The popular dive spots in Key West

Key West Diving

Key West is located at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys, which is also the southernmost tip of the United States. It is a great destination for fishing and diving. These are some of the popular dive spots in Key West.


Eastern Sambo

Here at Eastern Sambo there is a dropoff, which usually makes for a great dive because of the myriad of fish that group around most dropoffs. The Eastern Dropoff, as it is known, drops off about 27 feet, from the ridge at 60 feet to about 87 feet, where the ocean bottom becomes sand. This is another dive site that is popular to so many divers heading out from Key West. It’s located southeast of Key West and contains honeycomb plate corals and boulder corals that are white in color. There’s also The Hook, which is a lovely example of spur and groove, south from the Eastern Sambo marker. Tarpon like to cruise along the Eastern Sambo, as do nurse sharks who like to feast amongst the eldkhorn corals.

Western Sambo

This spot has mooring buoys because it’s a popular spot. One of the reasons it may be popular is that it has range of depths that offer good diving experiences, from 28 down to 40 feet. There are just tons different types of coral here:

  • branch coral
  • boulder coral
  • sheet coral
  • pillar coral
  • star coral

There are some relatively unusual stingrays, at least unusual enough that you don’t casually see them elsewhere commonly in the Florida Keys: they are small yellow stingrays that act like chameleons, changing their colors from pale do dark depending on their surroundings. Don’t step on them, since they have poisonous barbs on their tails. You will also see some goggle-eyed blennies which win the prize for funniest looking fish in the area. Try and also catch a glimpse of hellowhead jawfish, who will sneak back into their little holes if they get scared.

Go half a mile south of Western Sambo and there’s a wreck put here by Chet Alexander, the same guy who sank the Alexander to create an artificial reef. This wreck is the Aquanaut, another one of Chet’s tugboats, this one at 50 feet lies in 75 feet of water. See mahogany snappers and arrow crabs here.

Middle Sambo

This is a dive site of 30 to 40-foot depths, known for its city of lobsters. Summer is an especially good time to visit the lobsters, who are joined by snook and tarpon as well. Middle Sambo gives you a chance to view soft coral on the sand…soft because the coral polyps do not excrete calcium carbonate, due to lack of algae.

The Cayman Salvager

The Cayman Salvager originally sank in the 1970’s but was moved to its present spot in the late 1980’s to become an popular artificial reef for divers coming from Key West. It’s located near another relatively recently sunken boat, Joe’s Tug, and also like the tug boat, has a steel hull. At 187 feet this wreck is even bigger than the tug, and was built in the 1930’s. It sank right at the docks in Key West, and was pulled out to sit on the sand, 90 feet down. Like Joe’s Tug, there’s a famous resident giant jewfish and also a moray eel.


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