What is the Best Time of Year to Dive Florida Keys


Jason is an adventure travel writer with a passion for exploring the world's most beautiful and remote destinations.

The Florida Keys is one of the best places to go scuba diving in the United States. With shallow reefs and deep shipwrecks, it’s perfect for beginners and advanced divers alike. 

But the conditions in the Keys differ depending on what time of year you visit. So, what is the best time of year to dive in the Florida Keys?

In this post, we’ll show you the best time of year to visit, the best dive shops, and tips for making the most of your trip. 

Love to go diving but don’t know how to swim? Not a problem – check out our guide on diving for non-swimmers to find out how you can participate. 

Best Time Of Year To Dive Florida Keys

Summer is the busiest time of year for diving in the Florida Keys. Even on weekdays, boats will fill up very quickly. If you plan on going in the summer, plan your trips as early in advance as possible to beat the crowds. 

There’s a good reason why summer is the best time of year to dive, of course – the weather is phenomenal, and the water is calm and warm. 

If you want to avoid the crowds, you can visit in the spring for decent weather and quieter boats. In the autumn and winter, the weather turns, and the water gets very choppy, so it’s not recommended for beginners.

What To Expect When Scuba Diving In Florida Keys

The Keys have a shallow barrier reef which is perfect if you’re a new scuba diver. You’ll see a lot of training sessions and beginners learning the ropes. 

From the shoreline to the reef, the maximum depth is about 20 feet, and the visibility is great for spotting tropical fish. Although it’s the perfect spot for newbies, you’ll also see many experienced divers checking out the marine life. 

Water temperature

From May through to September, water temperatures average at about 82 degrees, peaking at around 84 in July and August. You’ll need a rashguard or a skinsuit, but the water temperatures are fantastic. 

From December to March, the temperatures drop to around 70 degrees, so you’ll need a decent wetsuit and a jacket for the boat rides. 


Summer is the most popular time to dive in the Florida Keys because the weather is so nice. There’s a great chance you’ll have perfect “lake Atlantic” days, where the ocean is as flat and calm as a lake. 

When the wind is non-existent, visibility is phenomenal, and there are no waves to interfere with your diving. You’ll also have much calmer boat rides. 

In the winter months, waves get much more choppy, and the ladders on the boats become more difficult to climb up after each dive. 

Remember, not all days are flat and calm in the summer, and there is always the chance of a storm. So, check the weather before heading out to have the best experience with Florida Keys scuba diving. 

Where to go Scuba Diving in Florida Keys

a scuba diver next to a school of fish

The Florida Key is a 125-mile island chain with the only living coral barrier reef in the United States. Needless to say, there are plenty of fantastic places to go diving. 


Key Largo is the dive capital of North America, with over 15 dive operators year-round. In Islamorada, you’ll find shipwrecks, deep reads, and even lobstering and spearfishing on offer. 


Marathon is a great dive site for beginners since it has several shallow coral reef sites. The ten-mile-long island is family-orientated, and you will likely spot Loggerhead turtles between April and October. 

Key West

This is the furthest point south and the most popular spot for experienced divers. Here, you’ll find the Vandenburg Wreck, which is on many divers’ bucket lists. 

What You’ll See When Scuba Diving In Florida Keys

a starfish stranded on a beach

The marine life in the Florida Keys is pretty consistent year-round, so no matter when you visit, you’ll be able to see some stunning wildlife. 

However, the reefs do have some special visitors during the warmer summer months. The spotted Eagle Ray is a local favorite that migrates to the Florida Keys in May and is gone again by September. You might be lucky enough to spot a pod of them gliding through the ocean.

The Keys are also famous for incredible shipwrecks, intricate coral formations, and abundant species. From blue-striped grunts to green moray eels, there is plenty to see. 

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is in place to protect the natural habitat and preserve the reef. And there are even some volunteer programs for divers if you’d like to be involved in protecting the area. 

Tips For Scuba Diving In Florida Keys

If you are planning a diving trip in the Florida Keys, here are a few tips to make the most of your trip. 


You’ll need different equipment for different types of diving. A 3mm wetsuit or shorty is all you need for protection during the summer months, but you’ll want to upgrade to a 5mm wetsuit and rashguard during the winter. 


Many of the dive sites won’t allow access unless you have a scuba diving certification. This is for your safety, so it’s definitely worth getting. 

A PADI Open Water Diver Certification gets you access to almost all of the dive sites, but you’ll need further qualifications for the deep wreck dives (including the Vandenburg and Spiegel Grove). 

Consider Volunteering

If you want to give back to the area and help preserve the reef, you could also consider taking part in one of the volunteer programs running in the Keys:

Best Dive Shops in Florida Keys

There are some great dive shops throughout the Keys for renting gear and getting all the supplies you’ll need for your trip. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Quiescence Diving Services

This Florida Keys dive center is the perfect spot for small groups with Key Largo dive packages. They have everything you need for diving and snorkeling trips and cater to non-divers as well. You’ll go off the beaten track with this team if you take one of their trips, but you can also rent your own equipment. 

Lucky Fish Scuba Key Largo

For small groups looking to scuba dive, you’ll get a personal service at the Lucky Fish. They have flexible bookings and are happy to accommodate any diving needs. All their boats are well-equipped for four divers and two guests – so you can take snorkeling family members out on your trips with you. 

Divers Direct Key Largo

This place comes highly recommended by local divers and is the perfect spot for picking up new dive equipment. One of the best places for buying scuba gear in the Keys, the team is knowledgeable and offers air fills and equipment servicing. Since it’s right on the doorstep of many hotels in the area, it’s really easy to access, too. 

Sea Dwellers

If you’re visiting the Keys with your family, Sea Dwellers is for you. They have large boats that accommodate larger groups and welcome non-divers on boat trips. Kids are welcome to snorkel while parents dive, and they tend to keep the group sizes small to give each group the best experience possible. 

Looking to Get Your Scuba Certification?

It’s easy to see why the Florida Keys is one of the best areas in the United States for scuba diving. With world-renowned wrecks and stunning coral reefs, it’s a must-see for any diver. And since the best time of year to dive the Florida Keys is summer, you’ll have some stunning weather as the icing on the cake. 

If you haven’t yet got your scuba diving certification, we recommend getting it before heading to the keys. Go to our next guide to find out how much it costs to get scuba certified and the best agencies to sign up to. 

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