The Florida Keys provide a beautiful locale for some of the best diving in the world. Just south of Key Largo is the less-congested, but no less intriguing, diving paradise of Islamorada, filled with sunken ships and vibrant coral reefs.
The oldest known shipwreck in this area happened in 1733 when a Spanish Fleet of treasure ships sank during a hurricane. The remnants of a Spanish galleon are still submerged off of Islamorada today among the 19th-century naval ships USS Alligator, the Eagle, and Alexander Barge.
Today Islamorada is home to an impressive list of 517 documented marine species. Divers of all levels of experience and training can explore this colorful underwater world throughout the year, as winter water temperatures range from 70-75. In the summer, the water will reach temperatures in the mid-upper ’80s. Visibility typically ranges from 40-100 feet, with some variance at different sites, but overall the best clarity occurs from August to October. Most of the dive sites in Islamorada are accessible to those with a PADI dive certification. Those looking to explore the wrecks of ships or to visit any of the most challenging diving sites will need to have technical certification or an advanced diving certificate.
The Silvestri Team invites you to learn about the features of Islamorada’s best diving sites. Beware! You may fall in love with the Florida Keys, just as they have. Should this happen, you can count on the Silvestri Team to work tirelessly on your behalf to help you find the perfect Islamorada property of your own.
1. Alligator Reef
Once the site of the naval schooner USS Alligator, which ran aground and sank in 1825, the ship decayed until only the ballast stones can be clearly observed. This site is known for its abundance of fish, including the goliath grouper. Water depths range from 20-72 feet. Alligator Reef can be marked from the surface by a lighthouse.
2. Alexander Barge
3. Brick Barge
4. Conch Reef
Conch reef features barrel and basket sponges, large marine life, and one of the most developed reef systems in the area. The current is moderate to strong in this horseshoe-shaped reef and divers will enjoy exploring variable depths of 20-100 feet. The dive site is located next to a research area that has restricted access, except to those with permits.
5. Crocker Reef
6. Davis Ledge
Davis Ledge is a great site for beginning divers. The shallow waters of 20-55 feet are the home of giant turtles, green moray eels, angelfish, and very large schools of smaller fish species. Divers often encounter nurse sharks along the seafloor. This is also a popular snorkeling destination. A surprising site is the submerged Buddha statue. Give its belly a rub for good luck.
7. The Eagle
8. Hen and Chickens Reef
9. Pickles Reef
Underwater photographers enjoy the shallow 15-25 feet of Pickles Reef for its colorful, tropical beauty. Large numbers of yellowtail snapper, a variety of sport fish, and tropical fish call this area home, and due to less frequent human activity here, the quantity of fish is abundant.