facts about Key West that scuba divers will find fascinating:

  • The waters around Key West are home to a large number of shipwrecks, making it a popular destination for wreck diving.
  • There are a number of dive sites in Key West that are suitable for both beginner and experienced divers.
  • The clear waters around Key West offer excellent visibility for scuba diving, making it a great place to see marine life up close.

Things to Consider Before Going on a Scuba Diving Vacation in Key West

There are a few things to consider before booking your trip. First, what is your budget? Scuba diving trips can be expensive, so knowing how much you can afford to spend will help you narrow down your options.

Next, what is your skill level? If you’re a beginner, it’s important to find a scuba diving trip that caters to your skill level. There are plenty of options in Key West, so you should have no trouble finding a trip that’s perfect for you.

Finally, what are your goals for the trip? Are you hoping to see some amazing marine life? Or are you more interested in the history and culture of the area? Once you know what you want to get out of your trip, it will be easier to find a scuba diving vacation that meets your needs.

How to Pack for a Scuba Vacation in Key West

When packing for your scuba vacation in Key West, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you will need to pack your swimsuit, sunscreen, and hat. You will also need to bring your dive gear, including your wet suit, fins, mask, and snorkel. If you have your own dive equipment, you should bring it along – if not, you will find plenty of dive shops renting out equipment.

Other essential items to pack for your scuba trip include a first-aid kit, insect repellent, and a flashlight. You should also pack plenty of water and snacks, as well as any medications you may need. Lastly, don’t forget to pack your camera so you can capture all your underwater adventures!

What To Do When Not Scuba Diving in Key West?

When you’re not scuba diving in Key West, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. You can go snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, or sailing. You can also explore the island by foot or bike. There are many restaurants and bars to choose from, as well as shops and museums. And of course, you can always just relax on the beach.

FAQ

What types of Dive Sites are there in Key West?

There are three main types of dive sites in Key West: reefs, walls, and shipwrecks. Each offers its own unique underwater experience.

Where can I find information about dive sites?

You can pick up a copy of the Florida Keys Dive Guide at most dive shops or online. This guide provides detailed information about all the popular dive sites in Key West.

Is Key West good for scuba diving?

Yes, Key West is good for scuba diving! The clear, warm waters make for excellent visibility and there are a variety of dive sites to choose from. Plus, there are many great and renowned dive centers that can help you plan the perfect dive trip.

Can you scuba dive in Key West without being certified?

No, you cannot scuba dive in Key West without being certified. There are a few reasons for this. First, it is illegal to scuba dive without being certified in Florida States.

Second, even if you are certified, you will need to show proof of certification when renting gear or taking a tour. Finally, Key West is home to some of the best diving in the world, and you will miss out on all the incredible underwater sights if you don’t know how to scuba dive.

Which Florida Key is best for scuba diving?

The Florida Keys offer some of the best scuba diving in the world. There are a variety of dive sites to choose from, each with its own distinct features. So, which Florida Key is best for scuba diving?

Here’s a look at some of the best Florida Keys for scuba diving (except Key West, which is covered in depth in this article), based on what you’re looking for:

  1. Key Largo – If you’re looking for an abundance of dive sites and easy access to them, Key Largo is the place for you. This island is home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which offers over 70 named dive sites. You can also find plenty of wrecks to explore off Key Largo. Here is our complete guide for scuba diving in Key Largo.
  2. Islamorada –Islamorada is known as the Sportfishing Capital of the World, but it also offers some great scuba diving. The Keys reefs here are teeming with marine life, making for an exciting dive experience. You can also find a few wrecks to check out, including the infamous Eagle ray shipwreck.
  3. Marathon – Marathon is a great choice for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy tourist areas. This Middle Keys Island boasts several excellent dive sites, including the Conch Republic Reef and Sombrero Reef. You can also find several wrecks to explore, including the Adolphus Busch and Andrea Doria shipwrecks.

Which is the better scuba diving destination, Key West or Key Largo?

Key West and Key Largo are both excellent scuba diving destinations in Florida. They both have great visibility, warm water, and a variety of marine life to see. However, there are some key differences between the two destinations that may make one better suited for your needs than the other.

Key West is located closer to the continental shelf, so it has deeper water with more interesting reef formations. It also has a wider variety of marine life than Key Largo. If you’re looking for an exciting scuba diving adventure with lots to see, Key West is the place for you.

Key Largo, on the other hand, is located closer to shore and has shallower water. This makes it a better choice for beginners or those who want a relaxing dive without too much excitement. Key Largo also has a few wrecks to explore, which can be interesting for experienced divers.

So, which is the better scuba diving destination? It really depends on what you’re looking for in a dive site. If you want deep water and lots of marine life, go to Key West. If you want something more relaxed and shallow, Key Largo is probably a better choice.

Can you Scuba Dive in Key West in February?

Yes, you can scuba dive in Key West in February! The average water temperature in Key West in February is a comfortable 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). This makes it an ideal time to explore the underwater world around Key West. There are many reputable dive centers in Key West that offer scuba diving trips and courses for all levels of divers.

For those who have never tried scuba diving before, there are plenty of introductory courses available. These can be done in a pool or in the shallower waters off the coast of Key West. See here for our guide with tips for beginner scuba divers. Once you have your certification, you can then start exploring the amazing reefs and shipwrecks that this region is famous for. Experienced divers will find plenty to keep them occupied as well, with many challenging dives to be had.

How much is Scuba diving in Key West?

Scuba diving in Key West is an unforgettable experience. The average cost of a scuba diving trip in Key West is $120 per person. This includes the cost of equipment rental, instruction, and certification. Most dive shops offer discounts for group bookings and advance reservations.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a first-time scuba diver or a seasoned pro, Key West is a great place to dive. The clear blue waters offer something for everyone, from shallow reefs perfect for beginners to deep wrecks and caves for the more adventurous.

There are many dive shops in Key West that offer both group and private dives, as well as rental gear if you don’t have your own.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, scuba diving in Key West is definitely something you should add to your list.

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