French Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area

Map of French Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area

The triangle-shaped French Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) is north of the Molasses Reef SPA and approximately 7 miles southeast of Key Largo. Waters are roughly in the 15 to 40-foot depth range. The French Reef SPA is known for its many caves and arches, easily accessible even to novice divers. At the south end is Hourglass Cave, which is named for its shape because the cave is split into two by an hourglass-shaped column. Christmas Tree Cave is named for the large conical star coral mound that rises over the top located at the beginning of the coral formation. The largest cave in the area is called "White Sand Bottom Cave."

French Reef is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary.

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.