KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — Snorkelers, scuba divers and underwater photographers can discover Key Largo’s reefs, shipwrecks and large indigenous fish population during the inaugural Reef Fest set for Saturday through Thursday, June 5-10.
The dive-and-stay event kicks off the Florida Keys’ prime summertime diving season.
Reef Fest welcome packets that include an event overview, schedule and wristbands for event admission are to be available at the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, mile marker (MM) 106.
The festival activities begin with a 6-8 p.m. get-together Saturday, June 5, at the History of Diving Museum, MM 83 bayside, featuring free appetizers and beverages.
Diving and snorkeling commences Sunday with participating dive operators. Events include a “Six-Pack” juried photo competition with awards for shutterbug divers who create a winning six-image portfolio, “treasure hunt” on an area shipwreck, underwater photo scavenger hunt where divers seek out a specific subject to photograph and a photo seminar with renowned underwater photographer Stephen Frink.
Informational seminars about the importance of fish counts, health of natural reefs and coral restoration efforts also are scheduled.
Key Largo has a long history of marine conservation, beginning in 1960 with the creation of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the nation’s first undersea preserve. Area wrecks such as the Duane, Bibb and Spiegel Grove — the world’s third-largest vessel intentionally sunk as an artificial reef — have provided tens of thousands of divers a unique experience while conserving and protecting the natural coral reef.
The festival’s package price for divers is $995 per person based on double occupancy at one of four participating Reef Fest host properties. The price covers accommodations, taxes, scheduled events and five two-tank dive trips — including tanks and weights — with the attendee’s choice of participating dive shops.
A la carte diving and nondiver rates also are available.
For more information including a festival schedule and complete list of Reef Fest’s participating accommodations, dive shops and package details, visit www.keylargowrecks.com/reef-fest.htm.
For more information about Key Largo, contact the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at 800-822-1088 or 305-451-4747 or explore the official site of the Florida Keys & Key West at www.fla-keys.com.