Scuba Diving in Florida: the 20 greatest dive sites

Both the East Coast and the West Coast have a ton of fantastic diving locations. But you and I both know that Florida has perfect scuba diving. It is America’s diving capital. The issue is that you have too many options. In Florida, you can find more than a hundred different dive sites and still only touch the surface.

Let’s make it a little bit more specific for you. These locations, in our opinion, provide the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Sunshine State. We can help you achieve any goal you have for a dive. incredible shipwrecks, marine life, and more.

scuba diving in florida

Let’s see the 20 greatest dive sites in Florida with me:

1. Devil’s Den State Park

Constantly at a precise 73 degrees. Despite its name, the Devil’s Den is not nearly as evil. This is a spring-fed dive spot that is close to the town of Williston. The ominous moniker, “sinkhole,” was given by early settlers.

They speculated that this might be a portal to hell. And you might at least partially comprehend it when you observe the steam rising from the lake in the frigid weather.

The cavern can be reached by diving down 55 feet. There are swimming tunnels and fossils to be found. Compared to dive locations in the open ocean, this helps to keep it exciting and distinctive. There are numerous air pockets throughout the system where you can pop up, and you can even locate a nearby catfish.

If you’re looking for something special, Devil’s Den is the best place to go scuba diving. You won’t need to wear a bulky suit to enjoy the lovely feel of the water.

aggressive artificial reef program

2. Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale used to be all about Spring Break. Too many people failed to see the amazing scuba diving. While there are artificial reefs at several Florida locations, Fort Lauderdale is unique.

Here, there are perfect natural coral reefs. But they have also added a lot of artificial reefs to supplement that. The end result is diving of the highest caliber with an incredible amount of sea life.

Whale sharks are found in some areas of Fort Lauderdale. A real jungle of coral and fans is also there. Of course, there are also a variety of lobsters, barracudas, and other tropical fish species.

Barracuda Reef is a fantastic site to see lobsters, eels, and crabs. The ledge rises 11 to 16 feet from its base. The depth of the reef itself is approximately 37 feet. One of the most exciting wrecks for scuba diving in Florida is the Captain Dan wreck. It went down between 95 and 115 feet in 1990.

The Mercedes I is presumably the most well-known dive site in Fort Lauderdale. The ship is sitting at 100 feet after sinking in 1984. The destruction was ripped in two by Hurricane Andrew.

But that didn’t stop aquatic life from residing there. It has excellent visibility, making it a fantastic location for underwater photography. Just keep in mind that the fort is a sophisticated location.

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3. Venice

Sometimes people ignore diving in Venice. Venice, which is on the Gulf Coast, has a few distinctive attractions. Yes, this area does have a man-made reef. Of course, you can also see grouper, barracuda, and numerous other fish species.

Most of the year, the Gulf Stream keeps these waters warm. However, Venice offers something that very few scuba diving destinations across the world can. This region is known as the “Shark Tooth Capital.”

In actuality, the megalodon used to call Venice its home. You know, the huge, extinct shark that occasionally appears in movies? They grew to be more than 55 feet long.

Venice Beach is surrounded by a ton of undeveloped areas. This makes for excellent places to see amazing marine life and corals. The German Bayronto is one such cool wreck, but there are more.

Visit the Five Tanks for a dive that is truly one of a kind. It is precisely what the name implies: five completely undamaged tanks that were sunk to a depth of 65 feet. Simply be ready. This dive is more challenging.

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4. The Florida Keys

Since the Florida Keys offer so much more, I don’t want to ignore any of it. This is the place to go in South, from Big Pine Key to Key West to the Lower Keys. It might take months to visit all the stunning dive sites and unspoiled reefs.

Check out some of these as well. I’ve already talked about Spiegel and the Molasses Reef. Some of the coolest dives in the world may be found along the Shipwreck Trail in the Florida Keys.

The USNS Gen. Hoyt S. Vandeburg is a sight to behold. This wreck is at a depth of 145 feet. It’s quite amazing and marks the trail’s southern terminus.

This transport ship is nearly five hundred feet long, ten stories tall, and even includes a weather balloon hangar. A tiny wall at Ten-Fathom Bar descends from 23 feet to 135 feet. There are barrel sponges here that are possibly larger than you.

Additionally, the locality is abundant with spiny lobster and eagle rays. The Florida Keys must be on your travel itinerary if you enjoy scuba diving and can make it to Florida.

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5. Miami Beach

Can’t I just mention Miami Beach in this list of spots for scuba diving in Florida? Don’t discount Miami just because you think it’s too big or crowded with tourists. Although Miami Beach and Miami vary significantly, it’s still the Atlantic shore. Feel free to go diving there.

Divers can choose from a variety of artificial reefs in Miami. There will always be something new to view and to do because there are also more than 76 wrecks. Visit the Wreck Trek for a thrilling dive that moves quickly.

Over a dozen wrecks can be covered with just one tank. Additionally, you can always return for more. Grouper, octopus, tarpon, eels, and nurse sharks can be found in the waters near Miami. There are beautiful coral reefs.

For scuba divers who like to dive in wrecks, the Belcher Barge is an excellent location. The steel barge(185 foot size), which sits sixty feet below the surface, is home to several coral and fish species. You can also go to the Half Moon Preserve, which is only a few feet away.

There are angelfish and damsels everywhere on this wreck. There is also some fascinating history involved because this ship was the first that the British captured during the First World War.

Consider Blue Fire for a challenging dive. This wreck, which was drowned in 1983, is 115 feet deep. There are many wonderful species to see here, and the visibility is excellent. It’s a fantastic location for taking underwater photos. Just keep in mind that it’s not for beginners.

diving in florida

6. USS Spiegel Grove

One of Florida’s must-dive sites is the USS Spiegel Grove, which is off the shore of Key Largo. This enormous navy ship, which sank in 2002, presents a fantastic chance. It was a Navy Landing Dock ship called Spiegel Grove.

With a length of five hundred ten feet, there is a lot to discover. It is now a sizable artificial reef and is inhabited by a vast array of marine life. This one is for you if you’re committed to a thorough dig.

The entire site cannot really be explored in a single dive. Although you could easily take three or four dives, most scuba divers choose to go on at least two dives. Although entering the wreck itself is possible, you must have wreck certification.

Generally speaking, it’s better for intermediate and experienced divers, so be sure you’re up to speed before working those fins. Although it drops to 135 feet, the deck is located at 63 feet. In essence, this is an engineered miniature wall dive. This results in a special and enjoyable dive that is challenging to replicate.

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7. Christ of the Abyss, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

In all of Florida, it’s unlikely that you’ll find a scuba diving location more famous. A two-ton bronze statue of Jesus Christ is known as Christ of the Abyss. It is located just off the Florida shore of Key Largo and is 8 and a half feet tall.

The Christ statue, which is situated in John Pennekamp State Park, was lowered in 1965. Since then, it has become a well-liked tourist destination for divers looking for a spectacular photo opportunity. Actually, the Key Largo statue is the third one to be made from the same mold. Off the Italian shore is the first one.

Grenada is where you may find the second one. The statues serve as a memorial for those who have perished at sea. However, they also warmly welcome individuals who adore diving and want to explore the underwater world.

One of Florida’s most well-known scuba diving locations is the statue amid the coral reef off the coast of Key Largo. Stingrays and eagle rays are also seen in the seas near the statue.

A full-service PADI dive shop is accessible in the park. It’s really simple to request information or schedule a visit if you’re interested. Regardless of your level of ability, the park ought to be able to accommodate you.

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8. Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas is a must-visit dive site if you enjoy both amazing scuba diving and history. This one evokes the era of the pirates. These coral islands were first found in 1513 by Ponce de Leon.

Although Fort Jefferson may currently be the most well-known structure there, it has a past. This even used to be a real pirate hideout at one time. It is easy to observe conchs, starfish, and other tropical species. Snorkeling or shore diving along the beautiful sands by the shore both provide fantastic views.

However, what makes it is what you discover when you dive. Many ships use this channel to travel from the Gulf to the Atlantic. Additionally, not everyone survived due to the severe weather and reefs. The area has an astonishing array of wrecks. You had ships transporting anything you could think of, including food, gold, textiles, tobacco, and food.

Even the notorious German submarine U-2513 exists. Novice divers can explore wrecks like the Windjammer by staying closer to the shore. But it’s reasonable to say that you’ll see something in Dry Tortugas National Park given the vicinity’s nearly three hundred wrecks.

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9. Key Largo

Some people believe that the diving in the Florida Keys is the best in the state of Florida. It is a candidate to be the world’s dive capital. The Spiegel Grove is the area that deserves the most attention, as I already said. However, Key Largo offers much more.

At least 95 scuba diving sites provide amazing diving experiences in Key Largo. Let’s explore some of the most interesting ones.

Mike’s Wreck is highly visible. It may be found on Elbow Reef, which also harbors a variety of sea fans and coral species. There are many rays, parrotfish, nurse sharks, and moray eels. Green sea turtles could also be observed here.

Mike is a mystery, though. Part of the mystery is that no one obviously understands what ship crashed here. The most diverse area of Key Largo is probably French Reef. You can explore the tunnels, caverns, and ledges in this area.

This reef is home to a vast variety of marine animals. Moray eels, porkfish, yellowtails, and other species are common. Between fifteen and a hundred feet of depth are possible, and perfect clarity is generally present. Lighting is the only real issue here. Some of the tunnels and caves are blatantly dark.

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10. West Palm Beach

One day, you can go to Palm Beach County for a top-notch diving experience . The largest sea turtle group in Florida may be found on the two coral reefs that run parallel to the coast.

West Palm Beach is always a magnet for treasure seekers. Back in the day, two of these wrecks carried silver and gold for Spain. A lot of lucky divers have come to the surface carrying a valuable find. Just don’t come here expecting to become wealthy.

Marine life is this region’s true treasure. Around here, loggerheads, sea turtles, hawksbills, and giant leatherbacks all lay their eggs. The second-largest turtle nesting location on the planet is in West Palm Beach.

You’ll see enough green sea turtles if you go to dive in Moray Alley. This coral reef is sixty feet deep and is a haven for thousands of eels. You can also see spotted purplemouth and goldentail here. Additionally, Paul’s Reef has sharks and enormous parrotfish, in addition to additional turtles.

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11. Crystal River

Visit Crystal River and swim with manatees if you enjoy scuba diving with unusual aquatic life. Travel north of Tampa on guided expeditions . Only a guide is allowed to take you to this amazing location legally. However, there are several fantastic tours offered.

Manatees move to the Crystal River from the Gulf during the winter. They are widely available from November to April. The seas here are as clear as the name would imply. It won’t be difficult for you to witness all of the amazing marine creatures.

There are many dive spots through the river. There is sufficient to keep even the most seasoned individuals busy because of the numerous caverns you may explore. The caverns here are home to grouper, tarpon, and dolphins. Everything is dependent on the season and on your good fortune.

Mullet Spring’s fairly narrow waters are ideal for snorkeling. Its high purity makes it excellent for photography as well. Unexpectedly, there are a ton of catfish at Catfish Corner. A fantastic place to observe manatees up close is Magnolia Springs.

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12. Rainbow River

The Rainbow River, which is in Dunnellon, offers fantastic drift diving opportunities. The lake irrigated by springs has remarkable visibility—up to 190 feet. With a maximum depth of 24 feet, that is. The bottom of the grass and penetrating sun rays are features of the lake.

This river is well-known for its turtle population, making it a great place for a fun wildlife encounter. Regularly swimming across the grass are gar and bass. A few birds will probably be seen diving to catch fish before taking off again.

The bubbling sand beds are a big advantage. Numerous locations have bubbling water from the lake’s freshwater springs. It provides it with a distinctive and enjoyable aesthetic that is uncommon in different places.

Scuba diving is uncomplicated and unhurried. You can launch a boat and have it follow you on the dive as you return. Making a dive vacation out of it is possible thanks to Rainbow Springs State Park ‘s fantastic camping facilities.

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13. Ginnie Springs

If you like to dive into a natural spring, Ginnie Springs is ready and waiting for you. Just reading about how clean the lake is here doesn’t do it justice. This is so crystal clear. It appears as though there is no water when immersed. Simply float next to the fish in the water. To truly believe it, you must witness it.

Camping is a nice choice because the spring is situated in the woods. A large, open basin is Ginnie Cavern. Even if you’ve never done any scuba diving, you can manage this location without any trouble.

If you go to Devil’s Spring, the tan-colored water will let you to look the distant trees. Even your own skin will retain the natural color. But you will be pleased to be there. This is a wonderful location if you prefer to limit your diving to the Florida continental coast.

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14. Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs is home to octopus, sponges, giant groupers, and sea anemones. This location on the Gulf of Mexico is excellent for taking underwater pictures. While there are tanks here to create a man-made coral reef, a crane also fell overboard. Dolphin Ledge is one of the coolest attractions at this place.

It’s not always easy to choose a decent location for scuba diving with dolphins, but Dolphin Ledge has consistently been shown to be the best. It’s a place worth visiting due to the several different tropical fish species and coral.

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15. USS Oriskany

About 22 miles south of Pensacola, in 2006, the USS Oriskany was sunk. It was a crucial component of a bold artificial reef scheme. As a result, the former aircraft carrier has transformed into a fantastic scuba diving location.

In actuality, it’s the biggest ship that’s ever been sunk to make an artificial reef.

Currently submerged in two hundred feet of water, the Oriskany is more than nine hundred feet long. People refer to it as the Great Carrier Reef, a play on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Those mid-column currents should be avoided. If you’re not ready, it could be harmful because they can be powerful. By no means would I call this dive a beginner’s dive. However, if you have any experience, you’ll find it to be among the best in the state.

There is certainly a lot of coral on the reef. Barracuda and sharks should also be expected. There is a profusion of aquatic life everywhere. This location offers some of the best views for diving photography.

numerous artificial reefs

16. Pensacola

The USS Oriskany was already highlighted, but Pensacola offers much more. This area is heavily influenced by the military, both above and below the water. Off the coast, there are far too many magnificent wrecks. To truly understand the variety of it all, you must at least give it a shot once.

During a cargo offload in 1942, the Russian freighter San Pablo drowned at this location. Target practice followed that. Today, you can find it 70 to 90 feet below the surface. The hundred foot visibility also makes for some fantastic photo opportunities.

There are a lot of batfish, grouper, flounder, and other fish among the wreckage. In 1974, three coal barges were sunk to make an artificial reef. The reef is only approximately 35 feet deep and measures 300 feet long. Additionally, it’s a fantastic location to see loggerhead turtles.

The USS Massachusetts is also visible here. This ship served in the Spanish-American War and is a rather interesting relic from the past. But this is one of Pensacola’s most difficult dives. This area is not for beginners because of the strong current.

There is also an A-7 Corsair fighter jet for some variety that actually crashed onto an aircraft ship. If you enjoy scuba diving on military wrecks, Pensacola offers some of the best scuba diving in Florida.

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17. Blue Heron Bridge

Riviera Beach is close to the Blue Heron Bridge. Not just in Florida, but also in America and possibly the entire world, this offers some of the best scuba diving. This location is a diver’s paradise. There is no need to worry about scheduling a boat or having a lengthy commute because it is located in West Palm Beach.

The incredible diversity is Blue Heron Bridge‘s main selling point. Divers could search all the way up and down the east coast and yet come up empty. A few examples include batfish, manta rays, octopus, frogfish, stargazers, and seahorses.

They are all only a short distance from the coast, so shore diving is an option. And if it sounds even remotely daunting, consider the depth. The average depth is about 12 feet, while the deepest point may be 23 feet. Divers of all abilities will love this spot.

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18. Looe Key

Another fantastic site for scuba diving in Florida is Looe Key Reef. The reef bears the name of a British Man O’ War that capsized in 1744. A five and a half-square-mile marine sanctuary includes the reef. The reef itself is shaped like a U and measures around two hundred yards long by eight hundred yards wide.

Every day, three ferries leave towards the reef, so getting there shouldn’t be a problem. This reef, in contrast to others nearby, is an excellent place for divers of all levels. Here, even snorkelers will have a blast.

The depth of the water might reach nearly forty feet. There is a precipitous slope of several hundred feet at the southernmost point. If you’re not ready, stay away from that end because there are strong currents there.

However, there is a ton to view in the shallow seas, including nurse sharks, parrotfish, and goliath grouper. Additionally, there are numerous varieties of coral that are difficult to find elsewhere because the waters are protected. Italso contains some really uncommon black coral.

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19. Molasses Reef for scuba divers

Another Florida Keys location is Key Largo. Perhaps the most well-liked scuba diving location in the region is the Molasses Reef. You’ll understand why once you’re in the water. This is the place to go if you enjoy nature. In this lake, there are approximately 600 species that have been categorized.

That includes coral, vegetation, and tropical fish. This dive spot is very stunning visually and is definitely worth the journey. There are obviously no guarantees, but sharks and turtles are rather common. Spiny lobsters are frequently abundant on the reef as well. You can view the enormous winch from a ship known as the Slobodana here.

In 1887, a schooner with a wooden hull and a hundred seventy-foot length sank. Eagle Ray Alley is directly adjacent to it. Depths along the reef range from 9 feet all the way to 65 feet. There can be a bit of a current here sometimes, so watch out for that. But the popularity of the dive site means there are tons of tours available.

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20. Tenneco Towers Dive Sites

Are you interested in seeing the biggest artificial reef in South Florida? Tenneco Towers is what you want. The five abandoned oil platforms were lowered into the water, and the outcome is this. They are about halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Only three of them are accessible on regular dives. The other two are only used for fishing or tricky dives. With the three options, you won’t be missing out on anything. The body of the towers have been taken over by sponges and coral.

This resulted in the amazing artificial reef that was made. But it’s incredible how much marine life there is everywhere. This diving spot is full of turtles, barracuda, tuna, and the rare bull shark. The depths are between 60 and 130 feet, depending on the tides.

The best scuba diving is performed from the bottom up, going around the square as you climb. As you move along, you can explore the platform’s various levels. Please keep in mind that this is not a beginner scuba dive than you will be looking for some sites for scuba diving in Florida.

intermediate and advanced divers



CONCLUSIONS

Excellent times can be found while scuba diving in Florida. That is merely a fact. There are a lot more places to visit besides the ones I’ve included here. South Florida, Key West, central Florida, and beyond are all included.

The state is home to many of the top dive locations. I made an effort to provide a great, varied selection. Please share them with us and the other divers in the comments if you have any other favorites.

marine life

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