ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Diving in the Florida Keys - Part 2

Updated on April 27, 2010

Conch Key to Looe Key

In the bridge country of the Middle and Lower Keys, you're driving over water as often as land. When many of the Overseas Highway's bridges were replaced in the 1980s, sections of the older spans were left for fishing, strolling, and sunset gazing. Although there are fewer dive operators here than in Key Largo, you'll still find everything you need and more than 100 underwater sites to visit.

Looe Key offers the best features of Key Largo's reefs, shrunk a bit, and as carefully constructed as a scale model.

This textbook spur-and-groove formation has long, well-defined fingers or spurs of coral separated by sandy grooves, which transport sediment away from the reef. From east to west, the reef gains depth, and from shallow to deep, it's crowded with life. The snorkeling here is the best in the Keys. Cocky lobster and loads of friendly fish jam the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, enjoying the strict no-take protection. Indeed, it's the same protection enjoyed by the creatures at all the most popular reef areas in the Keys sanctuary.

As you swim up and down between the coral spurs, it's like perusing the aisles of an overstocked fish market. Hamlets, damsels, tangs, jacks, chubs, gobies, blennies, wrasse, squirrelfish, goatfish, porkfish, hogfish, angelfish, lizardfish, scorpionfish, triggerfish — all the colorful Keys tropicals you've ever heard of are here.

End of the Road

In 1513, when the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon sailed out in search of the fountain of youth, he found Key West instead. The explorer named the island Cayo Hueso, which means Island of Bones, so named for the skeletal remains the Spanish unearthed from Indian burial mounds on the island. After Ponce came the pirates, including Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, who ruled the waves from the 1600s until the U.S. Navy arrived in 1822 and kicked them out.

The Navy stayed on in Key West, and some believe a few pirates did, too. Local boats have carried rum, drugs, Cubans, and shrimp — whatever the market would bear. The town even declared its independence from the United States in 1982, becoming capital of the Conch Republic in protest against customs and border patrol roadblocks. The Conchs declared war on the United States, then immediately surrendered and asked for foreign aid. Today, the Conch flag stands as the symbol of a free-spirited, Hemingway- and Jimmy Buffet-imitator-infested town with wonderful Victorian bed-and-breakfasts, rusty beach bikes, and just enough people walking around talking to themselves to keep life interesting. It's the perfect setting to find at the end of the road, and the two dozen dive sites around the island are as wild and colorful as the terrestrial nightlife.

As you witness the daily sunset celebration on the Key West waterfront, you realize how lucky you are to have found your Keys. You've driven to the southernmost point in the continental United States and sampled some of the best diving in this part of the world. But with literally hundreds of dive sites to see, you have only one choice — turn the car around and dive your way back north.

Back to Start

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)