Sombrero Key Sanctuary Preservation Area

Map of Sombrero Key Sanctuary Preservation Area

Sombrero Key Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) has a classic spur-and-groove reef formation. It is located four miles seaward of Boot Key and with depths inside the SPA boundaries under 30 feet, it is one of the most popular sites for snorkeling and diving in the Middle Keys. Sombrero Key Reef is named for the historic Sombrero Key Light in the northern corner of this triangular SPA. Just five years before General George G. Meade defeated Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, Meade was building lighthouses in the Florida Keys, completing Sombrero Light in 1858. Nearly 30 years later, the Army's "lighthouse brigade" completed the aids to navigation that ended the lucrative salvaging industry in the Keys.

Today, Sombrero Key's treasure is the reef, home to Endangered Species Act-listed, and one of the seven sites under Mission: Iconic Reefs, one of the world's largest coral restoration projects.

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.