Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Diving and snorkeling on the offshore coral wrecks and reefs on a calm day can be very rewarding. Chances are excellent that you'll come face-to-face with a flood of tropical fish. One option is to find Fowey, Triumph, Long, and Emerald reefs in 10- to 15-foot dives that are perfect for snorkelers and beginning divers. On the edge of the continental shelf a little more than 3 miles out, these reefs are just a quarter-mile away from depths greater than 100 feet. Another option is to paddle around the tangled prop roots of the mangrove trees that line the coast, peering at the fish, crabs, and other creatures hiding there.

Perhaps the area's most unusual diving options are its artificial reefs. Since 1981, Miami-Dade County's Department of Environmental Resources Management has sunk tons of limestone boulders and a water tower, army tanks, and almost 200 boats of all descriptions to create a "wreckreational" habitat where divers can swim with yellow tang, barracudas, nurse sharks, snapper, eels, and grouper. The website offers an interactive map of wreck locations.

Divers Paradise of Key Biscayne. This complete dive shop and diving-charter service, next to the Crandon Park Marina, includes equipment rental and scuba instruction with PADI and NAUI affiliation. Four-hour dive trips are offered on weekends at 8:30 and 1:30. Night dives are offered Thursday at 5:30; the company is generally closed on Mondays. Crandon Park Marina, 4000 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, 33149. 305/361–3483; www.keydivers.com. $60.

South Beach Dive and Surf. Dedicated to all things ocean, this PADI five-star dive shop offers multiple diving and snorkeling trips weekly as well as surfboard, paddleboard, and skateboard sales, rentals, and lessons. The Discover Scuba course (for noncertified divers) trains newcomers every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 10 am, which includes two dives in Key Largo's John Pennekamp Marine Sanctuary that same day. In some months of the year, night dives take place on Wednesday at 5. Wreck and reef dives take place on weekend mornings. The center also runs dives in Key Largo's Spiegel Grove, the second-largest wreck ever to be sunk for the intention of recreational diving, and in the Neptune Memorial Reef, inspired by the city of Atlantis and created in part using the ashes of cremated bodies. The dive shop itself is located in the heart of South Beach, but boats depart from marinas in Miami Beach and Key Largo, in the Florida Keys. 850 Washington Ave., South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, 33139. 305/531–6110; www.southbeachdivers.com.

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