Discover Aquarium Encounters


Are you planning a dive trip to the dive capital of the United States? Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, a NAUI Dream Destination located at mile maker 53 in Marathon, is a must-stop for any diver or ocean lover.

Immerse yourself in the largest exhibit at the aquarium, a 200,000-gallon seawater system that mimics the coral reef you can find right off the coast of the Florida Keys. Guests can choose to dive or snorkel in this encounter, making it perfect for any age. Either way, guests interact with multiple species of rays, fish and sharks. They are geared up with equipment supplied by the aquarium and then begin their tour of the tank with one of the aquarium’s dive instructors.

They will get to observe all of the beautiful reef fish while en route to their first feeding encounter. Each diver will be given a piece of stingray food to hand feed the cownose rays, Chip and Dale. These gentle gliders will introduce themselves to each guest in turn and, using their strong suction, take food right from the diver’s hands.

After meeting and feeding Chip and Dale, the instructor will arm every diver with a squirt bottle of fish food. With 50 different species and over 2,000 fish, there is surely a fish for everyone in this tank. One squeeze from the bottle will bring all of them over: Parrotfish, porkfish, angelfish, spotted drum, bonefish, snook, hogfish and more will gather round.

Once the reef fish are nice and full, the divers will head over to the acrylic shark-feeding windows. Directly in the center of this 200,000-gallon seawater system are two acrylic windows that separate the coral reef from the predator reef. This 3-inch acrylic window is all that separates the divers from the sharks, eels, groupers and more. These specialized windows are designed with two feeding holes, one near the top for snorkelers and one at the bottom for divers. All of the sharks, eels, and groupers are trained to eat from the window, and when hungry, they can create a feeding frenzy for the guests, taking food as it is passed through the window.

There is simply no dive site in the world that can offer the experience that Aquarium Encounters guests get from entering the coral reef tank. The diversity of species and the safe hand-feeding are truly once-in-a-lifetime encounters.

Not a diver or snorkeler? No problem. Aquarium Encounters caters to all ages — with guided tours, narrated feedings, touch tanks and so much more to enjoy while exploring on dry land. Having just celebrated its four-year anniversary, Aquarium Encounters is constantly growing and expanding to give all guests the best possible experience.

Raining? 20-knot winds? All the dive boats canceled their trips? Looking for something to do? No problem at the aquarium, where they have perfect conditions with endless visibility 365 days a year. Covered tanks and walkways allow guests to enjoy the park no matter what the weather decides to do.

Visit Aquarium Encounters at, and check them out the next time you are in the beautiful Florida Keys. Whether experienced diver or novice, there is fun to be had by all!