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Key Info

100 Ocean Drive, Mile Marker 100

Details

Recreation, Swimming/Pools Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 3.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

In June 2002, a retired Navy ship called the USS Spiegel Grove was intentionally sunk 6 miles off the coast of Key Largo to support the underwater ecosystem as a manmade reef. The 510-foot vessel is one of the largest ships ever to be sunk for that purpose, and it attracted fish and other marine life right away.

Fast forward to present day, and the wreck serves not only the environment, but also the diving community. It is a favorite dive spot among many recent reviewers thanks to its unique features and abundance of colorful fish. However, because of the massive size and positioning of this artificial reef (the ship resettled nose-up in 2005 after Hurricane Dennis, with its deepest spot at 130 feet), instructors recommend that only experienced divers take on Spiegel Grove. In fact, some areas of the ship are considered too dangerous even for those with high-level certifications.

If you're up for the challenge, contact a tour company like Rainbow Reef Dive Center for more information.

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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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