Snorkeling Florida's Keys

With gorgeous underwater flora and fauna, check with diver operators in the Keys to put together a great trip.

The most popular and hassle free way to dive or snorkel in the Florida Keys is to go out with a dive charter. Most reputable dive centers in the Keys belong to the Keys Association of Dive Operators, which sets standards of safety and professionalism. Crews are trained in CPR, first aid, and handling dive emergencies. Emergency oxygen supplies are kept onboard. The dive captains, who must be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, judge weather conditions and water visibility each day and select the best sites suited to your experience level. Often their coveted knowledge of little-visited patch reefs and wrecks affords you an experience you could not duplicate on your own. We offer you a guide to dive centers, noting the comprehensive services ranging from instruction and underwater excursions to equipment rentals and sales.

In the Florida Keys, usually neither the crew nor the dive master accompanies divers in the water. Divers spread out across a shallow reef, two by two, swimming in a buddy system. The dive master stays onboard and watches everyone from the boat. You must prove your experience level by showing current dive certification and your dive log before you may go out on a dive charter. If you have not made a comparable dive within the past six months, you must hire an instructor to accompany you in the water. Be sure you are comfortable with the sea conditions and that they are consistent with your level of expertise. If this is your first dive, alert the crew so they can help you.

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