Carysfort Sanctuary Preservation Area

Map of Carysfort Sanctuary Preservation Area

Historic Carysfort Lighthouse, at the north end of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, sits atop one of the most remote reefs in the Upper Keys. In 1997, the Carysfort/South Carysfort Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) became the largest SPA in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The 2.2 square-mile area is home to one of the best developed reef systems in the Keys, and designated as one of the seven featured sites of Mission: Iconic Reefs.

Carysfort has an unusual "double reef" configuration. There is a proliferation of shallow corals, perfect for snorkeling near the lighthouse, but these thin out as the depth gradually increases. To the south of Carysfort Lighthouse, a broad expanse of elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) forms Carysfort South, a large shallow reef. Offshore, massive star corals (Montastraea cavernosa) loom over a labyrinth of under ridges, gullies, and an occasional swim-through tunnel. Carysfort is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo Existing Management Area.

Carysfort Sanctuary Preservation Area
Very high water temperatures in the summer of 2023 have caused widespread coral bleaching and mortality in the Florida Keys. Descriptions of coral cover or coral health on this page may not be accurate based on current conditions.

Special regulations apply here. Learn more about what activities are allowed in this type of zone.

A summary of all sanctuary regulations is available online. For the full text of sanctuary regulations, see 15 CFR 922 Subpart P.