For the past 25 years, hundreds of divers and snorkelers have come together for the festival at Looe Key Reef, part of the only living coral barrier reef in North America. Bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of “air guitar,” divers and musicians flock to the Florida Keys every year for a subaquatic sound experience aptly called the Underwater Music Festival.
Bill Becker, founder, coordinator and music director of UMF, started the underwater music concerts as a way to raise awareness for coral preservation.
The festival emphasizes reef preservation, with the radio broadcast offering tips on ways divers and snorkelers can minimize impacts on the Keys' marine environment. Hundreds of boats converge at Looe Key, part of the continental United States, to enjoy this quirky event. Broadcast worldwide, this provides significant promotion for our local tourist industry.
Those planning to submerge themselves in the festival can learn about reef preservation Friday, July 8, during the 6-8 p.m. welcome gathering at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration, 24244 Overseas Highway on Summerland Key.
Big Pine Key is about 100 miles south of Miami and 30 miles north of Key West. The festival takes place at Looe Key Reef each year.
31020 Overseas Highway MM 31
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
The Music is supplied by the local Keys Radio Station US1 104.1 FM. A pre-selected radio playlist is streamed live from underwater speakers, while musician-divers and mermaids play whimsical instruments created by local artist, August Powers. In past years, instruments have included the “trom-bonefish,” “sea-phan flute” and a “Fluke-a-Lele.”
Becker selects all the ocean-themed songs, such as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus Garden,” and even insists that the fish like to dance to Jimmy Buffett’s “Fins.” The audience, of course, enjoys the tunes from underwater as well; since sound travels 4.3 times faster in water than in air, the sonic experience has been described as particularly ethereal.
The Underwater Music Festival doesn't offer RV camping directly at the event, however, there are plenty of RV campgrounds nearby to make your trip the best experience.
Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina is a beautiful island resort with an adjoining marina for water enthusiasts. It’s located on the 75-acre island of Ohio Key, near Big Pine Key in the Lower Florida Keys, just one mile from the state park. Rates vary depending on site type and time of year, but as one of the premium RV resorts within the area, you can expect premium pricing too.
Just 6.3 miles from the state park is theRoyal Palm RV Park. It’s located on Big Pine Key, minutes from the white sand beaches of the Bahia Honda State Park. They have a total of 34 sites, all with full hookups, with rates starting at $68 per night.
Bonefish Bay Motel & RV Resort is located in Marathon. It’s a prime location for fishing and even has personalized fishing charters available on-site. Rates start from $79 per day.
Big Pine and the Lower Keys are really a bedroom community for Key West. Check out Big Pine hotels and Big Pine motels for your next trip to Key West and the Lower Keys. There is something to be said for having dinner or partying downtown and going back to a quiet walk under the stars away from all the hubbub.
There are several types of Lower Keys accommodations from which to choose. From larger Big Pine hotels to waterfront Big Pine bed and breakfasts, there is a place for everyone vacationing in the Lower Keys. Big Pine campgrounds and RV parks and fishing camps are also available.
Take the Florida Turnpike south to Exit 4 - Homestead/Key West. This is the Turnpike Extension that will connect you to Route US 1 in Florida City, which takes you through the Keys to Key West at the very end of US 1.
Speed limits throughout the Florida Keys are strictly enforced. Please be especially careful through the Big Pine Key area as this is a Key Deer Refuge. Speed limits are reduced in this area.
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Please note, this is not the official source of the event information. While we try to be as comprehensive as possible, some details may have changed since the time this article was written. Please confirm final details with the official event page .