Treasure Hunting in the Florida Keys

by Kimberly Turtenwald
Not all treasures come in the traditional treasure chest.

Not all treasures come in the traditional treasure chest.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Some people dream of finding hidden treasures and becoming rich with little effort. The waters around Florida and the Florida Keys were once common sailing grounds for pirates and other ships that carried treasures from the New World to Europe. Because of the nature of the water and the weather around the Florida Keys, many ships have sunk in the area over the years, taking their many treasures with them.


During the volatile hurricane season, the waters near the Florida Keys become dangerous, not only from the high winds and waves, but also from the hidden reefs not far below the water's surface. In the 17th and 18th centuries when the shipping industry was running at its peak, ships were not equipped with the technology to determine how deep the water was. They also had no way of predicting the weather in the open water. This resulted in hundreds of ships that made their new homes at the bottom of the sea, along with their crews and treasures, including gold and silver bars, jewelry and gemstones.

Valuable Treasures

Some of the largest treasures found in the ocean surrounding the Florida Keys are worth millions of dollars and would make the finder rich. Perhaps the largest treasure off the coast of the Keys, the Atocha treasure was worth $400 million when it was found in 1985. The Atocha was a Spanish treasure ship that frequently traveled from Central America, where it picked up its cargo and headed back to Spain, stopping in Cuba on the way. However, in September 1622, a hurricane overtook the ship, driving it into a reef and sinking it. Many other ships also carried expensive cargoes, although most are not believed to be worth as much as the Atocha treasure.

Treasure Hunting Trips

Because of the wealth of treasure waiting at the bottom of the sea off the coast of the Keys, some boating companies offer treasure hunting trips. Visitors are equipped with scuba gear and taken to a possible treasure site. These trips often require you to spend a few days learning about the history of the ships, the art of treasure hunting and how to scuba dive before you are taken to the site of the treasure hunt. Florida has strict laws that control treasure hunting, so it is important to use a company that offers treasure hunting trips rather than going out on your own. Licensing is required to remove anything of value from the bottom of the sea.


While much of the treasure that went down with the ships is located on the bottom of the ocean, some treasure can be found on the beaches in the Florida Keys. Many of the famous pirates, including Blackbeard, Kidd and Morgan, roamed the waters in the area, taking over ships and claiming their treasures for themselves. Instead of keeping the treasure aboard their ships to be stolen by others, they would often go to shore and bury their treasures. Some of these treasures were buried along the coast of the Florida Keys. Some have been found, while others are still missing, waiting for someone with a metal detector to find them. No one knows exactly how much has been buried.

About the Author

I have been writing as a hobby for many years now. I am involved with several freelance opportunities for the last 5 years or so. I specialize in web content including search engine optimization and blogs. I pride myself on being able to learn to write various other types of content with little instruction. I currently work outside of the home full time, but have plenty of free time in which to write various articles. In addition to the above mentioned areas, I am capable of writing on pretty much any topic with just a little bit of research. I have always been very good at completing assignments by the deadline and can be counted on to fill in when articles need to be completed ASAP.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images