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Florida Keys Reef in Lee of a Sandbar?

Old 11-20-2020, 06:54 AM
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There are a number of large, shallow, and reasonably well protected coral heads just off of Lower Matecumbe. They are ocean side and not far past the end of the flats... you can see them in clear water and there’s usually a boat or two on them as well. Water clarity is very dependent on wind and tide.

if you’re in Key Largo, several of the main reefs in Pennekamp offer mooring balls inside of the reef itself, in protected water. As I recall the Christ statue has a few buoys that are pretty well protected on the back side, especially at low tide. The better reef is on the outside though.

Old 11-20-2020, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Texas 17 View Post
There are a number of large, shallow, and reasonably well protected coral heads just off of Lower Matecumbe. They are ocean side and not far past the end of the flats... you can see them in clear water and there’s usually a boat or two on them as well. Water clarity is very dependent on wind and tide.
\

I'm not sure I would say well protected but they aren't out too far. Check out the one 1 mile southeast of caloosa cove marina off lower mat.

Cheeca rocks is also 1.5 miles southeast of cheeca lodge off upper mat.
Old 11-20-2020, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TurnMeLooseFLKeys View Post
Y'all, OP stated his first dives were in Key Largo. The places you're mentioning are at least 80 miles away from Key Largo. Wahoo, where are you staying?
Staying up in Key Biscayne, and so we can take day trips into the Keys, plus overnights to get down all the way to Key West, which we plan to do.
Old 11-20-2020, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ValPStamas View Post
Pictures of the wife ?? Can't believe no one has mentioned that already
Ha ha, how to die suddenly! I’ll say this - she is the most beautiful woman in the whole world. And I’ll say this - any man who wants to have his wildest dreams fulfilled must start there, and he will never be disappointed!
Old 11-21-2020, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by offshorewahoo View Post
Staying up in Key Biscayne, and so we can take day trips into the Keys, plus overnights to get down all the way to Key West, which we plan to do.
Have your own boat? Renting one? Dive boat trips?
Old 11-21-2020, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by TurnMeLooseFLKeys View Post
Have your own boat? Renting one? Dive boat trips?
I’m in a boat club up here in Key Biscayne, and when the wind finally stops I will go check out Soldier Key, Fowey Rocks, Boca Chita, etc. But all those are either not protected or not amazing snorkeling.

When I go down to Key West area I can rent a boat and explore. Anyone have a boat rental company that they recommend? I have read some bad reviews of a guy who freaks out and cusses out customers at the end of the day, and I’d like to avoid his drunk ass.
Old 11-22-2020, 12:12 PM
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I can't be of much help as I'm in the Key Largo area. Pretty much anywhere worth diving around here is gonna be offshore by at least a mile or two.

However, if you wanna take a drive down south, go to The Horseshoe at mm35. It's a beautiful lagoon and you won't need a boat to get there.
Old 11-22-2020, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by finbox View Post
I’m very familiar with that area there’s not a lot of hard coral there but you can see fish, crabs etc. it’s usually calm there, but right around the corner to the south there are some huge Coral heads in shallow water with a lot of fish. You can see them on Google maps
Blue is protected area from wind 3-6ft. Red is huge coral heads in 10ft of water, but heads are 6’ tall

stay here https://parmersresort.com

also Looe key is not that far off and is great for snorkeling it’s a true reef with a crazy amount of stuff to see





Do you happen to know if anyone lives on these islands/ is it ok to explore them/ drop a hook overnight?
Old 11-22-2020, 02:07 PM
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The best spot to address you concern is Grecian Rocks. The anchor bouys on the inside of the reef are in flat calm water in anything other than a West or NW wind.
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Old 11-23-2020, 10:36 AM
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Lower Keys = my back yard.

Content Keys make for a beautiful gulf side anchorage, but you have to pick your way in. If you've never been there, I strongly recommend you make your trip working around high tide and work your way in carefully.

Looe Key at Red#24 is spectacular, but it is wholly dependent on the winds blowing that day. The depths around the reef vary from 5' to 20+. There are anchor buoys all the way around.

Grecian Rocks is an excellent suggestion. The Sand Key light might also work for you. There are anchor buoys you can tie up to.
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Old 11-23-2020, 11:26 AM
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This might sound crazy, but my son in law can not go 20' in my boat with out spewing chow. Now put him on my jetski and he is fine even in really rough waters. When he wants to snorkel now we take two skis out to Sombrero reef. Can you rent a ski and try this with your wife?
Old 11-23-2020, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeloew View Post
This might sound crazy, but my son in law can not go 20' in my boat with out spewing chow. Now put him on my jetski and he is fine even in really rough waters. When he wants to snorkel now we take two skis out to Sombrero reef. Can you rent a ski and try this with your wife?
That’s a fantastic idea. I know that if I put her on the back of a jetski that I’m driving she is not happy, but if she drives her own she is fine! I think you are onto something there.

Does anyone have recommendations for a good jetski rental place in the lower keys that has access to these kind of sheltered waters with great swimming and possible snorkeling spots?
Old 11-23-2020, 05:38 PM
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Try Island Safari Tours of Key West and Cow Key Marina for jet ski rentals.

Good luck
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:53 PM
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Grecian rocks in Key Largo is the most protected. Carysfort also has some protection in the west side. Both have mooring balls. All other reefs in the upper keys are exposed to the prevailing east winds.
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Old 11-25-2020, 03:07 PM
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The beach on the SW side of Bahia Honda (close to the old bridge) is super protected. Drive down, post up on the beach and swim out.
The Looe key charter pontoons leave from the Bahia Honda basin.
I'd just drive down, make a day of it. Do the snorkel trip early before winds pick up. then swim off the beach for the rest of the day.

Good luck
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Old 11-27-2020, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by melbeach View Post
The beach on the SW side of Bahia Honda (close to the old bridge) is super protected. Drive down, post up on the beach and swim out.
The Looe key charter pontoons leave from the Bahia Honda basin.
I'd just drive down, make a day of it. Do the snorkel trip early before winds pick up. then swim off the beach for the rest of the day.

Good luck
X2 on this, but watch the currents. They can really rip if you venture around the bridge. Also, be wary there are sharks around. Beautiful shallow water scenery, though.
Old 11-28-2020, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CPT2012 View Post
Grecian rocks in Key Largo is the most protected. Carysfort also has some protection in the west side. Both have mooring balls. All other reefs in the upper keys are exposed to the prevailing east winds.
Carysfort is definitely my favorite reef in the upper Keys. We'd spend the night anchored off Elliott Key. The next day, we'd take Caesar's Creek out to the ocean and continue to Carysfort. It is completely exposed, so it might not fit the OP's original criteria, but it is a beautiful sight to snorkel in good weather.

If the weather is cooperating, hit that reef!
Old 11-28-2020, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by m9000 View Post
A Key west area known as "the cuts" between Crawfish and Man Keys of has a lot of islands and flats around it, so you can snorkel in the cuts with the wind coming from any direction and be fairly protected. There is not any live coral in the cuts, but a fair number of fish. A couple of handfuls of crushed potato chips can attract a lot of small fish very quickly. The tide rips through those narrow channels pretty quickly, so you want to swim there an hour on either side of high or low tide.
I know these well. Folks like to use them to cut from the Lakes Passage to the ocean. For what the OP is looking for, these do provide good protection from northerly winds. If you work your way into them from the south (the Atlantic) you can get to points where you will pretty much have 360 degree protection. However, these can be tricky. There's a lot of shifting and shoaling going on in that area.

If you like beaches, several miles of the southernmost stretch come up at low tide. Even at high tide, there are plenty sandy bottoms that gunkholers would enjoy.
Old 11-29-2020, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CudjoeCane View Post
Lower Keys = my back yard.

Content Keys make for a beautiful gulf side anchorage, but you have to pick your way in. If you've never been there, I strongly recommend you make your trip working around high tide and work your way in carefully.

Looe Key at Red#24 is spectacular, but it is wholly dependent on the winds blowing that day. The depths around the reef vary from 5' to 20+. There are anchor buoys all the way around.

Grecian Rocks is an excellent suggestion. The Sand Key light might also work for you. There are anchor buoys you can tie up to.
Can you get into the content keys in a 27' center console?
Old 11-29-2020, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by CudjoeCane View Post
Even at high tide, there are plenty sandy bottoms that gunkholers would enjoy.
What is this mystical “gunkholing” hobby of which you speak?

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