The words Key Largo stir up images of Bogie & Bacall for those of us that have seen any of the old black and white movies or heard the songs about the island. Located only 20 miles from the end of the Florida Turnpike at Homestead/Florida City, it’s quick and easy to get to if you’re in the Miami area (about one hour from Miami airport).
Although consider to be the Diving Capital of the World, Key Largo is almost as famous for being a sport-fishing and snorkelling destination as well . Some of the best charter captains and fishing guides in the world are located there. You can catch sailfish just off-shore as well as bonefish, redfish and tarpon in Florida Bay.
But we weren’t there to fish or scuba dive, we were there to snorkel, so we opted to spend a full afternoon (12:15 – 5 pm) with Keys Diver Snorkel Tours (www.keysdiver.com) for one of their three-location dive tours in the shallow water reefs of Pennekamp State Park and the National Marine Sanctuary aboard a 40ft US Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel designed and built for snorkelling. There is also a morning dive available that departs daily at 9 am and returns around 11:45 am.
We left the dock at about 12:15 pm and got back around 5 pm, thrilled and completely exhausted. The snorkelling was fantastic and I can only imagine how the scuba diving is in the area – another reason to come back again!
We’d previously snorkelled in Hawaii, and I’d have to say this was better in many ways because of the variety and quantity of fish. We saw a sea horse, giant sing ray, reef shark, small and huge barracudas, huge lobsters, squid, cuttlefish, tiny jellyfish, and schools of fish of all sizes and colours.
The quality of the snorkel locations was truly outstanding. The boat was spacious and clean, and the captain and mate were great with both beginner and experienced snorkellers. Additionally, they cater to snorkellers only, so there’s no conflict with scuba divers who take up a lot of room and would require much longer stops at deeper locations.
We found the cost of tours with Keys Diver to be very reasonable, and the value is exceptional because all of the quality equipment is included and you don’t pay for the park entrance fee or parking. I would definitely recommend renting a wet suit (additional cost) for the trip. Although the water may be warm, after several hours it gets cold. By the last dive we were exhausted and getting quite chilled – even though we had wet suits on.
There’s plenty more to keep everyone busy for a week or two in the Florida Keys: camping at the John Pennekamp Marine Sanctuary, glass-bottom boat tours, everglades tours and hiking, Parrot Jungle Island, Monkey Jungle, Tropical Gardens, Dolphins Plus and much, much more.
Keys Diver Details:
MORNING 1-LOCATION TOUR (1 hour water time) departs daily at 9am and returns around 11:45am.
Cost: $28.95 per person
NOTE: This trip does not include the Christ Statue.
AFTERNOON 3- LOCATION MINI-CRUISE (over 2 hours water time) departs daily at 12:15pm and returns around 5pm
Cost: $35.95 per person
This tour features the Christ statue as one of the stops.
SUNSET 1-LOCATION TOUR May-Labor Day (1 hour water time) departs daily at 5:30pm.
Cost: $28.95 per person. Children 10 and under – $5.00 off. Sunset will resume in May 2013.
Reservations are required. Prices include gear (mask, fins, snorkel and safety vest) and instruction. Prices do not include taxes or crew gratuity.
Keys Diver is also a PADI Dive Center with professional SCUBA instructors.
Daily Dive & Dine Trips! Enjoy a two-tank dive aboard Keys Diver II and then have lunch on them for FREE! One low price of just $80 includes tanks and weights, 2 dive locations PLUS FREE LUNCH at the Pilot House Marina’s famous ‘Glass Bottom Bar’
© Iain & Gail Shankland 2013 / TravelBloggers.firstname.lastname@example.org