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French Reef

Angelfish photo taken while snorkeling in Key Largo

Fast Facts:

Average Rating: 4.625

Average Depth: 15 ft.

Max Depth: 100 ft.


French Reef is one of the most spectacular reef areas in the

Florida Keys. There are dozens of ledges, tunnels, and caves to

explore; most large enough to swim through.

French Reef is northeast of Molasses Reef and is marked by buoys inscribed with the letter “F”. The location has a .1 square nautical mile triangular Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) which includes a rubble field and several of the caves and arches.

You may want to bring an underwater light to French Reef to explore the tunnels and caves that it has to offer. Photographers should also visit this reef because they won’t want to miss the opportunities for close-up shots. The unique limestone cliffs in the area are home to many corals and the gullies and crevices that line them are home to yellowtails, porkfish, moray eels, cooper sweepers and grunts. The many tunnels provide opportunities for swim-throughs.

The Hourglass Cave is located 50 feet inshore from buoy F1 and the Christmas Tree Cave is located 50 feet inshore of buoy F3. Each cave offers a chance to uncover hidden sea life. Christmas Tree Cave is filled with the namesake Christmas tree worms and also with moray eels and grouper. While buoy F5 marks a sandbank with coral ridges around, F6 marks a swim-through and inshore of F7 is a ledge near and old anchor. Located in the center of French Reef is the “White Sand Bottom Cave” which is the largest cave in the area. Each cave offers new opportunities for exploration and discovery.

NOAA Site Map of French Reef in Key Largo
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