Most people think I’m nuts for not diving as much as I used to, because my back yard is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Though I do dive on occasion, it’s hard to hold a candle to Amy Slate’s passion for scuba diving. Recently she shared with me what it is about Key Largo’s diving that appeals to the millions of divers that come to the Keys for our reefs and wrecks, and what journey carried her here.
Entering her 31st year in the scuba diving business, Amy Slate has not lost an ounce of her undeniable enthusiasm for diving, ocean preservation or the community of Key Largo that she has called home since the 70s. Owner and operator of Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort, she is living her dream of being connected to marine life, which started early as a child growing up in Miami.
At age six a fortuitous swim with the dolphins at Key West’s Flipper Sea School launched Amy into her passion, a connection to marine life. Afterward, convinced she would spend her life in, on and around the ocean, she excitedly told her parents, “This is it!”
Years later as a teacher, Amy taught her sixth grade students lessons in all subjects derived from the ocean – using seashells, these students who otherwise did not have the opportunity to see the ocean, would learn how to take measurements, use multiplication, and learn scientific origins by reading about shells and marine life. Feeling the tug of her South Florida roots, coupled with the morning frost on the car windows, she returned to the Keys in 1978 with her then-husband and started a dive business, Atlantis Dive Center.
Branching out on her own in 1992, Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort was born from Amy’s deep love for the ocean and a play on her Italian family roots in the province of Sant’Agata di Puglia. After every dive trip the boat crew plays “That’s Amore!” on the return to the dock, often with her two yellow Lab retrievers in tow. And, the resort’s signature logo is a moray eel in the shape of a heart.
Keeping customers active, entertained, happy and wanting a second helping of great service is what drives Amy Slate and the dive resort staff to excel. The common thread at the resort is the Keys environment. All resort rooms – now equipped with wireless Internet – are named after reef fish, brightly decorated with Caribbean-style paint colors, tropical linens, furnishings and wall hangings.
“ I am constantly learning and exploring new approaches to make Amoray a better place, and as comfortable as we can make it,” she said.
Having carved out a niche in underwater weddings, Amoray Dive Resort ceremonies have been featured in People Magazine and on the Geraldo Rivera show. Rivera even blew a conch shell for his television audience. On tap for the near future at the dive resort are a spa, tiki hut with food and drinks as well as a small underwater photography school.
Given all the variables of her travels, she says the Florida Keys is still the best place to dive.
And, she knows from experience. She considers diving as therapy, “like knitting”, and to relax she dives Molasses Reef at least two afternoons a week. She shows no sign of slowing down, remaining steadfast in facilitating coral restoration and transplantation projects with local marine scientist Ken Nedimyer, hosting fundraisers for dolphin care centers, and hosting events during Eco Week 2010, a two-week educational and environmental celebration to be staged throughout the Florida Keys in November.
“Not everyone can live their passion,” Amy said. “But if you do what you love, the rest will follow.”