Unique Travel Stories
Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center
Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center 1-877-816-3483 or (305) 872-2215
or visit: Looe Key Dive Resort website
As someone who was initially feeling a tad nervous (scared!) l about snorkeling again, having experienced it only once before, my visit to Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center was nothing short of spectacular! It couldn't have been better, more beautiful or more relaxing. The people here are top notch - they know their stuff and it shows - from the friendly and courteous staff at the at the front desk - which includes Rene, Dagmar and friends - to the guys who get you properly fitted for gear. This dive center is a well-organized, well-run operation. And the staff goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable and accomodated.
The resort is located right of off of Ramrod Key, FL, at Mile Marker 27.5. The rooms have been newly remodeled and are all equipt with cable TV, A/C, mini fridge, coffee maker and are within easy access to the dive/snorkel boat and tiki bar. Bases? Covered!
In addition, there is a special or should I say speciel someone to greet you upon arrival. She's Kokomo (named after the dive boat), the six-toed cat - a direct descendant of one Ernest Hemingway's cats from Key West. Kokomo "blew in" (literally) after hurricane George and has been there ever since. Kokomo's home is on the counter. Make sure you pat her nice when you see her. She likes that.
We arrived at the resort on a Tuesday, which happens to be "Taco Tuesday" when the Tiki Bar serves up 75-cent tacos from 7 PM to 10 PM, and local bands perform. Drink specials and fun abounds. Don't miss it! Later you'll be real glad you're within crawling distance of your room.
Climb Aboard the Kokomo Cat II
Say hello to Captain James and the Komomo Cat II - a 45 foot Corinthian catamaran with plenty of deck space, two mid-ships ladders, onboard fresh water, shower and marine toilet. Besides navigating to the three prime snorkel and dive spots, Captain James will cook you up some lunch too! There's an onboard concession selling soft drinks, snacks, beer and a grill where hot specials are offered between dives.
Our destination, Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is one of the top dive and snorkel spots in the world, and arguably the finest and most beautiful reef in Florida. It's been protected since 1981 and is widely known for having the most extensive "spur and groove" coral formation in the U.S.. Spur and groove can be defined as system of shallow ridges (spurs) separated by deep channels (grooves). The cool thing about diving and snorkeling here is that divers and snorkelers can both enjoy the same areas at the same time. The spur and grooves give the divers something to explore more closely, while the abundance of marine life and tropical fish are enough to wow even the most seasoned snorkler.
The Sanctuary is located a short boatride (five miles) off shore. Water depth over the coral fingers (spurs) averages about 8 feet with a max. of 30 feet above the sand channels (grooves) making it ideal for snorkelers and divers. The average water temperature is about 80 degree F. We spent an hour at each of the three sites on our trip. The area of the reef is approximately 5 square miles. Once there, you'll see angel fish, parrotfish, sergeant major fish, and there's even a 400 lb.grouper that seems to be the area's mascot. I personally saw a barracuda - OMG. You will not be disappointed!
The time flies on this trip, but if you're a snorkeler, be mindful that you are in the hot Florida sun - so use plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself.
The Dive Shop
The resort offers a wide variety of dive gear, should you need it, or if, God forbid, the airlines lost your dive gear! Not to worry, here you'll find a selection of tanks, suits, masks and everyhting else you'll need for a successful dive or snorkel.
Cost of the Trip
The Looe Key Resort and Dive Center offers very affordable prices for everything. Rooms range from $75 to $125, but be sure to call as rates may vary according to season and day of the week. Below is a handy chart, taken for their website, explaining reef trip costs, but always be sure to call, as rates may change.
|Two dives at two different locations on the reef ** - $69 per Diver (Includes Tanks and Weights) or $39 per Snorkeler (Includes Mask, Snorkel and Fins), Kids 6 and under $29. Passengers (Bubble watchers) can come along for $25.
** EXCEPT Wednesdays and Sundays- see information below on the Wreck Trip
Wednesday and Sunday are wreck days on the Adolphus Busch, a 210' freighter lying in 70-120 feet of water.
Divers must be Advanced Open Water Certified. Open Water Divers must hire a guide for the wreck or be enrolled in an Adventure or Advanced Open Water course.
EAN/NITROX-32 is available to increase your bottom time!
Air - $5
DEEP DIVE GUIDE SERVICE (WRECK ONLY) – The depth of the Adolphus Busch wreck requires Advanced Open Water (AOW) certification or higher. Open Water Divers desiring to dive on the Adolphus Busch must be accompanied by a guide. $50 + tax ($30 per each additional diver - six maximum in group.)
GENERAL GUIDE SERVICE - Have a professional guide you underwater on the Adolphus Busch wreck and/or lead you through the reef for your safety and enjoyment.
After the Dive and Snorkel
After the hard day's work of looking at spectacular marine life, diving and snorkeling to your heart's content, and having a few cold ones on the way back to shore, it's time for some relaxation. Grab a shower and then head over to the tiki bar for a few cocktails and banter with your boat mates or the mate you brought along. Everybody here is friendly with that great Key West spirit that can be summed up as: ENJOY YOURSELF. This is one trip I intend to repeat.
Looe Key Reef Resort and Dive Center 1-877-816-3483 or (305) 872-2215 or visit: Looe Key Dive