Regardless of whether it’s a cell phone, computer, work, or life in general you want to leave behind, there’s a great escape waiting for you right here in the Florida Keys. You can find this escape just a few miles offshore running from Key West to North of Key Largo. It is an escape where you bring with you only the thoughts you allow and your buddy. This escape doesn’t require a man card, only a certification card.
Scuba diving has been growing as a recreational sport for several decades. The number of females in the industry has risen significantly. Walk into any dive shop and you will find dive gear in a variety of colors, as well as wet suits and buoyancy control devices designed to fit females. Masks, fins and snorkels come in different shades such as pink, lavender, and periwinkle. Women are definitely welcome in the world of scuba diving.
Here in the Florida Keys we are fortunate to have a reef line which provides diving in as little of 25 feet of water. The beauty of this escape comes in several different shapes, sizes, and colors. Our reef includes residents such as butterfly fish, angel fish, parrot fish, drums, eels, rays, turtles, blennies, trumpet fish, cow fish, trunk fish, jaw fish, arrow crabs, lobster, pistol shrimp, anemone, and, yes, the occasional shark. Some of these residents are territorial while others roam at will.
The beauty of this escape comes in several different shapes, sizes, and colors. Once you find yourself in this aquatic world, it is easy to forget about the world you left at the dock.
Outside that reef line we have a series of popular wreck dives. Divers travel hundreds of miles to dive the “Wreck Trek” of the Florida Keys. The Spiegel Grove, Bibb, Duane, Eagle, Thunderbolt, Adolphus Bush, and the Vandenberg are just a few of the wrecks which reside on our ocean floor. Each wreck has something special to offer. The Spiegel Grove and the Vandenberg are the largest of the wreck dives. The sinking of the Spiegel Grove occurred in 2002, while the Vandenberg went down in 2009.For me, diving these wrecks is like visiting old friends. You watch the life grow on them and around them and witness the metamorphosis of ship into beautiful artificial reef. I encourage my students to complete the Wreck Trek prior to leaving the Keys, as it truly is something special.
The Florida Keys have the only living reef in North America. As locals, we are very fortunate to have such a treasure. Not to visit it is a great tragedy. The diving community realizes this and caters to their diver’s needs. Whether you take up snorkeling, snuba, or scuba diving, our reef and wrecks are a must see.
This escape brings together people that share a passion for our underwater environment. Diving is a way of life for many residents of the Florida Keys. Although, I must confess I am surprised at the number of residents who haven’t visited our reef. It makes me wonder how many residents in Arizona have not witnessed the awe of the Grand Canyon. What percentage of Wyoming’s population never experienced the eruption of Old Faithful? True, those attractions don’t require the donning of scuba gear and descending into the Atlantic Ocean. But, they also don’t provide the escape or sense of euphoria our reef and wrecks offer. Scuba diving is a safe recreational sport and a great way to make new friends, either of the human variety or of the aquatic persuasion.
How can you make this escape happen for yourself?
Very easily – find a local dive shop, dive school, or your local community college and sign up for an open water certification course. Dive organizations have flexible methods of instruction. There are basically three components in the entry level scuba course. You begin with academics and confined water sessions in a pool or lagoon. This will be followed by your open water dives. You can take your academics portion of the course online or in a class room setting. In less than a week you can become a scuba diver. Find the right instructor for you, and visit the Florida Keys aquatic world.