Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

#3 in Best Things To Do in Key Largo
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Natural Wonders, Swimming/Pools Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

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  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Most of Key Largo's dive sites exist within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, a protected area covering 2,900 square nautical miles. Developed in 1990 to protect precious coral reefs and other aquatic wildlife, the sanctuary is a joint venture between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state of Florida. Popular dive sites off the coast of Key Largo include Grecian Rocks, French Reef and Molasses Reef, and divers will also find several nearby shipwrecks to explore.

Recent travelers who took dive trips within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary had nothing but good things to say. Molasses Reef was deemed a great spot for snorkeling due to its shallow waters, while Grecian Rocks earned praise for its clear waters and abundance of fish.

To schedule a dive at any of these sites, contact a third-party dive shop. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary encourages visitors to book snorkel and scuba tours through a Blue Star-recognized operator, as the companies with this recognition are known for their coral conservation efforts. To learn more about the sanctuary, visit the official website

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#1 John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Named after John D. Pennekamp, a former newspaper editor for the Miami Herald and noted Everglades conservationist, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was developed in 1963 as the United States' first park under the sea. The state park is 25 miles long and 3 miles wide, and it is home to many aquatic plant and animal species, in addition to mangroves and various types of birds.

Visitors can enjoy the park in a number of ways. Water enthusiasts can admire colorful coral reef and the popular Christ of the Deep underwater statue on snorkeling and scuba diving tours, while those who would rather stay dry can sign up for a glass-bottom boat tour. There are also 47 campsites and designated spots for swimming, fishing and picnicking.

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