This might be her 31st year in the scuba diving business, but Amy Slate has not lost an ounce of her enthusiasm for diving, ocean preservation or the Key Largo community she’s called home since the 1970s. Owner and operator of Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort, she’s living a dream of being connected to marine life that began when she was a child growing up in Miami.
At age 6, a swim with the dolphins at Key West’s Flipper Sea School launched Amy’s passion. 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 in rural Jacksonville, Fla., Amy taught sixth-grade students lessons in all subjects with teaching tools derived from the ocean. Utilizing seashells, students learned how to take measurements, use multiplication and explore scientific origins by reading about shells and marine life.
Amy also conducted dive training classes at the YMCA. Yet the tug of her South Florida roots (coupled with morning frost on the car windows), were enough to make her decide, along with then-husband Spencer, to head for the Keys in 1978. There they started a dive business named Atlantis Dive Center.
In 1992, Amy dissolved her personal and professional partnerships to branch out on her own with brother Justin. After years spent studying other dive resorts — “research” that involved diving with humpback whales in French Polynesia and on the reefs of Bonaire, Cozumel and the Caribbean — Amy opened Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort.
The property, and its name, were 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 Amoray boat crew plays “That’s Amore!” on the return to the dock, and the resort’s signature logo is a moray eel in the shape of a heart.
The resort reflects Amy’s love of the Keys environment. All rooms are named after reef fish and brightly decorated with Caribbean-style colors, tropical linens, furnishings and wall hangings.
Over the years, Amy and Amoray have earned a reputation for excelling at underwater weddings. Amoray Dive Resort ceremonies have been featured in “People” magazine and on a television show hosted by Geraldo Rivera — who even blew a conch shell on-camera for his audience.
Amy’s activities, however, aren’t limited to operating the resort. She has focused on fundraisers for local dolphin care centers and shelters for women and children, has served on the board of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, and is active in furthering coral restoration and transplantation projects with a local marine scientist.
Despite her wide-ranging travels, she believes the Florida Keys are still the best place to dive. In fact, she dives the Upper Keys’ Molasses Reef at least two afternoons a week to relax.
“Not everyone can live their passion,” Amy says. “But if you do what you love, the rest will follow.”