The Florida Reef, sometimes called the Great Florida Reef, is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. In addition to the natural reef system, since 1981, more than 23 artificial reefs have been created. These coral reefs in Key West, FL have been created mainly through the sinking of ships. Fun Fact: The Florida Keys themselves are actually exposed portions of an ancient coral reef!
The reef is only a short boat ride from Key West and the Florida Keys and offers some of the world's best snokeling and diving. See exotic fish, reptiles, reef formations, and MORE when you visit the beautiful coral reef in Key West.
There are almost 1,400 species of marine plants and animals, including more than 40 species of stony corals, and 500 species of fish living on the Florida Reef. Although the Florida Reef lies close to the northern limit for tropical corals, the species diversity on the reef is comparable to that of reef systems in the Caribbean Sea.
At the coral reef in Key West you’ll see:
On the way to the coral reef from Key West you might even catch a glimpse of a dolphin, manatee, or a sea turtle. You never know what incredible marine life you may see in Key West!
Florida Manatee by U.S. Geological Survey
The number of great tour options for snorkeling in Key West can be overwheleming and the tours span a large price range, but before you make a choice based on price along, it's important to think about what other activities you hope to do in Key West and whether you're looking for other amenities like an complementary beer and wine.
Combo tours are a great way to combine multiple activities. So if you also want to go sailing, kayaking or dolphin watching, or want to catch a famous Key West sunset, then pick a snorkeling tour that offers other activities and you'll save time and money.
For the more ambitious coral reef explorer, scuba diving is another amazing way to see Florida’s coral reef during your Key West visit. If you have never been scuba diving, then be sure to book a beginner trip that does not require a certification. If you're more advanced then you'll be able to choose between wreck and reef dives!