Dive the Vandenberg
KEY WEST — MM4-0
Key West's largest and most pristine reefs are located several miles off shore and are best visited with the help of professional dive and snorkel charter services. However, fascinating snorkeling is also available from shore along the south side of the island in the Key West Marine Park. The park is operated by the non-profit group Reef Relief and the City of Key West.
- Sand Key — One of the many popular reef destinations off Key West. This islet, marked by a large iron lighthouse delights both snorkelers and scuba divers with an abundance and variety of coral and marine life. With over ten miles of coral reefs of varying depths. Sand Key offers visitors endless opportunities to enjoy some of the best diving in the Caribbean!
- Joe's Tug — This classic tugboat sits totally upright in just 65 feet of water, an idyllic setting for close encounters with Goliath Grouper, spotted morays, barracuda, and horse eye jacks.
- Ten-Fathom Ledge — Here, unusual coral caves and dramatic overhangs provide refuge for both lobster and grouper, while pelagic life frequently parades in the blue water to seaward.
- The Cayman Salvor -This 180-foot. steel hulled buoy tender, also known as the Cayman Salvager, was intentionally sunk as an artificial reef in 1985. She now sits upright with cavernous open holds providing refuge for baitfish and grunts, as well as a resident jewfish and green moray eel.
- Nine Foot Stake — This patch reef in 10 to 25 feet, is perfect for either scuba or snorkel exploration and is noted for beautiful concentrations of soft corals and juvenile marine life.
- Kedge Ledge — One of the highlights of this lovely reef is the remains of a pair of coral encrusted anchors lost from 18th century sailing vessels.
- The Atocha — While not a local dive site, the Atocha was discovered by treasure hu nter Mel Fisher in the waters off Key West. With so rich a wreck nearby, its hard to dive these waters without wondering what bit of history or bounty might be concealed beneath the convoluted corals and vast reef structures.
- Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg — Since being sunk to the bottom in under two minutes' time on May 27, 2009, the second-largest ship in the world to be made an artificial reef sits encrusted with Gorgonian corals and algae.
More than 100 confirmed species of fish have taken up residency, such as parrotfish, yellow and blue tangs, barracuda, a variety of snapper, mackerel and hogfish, as well as deep water pelagics. Vandenberg sits upright approximately seven miles off Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, welcoming divers from all over the world to explore its massive superstructure. The ship represents the southernmost part of the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, a series of intentionally sunk vessels that begins off Key Largo with the former Navy landing ship dock Spiegel Grove.