Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Much of what makes the Upper Keys a singular dive destination is variety. Places like Molasses Reef, which begins 3 feet below the surface and descends to 55 feet, have something for everyone from novice snorkelers to experienced divers. The Spiegel Grove, a 510-foot vessel, lies in 130 feet of water, but its upper regions are only 60 feet below the surface. On rough days, Key Largo Undersea Park's Emerald Lagoon is a popular spot. Expect to pay about $80 to $85 for a two-tank, two-site dive trip with tanks and weights, or $35 to $40 for a two-site snorkel outing. Get big discounts by booking multiple trips.
Amy Slate's Amoray Dive Resort. This outfit makes diving easy. Stroll down to the full-service dive shop (PADI, TDI, and BSAC certified), then onto a 45-foot catamaran. Certification courses are also offered. MM 104.2 BS, 104250 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/451–3595; 800/426–6729; www.amoray.com. From $85.
Conch Republic Divers. Book diving instruction as well as scuba and snorkeling tours of all the wrecks and reefs of the Upper Keys. Two-location dives are the standard, and you'll pay an extra $15 for tank and weights. MM 90.8 BS, 90800 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/852–1655; 800/274–3483; www.conchrepublicdivers.com. From $70.
Coral Reef Park Co.. At John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, this company gives 3½-hour scuba and 2½-hour snorkeling tours of the park. In addition to the great location and the dependability it's also suited for water adventurers of all levels. MM 102.5 OS, 102601 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/451–6300; www.pennekamppark.com. From $30.
Horizon Divers. The company has customized diving and snorkeling trips that depart daily aboard a 45-foot catamaran. 105800 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/453–3535; 800/984–3483; www.horizondivers.com. From $50 for snorkeling, from $80 for diving.
Island Ventures. If you like dry, British humor and no crowds, this is the operator for you. It specializes in small groups for snorkeling or dive trips, no more than 10 people per boat. Scuba trips are two tank, two locations, and include tanks and weights; ride-alongs pay just $35. Choose morning or afternoon. Jules Undersea Lodge, 51 Shoreland Dr., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/451–4957; www.islandventure.com. Snorkel trips $50, diving $85.
Ocean Divers. The PADI five-star facility has been around since 1975 and offers day and night dives, a range of courses, and dive-lodging packages. Two-tank reef dives include tank and weight rental. There are also organized snorkeling trips with equipment. MM 100 OS, 522 Caribbean Dr., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/451–1113; 800/451–1113; www.oceandivers.com. Snorkel trips from $30, diving from $80.
Quiescence Diving Services. This operator sets itself apart in two ways: it limits groups to six to ensure personal attention and offers both two-dive day and night dives, as well as twilight dives when sea creatures are most active. There are also organized snorkeling excursions. MM 103.5 BS, 103680 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida, 33037. 305/451–2440; www.quiescence.com. Snorkel trips $49, diving from $69.