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Snorkeling at Looe Key


Note:  Looe is pronounced “Lou”.

Today Gary and I ventured out into the Hawk Channel aboard White Swan without an escort (Lady Bug or Lily Pad).   We checked the weather and it was suppose to be a nice calm day. We studied our paper charts and followed our GPS directly to Looe Key. All without incident. YEAH for the Glenns!

Snorkelers at Looe Key

When we arrived at Looe Key around 11:00 AM, there were already a few tour boats there with excited snorkelers swimming in the waters around the reefs.  Mooring balls are provided at no charge at Looe Key so boater’s anchors won’t damage the fragile reefs.

We easily picked up a mooring ball line and got on our wet suits, snorkel masks and fins and I was the first one in the crystal clear blue water.  Even though I’m hesitant to get in the water just anywhere, you take me to a reef to snorkel and usually I’m one of the first to jump in to see the fishes and coral.  I love it!  So does Gary.

The day could not have been more perfect for snorkeling.  As I said in the previous paragraph, the water was crystal clear, so the visibility was excellent. Gary’s guess is we could probably see for 50 feet or more.  The water was relatively calm with manageable swells.

There was an abundance of different species of fish around the large reef of Looe Key.  We saw queen angels, different kinds of parrot fishes,  sergeant majors,  barracudas,  yellow tail snappers, and many other species. The most exciting fish we saw was a huge jewfish (also know as goliath grouper) that was hanging out under our boat.  It must have been at least four feet long and weigh over 200 pounds.  (We later read in our fish guide they can grow up to six feet long and weigh 600 pounds.)  We stared face to face with it for a few minutes.  It did not scare us because it showed no signs of aggressiveness.  But, trust me when I say, I kept both of my eyes on its huge mouth just in case it started to open…

Crystal clear water showing reef at Looe Key

There were very few hard corals at this reef.  However, we saw numerous soft corals, including big purple fans.  When we scuba dive or snorkel in the British Virgin Islands, we often see flamingo tongues (pretty pink spotted snails) attached to the purple fans, so we both looked for them at Looe Key, but neither of us found any.

We snorkeled for almost an hour before getting back on the boat to eat something for lunch.  Then we got back in the water and enjoyed looking at all the reef presented to us for another hour before getting back aboard White Swan and motoring to our evening’s anchorage.

Sunset over Big Pine Key at Newfound Harbour

Captain Gary’s study of the charts led us to an anchorage off  Big Pine Key named Newfound Harbor.  We successfully navigated directly to it without incident and we anchored for the night.  Yeah, we did it all by ourselves.  ‘Intimidation” of the Florida Keys is no longer in the Glenn’s vocabulary.  “Respect” yes, “intimidation” no.  The finale for the day was the magnificent sunset we were privileged to witness.  We have yet to lose interest in the sunsets and sunrises over the water.  I only wish pictures or an artist’s brush could truley capture the beauty of what we have seen in real life.

Talk about feeling like we are in the Bahamas…today certainly made us feel like we are there.  Being “over there” couldn’t possibly offer any more enjoyment than our experience today as we snorkeled at Looe Key and then saw tonight’s sunset.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day today.


We enjoyed snorkeling so much yesterday, we decided to stop by Looe Key and snorkel some more before heading back to Marathon on Vaca Key to reunite with Cheryl and Ed.

The wind was a little stronger this morning and was suppose to pick up a little more in the afternoon.  We got to Looe Key around 10:30 in the morning and by the time we arrived, the wind’s contribution to the swells increased their size.  We felt we could still comfortably snorkel even with the swells, so we donned our snorkel gear and jumped in.  The water was rather silty due to the wind and swells, but we could still see enough to enjoy the snorkeling.  We did so for about an hour and then we returned to the boat for lunch before getting underway.

The seas offered a rougher ride than what we anticipated, as the wind continued to get stronger.  The bumpy ride was getting more and more uncomfortable as we were nearing Bahia Honda Key.  Then the engine starting acting up, and actually stalled one time.  Both of those factors played a part in our decision to change our destination of Marathon and return to Bahai Honda Key instead.  (Plan A is to have Plan B.)

While going through the narrow passage of Flagler’s old railroad bridge, we held our breath as the engine sputtered a bit.  Thankfully, White Swan was good to us and got us safely back to the Bahia Honda State Park anchorage.

Sandy and Nancy were still at the anchorage and Sandy came over and helped Gary check one of the fuel tanks for contaminates.  There was nothing wrong with the fuel in the tanks, but some water was found in the bowl of the fuel filter.  They surmised the intermittent performance of the engine was due to the bouncing of the boat and droplets of water getting into the fuel pump.

View of Bahia Honda State Park from Flagler's old railroad bridge.

Geckoes on butterfly house in butterfly garden at Bahia Honda State Park

While the guys were working on the engine, I took a pleasure trip to shore and snorkeled at the beach, walked up to a scenic lookout on the old Flagler railroad bridge, went for a walk through the butterfly garden, and enjoyed an ice cream cone purchased at the state park’s gift shop.  “Alone time” is a rarity when a couple is cruising on a boat, and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It also gave me opportunity to really check out the amenities of the island, which we did not do the first time we were at Bahia Honda Key.

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