Tavernier might not be the most well known section of the Florida Keys, but they provide visitors with plenty of options when it comes to scuba diving and snorkeling. If you're looking for some of the best diving in the Keys, then Tavernier scuba diving and snorkeling can definitely hold its own.
Anyone looking for some good time underwater will enjoy everything that Tavernier FL scuba, snorkeling has to offer. Tavernier is located on the Key Largo Island of the Florida Keys and is a small town in Monroe County. Located between the towns of Key Largo and Islamorada, Tavernier is just down the road from the popular John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and offers a wide range of interesting dive sites for both scuba divers and snorkelers.
The Hen & Chicken Reef located at Degrees/Minutes N 24 55.900, W 080 32.900. This site displays a group of patch reefs and the site gets its name because from the air it looks like in the center you have a mother hen surrounded by baby chickens in every direction. This coral reef formation is located in a Marine Preserve and includes good snorkeling and mooring buoys.
The shallow 15 to 22 foot depths make it very popular with even beginner snorkelers, and the large number of Brain Coral Mounds, Star Coral Mounds, and Sea Fans make this area very popular. This is considered one of the most unique diving sites in all of the Florida Keys and is one of the most popular Tavernier FL scuba and snorkeling sites.
The Little Conch Reef, located at Degrees 24.942500, -080.473833 is another very popular Tavernier scuba site and is located just to the south of Conch Reef. This is another great location for shallow diving and snorkeling and is safe for novices. This dive site is six miles east of Windley Key, and covers a half mile over a flat sand bed and varies in depth from 15 feet to 30 feet depending on the area. A large series of ledges are located 100 yards west and you can also find the EL Infante site just 75 yards southwest of the reef. Nurse sharks and moray eels are some of the most common fish you will find in this area. Huge numbers of lobsters are also found throughout this area.
The just mentioned El Infante Spanish Galleon shipwreck is very popular and belonged to the Silver Plate Fleet of 1733. This original shipwreck is located a mile away from the similarly ill fated San Jose wreck and the area is known for the large pile of ballast stones surrounding the shipwreck. Hundreds of silver coins known as pillar dollars have been recovered from this dive site and some are still occasionally found near this wreckage site. Many large wooden beams can be found around this wreckage and add to the underwater ambiance.
The San Jose shipwreck is in 35 feet of water and is also a popular dive site for visitors to Islamorada. This is a galleon class Spanish ship sunk in about 30 to 35 feet of water. This site is located one mile east of Little Conch Reef and was a 40 cannon ship. This is still a favorite wreck of treasure hunters who still find coins, pottery, treasure and especially artifacts. Divers who want to do a little treasure hunting should look at bringing a rigid board to use as a fan on the sandy bottom. The ship itself is a hot spot for underwater photography because of the remarkable range of sponges, coral, and sea fans.
The Aquarius Underwater Laboratory is a dive for intermediate to advanced divers, and refers to a cool underwater ocean laboratory located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. At a depth of 60 feet and 3.5 miles offshore, this site is at the upper edge of the Conch Reef drop off. Scientists actually live here 10 days at a time for underwater missions. This location is very unique and a favorite among intermediately skilled divers.
Snapper Ledge is a shallow reef located at Degrees 24.982000, -080.421667 and is off the Key Largo Island. Tavernier FL scuba diving and snorkel fans love Snapper Ledge because of the nearly endless groups of Yellowtail Snapper. Very thick schools of fish are found throughout this area and you shouldn't be surprised to see nurse sharks, moray eels, goat fish, hog snappers, sea urchins, crabs, rays, octopus, shrimp, and all kinds of other popular sea life. In addition to the amazing sea life at Snapper ledge, you can also find one of the largest Boulder Brain Corals in all of the Upper Florida Keys.
The Pickles Reef is another great shallow site allowing for both scuba divers and snorkelers visiting Tavernier Florida to enjoy. This dive site is loaded with beautiful coral, tropical fish, spiny lobster, pillar corals, purple sea fans, and conch are just the beginning. The name comes from the many cement filled pickle barrels that were sunk here during the Civil War.
You can't talk about any Florida Keys diving without mentioning the Molasses Reef. Many divers believe that the Molasses Reef is the most beautiful reef diving site in the entire state of Florida. Depths will range from as shallow as 10 feet for snorkelers to as deep as 70 for the scuba diving fans. There are different environments at different depth levels including sand shoots, hard bottoms, and both hard and soft corals. If you want to see some of the most popular spots along the Molasses Reef system then make sure to take the time to explore the Spanish Anchor Winch Hole, Hole in the Wall, or the Fire Coral Caves.
This region is consistently patrolled by Marine officers to make sure the area is properly preserved since this is considered the most visited site in the Florida Keys and possibly even the most visited underwater site in all of America. There are many ledges and caves which provide homes for moray eels, lobsters, and crabs and if you want to see turtles, sting rays, or nurse sharks it's hard to find a better area.
When it comes to Tavernier, FL scuba and snorkel interests, there are many different sites to choose from. Two more sites that are of interest to some serious scuba divers will be two sunk US Coast Guard ships used for artificial reefs. These diving spots are the USCG Duane and the USCG Bibb. Both offer excellent sites to spot coral and other underwater sea life, and each have sections of boat which can be explored by more advanced divers.