10 Best Dive Spots in Florida
Florida has some of the best dive spots in the United States. This list could be very long so we are only focusing on the 10 best dive spots in Florida in this article. Even though only the Panhandle Shipwreck Trail and Vortex Springs are near Pensacola we feel that we needed to also look at others thought Florida. Many dive sites are located in the Keys, but Florida has a abundant coastline and springs, so you can dive almost anywhere in Florida.
Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail
Location: Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is located in northern Florida Keys and encompasses coral reefs, islands and mangrove forests. Its reefs and islands are accessible only by boat and is home to the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail dive sites. Six wrecks, spanning nearly a century and a wide variety of sizes and vessels, have been mapped. Brochures like the Arratoon Apcar have been produced and mooring buoys have been installed. The newest addition to the trail is the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse. Snorkeling is great around the base of the light, but the structure itself is not open to the public. Divers and snorkelers may see a variety of marine life including dolphins and turtles.
Blue Heron Bridge
Location: Phil Foster Park, 900 Blue Heron Blvd., Riviera Beach.
Blue Heron Bridge was chosen in 2013 as the best dive site in the world by PADI’s Sport Diver magazine. Entry to the bridge is from a small beach on the west side and depths range from 5 to 25 feet. Dive this site is during high slack tides when visibility is at its best. Due to the high boat traffic in this area a dive flag is a must. Amongst the debris littering the bottom, including to mini wrecks on the East side Divers will encounter a vast array of sea life. Divers will find themselves swimming alongside schools of bait-fish, rays, manatees or gazing in the hiding places of lobster, octopus and seahorses. This marine life rich dive site is also home to at least 100 different species of nudibrachs.
Location: Crystal River Florida
As the Gulf of Mexico water cool the Manatees begin their migration into warmer spring waters. The Manatees generally arrive in November and depart around April. It is during this time period that people can see these magnificent animals weighing in at a thousand pounds and reaching ten feet. Although diving with the Manatees is restricted at this particular park snorkeling is allowed. There are multiple locations where diving is permitted in the springs and you may or may not see a Manatee at these locations. You will see several salt and fresh water species that also congregate at this location.
Devil’s Den Spring
Location: 5390 NE 180th Ave Williston, FL 32696
Devil’s Den Spring is a privately owned and operated scuba diving training and recreational facility. Devil’s Den is a karst window, which is basically where the roof of an underground river collapses exposing the subterranean river. Many fossils from the Pleistocene age, including a human skeleton fragments dating back to 7,500 BC have been found at this location and currently reside the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. Devil’s Den Surface area measures 120 feet in diameter with a depth of, around 54 feet and a constant temperature of 72 degrees. There are fee’s associated with this dive site and other requirements that must be completed prior to diving.
Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail
Location: Pensacola, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe Florida
Ship wreck trail consists of 12 unique shipwrecks, along the Florida Panhandle. A passport to assist you in logging your experience at each individual wreck. The passports are available at participating charters and dive shops. The wrecks in this trail include the USS Oriskany, YDT-14, San Pablo, Pete Tide II, Three Coal Barges, Miss Louise, Black Bart, FAMI Tugs, USS Accokeek, USS Strength, USS Chippewa and the Vamar. The trail was developed in 2012 by the state’s Bureau of Archeological Research in partnership with the Panhandle waterfront community.
Fort Lauderdale Wreck Trek
Location: Fort Lauderdale Florida
This three-wreck drift dive consists of 3 ships at varying depths ranging from 60 to 75 feet.
- The Jay Scutti is a 95′ tugboat that sits upright and was donated to the artificial reef program in honor of their late son Jay and rests in 65 feet of water.
- The Merci Jesus Wreck is a 90 foot long tugboat that was sunk in 72 feet of water.
- The Tracy Wreck is a 130 foot long oil supply vessel sunk in 72 feet of water.
Drifting along these wrecks starting at the Jay Scutti and using the cable and rod markers drift north over the other two wrecks. While drift diving the wrecks, you can see large schools of fish, sting rays and of course barracudas.
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
Location: 5 nautical miles offshore of Big Pine Key in Bahia Honda State Park
Looe Key Sanctuary is not an island, but a “groove and spur” reef and part of the reef system that parallels the Atlantic side of the Florida Keys. This reef acquired its name from the HMS Looe, which sank in 1744 while towing a captured French Vessel named the Snow. The reef at Looe Key, about 200 yards wide and 800 yards long is generally “U” shaped, and is comprised of both patch and outside reefs. 35 foot rock ledges combined with over 150 species of fish and 50 plus species of coral this National Marine Sanctuary is a favorite of scuba divers around the world. Looe Key is located about five nautical miles offshore of Big Pine Key is Looe Key.
Location: John Pennekamp Park in key Largo
Molasses Reef is a shallow dive over a live coral reef. This popular dive site is teaming with life and a perfect place for an Open Water diver to explore. At depths of 25-45 feet the ocean bursts to life with amazing creatures like Moray eels, nurse sharks and even lobsters. There are over 30 mooring buoys marking the area, which is great news for the snorkelers, divers and the really experienced divers, as they clearly mark water depths. If you look for depths no more than 40 feet, you will find yourself amongst groove coral formations covered with a huge variety of sponges.
Location: Fort Lauderdale Florida
In 1985 the Tenneco oil Company sunk 5 oil platforms and comprise the largest artificial reef in South East Florida. With depths between 65-200′ the Tenneco Towers are great for both recreational and technical divers. Covering the towers are soft sponges, corals and are home to numerous oysters. Within the towers reef fish abound while pelagic fish patrol its boundaries looking for an easy meal. Locating the Three Tenneco towers run in the east to west direction with depths of 60, 80, and 100′. The other two towers are in water about 200′ in depth. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew made some of the towers lean at a 45 degree angle.
Location: 1517 Vortex Spring Lane, Ponce De Leon, FL 32455
This freshwater dive site does have an entrance fee. The spring produces 28 million gallons of each day and maintains a constant temperature of 68 degrees. Vortex Spring is popular with Dive Shops and you will often see Scuba Instructors conducting training classes. Divers can explore the sandy bottom and caverns from depths of 50 to 115 feet. Marine life include catfish, freshwater eels and koi carp. Vortex waters flow out of the 225-foot-diameter spring pool to form Blue Creek, which flows over a half-mile before entering the Choctawhatchee River.
There you have it
The 10 Best dive spots in Florida, I know this list can go on, but at some point we have to call it.