Divers and snorkellers can explore a portion of the world’s third-largest coral barrier reef while enjoying a unique sub-sea concert on 9 July in the Lower Florida Keys.
The 32nd annual Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival, a melodic experience that spotlights coral reef protection and environmentally responsible diving, takes place at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary approximately six miles south of Big Pine Key.
The sanctuary recently marked its 25th year of protecting Florida Keys waters including the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, which runs alongside the island chain.
Taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 9 July, the festival is open to both local and visiting divers who can swim among Looe Key’s vivid marine life and coral formations while listening to music broadcast by local radio station, US1 104.1 FM.
Tunes are piped underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef. The playlist typically features marine melodies ranging from haunting humpback whale songs to Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Fins’ and the Beatles’ ‘Octopus’s Garden.’
Those planning to submerge themselves in the festival can stop by Looe Key Reef Resort’s Dive Center on Ramrod Key on 8 July for a free dive clinic that includes buoyancy tests and equipment checks.
During Saturday’s aquatic action, divers and snorkellers might spot ‘mermaids’ and other costumed characters beneath the waves – including some pretending to play quirky musical instruments sculpted by Florida Keys artist August Powers.
As well as the unique undersea experience, participants get valuable insights into preserving the Keys’ rich coral reef ecosystem. The broadcast incorporates diver-awareness announcements emphasising ways to enjoy the reef while minimising environmental impacts.
Divers and snorkellers interested in participating can reserve space on boats run by Lower Keys dive operators or launch their own boats from public ramps and marinas in the area.
Travel to the Florida Keys
Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194 / bon-voyage.co.uk) has a seven-night fly-drive to the Florida Keys from £1,675 per person, based on two adults travelling and sharing accommodation. The price includes return American Airlines flights from London Heathrow, Manchester or Glasgow to Miami, seven nights room-only accommodation (four at Pelican Cove, Marathon and three at The Gates Hotel, Key West) and car hire for the duration. Valid for departures on 7 July 2016.