Three Great Ways To Enjoy The Reef Around Key West

Key West Scuba Diving is world-class, with both the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico readily accessible.

It’s a watery wonderland that starts with a broad inshore zone of shallow patch reef, sand, and sea grass flats. This runs out to the Florida Reef lying just 6 miles to the southeast off Key West’s Atlantic shore. It’s the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States and third-largest barrier reef in the world. And there are also numerous sunken ships and even a few aircraft to explore.

Windows on the Underwater World

There are three great ways to open a window on underwater Key West – Snorkel, SNUBA, and SCUBA.

From snorkel to scuba, the three sports offer neophytes a progression in terms of physical challenge and technical demand. For seasoned aquapersons, they are playtime options to mix and match at will.

Snorkeling is popular, simple, and inexpensive. It’s easy for people of any age or physical condition. The required gear is minimal and lightweight: a dive mask, snorkel, and pair of swim fins.

First-timers looking for a safe and comfortable introduction can try the hotel pool or simply pick a nice spot along the shore and wade out to waist depth with a mask and snorkel on. Bend over and put your face in the water, stand still or move carefully to avoid stirring up sand, and look around.

Once you are used to wearing the mask and breathing through the snorkel, stretch out and float on your stomach. Relax and breathe easy – Snorkeling is far less taxing than swimming. Now add a pair of fins, a flotation device if you wish, and go on a snorkeling safari. It’s so easy that beginners routinely hop aboard snorkeling tours with no worries at all.

SNUBA (Snorkel + SCUBA) is the bridge between snorkeling and scuba diving. Like scuba diving, snuba allows the underwater explorer to descend and remain beneath the surface enjoying an exciting, close-up view of the undersea world.

A tank floating on a surface raft supplies air through a long hose attached to a lightweight harness. You wear a dive mask and breathe through a regulator held in the mouth just like a scuba diver. A soft weight belt provides neutral buoyancy, allowing you to easily dive below then return to the surface. The hose doubles as a depth control safety line, and the surface raft has grab lines around it so divers can relax topside.

Less complicated and gear-intense than scuba, snuba is a great way to simply have fun, get comfortable breathing underwater, or get a feel for what taking SCUBA certification courses is like.

SCUBA diving is well-known to most everyone. Using SCUBA gear (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) is relatively intense and demanding in comparison to snorkeling or snuba diving. Scuba diving requires formal training and certification, decent physical health and conditioning along with strong swimming ability, and an array of gear that seems complex at first, weighs a lot out of the water, and is costly.

But higher levels of commitment come with corresponding reward. From the first dive onward, scuba divers can explore fantastic worlds 20 meters and more beneath the surface. Coral reefs guarded by sharks and other large game fish, sunken wrecks, hidden ledges and caves, the nighttime waters; all are open to the experienced scuba diver.

Not to mention the topsides of exotic, mostly tropical dive sites around the world. Scuba diving can and often does become a lifestyle.

Go Under in Key West

From snorkeling the amazing Florida Reef to Key West scuba diving adventures, America’s Caribbean island paradise offers wonderful opportunities to learn more about one or all of these three great water sports. Snorkeling, SNUBA, & SCUBA – Go ahead and take the plunge in Key West!

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