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Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Best Diving!

Updated on June 16, 2016
"A view of the water is not a matter of life or death, it is something much more important than that."
"A view of the water is not a matter of life or death, it is something much more important than that."

Florida Keys Diving is Something I have done. Having earned my advanced open water scuba diving certification in Key Largo, I can honestly say that I have experienced Florida Keys Diving at it's best - and at its worst!

When I say, "We are going down!" you know it's a good thing! Warm water divers agree. Florida divers are aware that the keys have a home grown great barrier reef that is the third-largest reef system in the world after Australia and Belize.

Four of us headed to the Keys - two ahead of the other two. Three of us took the advanced diving class, one snorkeled. We got to Florida with no luggage and no diving gear - lost at the airport.

They gave away our car because our flight was late, but they upgraded us to a brand new all leather Buick with all the gizmos. Our friends were upgraded to a used Toyota station wagon and thought their car was pretty neat (until they saw ours-mwahahaha).

We got 'picked' at the airport as poster children for the honorary "search all luggage and personal effects" in the number lottery while we were waiting in line. Then as the minutes ticked by while our connecting flight time was getting shorter, our lingerie was held up and held under the airport security ever watchful eyes - guess they were looking for loose straps!

Even our bare feet were searched and had radar wands passed under and over them! Of the four of us, I was pulled out as we were left running to our connection flight, to undergo yet one more wand search by an 'alert' airport security staffer looking for contraband and bombs.

Got to the hotel - One bed, two tired, cranky women - Woke up management, got an immediate upgraded room. Got a second upgrade within 24 hours. Sadly the place we went to no longer exists - Progress?  

Yes, that is REALLY me - just seconds before a green moray eel found us!
Yes, that is REALLY me - just seconds before a green moray eel found us!

Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Diving At Its Best

Florida Keys Diving is one of the best all around diving spots in the country! You can go on cave dives, dive throughs, shipwreck dives, night dives, drift dives, reef dives, and wall dives - Most are more shallow than what our group of 3 divers was used to. Weather conditions for diving range in about the 70-80 degree range (Temperatures fluctuate with the seasons-avoid monsoon season).

My very first deep water dive was in Cozumel Mexico where we were with a group of 20 and we went down 105 feet. Scariest dive - Belize, where we were trapped in a small boat in a big storm and waves began to crest the boats edge. Most fantastic dive - Cozumel Mexico - you only get one 'first time.' Most fun - Florida Keys.

Divers are an interesting breed. They will sleep in airports, on lumpy mattresses, in dirty hotels, eat at food shacks just to go diving somewhere spectacular one time. My husband sky dives and feels the same way about that sport.

Luggage and diving gear arrived-Off we go! With an extra $400.00 in our pockets in airport vouchers!

Picking A Reputable Dive Operation:

  • We picked a small dive operation because they were highly recommended - Smaller means better and more personal service since return visitors and referrals can be a main source of income.
  • Their service rated a 4 consistently on a scale of 1-4 
  • They had zero accidents reported 
  • They provided all diving varieties and dive spot locations 
  • They were knowledgeable 
  • They were friendly and helpful. 
  • We were taken on drift, dive-thru, shallow, deep, reef, ship wreck and night dives. Classes were 5 of the 8 days we were there (3 hours a day), diving was 6 days, partying - 2 days!

Green Moray Eel
Green Moray Eel

Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Diving At Its Best

The Upper Keys (from key Largo to The Long Key Channel-Includes Ocean Reef and North Key Largo):

Dive in the morning, play in the late afternoon!








The Middle Keys (from Conch "Konk' Key through Marathon to South Side of Seven Mile Bridge and includes Pigeon Key):








The Lower Keys (From Little Duck Key S through Big Coppitt Key):




And Key West-Beyond this area for about 70 miles is the Dry Tortugas

-- Don't miss these dive site adventures --

  • Statue of Christ of the Abyss
  • Molasses Reef
  • Benwood Wreck
  • The Elbow
  • Bibb and Duane
  • Spiegel Grove
  • Looe Key Marine Sanctuary
  • Adolphus Busch ship - 110 feet

Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Diving At Its Best Entertainment

What is there to do in the Florida Keys - ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Get in your car and drive! We ran around in tennis shoes and swimsuits for 3 days waiting for luggage and gear to arrive, but that didn't stop us from exploring.

Be careful about stopping along the road to run into the water - If you see a sign that says, "WARNING ALLIGATORS IN WATER," it is best not to stop there for your 'break' We were already in the water before we even saw the sign.

There are over 107 bridges between Key Largo and Miami, so if you want to take bridge pictures along the way- go for it! Watch out for deer if you drive at night.

Travel in groups at night. It's a festive, carnival-like party atmosphere. Chickens cross the street in front of you-like dogs or cats do. Street vendors carry snakes around their necks, juggle, walk on tight wires quickly constructed on the walk, magicians and fortune tellers are set up to entertain, music is loud on the street for dancing, pubs are on most blocks, colorful people are EVERYWHERE!

We had the most fun shopping and exploring the night life in Key West. Once you get there ask the locals where to go shopping.

Diving-Seriously Consider Self-Clearing Diving Masks!

L-R) Mischelle-me, Keri, Allana, Chris Miniature Golfing in the Keys at 1 AM-Sun Burn!
L-R) Mischelle-me, Keri, Allana, Chris Miniature Golfing in the Keys at 1 AM-Sun Burn!

Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Diving At Its Best Diving Tips

Diving is dangerous. Never:

  • Dive without a buddy
  • Buy diving equipment without trying it (especially a mask!) out - underwater-No exceptions.
  • Take diving classes from someone who is not certified
  • Trust a boat mechanic or dive instructor to fix your diving gear - have it checked out at a certified shop before you go and try to use your own gear on vacations.
  • If you need a refresher diving course - take one, they are about 4 hours long and approx. $100. You are worth putting safety first.
  • Take diving seriously - leave the trophies in the water.
  • Keep an eye on your dive guide so you don't miss anything they point out to you.

Do follow this simple rule when diving-

  • Be courteous of fellow divers and ALL sea habitat.

No Touchey, No Feely, No Takey, No Breaky-Don't touch the coral.

We had so much fun! As we boarded the plane to go home - hungover and lethargic, were seated and waiting for takeoff, the overhead compartment burst open and a bag flew out and landed on Keri's head - A perfect ending to a fabulous Florida Keys Diving vacation!


I am a strong advocate of diving safely so that nobody gets hurt. My horror stories include these:

  • Man goes out for good time night before diving. During the dive the next morning he throws up into his regulator and can't breahe because a chunk of his vomit clogs it. He died.
  • Couple begin ascent to boat because she runs out of air - mid ascent to boat they stop to look at something and lose ability to tell up from down so their ascent becomes a descent into deeper water. Dive master noted and rescued both people.

What do you do if you can't tell up from down when you are diving - Believe me, it's easy to do! TIP - You watch where the bubbles are going from your regulator and follow them - They always go UP.

  • Buddy turned around and lost diving buddy - stayed down to look for him, lost group, had to come back on different boat - Lucky SOB he was to find another diving boat in the area he could come back on - Never stay down looking for someone - Always go up to safety where your dive buddy is probably already waiting for YOU!
  • Regulator stuck open and forced constant air into divers lungs - Diver had someone she didn't know check out her equipment before she went diving and had it repaired by a local who didn't know what they were doing. I will NEVER do that again - Use a trusted repair and maintenance shop in your own area and if you have trouble with your equipment when you are on a diving vacation - Go snorkeling instead - Don't be stupid with your life! You have no recourse when someone you don't know 'fixes' your equipment. None. Let me be very clear on that - YOU have no recourse AND IT COULD COST YOU YOUR LIFE.
  • Diver ran out of air and had no emergency tank to offer his buddy who also ran out of air - If you can carry an extra 5 minute tank when you dive - for emergencies - Do it.

TIP - If you are running out of air and need to get to the surface and your tank registers as empty - Take one last deep breathe from your regulator and whistle while you make your ascent. This helps you to a) not panic and b) conserve your breathe and c) gives you a chance to live to see tomorrow.

  • Diver tangled in line from spear gun shooting at animals bigger than him was dragged across ocean floor, corral and up and down into shallow and deep water. Could not get to his knife to cut line and was nearly killed - Buddy diver rescued with straight knife by cutting line.

TIP - Always carry a knife you can easily get to - Always carry a straight knife versus a folding knife - You may not get a chance to open a folding knife.

TIP - If you are diving with something bigger than you and you are attacked by it (shark, for instance) - Aim for their eye/eyes with whatever you can hit them in the eye with it - It may only be your fist, but hit them in the eye as hard as you can - with whatever you can.

TIP - If you see something bigger than you - like a shark - DO NOT swim to the surface, gather your buddy or buddies around you and swim down. You look bigger against the ocean floor and with a buddy or buddies you look bigger yet. Swimming to the top by yourself makes you look like a turtle and your chances of getting attacked as potential fish food is much higher. We saw an enormous white shark and 5 of us scampered to the ocean floor where we waited for it to pass - THEN we dove for the boat waiting above us.

TIP - Take diving lessons from people besides your friends. Get certified properly so that in an emergency situation good training takes the place of panic. You will never be sorry.

  • I can't say it loud enough or often enough - Dive Safely and respect the creatures and living things in the water. At ALL times.

Florida Keys Diving-Florida Keys Diving At It's Best Comments

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    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      HI lifewellspoken - thank you! Yes, I am really this adveturous. Skydiving included, but scuba is my first love and I've been all over, but so far my preference is the climate and deep diving and waters of Mexico. The most beautiful sights abound there! I must confess, though, that night diving terrifies me. I won't buddy with ANYONE but the dive leader on a night dive and I run out of air at least half an hour before anyone else does, which means that I basically go down on a night dive and hyperventilate for 10 minutes before I have to surface again - with my safety stop and a disgusted dive leader, who hand has turned swollen and red because I won't let go. A school of grouper during the day can be upwards of over 100, at night their size increases dramatically and a school of grouper becomes only 4 grouper who are all larger than I am. Needless to say, I dive during daylight hours best! Somebody has to stay at the motel pool and have a shot or two of tequila for the other divers!

    • lifewellspoken profile image

      lifewellspoken 7 years ago from Vancouver BC

      Are you really this adventurous, I love it. and thanks for the wonderful photos.

      Your words are very rewarding to read, I'm looking forward to more reads.

    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      HI Quill. I'm glad to see you here! We had such a good time! Chris, Keri and I have traveled to several spots to dive. I see you are a 'Cold-Water Diver.' You are far braver than I am! My preference is warm water diving. My hubby is Canadian and American so we go back and forth for family. He is the sky diving nut. I have only taken the one dive-so far! I think Wind Tunnels are the way to go to help you learn better style and gain confidence-something to be said about confidence when you are hurtling to the ground at 120 mph! Mine disappeared for a few seconds after stepping off that plane wing. LOL ;-)

    • profile image

      "Quill" 8 years ago

      Hi mwatkins thank you for stopping in and leading me here, wonderful hub and it seems we have much in common. Canada, sky diving, and scuba diving.

      What a great adventure for you and the girls. All of my diving has been on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, mainly around Quadra Island.


    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      Thanks billyaustindillon! Yes, we definitely had 'too much fun!' I've been a certified scuba diver for 14 years and absolutely love it! Night diving terrifies me still, though, because a school of beautiful angel fish in daylight can become a big, ugly set of 4 of the most HUGE Grouper you have ever seen. All the big, scary, ugly, creepy things come out at night. Much like the creature of the black lagoon, the boogey man and the thing in the closet does!

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 8 years ago

      I am jealous that is beautiful diving and you clearly had too much fun.

    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      Thanks Nellieanna - my friends abandoned me at one point. We all coincidently walked into a biker bar where there was a Karaoke DJ who flagged me over to him and demanded that I sing with him, so I politely told him I sang like a broken fridge. He insisted that I had to know at least 1 song, suggested a Patsy Cline song and I compromised with, "Row, row, row, your boat." The whole time frantic that I was there by myself (not by choice), but determined not to let it show! I got out of there to applause and laughter, but immediately consoled myself with a double martini! Which my friends got to buy for me!

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 8 years ago from TEXAS

      What a delightful trip, Michelle! The photos are just wonderful. My one trip to Florida, I became aware of the 'gators nearby. My husband was playing golf and saw some slithering into the water when the group got nearer. Whew. Good eatin' though! ;)

    • mwatkins profile image

      mwatkins 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

      Hi Kowality & Baggz - It was an amazing trip! If we had it to do again, we would pay more attention to the signs. We also learned that crocodiles can jump 20 feet and further, which is why people are fooled by their awkward appearance into believing that they are 'safe' within a 5-10 foot parameter. Would I go back -Absolutely! But, I would rather keep going to new and different places! ;-)

    • baggz profile image

      franky joe hanson the third 8 years ago from bakk woods of sksk

      man0man is this some good info on diving and what and what not to do...... I like the don't go in the water for fear of gators. Dang hahaha bet you were, ah, a tad apprehensive when you seen that sign and were standing in the water. Forgive me for laughing, as it is no laughing matter but I got this image in my head... of me freaking out. I would have been still running down the road hehehehe.

      thnx again for the fab info on diving...keep em coming.

    • kowality profile image

      kowality 8 years ago from Everywhere

      This is a fabulous Hub. Everything about it is so well researched. It is plain to see that you were actually there. Great pics and substantial products to pick from for my next dive trip. Thank You


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