Many shipwrecks within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are open to diving and snorkeling

diving a shipwreck in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

One of the goals of the national marine sanctuary system is to provide opportunities for people to learn about our nation’s maritime heritage. Therefore, many historical sites within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are open to diving and snorkeling.

The exceptions are those sites located within the sanctuary’s Special-use Research Only Areas. These “no-entry” zones are set aside for research purposes and no snorkeling or diving is allowed within them. Research-only Areas are located at Tennessee Reef, Conch Reef, Looe Key patch reef, and Eastern Sambo. The Tortugas South Ecological Reserve is also closed to diving and snorkeling.

If you are interested in diving or snorkeling shipwrecks within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, we encourage you to check out the sanctuary’s Shipwreck Trail. These historic ships lie scattered along the treacherous coral reefs and buried a few miles off shore. The nine ships along this Shipwreck Trail have many tales to tell, from the stories of individuals who came before us to why they were here and their difficulties in navigating these waters.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the sites along the trail. An underwater guide is available for each site on the Shipwreck Trail, providing the shipwreck and mooring buoy positions, history, a site map, and information about marine life that divers might encounter. Conditions on the Shipwreck Trail sites vary from easy dives in shallow water to deeper dives of l00 feet or more where swift currents may be encountered. Some of the deeper sites require mooring to submerged buoys.

Remember that if you do dive or snorkel on shipwrecks in the sanctuary, be respectful of these resources and do not disturb them.


Did You Know?

Over four million people visit the Keys annually and of those, 70 percent of them visit the Sanctuary and participate in water-related sports such as diving and snorkeling or fishing and boating.