The Gap is the dive site to visit if you’re looking for a drop off dive in the Florida Keys

The Gap doesn’t have any marker to mark the spot. It doesn’t have any mooring buoys to tie your boat too, so be careful when you drop your anchor. Be sure it lands in the sandy area around the reef. The depth of the water ranges from 15' to 80'. This is not a Sanctuary Preservation Area so it’s OK to take fish and lobster as long as you have a Florida Saltwater Fishing License. You’ll need the lobster stamp if you plan to take lobster. It’s located about 4 miles south southeast of Vaca Cut. The GPS Coordinates are 24'39.961N and 080'58.311W.

Stand of pillar coral

This reef seems to have larger numbers of colorful sponges and corals than all the surrounding dive sites. Some of the coral heads are fifteen feet tall. This area has several sudden drop offs. The largest one begins in fifty feet of water and drops offs to eighty feet at the ocean floor. It’s a great place if you enjoy a wall dive. There’s a good number of ledges throughout this area. You’ll probably find several tasty, spiny lobster hiding in them. When the currents running this is a super area to drift dive.

Approximately two miles to the east northeast of this dive site is a rare treasure. It’s a large oval shaped patch of pillar coral. The water depth ranges from fifteen to thirty five feet. It’s called “Pillar Patch” and “Pillar City” by the local dive shops.

It was an extremely beautiful place through the 1980's. It was soon discovered by many recreational boaters. Many times their anchors were dropped right onto the coral. This killed off three quarters of the pillar coral. Some divers were even seen standing on the fragile coral heads. It will take half a century for it to recover. If it does.

Pillar coral is the only species of coral that feed during the daytime. It has a fuzzy look about it. That’s its polyps. They’re open and feeding in the current. This is the most rare coral that grows in the Florida Keys.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a dive shop in the Marathon area that knows the location of this dive site. Sorry I don’t have the GPS coordinates, but I bet I’ll find it next time I have my boat in this area.

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