The Best Key Largo Dive Sites

Island Ventures is located Oceanside in the Pilot House marina in the centre of Key Largo.  Our boats go to the Best Key Largo Dive Sites as far north as the beautiful Carysfort Reef to Snapper Ledge in the south and everywhere in between!

The reefs in Key Largo are all around 30 feet deep so are suitable for both divers and snorkelers. The reef systems are largely spur and groove and at some points are only feet away from the surface . This allows divers can get some depth in between the grooves and snorkelers can see the fantastic wildlife from the top to the bottom of the reef.

On average it takes 45 minutes to get from our dock to the Best Key Largo Dive Sites reef with the exception of Carysfort which is around an hour.

If you want to reserve a tour of these sites just head over to our SCUBA booking page

Carysfort Reef

Carrysfort reef lighthouse from about half mile out

Carysfort is furthest North Dive Site that we visit and we only go here on calm days and by special arrangement or as part of a full days charter. This amazing reef is not visited by many dive operators from Key Largo so is uncrowded.  The reef is named after HMS Carysfort (1766), a 20-gun Royal Navy post ship that ran aground on the reef in 1770.  Built in 1852 it was the oldest operational lighthouse in the US.

Watsons Reef

This is a series of patch reefs that is not visited by many dive shops as its quite far North and has no mooring balls, we only go here by special request or as part of a full days charter.  However its a really Pretty reef with lots to see for both SCUBA Divers and Snorkelers.

City of Washington Boiler cage

Elbow Reef

 Elbow reef Dive Site has at least 4 historic wrecks and many artifacts from the wrecks such as train wheels, anchor chain and cannons. We only go here by request. Check out our more detailed Elbow Reef web page and see the wrecks from satellite! The photo graph shows part of the City of Washington wreck where the boiler used to be.

Key Largo Dry Rocks

Christ of the abyss at key largo dry rocks florida


The Statue of Christ of the Abyss is located on the north side of Key Largo Dry Rocks, its a popular snorkel and dive site. We visit the statue whenever its requested but due to its location we are restricted by the prevailing weather on the day. The Bouy numbers for this is 4,5,6,7,8


There are some great snorkel and dive spots on the South side of Key Largo Dry Rocks. A large Spanish Anchor stands dug into the sand in 15 feet of water.  There are some beautiful coral heads that are great for snorkeling and we often go here to get shelter from the waves when the waves are too rough on the south side. The Bouy numbers for these areas are 11,12,13,14,15

North Dry Rocks

school of minnows at minnow caves key largo

Just North of Key Largo Dry Rocks a shallow reef that used to have a swim through full of minnows during the summer season. The top of this was removed by hurricane Irma in 2017 but you can still find the minnows. its a shallow site and good for diving and snorkeling. The photograph show the swim through prior to Irma in 2017

North North Dry Rocks

Just North of Key Largo Dry Rocks. Just 2 mooring balls here and is a popular dive site. A little deeper that North Dry rocks and has some great little walls to explore if you know where to go. This dive site can get a little crowded if there is a large dive boat on each of the 2 mooring balls and you can expect to see upwards of 60 divers and snorkelers in the water.

North North North Dry Rocks

Yes we think that the cartographers ran out of ideas for names on this reef!

This site does not have any mooring bouys on it but is a great little snorkel site and it never crowded with boats due to its location being little known and not having any mooring balls

Higdons Reef

Located north and shoreward of Key Largo Dry Rocks.  The mooring balls on this site (4) had been removed by storms but have recently been restored by the sanctuary for use. Nice patch reefs and provides shelter when its windy.

mooring at Horseshoe reef in clear water

Horseshoe Reef

A beautiful Reef near Key Largo Dry Rocks.  This is great for both snorkelers and SCUBA divers and one of our favorite reefs.

Grecian Reef

Photograph of Grecian Reef taken from the south end. The water is clear and you can see the reef post in the distance

Grecian reef is one of our favorite  snorkel sites and has amazing wildlife a beauty. Check out of Grecian reef page to see videos.

The majority of the mooring balls are only suitable for snorkeling as these are in 10 feet of water.

There are 2 balls that we use for scuba diving. Number 1 ball that is on the south end of the reef and its possible to get into 20 feet of water. This site is where some of the underwater scenes for the Jams Bond film ‘Thunderball’ were shot. Particularily the scene where there are 2 groups of divers, one group in red wetsuits and the other group in black wetsuits are having a big underwater fight.

If you explore this site you will come across the staging and guide rails that supported the underwater cameras!

Benwood Wreck

Diver watching school of fish on the wreck of the benwood underwater

Benwood  dive site is a historic wreck that sank in 1945.  Lying in 25 to 45 feet of water this is a great dive with large schools of fish.

The Benwood wreck is one of our go to dives when its a bumpy day as we can get our divers in deeper to 50 feet of water and out of the surge that we often get in 25 feet of water.

The wreck also has a large anchor about 50 feet off the bow that appeared after hurricane Irma in 2017. This is always a great photo opportunity. Prior to Irma the wrecj of the Benwood always had marginal visibility but after the storm the visibility is markedly improved and we can often see the whole of the wreck from the boat.

French Reef

French reef SCUBA dive dive site has many swim throughs and great wild life. A little deeper than Molasses to the south and often more protected from wind and currents. Our favorite sites are Christmas tree cave and woodies ledge. At Christmas tree cave there is a neat swim through that sometimes has a resident nurse shark sleeping in it and lots of tomahawk fish hanging out. Woodies ledge is on the deeper side of french and out by the fishing balls. This site is around 40 feet and we often see large sharks and large turtles.

French also contains the remains of one of the Totton Beacons erected by the federal government in the nineteenth century to improve navigation along the Florida Keys reef tract and save lives.

These beacons were in the form of giant steel letters on metal stages on the reefs. They were labeled alphabetically from “A” through “P”.

These would become known as the “Totten Beacons” after Lieutenant James B. Totten, the U.S. Army Assistant to the Coast Survey who oversaw their construction. The letter on French reef is G and installed around 1855. Its not easy to find and best done as a snorkel so you can see it from the surface of the ocean in less that 10 feet of water.

Spielgel Grove

Underwater on the Spiegel Grove wreck showing Island Venture boat on the surface

Spiegel Grove was intentionally sunk as an artificial wreck se ward of Dixie shoals in 140 feet of water. This was at the time the largest wreck sunk as an artificial reef. The Spiegel Grove is a giant vessel 510 feet long, 90 feet wide and 8 stories high. The site is best visited early in the morning when the sharks are still patrolling and haven’t been frightened off by lots of divers.

The deck starts at around 70 feet midships. At either end it is a deeper dive to get to the deck of 90 feet +

There is plenty to see midships and some cool fish life and plenty of soft corals growung particularily on the cranes. Take a flash light with you so you can see the amazing colors of the marine growth on the cranes.

This is an advanced dive and only for divers.


USCGC Duane was sunk as an artificial reef this ex coastguard cutter is in 130 feet with the deck at 100 feet of water. This is an advanced dive and only for SCUBA divers.

Molasses Reef

SCUBA divers at molasses reef winch hole

Molasses reef  dive site has over 30 places to moor there is much to see.  The reef area ranges from 15 feet near the tower out to 70 feet on the seaward side of the reef. This reef often has the largest amount of large fish and pelagic species but also can also have current (which is probably why the pelagic spices are there)

The photograph is of the Winch hole on Molasses reef one of the most dived spots on the reef as its in the middle of the reef and you can get shelter if the current is running by keeping within the coral formations.

The hole has channels running from it that divers can go up and down exploring some of the more shallow areas and out to the deeper areas where we often see sharks passing by. During Eagle Ray season we see a lot of rays here too.

Pickles Reef

Pickles Reef There are 4 mooring balls on the main pickles reef and an additional one on the south end. Pickles is covered in wildlife and we have seen dolphins on the reef when we have been diving. This reef gets very little current and is fairly shallow but has lots of valleys and ledges to explore. The dive site is the wreck with the pickle barrel wreck. This wreck was transporting concrete in wooden barrels during the civil war. The site of the wreck is still visible and the barrels are part of the reef with just the concrete remaining.

Snapper Ledge

Snapper ledge dive site has an abundant amount of Snapper. We often see sharks and eels on this ledge. There is only one mooring ball on Snapper Ledge so it can be hotly contended by dive shops and fishermen alike.

The best dive sites in the world?

So we listed the best sites to SCUBA dive in Key Largo but what if your looking at other places?

Check out this article by a friends at Divein for their take on the best dive sites in the world.