Part of a group of at least 10,000 blacktip sharks on a seasonal migration to Florida waters. Photo by Stephen Kajiura, Florida Atlantic University.
Not Florida Keys! But great photo and exciting shark experience! Blacktips, which are up to 2m (6.5 ft) when fully grown are not interested in human meat but small fish – which tend to be shiny, so avoid wearing any sparkly jewellery or watches if you’re taking a dip at this time! This colony appears annually, January thru March, off the 100 mile stretch of coast between Miami and Jupiter inlet, southeast Florida.
Diving in the Florida Keys
You’re in Florida and you’ve had enough of malls, Disney, alligator wrestling and Miami Beach. You’d like to go scuba diving instead and you don’t like being led by the hand ?
Well, if it’s open water and some adventure that you seek, just head for the Florida Keys – due south from the mainland on U. S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) which you navigate with ‘mile markers’ (MM) indicated by small, green, road-side signs which count down to zero. Key Largo starts about MM 106 and Key West is at MM 0.
If you are (almost inevitably) driving, do not stray more than a few miles over the speed limits as exchanges with the local constabulary are not always amicable and can be costly.
The Good News
As you would expect, there is excellent infrastructure on the Keys with a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, and bars to choose from even if some of the decoration is kitsch and the offering often in a rather monotonous ‘Keys Style’.
Shopping is limited and the tourist-oriented merchandise pretty tacky, but divers’ needs are quite well catered through outlets like Divers Direct on Key Largo.
For the rest, somewhere in the Keys there is normally something going on topsides whether it’s the annual Hemingway look-alike competition in Key West, an arm wrestling contest or a Harley Davidson bike run.