When the words 'Alligator Reef Lighthouse' come out of someone's mouth... I am taken back to when we visited the Florida Keys, back in July of last year, and swam in some of the clearest water (imagine pool water) that we have ever experienced. I mean... look at the pictures, and tell me you wouldn't love to see this water, reef AND lighthouse, first hand?!? See that video HERE
I'll be honest, we had NO CLUE this place was even real until we had joined the Florida Ski Riders Facebook page.... and from the minute we saw it, we HAD to make it a priority! It makes us wonder what other incredible-must-see-places there are in Florida!
HOW TO GET TO ALLIGATOR REEF LIGHTHOUSE
The Alligator Reef Lighthouse is just under 5 nautical miles off the coast of Islamorada (to the east) and you can only get there by water vessel. If you don't have the means to a water vessel (boat/ jet ski), luckily for you, we have done A LOT of the research for you and asked around! If you are curious, Alligator Reef Lighthouse coordinates are 24.8518° N, 80.6189° W , plus you can simply type this info into your gps and it will pull up as well. Here's a list of businesses that you can contact to gain access to the Reef:
2. Pelican Cove Marina
3. Post Card Inn Marina
4. Sea Monkeys (snorkel/dive tour)
5. Easy Adventure
6. Islander Girl Tours
7. Check out charters/jet ski's from Wahoo's Restaurant
8. Islamorada Dive Center
QUICK TIP: Be sure to check Groupon for ANY of these activities/locations... great way to save some $$$
QUICK TIP #2: If you have your own water vessel, you can launch from the Indian Key Public Boat Ramp (be forewarned, it is hard clay and not paved... but it's free), or you can check around Islamorada and contact the local business to see if you can utilize their boat ramp
QUICK TIP #3: If you have jet ski's, we have noticed more and more resorts that have boat ramps, are no longer allowing jet skiers to launch from their private locations (just a heads up)... be sure to call ahead, if you plan on staying somewhere overnight, to make sure you can even park there too.
WHY IS IT CALLED ALLIGATOR REEF
First off, NO... there are no Alligators at the Alligator Reef Lighthouse (Phew... I think I would die lol). The Reef and Lighthouse got its name from a ship called the USS Alligator. It was used originally to escort merchant ships and helped fend off pirates back in the day. While escorting merchant ships in 1822, it ran aground and couldn't be saved, so they blew it up for fear the pirates would pillage its remains. The largest part of the wreckage is just south of the Lighthouse, and bits and pieces of it still can be found while snorkeling and diving in the area.
TIPS WHEN PLANNING A VISIT TO THE ALLIGATOR REEF LIGHTHOUSE
A few things we WISH we knew before heading out to Alligator Reef:
- Layer on the sunscreen (reef safe!), wear a hat and we even suggest wearing an spf shirt! You WILL get a sunburn even if there are clouds in the sky... and trust me, you don't want to ruin your trip because you got too much sun (take it from us... we live here). Also... DON'T FORGET THE SPF CHAPSTICK!!
- For best water conditions & Alligator Reef snorkeling tips- you will want to check the wind speeds. If the wind is any higher than 7 or 8 mph, the reef isn't as fun to hang around & snorkel. The wind is a HUGE factor, not only for how choppy the water gets but also the clarity of the water. Also, the best 'time' of year to go, is when it's warmer out (May- October). Anything from November-ish to early May, the water is WAY too cold and the outside temps aren't warm enough either (in my opinion).
- DON'T FORGET A WATERPROOF CAMERA- Trust me when I say, you DO NOT... I repeat... YOU DO NOT want to leave without your waterproof camera on this trip! With a YouTube Channel & living in a state surrounded by water, you could say we have become small experts on waterproof cameras. Our 'go-to' camera, for EVERYTHING outdoors and water, is the GoPro. Currently, we have the GoPro Hero 8 and 100%, highly recommend it for your water activities! Incredible footage, incredible photo-taking, and the stabilization is E.X.C.E.L.L.E.N.T! Also, a drone over top this water and lighthouse is seriously OUT OF THIS WORLD!
- Stay hydrated & take some snacks- The sun will dehydrate you and you won't realize it until it's too late. Whether you are going on a charter or taking your own water vessel, don't get stuck on the ocean without water! When it comes to snacks, we are all about packing a few protein bars to hold us over for a couple of hours then hitting the Tiki Bar over at Postcard Inn for some dinner and drinks with an ocean view. If you have your own vessel, like us, you can pop on over to a few of the nearby restaurants that are on the water & have dock access (Robbies, Postcard Inns' Tiki Bar, Wahoo's, etc)
- Use a noodle when snorkeling- I kid you not, using a pool noodle is seriously made PERFECT for snorkeling. If you don't have a noodle, you can even flip your lifejacket upside down (kind of like a diaper) and float that way too. There is a little bit of a current, so having something to help you float while snorkeling, is a big lifesaver... and less work for you!
- Snorkel gear & fins- Obviously if you book a snorkeling tour, the company usually supplies them... but I'll be honest... I would just pack my own. The idea that you could be using 'recycled' goggles, really isn't appealing (call me weird). The fins come in as a HUGE helping hand, especially with the small current that passes thru.
- Take off jewelry before you jump in the ocean- I know this sounds funny, but two things...
- 1. Fish gravitate toward shiny objects (kind of like a fishing lure). I'm not trying to scare you, but at the reef, there are TONS of fish and amongst those fish are Barracuda. 99.9% of the time, they swim in the opposite direction and want nothing to do with you, but there is a possibility that if you have something shiny on, they will be curious and get closer.
- 2. When you get in the water, your jewelry can slip off a lot easier! I almost lost my wedding ring the first time we went out into the ocean... never again!
And as always, if you enjoyed my rambling, and would like to hear more, be sure to click 'Follow' and stay tuned for more! And if you REALLY like us, we would so much appreciate you sharing this with someone else ❤ The referral of your friends & family is the greatest compliment you can give us! We also have a YouTube channel that you can follow along, just search Adventure Encounters, and you can see many more adventures around the globe.
Thank you for your trust & Happy Adventures!
- Ashley From The Adventure Encounters
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