You can snorkel with Jesus in the Florida Keys this Easter – USA TODAY

April 11, 2019 - Comment

Skye Sherman Special to USA TODAY Published 10:35 AM EDT Apr 11, 2019 There’s at least one day a year you’re sure to find devout Christians and the nominally religious in the same place: Easter Sunday. But traditionally, that call to worship takes place in a church. For a Resurrection Day celebration where the required


There’s at least one day a year you’re sure to find devout Christians and the nominally religious in the same place: Easter Sunday. But traditionally, that call to worship takes place in a church.

For a Resurrection Day celebration where the required attire is a bathing suit rather than your Sunday best, you can snorkel with Jesus in the Florida Keys this Easter.

Submerged about 25 feet in the sea in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the 4,000-pound Christ of the Deep – sometimes called Christ of the Abyss – is a bronze statue by Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. The underwater effigy depicts a pacific Jesus, robed and barnacled, with arms outstretched and gaze raised to the light above. Christ of the Deep was the third iteration made from the artist’s original cast; the other copies are in Italy and Grenada.

Pennekamp – as the locals abbreviate it – is located in Key Largo, the northernmost island of the Florida Keys.

It’s a piece of domestic paradise that has earned a reputation as the diving capital of the world: The mild, clear waters provide consistently good visibility to the coral reefs below. Snorkelers and scuba divers can explore above and around Christ of the Deep, who stands nearly 9 feet in height, surrounded by gardens of coral and teeming sea life.

To get there, boatless visitors can book one of the many dive and snorkel tours that make daily trips to the reef.

Alhough many think of the Keys as a summertime destination, spring is an ideal season to visit: The weather is warm, and there are fewer crowds to battle outside of lobster season, which closes at the end of March. The hotel scene is picking up, too.

In recent months, Key Largo celebrated the debut of Bungalows Key Largo, the first-ever all-inclusive resort in the Keys (and one of only a few in the entire state of Florida). Another popular accommodation option, opened in 2016, is Playa Largo Resort & Spa, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel with on-site water activities and a sprawling beachfront, a rarity in the Keys.

After swimming up an appetite, watery worshippers can opt for a seafood feast rather than an Easter brunch. Head to the Fish House, a family-owned Key Largo mainstay for locally caught seafood, and order the fresh catch of the day – just make sure to save room for what is, arguably, the best Key lime pie in the Keys.

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