Marathon Florida is located in the Florida Keys at the southern tip of Florida. It is a great destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are dive sites for both beginner and experienced divers
Dives off Marathon
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
In the lower keys, but not as far south as Key West, the protection area is called Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary. This is a wonderful Y-shaped five square miles of bank reef that was being ruined by spearfishing before the 1982 creation of the sanctuary. Grouper and jacks had disappeared from the reef and the lobster was almost gone. The sanctuary rules forbid fishing, lobstering, and artifact collecting. The sanctuary is seven square miles, making it the smallest marine sanctuary in the Florida Keys. It’s a very active marine sanctuary, with public service programs such as those at the Key Largo Marine Sanctuary. They offer novice, intermediate, and advanced dive trips. The waters are five to thirty-five feet deep and there are some remains of the H.M.S. Looe, which sunk there in 1744, a 124-foot British frigate.
This reef area has excellent examples of spur-and-groove coral formations, the best in the Florida Keys. It’s also a good place to see a complete coral reef ecosystem in action.
Scuba divers will see an amazing array of life here at Looe Key Marine Sanctuary…take one of the fish ID guides with you. Some creatures to look for:
- red lizardfish
- blue-spotted peacock
- yellow-head jaw fish
The Adolphus Busch
The Adolphus Busch was scuttled in 1998 to become an artificial reef near Looe Key. The ship was named after the beer-making Buschs, and is the first ship to be cleaned up and sunk as an artificial reef project for the Florida Keys in about ten years. The ship is 210 feet long and sits in 100 feet of water. There is at tower on the ship, which comes up to around 40 feet of the surface.
The red steel lighthouse at Sombrero Key is the tallest of the series built in the 1850s, and standing at 160 feet, it makes this dive spot very easy to find. The lighthouse is anchored right into the reef, as are all of the 1850s lighthouses built by the Army Corps of Engineers. There are some good spur-and-groove coral formations here, and one of the best things about Sombrero Key diving is what is called the Arch, where the coral forms a little arch through which you can swim and take underwater pictures. Lots of elkhorn and staghorn coral here, and lettuce coral too. Barracuda like Sombrero Key, and they seem to come here in groups, which is fun to see underwater.
Sombrero Reef is located four nautical miles from Marathon, FL in the Middle Keys, and it’s a Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) so be gentle on the coral and as always do not touch any coral. Catch & Release fishing is allowed here. Visibility is usually 30 to 60 feet, and the areas you will most want to dive lie in depths ranging from 15 to 35 feet.