Florida Keys Diving & Snorkeling

The 125-mile Florida Keys island chain is home to the continental United States' only living-coral barrier reef. This teeming backbone of marine life runs the length of the Keys about five miles offshore and offers Florida Keys scuba diving vacation memories that last a lifetime.

Scuba divers exploring the Benwood shipwreckA woman snorkeling with fish

Our coral formations are famous for their abundance of fish, from impressive schools of blue-striped grunts to toothy green moray eels. The U.S. government established the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to protect our marine habitat.

Preserving the reef is a top priority for a good reason. There is no more versatile marine destination in the world. We have coral-encrusted shipwrecks and intricate natural coral formations. We have shallow reefs for snorkelers, and a range of deeper reefs for experienced divers.

Two scuba divers exploring the Vandenberg shipwreckA scuba diver exploring the Thunderbolt shipwreck

Most dive sites are equipped with convenient mooring buoys to save the reef from anchors and make it easy for boaters to tie off. Most sites are a short boat ride from our islands, where dozens of highly professional dive operators are ready to cater to you.

Once you visit the Keys, you'll see why some of the some of the most renowned dive photographers and writers in the world make this their home base.

Where to Dive in The Florida Keys & Key West
Keys Average Water Temperatures
Jan 73°F 23°C
Feb 73°F 23°C
Mar 75°F 24°C
Apr 77°F 25°C
May 79°F 26°C
Jun 82°F 28°C
Jul 84°F 29°C
Aug 86°F 30°C
Sep 84°F 29°C
Oct 82°F 28°C
Nov 79°F 26°C
Dec 75°F 24°C

Source: seatemperature.info

For your next Florida Keys scuba or snorkeling vacation
Coral Reef Protection Tips
  • Ask about the weather conditions. Poor visibility, strong winds & surge from waves reduce safe interaction at the reef.
  • Remember that even the lightest touch with hands, fins or other dive and snorkel equipment can damage sensitive coral polyps, the small living animals that make up the hard and soft corals at the reef.
  • Snorkelers should wear buoyancy control or snorkel vests to allow gear adjustments without standing on the coral.

Scuba divers swimming over a coral reef and fishScuba divers looking at a coral reef and fish

  • Avoid contact with the ocean bottom; properly weighted divers should practice proper buoyancy control. Sandy areas that appear barren may support new growth if left undisturbed.
  • Please don't feed the fish; it destroys their natural feeding habits, and avoids any potential injury to you or the marine life.
  • Remember, it's illegal to harvest coral in Florida.
  • If you dive or snorkel on your own, be aware of reef mooring buoys to use instead of anchoring a boat; many dive and snorkel sites are located within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and anchoring in these Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA) is prohibited.

Blue Star Operator - Committed to Coral Conservation

  • Blue Star is a program established by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary recognizing tour operators who are committed to promoting responsible and sustainable diving and snorkeling practices to reduce the impact of these activities on coral reefs in the Florida Keys. Blue Star operators take the extra step to educate you to be better environmental stewards and to interact responsibly with coral reefs in the Keys.
  • The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Boater Education Course, developed specifically for the Florida Keys, is a free online course that provides information for responsible boating and stewardship, and highlights relevant rules and regulations.

Scuba divers exploring the Eagle shipwreckScuba divers exploring the City of Washington shipwreck

  • Whether freediving or on scuba, spearfishing enthusiasts (also referred to as "spearos") can find many spots for spearfishing opportunities, although there are regional zones that are protected from fishing within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
  • To learn more about spearfishing regulations, download this PDF.

  • To learn more about saltwater fishing regulations in the Florida Keys, visit MyFWC.com, the website of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • To learn more about popular game fish species, visit our fishing section.

Marine Sanctuary Explorer - Your guide to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Marine Sanctuary Explorer is your official guide to the protected waters of the Florida Keys, home to the only coral barrier reef in the continental United States. Allow the app to access your location and the interactive map will alert you to nearby points of interest, with push notifications outlining regulations for each marine zone you enter. Browse the library, where you can learn about plants and animals you'll observe as you discover the wonders of the sanctuary, and access guidelines that explain how to interact with marine wildlife and habitats safely.

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Safe Boating Tips and Lobster Regulations

Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ensure that safe boating and lobster regulations are obeyed during the annual two-day Lobster Sport-Season, scheduled the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July each year.

For information about no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, call 305-809-4700, 305-852-7717 or visit floridakeys.noaa.gov.