Key Largo

It's no secret among traveling divers that the Florida Keys are significant national treasure. As stated in the final management plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, "Millions of visitors come to the keys because this is the only tropical environ-mont within reach by automobile in the continental United States where a per-son can readily dive on a living coral reef or catch and release a bonefish on a sea-grass flat." Yet, to someone contemplating a Florida Keys vacation, the number of visitors is probably not as important as the area that will help them optimize their recreational pursuits. For those interested in diving and snorkeling, the number one choice has long been Key Largo.

       The entire Florida Keys were once a continuous peninsula connected to the Florida mainland but this was a couple of million years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch. As the Ice Age ended and the global sea level rose, the Florida Keys partially submerged and, instead of one massive chunk of land, 200 smaller islands evolved.

Most of the islands are quite small and only 30 or so are now inhabited, basically those connected to the mainland by the roads and bridges of the Overseas Highway, U.S. I. Key Largo was once smaller than it is today but construction for the Overseas Railroad filled in channels among the islets, leaving a single island 30 miles long, stretching from Jewtsh Creek at Mile Marker 110 all the way to Tavernier Creek at Mile Marker 90. Within this expanse there is only one form of boat access from the Florida Bay to the Atlantic Ocean, known as Adams Waterway (a.k.a. The Cut). This canal was carved from the coral limestone that comprises the island and empties into a mangrove lined basin known as Largo Sound. The mangroves help trap sediments that might be carried from Florida Bay on an outgoing tide through The Cut. The size of the island and the benefits of the mangrove forests are factors significant to coral reef development. The Florida Reef Tract is a band of living coral reefs paralleling the Keys-in fact the last and most extensive fringing reef in North America, Approximately 130 km of bank reefs stretch from Fowey Rocks in Biscayne National Park to the north, all the way south to the Marquesas. Yet all these reefs are not necessarily equal in terms of development. According to data released by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, "Corals grow best in warm, clear, nutrient-deficient waters, and their distribution within the Sanctuary reflects the ox-change of water between the Florida Say, the southwest continental shelf, and the Atlantic Ocean. Reefs are well-developed seaward of the elongated Upper Keys but absent or poorly developed near the wider channels."


Range from a low 72~F) in the winter to the high 80s in the summer. Rare winter cold fronts may dip into the 60s and, during the summer doldrums, the low 90s are possible.
During the summer the water is a glorious 84F, perfect for just a dive-skin or swimsuit. But in the winter, thermal protection is a must as the seas drop to 70F. Even the hardiest of our northern visitors welcome neoprene in February.
If water clarity is distributed along a Gaucian Curve, the days of 100 foot plus happen about five percent of the time and those with less than 20 foot visibility occur with another five percent frequency. Most days range from 40 to 60 foot visibility along the outer bank reefs and high usually significantly less along the inner patch reefs. The path of the Gulf Steam is a huge determinant of local water clarity. When wind conditions push the stream near the reef, spectacularly clear water may result.
Phone the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at (800) 822-1088 or (305) 451-1414.
Range from a low 72~F) in the winter to the high 80s in the summer. Rare winter cold fronts may dip into the 60s and, during the summer doldrums, the low 90s are possible. During the summer the water is a glorious 84F, perfect for just a dive-skin or swimsuit. But in the winter, thermal protection is a must as the seas drop to 70F. Even the hardiest of our northern visitors welcome neoprene in February. If water clarity is distributed along a Gaucian Curve, the days of 100 foot plus happen about five percent of the time and those with less than 20 foot visibility occur with another five percent frequency. Most days range from 40 to 60 foot visibility along the outer bank reefs and high usually significantly less along the inner patch reefs. The path of the Gulf Steam is a huge determinant of local water clarity. When wind conditions push the stream near the reef, spectacularly clear water may result. Phone the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at (800) 822-1088 or (305) 451-1414.