Getting Nauti’s Top Ten Florida Dive Spots
Goodness, how hard is this? Who am I to proclaim, I alone, can decree what is top ten? In fact, how can you possibly hope to distil diving in Florida to just ten spots? There’s wrecks, reefs, sink holes, rivers, and even treasure hunting dotted all over the place. I’ve tried, I’ve offer a varied list of spots up for sacrifice and of course I’m going to get it wrong! Everyone has an opinion with every top ten list of dive sites they read. That’s the fun and that’s what the comments section is for, so tell us your favorites at the bottom and you never know – we might just come and check ‘em out.
USCG Duane, Key Largo
Scuttled in 1987 to provide a new habitat and diver playground this wreck gets big okay sign every time. She has a stellar history dating back to 1936 which includes action in D-Day and saving hundreds of Cuban Refugees. She is 327ft long and sits upright in 125ft of water, she is fully intact and can be penetrated by those qualified. Explore, and you will see a wreck covered with life, inhabited by varied fish life and stalked by great barracuda. Great white and bull sharks have been seen here too.
Rainbow River, Dunnellon
Fancy a lazy day on the river, then this is perfect. Fed by springs, the water has an unbelievable clarity and gently moving current so that you can meander along with little fuss. Depth ranges from 4-20ft so your dive can seem everlasting and it’s great for snorkelling too. The sunshine dappling through the surface gives an otherworldly quality to the underwater scenes. You’ll find turtles and a variety of freshwater fish and be able to check out the famous sand boils too.
Looe Key, Big Pine Key
This gorgeous reef is perfect for beginners and those who enjoy a relaxing dive on a colorful reef. Depth ranges from 7ft to 30ft so snorkelers can enjoy the delights too. Watch out for the resident goliath grouper, reef sharks, varieties of reef fish, spade fish, jacks, and possibly even spotted eagle rays.
Tenneco Towers, Miami
Tenneco Towers is quite a different wreck dive. In 1985 Tenneco Oil Company sank five portions of oil rig platforms to create the largest artificial reef in southeast Florida. Life was quick to establish itself, and today you’ll find an abundance of soft coral, hard coral, and sponges as well as many reef fish and pelagic visitors. These are advanced dives with only the shallowest 3 being accessible to recreational divers with decks at 60, 80 and 100ft depth. The deeper structures bottom out at 185ft and 200ft and are suitable only for technical diving.
Molasses Reef, Key Largo
Colorful and abundant, this reef is beautiful and extensive and provides many sites to explore; you might choose to visit Hole in the Wall, North Star, Fire Coral Cave, or Spanish Anchor Winch Hole. Drift dives can be made along the outer reef. Depth ranges from 10-100ft making it suitable for all to enjoy. Expect goliath grouper, lobster, morays, sharks, as well as the usual resplendent reef dwellers.
Eagle Wreck, Islamorada
Sunk in 1985, The Eagle lies on her starboard side in 110ft of water; after descending only 65ft, the wreck will start to appear through the schools of blue runners. In 1998 a storm tore the bow from the stern, and you can now swim through the 20ft gap in the hull which allows you to see an interesting cross section of this 287ft freighter. The crow’s nest and superstructure are still intact and often obscured by pulsing silvery bait fish. Expect to encounter jack fish, spade fish, great barracuda, and goliath grouper.
Devils Den, Williston
Devils Den is an underground spring in a dry cave canopied by a dome which has a hole allowing daylight to flood in; this light creates stunning sapphire blues on the water. Fossils recovered date back 33 million years; this spot is as ancient as it is enchanting and indeed an unusual dive. Expect crystal clear 72-degree water and a maximum depth of 54ft.
Caspersen Beach, Venice
This dive is for booty hunters and only if your treasure is fossilized sharks teeth. If that is so – jump right in. The visibility is not likely to be good, but as you are searching the ocean floor, then you don’t need to see far. The jewel is the massive Megalodon sharks tooth which can be up to 7 inches, but there are many more from lemon, great white, tiger and bull sharks. Find an operator who knows where to chomp.
Blue Springs, wherever you find it.
Causing much controversy on popular scuba forums is the dive site known to all as Blue Springs – the problem – which one is which. However, it seems a safe bet that, if you are in Florida, there’s one close to you, so why not check it out and let us know. Maybe we can write the definitive guide to Blue Spring Diving as a reference point for future dive board shenanigans.
Spiegel Grove, Key Largo
Spiegel Grove a monster wreck dive, at 510 ft long she is one of the largest ships to be scuttled for an artificial reef, but she didn’t go quietly. A mishap during the planned sinking in 2002 caused her to roll and sink 6 hours early, and consequently, she rested on her starboard side. In 2005 Hurricane Dennis finished the job and to the disbelief of many regulars, set her upright. The maximum depth is 130ft, but her height is 84ft. Even so, I reckon you’d think you had gone crazy if your favorite wreck was suddenly in a new position!
Did we miss your favorite dive spot in Florida? Tell us about it in the comments below!