Underwater Exploration: Key Largo, The Dive Capital of the World

Novice and experienced divers are enthralled by the diving splendor in Key Largo

Photo Modified: Flickr / Wilfred Hdez / CC BY 4.0

Here’s what you need to know about your diving journey in Key Largo.

Frequently called the diving capital of the world, Key Largo, which runs from mile marker 90 to 112, has all the underwater flair you’d expect including sunken ships, statues and coral reefs you have to see to believe.

Marine conservation, including protection from spearfishing and coral collection, has deep roots in Key Largo. Back in 1960, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the country’s first undersea preserve was created. Next in 1975, the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary was established to protect 103 square nautical miles of coral reef habitat off of Pennekamp State Park.

Click here for the Key Largo Slideshow

Nowadays the sanctuary is a significant portion of the 2,900-square-nautical-mile Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. There are six Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA’s) in Key Largo where hook and line fishing is prohibited.

Before you dive, make sure you’re knowledgeable about dive etiquette.  For example, it’s illegal to harvest coral in Florida; you shouldn’t feed the fish since it destroys their natural feeding; and avoid touching or standing on coral, since even the lightest touch can damage it.

Not sure what fish you see in the area? Check out this Key Largo fish tutorial, courtesy of the Fish House, showcasing popular Hogfish, as well as Amberjack and Wahoo.


Whether you want to explore Key Largo by diving, snorkeling or swimming, you’re in for a treat. The local and national commitment to environmental protection means Key Largo’s waters are clean, full of sea life and color, and ready to be enjoyed. Pack your camera and prepare for an underwater adventure!