As well as the continental United States’ only coral barrier reef, the Florida Keys feature other unique dive spots that provide unparalleled adventures for underwater enthusiasts.

If you’re a diver, you can create an “underwater bucket list” of incredible sites to experience and explore — places that can only be found in the protected waters surrounding the southernmost island chain.

Florida Keys Underwater Wedding

Kimberly Triolet (left) and Jorge Rodriguez kiss after being married next to the “Christ of the Deep” statue off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo by Bob Care, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Underwater artistry, an artificial reef created from a historic Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad bridge, and much more await divers — so what are you waiting for? Read on, and start building that bucket list.

KEY LARGO: ‘CHRIST OF THE DEEP’. Divers and snorkelers from all over the world travel to Key Largo to discover the majestic “Christ of the Deep.”

A symbol of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the magnificent submerged work of art is an 8.6-foot-tall, 4,000-pound bronze statue installed as an underwater shrine.

Created by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti, the statue stands on a 20-ton concrete base in approximately 25 feet of water at the Key Largo Dry Rocks.

A duplicate of the “Christ of the Abyss” situated in 50 feet of water off the coast of Italy, the “Christ of the Deep” was a gift to the Underwater Society of America from industrialist and sportsman Egidi Cressi. It has become one of the most photographed underwater sites in the world — and many divers have “plunged into matrimony” beneath the statue’s benevolent gaze.

ISLAMORADA: HEN AND CHICKENS REEF. The Hen and Chickens Reef, a Sanctuary Preservation Area within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, is located in the middle of Hawk Channel two miles southeast of Plantation Key.

Marathon Reef

To create Marathon Reef, steel debris was taken from the center swing span of the iconic Old Seven Mile Bridge. (Photo courtesy of Keith Mille, FWC)

And yes, it has quite a strange name for a dive spot — but the moniker was bestowed because the beautiful patch reef of clustered corals resembles a mother hen and her chicks gathered around her.

With a maximum depth of 22 feet, the colorful reef is filled with a wide variety of fish and sea life, making it popular with both novice divers and snorkelers. For advanced divers, it’s a favorite second dive spot following a deep wreck exploration.

MARATHON: MARATHON REEF. Henry Flagler’s Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, lauded on its completion in 1912 as the most unique railway in the world, connected the Keys with mainland Florida and each other for the first time.

While the railroad’s reign ended more than 85 years ago, portions of its structure lie submerged in 115 feet of water at a lesser-known site referred to locally as Marathon Reef or 7 Mile Bridge Reef. This remarkable dive spot can be found about 3.2 nautical miles off Marathon’s Sombrero Beach.

A favorite among experienced divers as one of the area’s challenging drift dives, the artificial reef site was created in July 1982. That’s when 4,500 tons of concrete and steel debris taken from the center swing span of the Old Seven Mile Bridge (also called the Moser Channel Bridge) were sunk.

Today the massive remnants provide refuge for abundant populations of large pelagic and reef fish, corals, colorful gorgonians, and other plant and invertebrate marine life among the superstructure’s lateral bracing, fenders, gears and circular bearings that supported the bridge operator’s shed.

Florida Keys diver

A diver explores the Florida Keys’ remarkable underwater realm, rich in “bucket list” dive spots.

You can explore the concrete and steel rubble spread over a 1.6-acre area and rising off a flat sandy bottom as much as 30 feet in some areas — truly a bucket-list experience.

KEY WEST: STARGAZER. Key West offers nearby offshore wreck and artificial reef sites including the extraordinary Stargazer project. Created by metal sculptor Ann Labriola, it rests some 5 miles southwest of the island city.

The 200-foot-long creation lies in 22 feet of water and is composed of 10 steel cutouts of star constellations, each weighing between 2,000 and 8,000 pounds. Each pattern is home to abundant marine life.

The fascinating art assemblage — another dive site that can be found only in the Florida Keys — pays homage to ancient mariners who relied on celestial navigation, using the stars as their guide.

As intriguing as these four sites are, however, they’re only a few of the Keys locations that deserve a place on your underwater bucket list. To start discovering others, simply click here.