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Key West Diving And Snorkeling At Cottrell Key Is Laidback Fun

Cottrell Key was named after a 19th century Captain who protected passing vessels from grounding on this Florida Keys coral reef.

Instead of a lighthouse shining it's warning beacon, he watched over all passersby with his lightship.

These islands are located on the Gulf side of Key West FL, which makes the area much calmer.

When the Atlantic is rough, this is the perfect place to head out for a day of fun snorkeling or scuba diving Key West.

It's also easy to reach this beautiful, laid back mangrove island.

From Key West you travel the Northwest Passage which is the route that takes you out to the Marquesas Keys Atoll for Florida Keys diving, snorkeling or fishing.

This is definitely a great snorkeling site so make sure your snorkeling gear is updated and that you have along what you'll need to take advantage of everything the area has to offer.

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This set of islands however are much closer than the Marquesas Keys, so they're the perfect short diving trip for anyone wanting a relaxing day exploring these pristine waters.

Of course while you're here, you'll be able to enjoy some of the more unusual marine life that's not typically seen elsewhere. This area in particular, has a good variety of conchs and they're always fun to discover.

Cottrell Key Map

Area Map
Courtesy of

This area is also located in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge so after you've experienced the unusual marine life snorkeling or reef diving, you can head out to the different islands in the Refuge.

Just don't forget to bring your binoculars so you can study the over 250 species of birds that inhabit this protected area.

The area also includes two other islands, Big Mullett Key and Little Mullet Key. On these islands you'll also find mangrove terrapin as well as a variety of wading birds such as egret, heron and roseate spoonbill.

At-A-Glance Reef Dive Description
and GPS Coordinates

Cottrell Key
Gulf side, 9 miles NW of Key West
GPS Co-ordinates
24 36.74N 081 55.63W
Markers and mooring buoys
3 - 15'
Poor - good
Reef Site Description
Being on the Gulf side, this coral reef is protected from the wind by the Florida Keys themselves. It starts just west of the old lighthouse and the ledges and fingers run for approximately 2 miles. The area is quite shallow
Snorkel Site
Good Key West snorkeling spot as it's calm and protected. There's also more unusual marine life than what is seen elsewhere, such as the Florida horse conch, and the spotted tulip snail.

Marine Life
Coral head clusters, yellowtail, parrotfish, sea sponges, cowries, spiny lobster, conchs, hogfish

Spending some time at these Keys is a great way to pass the day. Plus, in terms of Florida Keys dive sites, this is also a good last spot for reef diving if you've been out at the Marquesas Keys diving or snorkeling.

If you're planning on scuba diving Florida Keys check your scuba diving gear to make sure it's all in good order and that you have what you need.

Sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to get 'wet' one last time before putting those flippers to bed. If that's the case, Cottrell Key is the place to be.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040