Florida is well known for many different things. It’s a mish-mash of culture, and it’s truly a melting pot of all sorts of different people and things. And, of course, Florida is also an extremely popular vacation spot. There are many different things that you can do in Florida, including going on countless tours and spending your time at the beaches and beautiful pools. But if you’re a diver and you want to spend some time underneath the azure waters of Florida, can you even do it? And where exactly do you do it? What are the best places to dive in the Florida waters?
In today’s article, we explore the best places to dive in the Florida area. We’ll take a look at each of the must-dive sites you’ll find in this beautiful American state. You might be surprised to know that Florida actually has 1,350 miles making up its coastline. On top of that, this beautiful state actually has many freshwater springs, as well as lakes to boot. There are truly many wonders to see in Florida far beyond what you’d see in just the world’s biggest theme parks (which are located there).
Things to Remember Before You Dive
Before you go to the best places to dive in the Florida area, first you must remember a few things!
- Make sure that you have all of your diving gear in order, including your diving license if you have one. If you don’t (or if you have never gone on a dive before), don’t worry! You certainly still can dive, you’ll just have to go with an instructor. You do not need to be licensed at all!
- If you don’t have any diving gear, that’s alright too. You can simply rent some gear from diving shops in the location you plan to visit. Just remember that you should sanitize that gear before you use it!
- Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints. This is a good thing to remember when you are going anywhere on a vacation – not just when you go diving. It’s good for you to take pictures to make memories, but do your best to leave everything as it was when you came. Don’t bring home sand, don’t take shells, and most importantly, don’t take home any animals or living beings.
With all of that said, do your best to enjoy your trip to some of the best places to dive in the Florida waters!
Best Places to Dive in the Florida Area
There are quite a few places that are fantastic for diving in Florida – places that we know you will enjoy for sure. After all, being surrounded by water, Florida is bound to have plenty of underwater sights to see. That said, let’s take a look at some of the best ones!
The very first place in this list of the best places to dive in the Florida waters is the Devil’s Den. Now, don’t let the name scare you away – quite truthfully the name is just a name. In fact, it’s named this way because Devil’s Den is the one and only prehistoric spring found underground in the wonderful state of Florida. It’s actually found in a particular area of Florida named Williston.
Florida’s Devil’s Den boasts a very rich history which includes fossils and artifacts. Some of these even have connections that lead all the way to the amazing Smithsonian Institute. Down below in the Devil’s Den, the temperature is a constant of 22 Degrees Celsius or 72 Degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, you will need to have a 3-millimeter wetsuit when you are trying to explore the waters underneath. The spring is about 50-foot, and it also has many air pockets and swim-throughs that you can check out.
Unfortunately, if you are a bit claustrophobic, you may want to avoid this area as it may trigger you. It is a rather enclosed location on its own. It’s even worse when you have to swim through some of the little places to get to the air pockets. You might be better off trying one of the other diving spots on this list instead.
Underwater springs may not always be everyone’s style, but if you’re looking for an alternative, you may find it in the USS Oriskany. You will find this dive site 22 miles to the south of Pensacola in Florida. It’s basically the world’s largest artificial reef, and for this reason, you will surely see a ton of amazing wildlife and sights. Funnily enough, they actually gave the USS Oriskany a special name: The Great Carrier Reef. It’s a fun and unique play on the Great Barrier Reef.
The USS Oriskany is a ship that was sunk to a depth of 200 ft or 60 meters. It was purposefully sunk so that the 911 ft. long vessel could begin to draw marine life. Surely enough, over time, marine life began to make their home in the ship – and all around it as well. The ship also continues to draw not only marine life but also divers and marine photographers.
If you’re able to dive to 60 ft deep (requires you to be a licensed diver, however), then you’ll surely enjoy this dive site.
Blue Heron Bridge
When you think about a bridge, you may not automatically associate it with the thought of teeming marine life. It may not even be something that will make you go “oh, that’s somewhere I want to dive”. But the fact is, despite how it may seem, the Blue Heron Bridge in Florida hides a lot of sights to see underneath its sparkling waters. The Blue Heron Bridge is located just off the Riviera Beach, and it’s a fantastic location for finding small treasures.
Divers like to go to this location because here you can find some sea life such as rays, batfish, adorable octopi, and even seahorses. Underwater photographers love this location because it’s such an easy place to find creatures to take photographs of.
When you dive underneath the Blue Heron Bridge, you can go varied depths – as shallow as six feet, and as deep as 25 ft. As a result, this location is great even if you’re a complete beginner and you have never gone on a dive before. Despite the shallow waters, you’ll find plenty of attractions such as two mini wrecks and even the sunken shopping carts. Down here you can also see 3 statues of hammerhead sharks, which you can get your photo taken with.
If a freshwater experience is what you are after (and you’re not interested in diving at an underground spring), then you’ll probably like the Rainbow River. This river is fantastic for drift divers, and can be found just 20 miles to the southwest of Ocala, which is located at Dunnellon, Florida. It’s not a bad place for people who are newer to diving as well, as this dive location has a maximum depth of about 8 meters or 25 feet.
Despite the shallowness of the water, you’ll actually enjoy the fact that you will be able to see up to 200 feet with this location’s amazing visibility.
In the Rainbow river, you’ll see fantastic things such as finding a shark’s tooth. You may also see turtles and otters, which are utterly adorable. Finally, you’ll find some bubbling spring beds here to boot.
The name of this diving spot might make you think you’ll encounter a lot of pigs and hogs, but that’s not the truth! Hog Heaven, one of the best diving places in the Florida waters, is actually a barge. The barge is 180 feet long and it sank to the bottom, landing upside down accidentally. As a result, it ended up becoming an artificial reef that many marine animals inhabit today.
This artificial reef is located just off of Palm Beach, and it’s fast become a favorite for many diving aficionados. After all, with depths of fifty to sixty-five feet, this location is perfect even for beginners. You’ll also be able to find openings to the barge that are relatively easy to access. Furthermore, you’ll find snappers, angelfish (which are gorgeous to photograph), and grunts.
And so, if you want to be able to go exploring an underwater wreck while also seeing a lot of wildlife, this is a great place to go. It’s easily accessible too, considering it’s just near Palm Beach!
Christ of the Abyss
For those who want to visit some remarkable underwater landmarks (funny how it’s still called a landmark, right?), you might like to dive to see the Christ of the Abyss. This statue is underwater and you can find it in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. This park is located just off Key Largo in Florida, and it’s actually a pretty popular attraction for not just divers but also snorkelers to boot. This is because the location has many colorful reefs that are simply teeming with marine life for you to see.
The biggest attraction here, however, is the statue of the Christ of the Abyss. This statue is built from 4,000 lbs of bronze and stands about 8.5 feet tall. To get to the statue, you have to dive twenty-five feet. But once under there, you can take some really fantastic photos that you will surely enjoy for the rest of your life.
This dive site is, in fact, one of the most popular and most visited all around the world. The shallow waters combined with the coral formations and the chance for you to encounter rays combine to give you an amazing experience all around.
Fun Facts About Christ of the Abyss
One thing that you might want to know is that this is not the only Christ of the Abyss statue in the world. Indeed, the near 9-foot statue found in Florida is the third of its kind. It was made using the original mold from Italy. Then, it was sunk into the Florida waters back in 1965.
You can find the original Christ of the Abyss (Il Cristo Degli Abissi) in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was lowered into the waters in the year 1954. This original sculpture was made by Guido Galletti, who was inspired by Duilio Marcante (an Italian diver). Il Cristo degli Abissi was made to represent Jesus Christ not only below the waves but also in the new world. It stands as a memorial for everyone who lost their lives while at sea, and also as a monument for the divers who continue to visit.
The next place on the list of the best places to dive in the Florida area is Spiegel Grove. This diving spot is actually one of the most iconic wrecks in Florida – in fact, it is well known all around the world with divers, as well. This wreck is located right off of Key Largo, Florida. It’s underneath 130 feet of water, quite a deep way to go if you want to see it for yourself. Therefore, this dive is suited for those who are more experienced, or at least those who are more confident in their scuba diving skills.
This wreck is of a five hundred and ten foot US Navy ship which sunk back in the year 2002 – almost a good two decades ago. The ship landed on its right side (starboard). However, back in the year 2005, a funny little event happened. Hurricane Dennis managed to place the shipwreck upright! And so, now, if you went to visit Spiegel Grove yourself, you’ll find the wreck right side up.
Like many other shipwrecks, this one has also attracted some marine life. When diving to the depths, you’ll find healthy populations of marine life such as schools of fish (like silversides) or even massive grouper fish just lurking around.
Some of the best places to dive in the Florida waters are also some of the best in the world. If you find yourself fortunate enough to be able to go diving around in Florida, don’t hesitate! Try to check off as many places as you can off the list. This wonderfully beautiful area will give you memories to cherish for the rest of your life.