Carysfort Reef Lighthouse sits six miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys
Carysfort Reef is marked by a lighthouse that stands 112 feet tall. The depth here ranges from 3' to 80'. There are thirteen mooring buoys, CS1 thru CS13. It’s located six miles south of Key Largo. The GPS Coordinates are 25'13.314N and 080'12.690W.
It was built in 1852. It’s the oldest functioning lighthouse of it’s kind in the Florida Keys and the United States. It gets it name from the H.M.S. Carysfort, a ship that ran aground here in 1770. This reef has been collecting ships ever since then.
This is a mature coral reef that covers an area four miles long. There are large Elkhorn, Staghorn, Brain, Star, Fire and Sheet corals here. Lots of fish call this place home as well. The upper part of the reef close to the lighthouse is shallow and swarms with marine life. It’s a great area to snorkel. The visibility is usually fabulous due to the closeness of the Gulfstream.
This reef isn’t centrally located to most of the dive shops in Key Largo, because of that fewer divers visit this site.
A few points of interest you might want to check out while diving here are five cannons about ½ mile North of the lighthouse in 15' of water. I wonder if these were jarred off the H.M.S. Winchester when she ran aground here in 1695. She was armed with 60 cannons. There’s a wall that drops off from 65 to 80 feet east northeast of the light. The wall is filled with colorful corals and sponges. There’s two really big anchors in 35' to 40' of water about 1200 feet to the north northwest of the light. I’ve heard they’re old. They’re from the 1800's.
Carysfort Reef Lighthouse offers a great dive site for snorkelers and scuba divers. It’s the northern most reef off Key Largo in the Florida Keys. This reef is a Sanctuary Preservation Area and that means no fishing or taking of lobster or corals, dead or alive.
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