FRANKO’S GUIDE MAP OF THE FLORIDA KEYS – Guide to the Diving and Snorkeling Capital of the World
This beautiful map describes and shows the locations of numerous points of interest in the Florida Keys, and also has descriptions and shows the locations of the numerous snorkeling and scuba diving sites. Side One shows the whole island chain, and Side Two shows close-ups of Key West, the John Pennekamp State Park area, and Dry Tortugas National Park. Here are the descriptions from Side One:
THE FLORIDA KEYS
AMERICAN VACATION PARADISE The Florida Keys have become "The American Caribbean" making them a popular destination for Americans looking for a tropical paradise vacation that they can easily get to. The Keys have developed even better amenities than famous Caribbean island destinations, including world class sport fishing, fabulous scuba diving and snorkeling, boating, sailing, kayaking and eco-tours, museums, aquariums, restaurants, and excellent hotels. Also known as "The Conch Republic", the Keys are loaded with interesting historical sites.
HIGHWAY 1 The Keys feature a beautiful highway running over islands and bridges from Key Largo to Key West. This stretch of Highway 1 has five distinct regions, each with their own characteristics and style. Mile markers begin with Zero in Key West and go to 105 (MM105) in Key Largo. From west to east the mile markers go through Key West, The Middle Keys, Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo. This map shows, describes and locates the major attractions found in each area, with their respective mile marker locations.
FLORIDA KEYS GEOGRAPHY The Florida Keys is a tropical archipelago consisting of 1,700 islands beginning at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, and arcing south-southwest to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry Tortugas. The islands divide Florida Bay from the Florida Straits and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, with the Gulf of Mexico to the west. The tip of Key West is just 90 miles from Cuba. The total land area is 137 square miles, with a population in excess of 80,000. One third of the population is in Key West, which is also the seat of Monroe County, which consists of a section on mainland Florida almost entirely in Everglades National Park, and the Keys islands from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas.
KEY LARGO The Dive Capital of the World! The largest of the Florida Keys boasts the finest and most enchanting living coral reef in America at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where divers and snorkelers endlessly explore the underwater world. Key Largo visitors also go sport fishing in Florida Bay or the Everglades, wander through historic Tavernier, bike nature trails, pet trained dolphins, or see the “African Queen” from the classic Bogart & Hepburn movie.
KEY LARGO POINTS OF INTEREST:
JOHN PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK The first underwater park in the U.S.A. covers 63,000+ acres. Wonderful reefs and marine life are enjoyed by scuba diving, snorkeling, or a glass bottom boat. A marvelous 30,000-gallon aquarium simulates the natural coral reef. Also features two short hiking trails through the mangrove, a lovely beach, and great kayaking and canoeing. The park Visitor Center is located at MM 102.5 (102601 Overseas Hwy) in Key Largo. (305) 451-1202
DAGNY JOHNSON KEY LARGO HAMMOCK BOTANICAL STATE PARK The park is home to 84 species of plants and animals, including a large tract of rare West Indian tropical hardwood hammock trees. Features over six miles of nature trails through lush tropical forest. Entrance is on Monroe County Road 905, about one-half mile north of CR 905's intersection with US Highway 1 at MM 106.
DOLPHIN COVE Swim with dolphins, tour the Everglades in a kayak, or tour the Everglades in a boat. (877) 365-2683 Located at MM 101.9 (101900 Overseas Hwy) in the heart of Key Largo.
DOLPHINS PLUS Swim with the dolphins, and with sea lions, and learn about marine mammals and local marine ecosystems. (866) 860-7946 Located at 31 Corrine Pl., Key Largo (near MM 99).
FLORIDA KEYS WILD BIRD REHABILITATION CENTER Provides emergency and recuperative care for injured wild birds. Features a nature trail alongside a bay. Bring your camera! (305) 852-4486 MM 93.6 (93600 Overseas Hwy) in Tavernier .
ISLAMORADA (pronounced "I-lah-mo-rah-dah") The Sport Fishing Capital of the World! Hosting more fishing tournaments than anywhere else in the U.S.A., Islamorada lures fishermen to its incomparable opportunities for reeling in big game. Divers enjoy Islamorada's fabulous reefs and wrecks, kayaking in tranquil waters around a magnificent mangrove, watching a dolphin show, or shopping for that unique Islamorada souvenir.
ISLAMORADA POINTS OF INTEREST:
THEATER OF THE SEA In this marine mammal adventure park, you can swim with sea lions and dolphins, pet stingrays, and see live performances with sea lions, dolphins, and parrots. Cute kitty cats wander around the tropical gardens and gift shop. (305) 664-2431 Located at MM 84.5.
HISTORY OF DIVING MUSEUM Dedicated to artifacts, antiques, books, documents, and photographs relative to the history of man's attempts to explore, understand, and venture into the sea. (305) 664-9737 Located at MM 83 (82990 Overseas Hwy) in Islamorada.
LIGNUMVITAE KEY BOTANICAL STATE PARK Accessible by private boat or tour boat. Rangers give guided walks through the magnificent island forest. For tours (305) 664-9814. Located one mile west of US Highway 1 at MM 78.5.
LONG KEY STATE PARK Explore a chain of lagoons by canoe or kayak, or hike two trails on the island. Also climb an observation tower and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the island and the ocean. Located at MM 67.5 (67400 Overseas Hwy). (305) 664-4815
WINDLEY KEY FOSSIL REEF GEOLOGICAL STATE PARK Formed from Key Largo limestone, which is fossilized coral. From the early 1900's until the 1960's the stone was quarried for use in building a railroad, and to produce decorative "Keystone." Features five self-guided trails, and a visitor center with educational exhibits about the history of the site. Located at MM 85.5, (305) 664-2540.
INDIAN KEY HISTORIC STATE PARK Accessible only by private boat or tour boat. Visitors swim, sunbathe, hike, canoe, kayak, and fish. For tours call (305) 664-9814. Located on the ocean side of Hwy 1 at Mile Marker 78.5. (305) 664-2540
SAN PEDRO UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGICAL PRESERVE STATE PARK Features remains of the Spanish Ship San Pedro, which was sunk in a 1733 hurricane. Great for snorkeling and scuba. According to local divers the wreck is found at 24O 51.802'N, 80O40.795'W. Call (305) 664-2540.
MARATHON The Heart of the Florida Keys has it all! Centrally located to all of the Florida Keys, Marathon makes a perfect home base for your stay. Great fishing and beautiful beaches await you. Be sure to visit the Museum of the Florida Keys, and hike the nature trails at Crane Point. The diving, of course, is fabulous, especially at Sombrero Reef, which teems with coral reef life. This is a superb area to learn how to dive with one of Marathon's expert scuba shops.
MARATHON POINTS OF INTEREST:
SOMBRERO BEACH & REEF 12.6 acres of landscaped beach with walkways, picnics and roped swim area. It is rare to find such a nice beach in the Keys. Located at MM 50 on the ocean side. Offshore is a 140' tall light tower surrounded by a shallow reef, teeming with coral reef life for snorkelers or scuba divers who visit by boat.
DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER Expand your knowledge of and appreciation for marine mammals at this marvelous non-profit learning center Behavior sessions and educational presentations about dolphins and sea lions are given with a chance for a dolphin encounter or other exciting interaction as well. Located at MM 59.
CURRY HAMMOCK STATE PARK A group of islands with great swimming, a playground, picnic tables, grills, and showers. A forest of thatch palms is found here. For info, call (305) 289-2690 Located along both sides of US Highway 1 starting at Mile Marker 56.2. Entrance is on the ocean side of US Highway 1.
CAPTAIN HOOK'S FISH PONDS Daily fish feeding at 4:00 pm. You will see sharks, rays, eels, tarpon, snapper, groupers, and more. (800) CPT-HOOK Located at Mile Marker 53 (11833 Overseas Hwy) in Marathon.
CRANE POINT Features a Museum of Natural History, a Children's Museum, nature trails, and the Adderley House historic site. Located at 5550 Overseas Hwy, Marathon. (305) 743-9100
HAWKS CAY RESORT, MARINA & VILLAS Duck Key features 61 acres of fabulous private-island atmosphere, with great fishing, all kinds of water sports, fine dining, a spa, and more, all at a superb resort. Turn onto Duck Key at MM61. (800) 432-2242
CO-CO PLUM BEACH This tiny, natural beach has few amenities, but it is the one beach that is dog friendly. Baggies provided. Located at MM 54.5, ocean side.
LOWER KEYS A Natural Escape! Geologists note that the characteristics of the Lower Keys are similar to the Appalachian Ridge and may be a long-removed part of it. Comprised of Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda Key (which has a mile of sandy beach), Summerland Key, Big Torch and Little Torch Keys, Cudjoe Key, Sugarloaf Key, and Big Coppitt Key. A natural tropical wilderness where you can relax, snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, fish, or ride a bicycle through Key Deer country. The reefs are pristine in and around Looe Key for divers to enjoy. Big game fishing can also be on your agenda in the Lower Keys.
LOWER KEYS POINTS OF INTEREST:
BAHIA HONDA STATE PARK Known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets, and excellent snorkeling. Rent a kayak or snorkeling gear, visit the nature center, camp or stay in a cabin, or go fishing for large gamefish beneath the bridge. The Flagler Bridge off the southern peninsula, with the train trestle and the automobile span curving above it, is the original Bahia Honda Bridge, and is now a national historical site. (305) 872-2353
NATIONAL KEY DEER REFUGE On Big Pine Key there are about 300 miniature deer, a subspecies of the Virginia white tail deer on the mainland. There is a strictly enforced low speed limit here simply because these deer commonly become casualties on the highway.
THE BLUE HOLE This artificial lake, created as a borrow pit, attracts such freshwater species as alligators, turtles, wading birds, and fish. It is the largest body of fresh water in the Keys.
THE GREAT WHITE HERON REFUGE Established in 1938 next to Big Pine Key, this bird watchers’ paradise offers protection to rare and endangered species, and is home to many migratory birds nesting here in the winter.
LOOE KEY NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY The area offshore from Big Pine, Ramrod and Summerland Keys is most known as the best diving area of the Middle Keys. It was named for the HMS Looe, a British frigate that ran aground in a 1744 hurricane.
THE BAT TOWER Constructed in 1929 by a man named Perky who wanted to get rid of mosquitoes. The tower was to house mosquito-eating bats, but the imported bats flew away, never to return. To get there, travel south on US Highway 1, and turn right on Bat Tower Rd just after MileMarker 17. Veer to the right at the fork in the road.
KEY WEST The Uncommon Place! Home to endless points of interest, Key West has more than you can possibly visit in a single day, or even a week. This is one of America's most historic cities, where real estate deeds date back hundreds of years. You can find Ernest Hemingway's home, the John Audubon House and many other historic edifices. One of the most fabulous artifacts you will ever see outside of King Tut's tomb itself is the fabulous and fabled booty of the Atocha, on display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum. Key West is also home to world class fishing, plus extraordinary diving. Be sure to visit Mallory Square, where every evening the Sunset Celebration is held, with a guarantee of superb, even if unplanned, entertainment. Refer to the reverse side of this map for a close-up of Key West and the favorite things to see and do.
SOUTHERMOST POINT IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.A. This concrete monolith, located at the corner of Whitehead and South Streets in old Key West, not only proclaims this to be the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States, but it also indicates that this is "The Conch Republic" (note the triangular logo on the top section of the marker). Tourists (including Franko!) line up and take turns all day to take a photo here, often trusting their camera to the person behind them in line to take their photo, as was done in this one.
KEY WEST GOLF CLUB - 18 unique holes cover 200 acres of beautiful Florida Keys foliage and wildlife. Designed by golf legend Rees Jones to be a challenge to players of all abilities. This is the only Caribbean golf course in the U.S.A.
JOHN PENNEKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK The premier underwater park of the U.S.A. is also called "The Diving Capital of the World". Coral reefs and marine life are visited by scuba divers and snorkelers, or viewed from a glass bottom boat. Visitors also enjoy the sea life at a 30,000-gallon coral reef aquarium. Above the water, you can hike the trails through the mangrove, sun yourself at a lovely beach, or marvel at the eco-system aboard a rented kayak or canoe. Located at MM 102.5 (102601 Overseas Hwy) in Key Largo.
FLORIDA BAY This shallow bay is called the "waterspout capital of the world" because the area has hundreds of waterspouts (over-water tornadoes) per year, mostly in May through October. The area of the bay is nearly 1,000 square miles, mostly within Everglades National Park.
FLAGLER'S BARGE Henry Flagler (1830 to 1913) was once a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, and built the Florida East Coast Railway in the late 19th century. He extended the railway to Key West in the early 20th century. The exact origin of Flagler's Barge is unknown, but it probably carried materials and supplies during repair work on Flagler's railway in the 1930's.
GENERAL H.S. VANDENBERG Sunk 7 miles off Key West on May 27, 2009 to create a new artificial reef. She measures 523' long, 73' beam, and a 24' draft. When operating, she was a 17,120-ton vessel. Vandenberg is 100' high from keel to highest structure, which is 40' below the ocean surface. Most of her superstructure is approx. 50' deep.
SNORKELING AND SCUBA DIVING SITES DESCRIPTIONS FROM SIDE ONE OF FRANKO’S GUIDE MAP OF THE FLORIDA KEYS:
TRIUMPH REEF to 130' Some coral heads are only eight feet deep, making this a snorkelable location. Visibility can be astounding.
LONG REEF to 60' Int. A two-mile-long reef with several wrecks including the Lugana, the Alicia, and the Mandalay. Every reef fish from tiny damselfish to big parrotfish are found here.
ALMIRANTE to 135' This small, 210-foot freighter was intentionally sunk in 1974, and sits upright on a sandy bottom. Tons of fish. Excellent visibility.
AJAX REEF to 200' A fabulous diverse reef, suitable for all experience levels. Ajax Reef is part of Long Reef.
CONCH WALL to 90' Adv. Reef forms a 30-foot vertical wall that is covered with sea fans and barrel sponges. A great drift dive. Angelfish, parrotfish, wrasses, groupers, and permits are common.
CONCH REEF to 60' Int. Home of the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory. Stay outside the area marked by the yellow buoys. Gorgonians, barrel sponges, hogfish, snapper, and hawksbill turtles are common. Interesting snorkeling.
LITTLE CONCH REEF to 25' Beg. Consists mostly of patch reef spread out over a wide area. Regarded as a good snorkeling site. Caution: Surgy.
EL INFANTE to 15' Beg. This 1733 wreck of the Spanish ship El Infante is identified by the ballast stones strewn about the ocean floor. Occasionally gold or silver trinkets are found by divers. Great snorkeling.
DAVIS REEF to 30' Beg. Two small Buddha statues sit in the sand at the south end of Davis Reef. Rub the head and/or belly for good luck. Orange elephant ear sponges, grunts, schoolmasters, sea plumes, and black loggerhead sponges all await you here. Caution: Surgy.
OYSTER BARGE to 100' A barge in excellent shape, with many spiny oysters.
CROCKER VALLEY to 120' Adv. Drop-off reef with a vertical wall of coral standing 10 to 20 feet tall. Caution: Strong currents.
CROCKER REEF to 90' Int. Star coral, brain coral, large sponges, sea fans, sea plumes, jawfish, angelfish, rock beauties, honeycomb cowfish, schoolmasters, blue tang, yellowtail snapper, and damselfish are all in this huge, natural aquarium. Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
HEN & CHICKENS to 22' Beg. Marked by a navigation light tower. Large star coral heads, groupers, grunts, spadefish, porkfish, sheepshead, barracuda, sponges, angelfish, surgeonfish, and stoplight parrotfish are all common here. Caution: Surgy, strong currents, often poor visibility.
THE ROCKS to 12' Beg. Popular shelling grounds with lots of soft corals and tropical fish. Fabulous for snorkeling.
D & B BARGE A newer wreck that looks like it has been on the bottom for a long time.
EAGLE to 110' Adv. This 269-foot freighter was intentionally sunk in 1985, and sits on her starboard side. You will see thousands of reef fish. Barracuda, jacks, and tarpon are common. Caution: Strong currents.
HAMMERHEAD REEF to 65' A beautiful reef on a steep slope, with many sponges including glass vase sponges. Hammerheads are rare.
ALEXANDER BARGE to 110' 120' barge intentionally sunk in 1984. Rubble from the Whale Harbor Bridge is found nearby.
ALLIGATOR REEF to 50' Int. Named after the USS Alligator, which wrecked here in 1822. The original lighthouse was built in 1873. Here you will find arrow crabs, lobsters, and grunts in abundance. In fact, this place looks like one big tropical fish tank. Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
ALLIGATOR CANYON to 120' A 70' slope with many glass vase and basket sponges. Occasionally divers are amazed to see sailfish and marlin.
CANNABIS CRUISER (THE POT WRECK) to 110' A fishing trawler that was hauling a load of marijuana, that was intentionally scuttled by its crew when the Coast Guard was chasing them.
MATECUMBE DROP-OFF to 170' The drop-off is a big ditch located between the towers of Alligator Reef and Tennessee Reef. Generally, visibility is not too great.
KEYS BRIDGES to 20' Int.-Adv. Various Key Bridges are best dived at mid-tide when the direction of the current is changing. Popular bridges are Snake Creek, Whale Harbor, the four bridges at Indian Key Fill, the two south of Lower Metecumbe, and both Bahia Honda bridges. Caution: Strong currents, fire coral.
CALOOSA ROCKS to 20' Beg. This shallow reef, is excellent for snorkeling. Brain, star, lettuce, and other corals are abundant.
CONTENT KEYS to 15' Beg. Located on the Gulf side of the Keys, here you will find a different ecosystem from the dive sites on the Ocean side. Lobsters, stone crabs, sheepshead, redfish, trout, red grouper, jewfish, and snapper are all common here.
THE PILLARS to 100' Named for pillar corals nearly 25 feet tall. Large fish such as marlin, amberjacks, and groupers are common.
SAN IGNACIO DE URGUIJO Wreckage from the Spanish treasure fleet, located 100 yards east of the old light tower at Coffins Patch. Occasionally divers find pieces of silver.
THE FISH MARKET to 70' Int. This reef is more than a mile long, and has excellent visibility. The name comes from the large schools of fish that are common here.
COFFINS PATCH to 25' Beg. Southern stingrays, brain coral, fire coral, and pillar coral are common here. Visibility is sometimes good here, sometimes not so good. A great place for snorkeling. Caution: Surgy, fire coral.
THUNDERBOLT to 120' Adv. This 188-foot cable layer was intentionally sunk in March, 1986. Barracuda, angelfish, sponges, parrotfish, rock beauties, jacks, and grunts are common. A goliath grouper named “Bubba” lives here. Caution: Strong currents, fire coral.
THE GAP to 80' Adv. A gap in the shelf starts at about 50 feet deep and slopes downward 30 vertical feet. Bar jacks, creole wrasses, schoolmasters, green barrel sponges, sea fans, sea plumes, and star corals are common. Occasionally pelagic species cruise by. Caution: strong currents.
YELLOW ROCKS to 25' Beg. Limestone ledges are covered with sea fans and soft corals. Groupers and nurse sharks are common.
SAMATHA'S REEF to 35' Beg. Nurse sharks and southern stingrays are used to being fed here, so keep your fingers and hands out of the way. Brain coral, starlet coral, grunts, surgeonfish, yellowtail snapper, and Bermuda chub are abundant. A wonderful place to snorkel. Caution: Surgy
HERMAN'S HOLE to 30' Beg. The center of Herman's Hole is a large, sandy hole. Big sea fans, smooth brain coral, gorgonians, sponges, squirrelfish, grunts, and porkfish are found here. An excellent snorkeling site. Caution: Surgy
EAST WASHERWOMAN SHOAL to 18' Beg. Marked by a 36-foot tower. A fine location for snorkeling. Caution: Visibility is often poor.
FLAGLER'S BARGE to 20' Beg. This easily accessible wreck is a 100-foot-long barge that was sunk in the early 20th century. The ship is coated with soft corals, sponges, sea fans, etc, and is a protective home to an astounding quantity of fish including vast schools of grunts, snapper, schoolmasters, and yellowtail goatfish. Schools of highhats hang out on the barge perimeter, moray eels hide in crevices, and a nurse shark sleeps under the bow. A nice snorkeling site, but scuba is much more fun here. Caution: Surgy.
SOMBRERO REEF to 35' Beg. - Int. Marked by the 142-foot Sombrero Key Light, built in 1858. This classic spur-and-groove reef system provides sand channel alleys and finger reefs just loaded with fish and giant brain coral, which make for cleaning stations for barracuda, turtles and other customers who come to be picked clean by tiny cleaner wrasse. This site is terrific for snorkeling. Caution: Currents
DELTA SHOAL to 25' Beg. Tomtates, French grunts, rock beauties, queen angelfish, brown tube sponges, and orange elephant ear sponges are at home here. A good site for snorkeling. Caution: Surgy
G MARKER to 40' Beg. This reef is named for a 36-foot tower. The reef is known for big fish and patch coral.
NEWFOUND HARBOR to 15' Beg. Reef rises to the surface in two areas. snapper and grunts are common. A fine snorkeling location. Caution: Surgy, poor visibility.
LOOE KEY (EAST END) to 35' Int. The name comes from the British Man-O-War, HMS Looe, which ran into the reef here and sank in 1744. The reef is made up of parallel limestone ridges that come within 10 feet of the surface. Looe Key dive is absolutely brilliant over an 800 yard stretch. Here you will find a variety of soft and hard corals, sea plumes, sea fans, sea rods, and sea whips. A good snorkeling site. Caution: Surgy.
LOOE KEY (WEST END) to 35' Int. The Looe Key consists of 800 yards of magnificent underwater variety, which is perhaps equal to the entire Florida Keys' collective assortment. In fact, a common nickname for this reef is the Jewel of the Middle Keys. The west end is a classic spur-and-groove reef formation where you will find brain, star, and giant star corals, brown tube and orange elephant ear sponges, elkhorn coral, yellowtail snapper, sergeant majors, surgeonfish, French grunts, damselfish, barracuda, mutton snapper, and Nassau groupers. This is also a good snorkeling site. Caution: Surginess can make for an added challenge, but the Gulf Stream Current can be very difficult. The current sometimes rips along at over 3 kts., making this a great drift dive, but it is very demanding on the dive boat operator to make sure you don't wind up heading for Europe.
LOOE KEY (DEEP) to 100' Int. to Adv. South of the reef at 30' to 40' depth there is an undercut drop-off that plunges to almost 100' depth. Here you will find giant barrel sponges, jacks, angelfish, filefish, sea fans, and tall sea plumes and sea rods. At the base of the drop-off you will find black coral in creviced fossilized coral. Caution: Strong currents (see comments on Looe Key West End).
STEAMER WRECK to 20' Beg. This unnamed steamer wrecked some time in the 19th century. It has four stacks that are easily recognized.
ADOLPHUS BUSCH SR. to 105' Adv. This 210-foot freighter was intentionally sunk in 1998 and sits upright on the sandy bottom. Holes are conveniently cut into the hull for divers. Caution: Strong currents
USS WILKES-BARRE 140' to 210' Adv. A 610-foot World War II light cruiser, that sits upright and forms a wonderful artificial reef.
PELICAN SHOAL 10' - 40' Beg. These shoal meander from here to the Sambos. Patchy corals are in the shallows, with stands of elkhorn, staghorn and brain corals, with all shapes and colors of sponges too. Schools of Caribbean reef fishes abound in prodigious numbers.
EASTERN SAMBO to 25' Beg. The first of three "Sambos" has small coral heads and ledges. A popular dive spot during lobster season. Caution: Surgy
MIDDLE SAMBO 30' - 60' Int. Has a more definite reef structure than Western or Eastern Sambo. Caution: Surgy.
THE AQUANAUT to 75' Int. This 55-foot wooden tugboat sits upright on a sandy bottom. Caution: Strong currents
GENERAL H.S. VANDENBERG 40' - 140' Beg. - Adv. A non-profit has put in 13 years of tremendous effort to sink this de-comissioned Naval missile range instrumentation ship to create a wonderful artificial reef and a new wreck dive. She sits on a barren rocky bottom with no coral around.
WESTERN SAMBO 25' - 45' Beg. Located within an ecological reserve. On the east end of the reef is a channel called Cannonball Cut with many spiny lobsters. Giant star coral mounds are found at this site. This site is known for its popular workboat wreck dive, The Aquanaut. Caution: Surgy
JOE'S TUG to 60' Int. This 75-foot-long tug was mysteriously scuttled in 1989 while heading for the Miami scrap heap. Home to schoolmasters, grunts, a pair of moray eels, and a loggerhead turtle. A great night dive. Caution: Strong currents
COTTRELL KEY (GULF SIDE REEF) to 15' Beg. Large clusters of coral heads, and many snapper and parrotfish. Caution: Sometimes has poor visibility.
ALEXANDER'S WRECK to 30' Beg. This former Naval vessel sits on its side and is broken into two pieces, one of which sticks out of the water. Caution: Strong currents
THE LAKES to 30' Int. A series of lagoons protected by islands and reefs. Very shallow in many places. Runs from Mule Key to Boca Grand Key. Caution: Strong currents in channels.
MARQUESAS KEYS to 30' Int. The only atoll in the Atlantic Ocean. Worth the trip if you can do it. There are a few wrecks in the area. A great place to snorkel. Caution: Surgy, strong currents
MARQUESAS ROCK to 120' Int.-Adv. Marked by a large can buoy 1.5 miles west of Cosgrove Shoal Lighthouse. Margates, jacks, squirrel fish, jewfish, and turtles are common. Caution: Strong currents.
COSGROVE SHOAL to 210' Int.-Adv. Marked by a 50-foot lighthouse. Large barracudas hang around the lighthouse. Black coral can be found in the deeper sections. Large brain corals with cleaner wrasse provide cleaning stations for barracudas, turtles and other large customers. Visibility here is excellent. Caution: Strong currents.
TEN-FATHOM LEDGE 35' - 100'+ The drop-off at the edge of a 35' deep reef here descends to a sandy bottom 120' below. The Gulf Stream makes this a drift dive, and its openness brings lots of large pelagic fishes by, plus some very large groupers.
WESTERN DRY ROCKS to 40' Beg. A great reef with excellent visibility, and many cracks, crevices, and caves. Seasonally has sharks. Good snorkeling.
SAND KEY REEF to 65' Beg. A sand island with a lighthouse built in 1853. Wonderful shallow reef, good for snorkelers. Caution: Surgy, fire coral.
9-FOOT STAKE 10' - 30' Beg. The nine-foot-long wooden stake is no longer here, as it was taken out by a passing boat in the 1990's. This is a great night dive, and an excellent site for snorkeling with lots of spiny lobsters.
CAYMAN SALVAGE MASTER to 90' Adv. This upright 187-foot cable layer was intentionally sunk in 1985. Deterioration makes this wreck hazardous for penetration. Caution: Strong currents.
TOPPINO'S BUOY to 30' Beg. Located at Nav. Marker 32. Typical shallow spur-and-groove reef. Nurse sharks, green and hawksbill sea turtles are commonly seen. A great night dive and good for snorkeling.
DESCRIPTIONS FROM SIDE TWO OF FRANKO’S GUIDE MAP OF THE FLORIDA KEYS:
DRY TORTUGAS NATIONAL PARK Located 70 miles west off Key West, the islands were named "Las Tortugas" by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513. Sailors later added "Dry" to the name, since the islands lack fresh water. Fort Jefferson, on Garden Key, was built in the 1860's and is the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere, with 16 million bricks. The Dry Tortugas are visited by boaters, ferry passengers, divers and bird-watchers. Bird-watchers come primarily to see seabird colonies on Bush Key.
DRY TORTUGAS UNDERWATER LIFE Tortugas Ecological Reserve has a line of underwater moorings that dive boats use. There are a few other rocks, reefs and wrecks to dive as well, including the moat wall area west of Fort Jefferson. This is a low-relief habitat with diverse coral reefs, carbonate banks and sandy coral rubble hardbottom. Depths range from 30 to 75 feet. This is some of the most species-diverse water in the Caribbean, containing more than 75 species of hard and soft corals and 330 species of reef fishes and pelagic species. Many colorful sponges and invertebrates also live here. The Tortugas area plays an important nursery role in the larger Florida subtropical seascape. Currents that sweep from Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean converge here.
ISLAND DYNAMICS The tiny islands of the Dry Tortugas are in a constant state of change due to the erosive effects of currents, storms and wind. At times, for example, Middle Key is awash, and at times it may appear as a sand island. Bush Key is sometimes connected to Garden Key, but after a storm it may be a separate island.
TORTUGAS SOUTH HABITAT Interestingly, the Tortugas South portion of the reserve includes a wide range of deep water coral reef habitats and numerous rare and unusual reef species. However, the deepest portions of Tortugas South are far out of reach for sport divers, with depths of 1,600 to 1,800 feet. Here, limestone ledges feature deep-dwelling sea life such as lantern fish, tilefish, golden crabs, and giant isopods.
SHERWOOD FOREST REEF 60'-130' Int. - Adv. Within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Sherwood Forest astounds divers and scientists alike with its beautifully-colored false bottom full of nooks and crannies where fish and other sea creatures can find shelter. This ancient reef is over 9,000 years old, and the only one of its kind in Western hemisphere. It is the best nursery habitat in the United States. The name was given by divers observing the many mushroom-shaped corals here.
FORT JEFFERSON MOAT WALL Snorkelers see parrotfish, porkfish, grunts, sea fans, sea plumes, hermit crabs, and queen conch. The snorkeling here is great.
HERE ARE THE DESCRIPTIONS FROM SIDE TWO OF FRANKO’S GUIDE MAP OF THE FLORIDA KEYS, FOR THE JOHN PENNKAMP CORAL REEF STATE PARK AREA DIVE SITES:
VIRGINIA REEF to 20' Beg. Divers find and enjoy stands of elkhorn coral, southern stingrays, red squirrelfish, queen angelfish, and purple creole wrasses. Great site for snorkers. Caution: Surgy.
THE WALL to 105' Adv. Drift dive on one of only two real walls in the Keys. Barrel sponges and sea fans thrive in the current.
TURTLE REEF to 30 ft. Beg. Best diving is along the east side. Frequented by hawksbill turtles, and stoplight parrotfish. Caution: Surgy, poor visibility.
TURTLE ROCKS to 30' Beg. Named for coral heads that look like turtles.
SCHOONER THIORVA to 25' Beg. The dates of this ship wreck are a mystery. Her anchor, a cannon, and a few metal objects remain. Ceramic shards can sometimes be found in the sand.
CARYSFORT REEF to 80' Named for the H.M.S. Carysfort, which ran aground about 1770. The renovated lighthouse dates to 1852. Near the lighthouse the shallow spur-and-groove reef is super for snorkeling. Further out there is a drop-off with a second reef rising from 65 ft. to within 35 ft. of the surface. Spectacular corals throughout, but the colorful sponges dominate.
SOUTH CARYSFORT REEF to 80' Int. This storm-damaged reef is good for snorkeling along the shallow reef at high tide, and the scuba diving is good outside the buoy line from about 30 ft. to 80 ft. depth. Caution: Surgy and strong currents on outside reef.
H.M.S. WINCHESTER to 30' Beg. This old wreck dates to the 1690's. Most of the remains are buried in the sand. Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
HORSESHOE REEF to 22' Beg. Reef rises to within 8 feet of the surface. Large colonies of star, starlet, brain, and branching corals. Good reef for snorkelers. Schools of silversides are common, as well as the big fish that eat them. Caution: Surgy.
NORTH NORTH DRY ROCKS to 25' Beg. Reef extends to within five feet of the surface, making it good for snorkelers. Several species of angelfish munch on various sponges. Star corals as tall as you are make a habitat for many small fishes. Caution: Surgy.
CIVIL WAR WRECK to 20' Beg. This deteriorating wreck dates to the early 1860's. Wood timbers provide a hideout for snapper, Spanish grunts, moray eels, coneys, parrotfish, angelfish, corals, sponges, nudibranchs, anemones, brittle stars, and hermit crabs.
CITY OF WASHINGTON to 25' Beg. This 320-foot long barge struck the reef and sank in 1908. Friendly barracuda and green moray eels may expect you to feed them. Curl your fingers and keep your hands by your side from these toothy friends. Great night dive.
THE ELBOW to 85' Int. Famous for three wrecks: The Civil War Wreck, the City of Washington, and the Tonawanda (a steamer sunk in 1866). Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
NORTH DRY ROCKS to 25' Beg. The main part of this reef has four ridges that come within 5 feet of the surface. This reef is snorkelable. There is a large archway in the middle called Minnow Cave. Gray, queen, and French angelfish, silversides, parrotfish, trumpetfish, and scrawled filefish are common. Caution: Surgy.
KEY LARGO DRY ROCKS (CHRIST OF THE DEEP) to 30' Beg. The nine-foot bronze statue known as Christ of the Deep is found here. The reef breaks the surface at low tide. This site has a large variety of sea life. Good for snorkeling. Caution: Surgy.
"CHRIST OF THE DEEP" statue near John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a replica of the "Christ of the Abyss" statue located in the waters off Genoa, Italy. It has become encrusted with marine growth. Divers and snorkelers alike enjoy this awesome underwater site.
GRECIAN ROCKS (FORE REEF) to 30' Beg. Spur-and-groove reef that reaches the surface. Excellent for snorkeling. This is a sanctuary preservation area. Caution: Surgy.
GRECIAN ROCKS (BACK REEF) to 6' Beg. This shallow reef is excellent for snorkeling. Spanish hogfish and tarpon are common. Caution: Surgy.
SPIEGEL GROVE to 130' Adv. This 510-foot warship is famous for its use in humanitarian missions to Africa in the 1960's. The ship was on its starboard side, but was tipped upright by a recent hurricane. Caution: Strong currents. Dangerous for non-experts to deeply penetrate.
FREIGHTER BENWOOD to 45' Beg. This 360-foot-long freighter wrecked on the reef in 1942. It was used for bombing practice by the military at one time. This is a good choice for snorkelers, and is a great night dive. Lots of groupers. Caution: Surgy and strong currents.
FRENCH REEF to 40' Int. This reef has many swim-throughs, overhanging ledges, and caves. Stoplight, queen, and midnight parrotfish are abundant here, chewing on the coral formations. Also you will likely encounter dog snapper, yellowtail snapper, and queen and French angelfish. Good for snorkeling. Surgy.
MOLASSES REEF (MOLASSES DEEP) to 90' Adv. Marked by three mooring buoys. You will find elephant ear sponges, giant barrel sponges, and may encounter hawksbill turtles, nurse sharks, and eagle rays. Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
SAND ISLAND to 60' Int. Two main coral ridges are featured, as well as a bowl-like depression where you can relax and watch the reef life all around you.
MOLASSES REEF (NORTH END) to 40' Int. Centuries-old star coral mounds, and dozens of species of fish await you here.
BIBB to 130' Adv. 327-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter This ship took part in the Battle of Okinawa in WWII, and served in Vietnam. She was sunk for a reef in 1987, and sits on her starboard side.
DUANE to 115' Adv. Like the Bibb, another 327-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter, which saw action in WWII and Vietnam, and was sunk in 1987. She rests upright on the sand.
USCGC DUANE This sunken U.S. Coast Guard Cutter is one of many favorite wreck dives near Pennekamp State Park waters. The BIBB is virtually identical, except she lays on her starboard side.
PICKLES to 80' Int. Named for the Pickle Barrel Wreck, a barge that carried mortar in large wooden barrels. Now there are barrel-shaped concrete plugs with no wood. Conchs and flamingo tongues are common.
MOLASSES REEF (SOUTH END) to 40' Int. A ship's winch, an area called Fire Coral Caves, and a Spanish anchor all await you here. This is a suitable place for snorkeling. Caution: Surgy, strong currents.
THREE SISTERS to 20' Beg. Named for three markers that used to mark a shipping channel. Only two of these markers remain today. The site consists of shallow patch reefs. A nice place to snorkel. Caution: Surgy, poor viz.
WHITE BANK DRY ROCKS to 18' Beg. An excellent choice for beginning snorkelers. Butterflyfish, parrotfish, and damselfish are common in this beautiful coral garden. Caution: Surgy, visibility often not more than 20 feet.
KEY WEST DESCRIPTIONS FROM SIDE TWO OF FRANKO’S GUIDE MAP OF THE FLORIDA KEYS:
KEY WEST The Uncommon Place! Home to endless points of interest, Key West has more than you can possibly visit in a single day, or even a week. This is one of America's most historic cities, where real estate deeds date back hundreds of years. You can find Ernest Hemingway's home, the John Audubon House and many other historic edifices. One of the most fabulous artifacts you will ever see outside of King Tut's tomb itself is the fabulous and fabled booty of the Atocha, on display at the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum. Key West is also home to world class fishing, plus extraordinary diving. Be sure to visit Mallory Square, where every evening the Sunset Celebration is held, with a guarantee of superb, even if unplanned, entertainment.
MILE MARKER ZERO All of the Florida Keys addresses that are along Highway 1 are expressed by mile markers, or miles from this point. MM 100, for example, is the location of the Africa Queen boat 100 miles away in Key Largo.
“CONCHS” Many of the residents of Key West immigrated from the Bahamas in the early- to mid-1800's. These people, who were called "Conchs" (pronounced 'conks'), were the progeny of British Loyalists who had fled to the Bahamas during the American Revolution in 1776. By the 1900's Key West citizens called themselves "Conchs". Today's residents use the term "Conch" to refer to a person born in Key West, while the term "Fresh Water Conch" refers to a resident not born in Key West but who has lived in Key West for at least seven years. Folklore says in the old days, when a baby was born, the family would put a conch shell on a pole in front of their home.
FORT EAST MARTELLO MUSEUM & GARDENS This fort was never completed, and never saw any war action. Built during the Civil War (1861-1865). The view from atop the central tower gives visitors a spectacular panorama of the Atlantic coast of Key West. (305) 296-3913 3501 S. Roosevelt Bl
WEST MARTELLO TOWER This is a Civil War era fort, and a National Historic Site. Presently the Key West Garden Club and the Joe Allen Garden Center are located here. 1100 Atlantic Bl
WHITE STREET PIER Nice concrete fishing pier is wheelchair accessible, and it is a good place to find evening yoga classes. AIDS memorial is at the foot of the pier.
MALLORY SQUARE AT NIGHT - All kinds of performers crowd into Mallory Square in the evening to entertain tourists and passersby. At times the passersby join in! There are also lots of local vendors and artisans with booths for you to browse or purchase a souvenir.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN KEY WEST:
GLASS BOTTOM BOAT DISCOVERY TOURS This glass bottom boat features a unique viewing room with 20 large windows at a 45-degree angle. At the reef you will see the Florida Keys fabulous undersea life without getting wet! The boat docks at the Key West Historic Seaport, in Land's End Village at the corner of Margaret St and Caroline St. (800) 262-0099
PIRATE SOUL This unique museum is dedicated to the history of piracy. Come see the largest and most authentic collection of pirate artifacts ever displayed under one roof at 524 Front St. (305) 292-1113
MALLORY SQUARE Located at 1 Whitehead St, Mallory Square has many attractions including:
KEY WEST SUNSET CELEBRATION Every evening starting about two hours before sunset, thousands of tourists and locals gather at the water's edge to experience this celebration, which consists of watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous arts and crafts exhibitors, street performers, food carts, psychics, and more. This is a must-see event for anyone visiting Key West.
KEY WEST HISTORICAL MEMORIAL SCULPTURE GARDEN Features 36 bronze busts depicting men and women important to the history of Key WeSt
KEY WEST AQUARIUM A wonderful aquarium that has delighted visitors for over seventy years. Come and see hundreds of beautiful indigenous sea creatures of the Florida Keys. (800) 868-7482
KEY WEST SHIPWRECK HISTOREUM Museum that has artifacts from the wrecked vessel Isaac Allerton, films, and actors. The Isaac Allerton sank in 1856 and was discovered in 1985. There is also a 65-foot lookout tower you can climb. (305) 292-8990
CONCH TOUR TRAIN Since 1958, this “World Famous” tour train has entertained visitors to Key West with a 90-minute tour filled with over a hundred points of interest. Board at Front and Duval Streets. (305) 294-5161
OLD TOWN TROLLEY Offering 90-minute narrated tours, the trolley can be boarded at Mallory Square, the Key West Welcome Center, and at most hotels. Includes optional stops to shop, dine, or visit nearby attractions. (305) 296-6688
KEY WEST MUSEUM OF ART & HISTORY Located at the Custom House at 281 Front Street, this 1891 building was once a post office, court house, and government center. (305) 295-6616 Ext. 16
MEL FISHER MARITIME HERITAGE MUSEUM A fantastic museum that displays a fortune in sunken Spanish ship treasures found by famed Mel Fisher & crew near the Florida Keys. 200 Greene Street. (305) 294-2633
AUDUBON HOUSE AND TROPICAL GARDENS The house has an amazing 28 first edition works by John James Audubon, the famous and inspirational wildlife artist. The tropical gardens are found at 205 Whitehead Street and cover one acre. The prized garden features orchids and bromeliads. (877) 294-2470
OLDEST HOUSE MUSEUM IN SOUTH FLORIDA This sea captain’s house dates to 1829 and shows history of 19th century wrecking in story, paintings, and artifacts. Features a light-up shipwreck locator. Found on the main shopping street at 322 Duval St. (305) 294-9501
THE KEY WEST HERITAGE HOUSE MUSEUM & ROBERT FROST COTTAGE Built in the 1830's and occupied by seven generations of the Porter family. Poet Robert Frost spend many winters in a cottage in the garden. Visit any day at 410 Caroline Street. (305) 296-3573
HARRY S. TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE Built in 1890. President Truman spent 175 days of his presidency here. Thomas A. Edison resided here during the First World War. 111 Front St. (305) 294-9911
SAN CARLOS INSTITUTE Founded by Cuban exiles in the late 19th century. This building was completed in 1924, and was renovated in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The institute is dedicated to Cuban heritage and history. Closed on Mondays. Located at 516 Duval Street. (305) 294-3887
NANCY FORRESTER'S SECRET GARDEN This wonderful botanical garden includes rare endangered plants as well as some that are extinct in their original habitat. There are 150 species of palms, a world class collection of aroids, as well orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and bog plants. Found at 1 Free-School Lane. (305) 294-0015
USS MOHAWK CGC MEMORIAL MUSEUM Come visit this wonderful museum, which is a Coast Guard ship that served during World War II. Patrolling the North Atlantic, this ship launched a total of 14 attacks against Nazi submarines, rescued 293 men from the USAT Chatham, and rescued 24 men from the SS Barberry. The unique ship is still fully operational and in its original condition. It is filled with amazing memorabilia and artifacts.
FLORIDA KEYS ECO-DISCOVERY CENTER This fascinating discovery center features a movie about the Florida Keys and has over 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits. Terrestrial exhibits focus on the above-water eco-systems including beaches, mangroves, and hardwood hammocks. Marine exhibits highlight the Keys’ famous undersea environment. Admission and parking are free! Located at 35 East Quay Rd. (305) 809-4750
ERNEST HEMINGWAY HOME AND MUSEUM Author Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote his novels here for over a decade. You can tour the rooms and lovely gardens. Dozens of cats live in luxury here, while tolerating the visitors. Hemingway loved his cats and these are their descendants. Visit 907 Whitehead St. (305) 294-1136
KEY WEST LIGHTHOUSE AND KEEPER'S QUARTERS MUSEUM On the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark, this lighthouse was originally built in 1847, and was extended from 46 feet tall to 86 feet tall in 1894. Visitors can climb the 88 iron steps to the observation deck for a great view across Key West. The Keeper's Quarters was constructed in 1886. Call (305) 295-6616 Ext. 16, 938 Whitehead St
FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR HISTORIC STATE PARK Florida's southernmost state park, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973. The fort was completed in 1866, and played important roles in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Features a short nature trail and a fine beach, perfect for picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. At the end of Southard Street on Truman Annex. (305) 292-6713.
KEY WEST BUTTERFLY & NATURE CONSERVATORY A butterfly gallery, gift shop, and learning center. Main feature is a nature conservatory filled with live butterflies that may even land on you. (305) 296-2988 1316 Duval St
SOUTHERNMOST HOUSE GRAND HOTEL & MUSEUM Built in 1896, converted into a 13-room hotel with a museum on the first floor in 1996. At 1400 Duval St. (866) 764-6633
SOUTHERNMOST POINT IN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES From this photogenic spot it is just 90 miles to Cuba. The brightly colored concrete marker also declares that this is "The Conch Republic."