North Dry Rocks (Minnow Cave)

Type
Skill Level
Average Depth
Max Depth
Access
Snorkeling
Dangers
Latitude
Longitude
Reef
Beginner
15ft (5m)
25ft (8m)
Boat
Yes
Boat Traffic
25.130898
-80.294259

Just northeast of Key Largo Dry Rocks (Christ of the Abyss) is North Dry Rocks. This site is less trafficked than the Christ Statue, having only three mooring balls. The middle of the site has a wonderful swim-through located in roughly 10ft – 15ft of water. The swim-through fills up with millions of minnows in the summertime, offering visitors the unique experience of swimming through a giant school of fish. The swim-through gives the site it’s unofficial name: Minnow Cave.

USCG Duane

Type
Skill Level
Average Depth
Max Depth
Snorkeling
Dangers
Latitude
Longitude
Type of Ship
Built
Commissioned
Sunk
Depth to Top
Depth to Deck
Wreck
Advanced
95ft (25m)
130ft (40m)
No
Current
24.98970000
-80.38208333
US Coast Guard Cutter
May 1, 1935
August 1, 1936
November 27, 1987
65ft
110ft

The Duane was a US Coast Guard Cutter launched in 1936 as a search and rescue and law enforcement vessel. This 327ft ship saw action in WWII and the Vietnam War, and was put down as an artificial reef in the mid 80s. The main deck of the Duane is at roughly 100ft, while the crow’s nest reaches up to nearly 70ft. The hull structure is completely intact with the original rudders, screws, railings, ladders and ports. The Duane is closer to the Gulf Stream than most adjacent wrecks, which provides for exceptional visibility. Many divers call this a perfect wreck dive.

Benwood

Type
Skill Level
Average Depth
Max Depth
Snorkeling
Dangers
Latitude
Longitude
Type of Ship
Built
Sunk
Wreck
Open Water
30ft (10m)
55ft (17m)
No
Boat Traffic
25.05266700
-80.33366700
Norwegian Merchant Freighter
1910
April 9, 1942

During WWII, near midnight on April 9th, 1942, the Norwegian merchant freighter Benwood was on a routine path from Florida to Virginia, transporting a load of phosphate rock. It was running with no lights to avoid being spotted by German U-boats, which was common for ships throughout the war. But the Benwood wasn’t the only ship in these waters running completely blacked out. The Robert C. Tuttle, an American freighter ship traveling to Texas was also running without lights. The two ships collided and the Tuttle ripped open the Benwood’s starboard side, sending it to the bottom soon after. The ship was deemed unsalvageable, and was later used for target practice by the military. The Benwood was finally deemed a protected site in 1975. This is a wonderful dive for intermediate divers, since it is in relatively shallow water, and can be explored completely in one dive. An abundance of wildlife has overtaken the wreck over the past 70 years.

Grecian Rocks

Type
Skill Level
Average Depth
Max Depth
Access
Snorkeling
Dangers
Latitude
Longitude
Reef
Beginner
10ft (3m)
25ft (8m)
Boat
Yes
Boat Traffic
25.11185000
-80.30520000

Grecian Rocks reef is roughly half a mile in length, and is a popular spot among snorkelers being that in many places it is only 5ft deep. During low tide parts of the reef line actually come out of the water. The reef overflows with sea life, especially parrotfish, barracuda, elkhorn coral and queen conch. An old Spanish cannon can be found here as well. Mooring buoys abound at Grecian Rocks and it is easy to spend hours exploring this spot.

USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32)

Type
Skill Level
Average Depth
Max Depth
Access
Snorkeling
Dangers
Latitude
Longitude
Type
Built
Commissioned
Sunk
Depth to Top
Depth to Deck
Wreck, Artificial Reef
Advanced
80ft (24m)
130ft (40m)
Boat
No
Boat Traffic
25.06666700
-80.31100000
Navy Dock Landing Ship
September 7, 1954
June 8, 1956
May 17, 2002
65ft
110ft

The USS Spiegel Grove (LSD-32) was a landing ship dock that belonged to the United States Navy. The ship was decommissioned in October of 1989, and after it’s sinking in 2002 it became (for a short period of time) the largest artificial reef in the world. During it’s sinking, the vessel flipped over unexpectedly, and air in the hull kept the bow slightly above water, leaving the Spiegel Grove afloat, posing a major navigational hazard. It took three weeks before a salvage crew finally finished her off, sending her to the bottom, where she unfortunately settled on her starboard side. Amazingly, in June of 2005, Hurricane Dennis pushed the Spiegel Grove upright, just how the ship was originally designed to land on the bottom. Be sure to dive safe! The Spiegel Grove has already claimed 6 lives.

Your Underwater Guide to Key Largo