Florida Keys Light Towers Are Beacons For Great Diving And Snorkeling — Locations And GPS Coordinates
Diving and snorkeling over the reefs marked by the unmanned light towers stretching from Miami to the Dry Tortugas is a popular topic and the story below generated many requests for more information.
These reef light towers are immensely popular among Keys scuba divers and snorkelers for a number of reasons. Foremost is the diving sites are easily reached by any seaworthy recreational boat in fair weather conditions. These lights mark Key’s reefs and shoals which are ideally suited for the beginning snorkeling swimmer yet still providing challenges for seasoned Key’s scuba divers. Coral formations can be spectacular and the tropical fish life residing on the reefs usually abounds. Anchoring usually presents few problems and it’s likely you’ll also be in the company of other reef divers and snorkelers. Mooring balls are widely available and should be used whenever possible.
Following are Florida Key’s reef GPS coordinates and information about the major light towers and diving sites from Key Biscayne to Key West — north to south. These Keys light GPS coordinates are additionally useful for navigation if you are cruising the Florida Keys in Atlantic Ocean waters.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 25º38.2 / Lon 80º13.0’ — Fl 10s 110ft — 10M
Located approximately seven miles southeast of Cape Florida on Key Biscayne, this light was completed in 1878 and automated in 1975. A visit to this reef area is likely to be a disappointment to many, however, it is an example of a coral reef which is nearly dead for any number of environmental reasons. It is littered with dead coral and fish life is sparse in comparison to reefs found further south. You can expect a barracuda population around the girders of the tower.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 25ª15.1’ / Lon 80º19.5’ — Fl (3) R SEC 100 ft — 13M
This light, first lit in 1852, is named for the HMS Carysfort, a Royal Navy ship that ran aground on this reef in 1770. The tower is located just about six nautical miles east of Key Largo and is widely visited by recreational boaters and commercial dive operators. As part of the National Park system, these waters teem with fish life and coral formations.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 24º54.0’ / Lon 81ª44.1’ — Fl (4) 60s 136 ft 13M
As with many of the Florida Keys light towers, this one has a name which has historical roots. The schooner USS Alligator was patrolling the waters for pirates in 1822 when the ship foundered and ultimately ended up on the reef bearing its name. The light (first lit in 1873) is located about four nautical miles off Indian Key and the Matecumbe Keys. Popular with sport divers and snorkelers the light and surrounding reef boasts large populations of colorful reef fish.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 24º42.4’ Lon 81º13.4’ — Fl (5) 60s 142ft 12M
Sombrero Key is sometimes awash and at one point in the past was actually an island. This key offers exceptional snorkeling opportunities for the beginner snorkeler and for the scuba diver there are depths between coral lined caverns which prove interesting. Fish life abounds. Located just offshore of Marathon, this Keys diving site is extremely popular. Navigation is easy to this site and the red tower stands out from miles away.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 24º34.2’ / Lon 81º38.2’ — FL (5) 3 R s 12M
Located near one the famed Keys dive and snorkeling sites Looe Key (GPS Coordinates Lat 24ª35.4’ Long 81ª31.1’), American Shoals Light at 109 feet is just offshore of Sugarloaf Key. Completed in 1880 the coral reef system surrounding the light supports great schools of varying species of fish. This reef area is noted for impressive staghorn coral formations often reaching to near the ocean surface. Looe Key is perhaps one of the most famous Keys snorkeling and diving sites. A number of area dive operations frequent this reef daily during good weather. It is also easily reached aboard your own boat.
GPS Coordinates — Lat 24º30.1’ Lon 81º59.5’ — FL (2) 15 SEC 11M
Situated just six nautical miles southwest of Key West, the Sand Key Light is an important navigation aide and the surrounding reef is much visited by Key West dive operators. Standing at 109 feet it was first lit in 1853. The Key West dive site may be best known for snorkeling, but scuba opportunities are available in the deeper waters where there are ledges to explore in depths below 50 feet.
Florida Keys lighthouses and towers are featured in the newly released cruising guide Florida Keys Ports Of Call. This book features color aerial photography of Florida Keys islands, vacation destinations, communities, channels and inlets, dive and snorkeling sites. The photography is useful for navigation when cruising the Florida Keys, or for planning your Keys cruise. Information about Keys marinas, resorts, attractions and dining is also featured. The Florida Keys Ports of Call cruising guide is available in a printed version and also from Amazon.com as an E-book.
Preview the Florida Keys Ports of Call cruising guide featuring Keys marinas, anchorages, diving and snorkeling, fishing and Keys navigation E-book at Florida Keys cruising guide.