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Snorkeling + Diving, Key West

Key West , Florida's insider take:

As a place to dive, the Keys may not measure up to, say, Belize, or off the shores of Phuket, but a surprising diversity of underwater creatures and wrecks can be found just a short boat ride from the island chain's shores. Waters are warm enough for a shortie wet suit most of the year (snorkelers can usually go without), and visibility is often well beyond the 50-foot mark. Add to that highlights like the Florida Keys Wreck Trek and its many sunken shipwrecks, frequent dolphin sightings, and the Keys' docile and abundant nurse sharks. Key West offers scores of snorkeling excursions ranging from day trips to sunset snorkeling outings with companies like Fury Water Adventures (305-294-8899) and Sebago Watersports (305-292-4768). And divers have been flocking here in even greater numbers thanks to the 2009 scuttling of the Vandenberg wreck seven miles off Key West to form an artificial reef. The wreck is the largest in the Florida Keys and sits keel down in 140 feet of water, with shallower areas for less experienced divers to explore. Two companies making regular trips to the Vandenberg are Dive Key West and Subtropic. For something more adventurous still, book a live-aboard dive trip with Spree Expeditions; you'll travel 70 miles offshore to the Dry Tortugas for some of Florida's most pristine diving.—Updated by Terry Ward

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