Lower Keys and Key West
Looe Key Reef
Looe Key Reef is one of the most popular dive and snorkel destinations in the Middle and Lower Keys. The reef is 10 miles Southwest of Bahia Honda Channel and has 54 buoys. The depth ranges from 5 to 70 feet making this site excellent for beginner to advanced divers and for snorkelers.
It is said that the HMS Looe recaptured a British ship, Betty, that was taken by privateers. After the men from the Looe had manned Betty, her commander, Captain Ashby Utting, ordered her to be burned because he wanted to ignite all of the gunpowder aboard to completely destroy her so that the Spanish could not come back later and savage anything. There is not much of the Looe visible now on the reef.
Looe Key was damaged quite a bit from the recent hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 but still is a beautiful dive site. Don't be surprised to find reef sharks around this site. They have been known to swim together and in circles. A lot of the soft coral was damaged but the hard coral is healthy and there are always a lot of tropical fish around the reef.
The formation is mostly spur and groove with the outer, deeper areas mostly sandy bottoms where you'll always find lots of conchs making their trails along the sand.
Some schools of fish have been feed by boaters and divers in the area, so you'll probably have a few dozen fish under and around your boat after tieing to the buoy as well as giant barracuda hovering nearby.
Looe Key is in an SPA area. No fishing or lobstering allowed.