Diving and Snorkeling, Key West
Key West isn't really a beach town - the beaches are man-made. But fishing, snorkeling and diving are good there because of the reefs and mangroves.
My first SCUBA dive was here in Key West in 1967 at a shop called Diver's Den, run by a guy named Don and a guy named Mitch. They took me out in a boat, strapped the tank to my back (I supplied my own snorkel mask and fins) and told me to do a back roll off the boat and not to hold my breath. Mitch went with me to help if I needed it. I was entranced.
So I decided to take a course from the Diver's Den. It was January and the course was in a hotel pool at night. It was cold. Also I was about five months pregnant. (That wouldn't be allowed now, but my baby was perfectly fine) All the other people taking the course were men - mostly Navy. The only other woman was Don's girl friend. It was so cold that I could not keep a mouthpiece in my mouth because my teeth were chattering. I borrowed a wet suit from the husband of a friend.
I bought an early underwater camera - it was a film camera with a plexiglas box around it.
I finished the course and they took us out to the reef for a check-out dive. After I did the reef dive I decided that it was too much money from the family exchequers for me to spend on doing something that I was the only one who wanted to do it where none of the rest of the family could join in. So I did not go diving again until some 30 years later when I took an actual PADI course at an indoor pool in Maryland and did my checkout dives in the Virgin Islands
The Diver's Den no longer exists as far as I know, but there are other places to learn to dive or to take a dive trip if you are already certified.
Key West has both snorkeling and diving. Here's a great primer on the snorkeling scene. http://beachesinkeywest.com/key-west-snorkeling
The best beaches for snorkeling are Smathers Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor, South Beach Key West and Higgs Beach.
Or you can take one of the many charters out and do a snorkel/kayak combo. Very relaxing!
Key West is home to the only coral reef in the United States.
There are many sailing excursions that take you to the reef for a snorkeling adventure.
We went through Seabago- It was okay- The staff was a little amateur, but the food/ drink was good and the wave runners, parasailing, and snorkeling were a lot of fun---
We did the power adventure- 129 dollars- Includes, breakfast, lunch, drinks (water, pop, beer, and wine) snorkeling, wave runner, parasailing, water trampoline, canoeing, and a free sun set sail with free drinks the next night---
Its a great way to spend a day and meet new people~
We took the 11 a.m. Sunny Days snorkeling trip on the Cruzan Cat primarily because it was the cheapest one we could find that did not require us to drive 30 miles to the state park. Turned out to be a very good decision. It was a small group of 15 people.
As other tours typically go out at 9 and 2, we were the only ones out on the reef. We did two reef stops w/ about 45 minutes at each one.
It was unusually choppy that day but we were able to snorkel just fine.
The first stop was good but the second was great!
While I have seen more variety in some places in the Caribbean, I have never seen the quantity of fish we saw at the second stop on this trip. Instead of just a fish here and there, it was schools of tropical fish all around you.
The captain, Graham, and the lifeguard, Teresa, made sure we had a great time. They provided lots of soft drinks.
Snorkeling out at the reef...
Take time out & go on a boat trip to snorkel.
the trip is about an hour out then snorkel for a while then free beer & wine on the way back, chances are you'll have caught the sun so by the time you get back you'll be a bit crisp, great day
We went with the group "Fury Catamans". Snorkle gear and drinks are included with your snorkle trip. It was a nice boat with easy access stairs to get in/out of the water. They take you out to the third largest reef in the world; its about 7 miles from land. It was my first time snorkling and I was surprised at how easy it was and how well I could see in the water. The only downer was when all the jelly fish started floating our way. My friend got stung so we got back on the boat. Then everyone else started getting back on because of the jellyfish. What was suppose to be a 2 hour snorkle turn into only 45 minutes because of the surprisingly amount of jelly fish! But don't fret if you want to snorkle, that was a rare occurance. The workers told us that jelly fish are more likely to be encountered in Sept/Oct, and even then it is not normally as bad as what we saw.
For the past three years that I have been coming to Key West, I have dove with South Point, and I have no complaints. They are professional dive outfit that I would completely recommend to my friends who for both training and recreational diving. Their boats and diving equipment are well maintained, the pre-dive brief is well done, and the dive masters and crew are attentive. They're not a 'cattle boat' dive service, and don't 'babysit' you in the water. You're allowed to explore the reefs and wrecks with your dive buddy like a trained diver. If it's been a while since your last dive or you feel like you need a little extra attention from the dive master, they are always helpful and respectful, rather than patronizing.
Key West has lot of Water Sports activities that you can do in the green waters on Atlantic Ocean. These activities include Parasailing, Jet-Ski Waverunners, Water trampoline, Kayaking and Snorkelling. On the sail you can enjoy some good food, beer and great music. With Snorkelling, you can see some of the colorful fish, coral reef and other sea animals. We started the day at 10 on a Saturday and tickets can be purchased at the location itself for $85. The 6 hour sail starts with a few drinks and it stops after 25 miles off the coast. This is when you get the oppurtunity to jump into the waters and doing the sports which you like. The Banana Boat ride for me was the best where your Banana boat is tied on the back of a fast moving speed jet that makes sharp turns. It is exciting because you have to balance yourself from falling at 30-40mph speed. One day should be good to cover all these Water sports at the green waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
While recently planning a weekend trip to Key West I contacted by telephone several local dive shops seeking a specific trip to the wreck Cayman Salvager. Southpoint Divers was the only dive shop asking for a credit card number in advance by telephone even though they stated "your card will not be charged."
They further stated that "if we have enough people signed up for [Thursday's] trip we will let you know by telephone beforehand." No attempt to contact me was ever made, no voicemails left, no missed calls on my mobile phone, etc.
Upon returning home (after diving with another local company that did contact me to let me know the trip was available) I noticed my credit card had indeed been charged $96.75 to Southpoint Divers. I contacted Southpoint Divers in Key West by telephone to explain that a mistake had been made by their staff but was told instead by a female employee who refused to identify herself simply that "I'm not giving you a refund you're a no-show" before hanging up on me.
I have since contacted VISA to simply charge the merchant and void my charge.
I hope other visitors to Key West may benefit from my bad experience and avoid Southpoint Divers all together.
On the bright side: the dive of the Cayman Salvager through another company was fantastic and not to be missed.
While we were on a cruise one of our ports of call was Key West. We didn't really know what to expect of the place so we decided to book sail and snorkel trip on a 40" catamaran. We booked through Fury adventures. They were a really good group. We boarded our catamaran with many less people then the second boat. Because we booked online directly through furry we didn't get stuck with all the cruisers on the other boat. The sail out to the second largest reef was beautiful. Once we got there the wind picked up quite a bit and the waves were too large for me to actually do any snorkeling without feeling like I was going to drown, even with a life jacket on. I returned to the boat and spent the rest of the time chilling out on the deck. Bad mistake was to lay down in those really big waves. As soon as I sat up I spent the better part of the trip back to shore over the back of the boat. I was glad to touch land again. Despite the sea sickness the day was beautiful. My husband says the snorkeling was not really that good compared to other places we have been but he also loved being on the water.
What an inexpensive treat for us! It cost like 30bucks to snorkel in a coral sanctuary for 2 hours. Take an hour ride to the spot and jump in. They provide drinking water, and equipment, but you can always bring your own. Be sure and pack an underwater camera.
On the return to the island, there were sandwiches and beer served. What a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
There are many tours in Key West for snorkeling. We saw boats go out packed with 40+ people that were all crammed up and looking miserable and uncomfortable. Instead, we opted for an all day kayak/snorkel/fish tour from a smaller boat with a captain and a guide (and their dog), and 8 guests. They had plenty of food and drinks on the boat (and even had a cookout). They took us to secluded places where we could see no other people or boats, only wildlife. We went on a very adventurous kayak ride through mangroves. Went snorkeling (saw a large shark!) and even had some time to relax. It was such a great way to leave behind the bars of Duval street and remember what it is that brought so many people to Key West in the first place!
While snorkelling I learned that I can in fact walk on water if I choose to! I was quietly floating above the only live coral reef in the USA when I saw what appeared to me to be a 6 foot great white. After the crew stopped laughing, I learned that it was a nurse shark and apparently they do not have teeth and do not bite. Anything that I may have read about staying still if confronted by a shark or punching it in the nose if it charges at you FORGET IT! The only thing that I felt compelled to do was walk on water.
Sebago has several catamarans that you can ride the high seas on with groups of other people. We met some terrific people on our boat and spent the rest of the evening with them drinking pina coladas at Sloppy Joes. The catamaran captain with his 2 able bodied mates sails you out into the sea for about one hour while you bask in the sun and look for dolphins, of which we saw none but we did see a giant sea turtle! The cost was about 30$ per person for four hours.
The water is so beautiful and blue! We took a catamaran out for snorkeling! It was $34pp and included all your gear (snorkel, mask, fins, vest) and water, beer & wine. The crew was very friendly and shared tons of info with a smile! The ride on the boat out to the reef was worth the $34 all by itself! It was beautiful! You only need to remember to bring a towel for drying off and an underwater camera.
I've also taken the Fast Cat out to the Dry Tortugas. That trip was amazing! I think it was $90 - worth every dime! The trip out there is beautiful and the fort and snorkeling is really fun. Again, a fun staff and the sodas & beer flow. They also provide lunch on the trip to the Dry Tortugas.