Usns General Hoyt S Vandenbert
One of the most famous dive sites in all of the Florida Keys is the USNS General Hoyt S. Vanderberg which is a 520-foot former military troop transport ship. This vessel is one of the largest artificial reefs in the keys and located off Key West. Sunk at a depth of 140 feet, much of the superstructure of the ship is only 40 to 50 feet below the surface.
The waters surrounding the Vandernberg is calmer than some of the other area wrecks and with the relatively shallow depths, it is an ideal spot for divers at all skill levels.
Florida Keys Dive Center
Florida Keys Dive Center, aka “Flakeys”, is a full service PADI scuba diving center in the Florida Keys, offering daily guided scuba diving trips, scuba instruction, spear fishing and private dive charters, as well as Sunset Cruises and Sandbar Tours. You can find us in Tavernier, FL, mile marker 90 along the Overseas Hwy. 5 minutes South of Key Largo and a short drive from Key West and the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area.
Come scuba dive the best wrecks with us here in the warm waters of the Florida Keys. We will take you to sunken wrecks like the Duane, Eagle, Bibb, Spiegel Grove, SS Benwood and the newley discoverd “Yellow Submarine” . Dive the spectacular ledges like Conch Wall, Crocker Wall and Snapper Ledge. Our “Florida Keys Diving” charter trips to the reefs of Molasses, Hens & Chickens, Davis, Davey Crocker, Pennekamp, Pickles, Victory, Runway, Fingers, Morada, Rocky Top and Aquarium must be experienced.
Bring your own scuba diving gear or rent from us. If you are not a certified scuba diver, try our Discover Scuba class or get PADI Certified in a weekend. If you are a little bit rusty, we also offer refresher diving courses as well as Classes, from Beginner to Advanced and all the way to Instructor!
Usns General Hoyt S Vandenberg Wreck
This wreck is one of the greatest attractions and most famed dive sites of Key West. The Ex-Military Missile Tracking Ship was only sunk in 2009, but signs of marine life and coral structures have quickly made their home in its nooks and crannies. This ship is a massive 524ft , with the honor of being the second largest vessel in the world ever purposely sunk to become an artificial reef. Sitting at depths of 70-100ft , this advanced dive is a must for those planning Key West diving and looking to complete their Florida Keys Wreck Trek.
Also Check: Torch Lake Pontoon Boat Rentals
Scuba Diving Florida Keys Shipwrecks
America’s funky dive archipelago harbors such an impressive fleet of scuttled shipwrecks it could make Truk Lagoon nervous. There are ships you’ve probably never heard of, and one you may even have watched sink on CNN. There are a handful you’re sure to dive, and others you’ll probably only dream about because of their abyssal depths and technical requirements.
Years of protection afforded by the creation of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in 1960 and the implementation of sanctuary preservation areas have helped preserve the Keys’ reefs. The visible payoff to wreck divers is molasses-thick aggregations of fish on many ships, a density that will startle and amaze. You might almost be tricked into believing you are in the Caribbean, if it weren’t for the billboards, fluttering Old Glories, and late-night convenience stores.
Water Activities In Florida
Multiple places of interest have attracted thousands of visitors to Florida every year. Since the open sea surrounds the state, its aquamarine life is among the most diverse ecosystems. In addition, the unique geographical location also allows a variety of watersports.
A distinctive feature of Florida is that its weather is warm all year round, enabling tourists to participate in different water activities whenever they want to. Lets scrutinize some engaging recreational activities underwater!
If you discard scuba diving out of your to-do list in Florida, you are making a huge mistake! Lied between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Florida is home to various marine creatures. The underwater scenery is going to take your breath away!
Besides vast beaches, there are hundreds of lakes for divers who have a soft spot for freshwater marine life. Florida owns a host of both natural and artificial coral reef barriers, promising to offer tourists the best experience.
Moreover, there are mighty shipwrecks under the open water of Florida. It will be super interesting to explore the underwater world and huge mystery under the seabed at the same time. Dont forget to hire an instructor for your safety!
Snorkeling to admire the wildlife in Florida is extremely fun. Some might wonder: Snorkeling or scuba diving, which one is worth the money? The answer is both! It is because each activity has its own merits and offers memorable experiences.
You May Like: Big Island Kona Manta Ray Night Snorkel- Small Group
Best Wrecks In Key Largo
The USS Spiegel Grove ranks as Mers favorite dive site. It is a massive ship and stretches 510 feet from bow to stern and 84 feet across the beam. It rests in 135 feet of water, and divers hit the superstructure at about 65 feet.
The main deck is at 85-90 feet. That makes this an advanced dive and current can be strong. There are plenty of swim-through passages, but penetrating the wreck is dangerous. Almost all the commercial charters go out to the Spiegel and it is about 5 nautical miles offshore.
Local Hint: Look for the Spiegel Beagle emblem – Snoopy riding an alligator – painted on the floor in one of the interior swim-throughs.
Looking for a shallow shipwreck? Check out the Benwood. The merchant marine vessel collided with another vessel one night in 1942 while both vessels were blacked out to avoid detection by German U-boats. The Benwood lies between French Reef and Dixie Shoals in water ranging from 25 45 feet deep.
Other not-to-miss dive sites include the USCGC Duane, another purpose-sunk artificial reef just a mile south of Molasses, and the Christ of the Abyss statue.
The Christ statue is a bucket-list dive and frequently photographed by professional and amateur photographers, alike. Located in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the shallowness of the dive draws in droves of snorkelers – great if you are traveling with non-divers, but it makes for an extremely crowded site on most days.
Scuba Diving Vacations At Hawks Cay
When it comes to scuba diving vacations, Better Than Most SCUBA, located on property at the beautiful Hawks Cay Resort, has you covered. Beginners can get their feet wet in an intro class in our heated pool, followed by an instructor-led, open water experience on the beautiful coral reef. Meanwhile, more experienced divers can choose from a variety of programs, including advanced and rescue certification, and specialty excursions such as lobster dives and spearfishing. We also offer refresher courses and check-out dives for divers who are between levels. All of our scuba diving instructors are highly trained and skilled professionals, qualified to certify students to PADI and SDI standards, as well as any other dive agency with Universal Referrals.
Don’t Miss: Bote Inflatable Paddle Board Reviews
Scuba Diving In Key Largo Florida Keys
The third largest barrier reef in the world is found off the Atlantic coast of the Florida Keysand that makes for world-class diving all along the 100-mile stretch that runs between Key Largo to the north and the southernmost tip in Key West.
Our contributor Micki Browning spent several years in Key Largo and while she is familiar with the other Keys and their diving, Key Largos dive sites are what inspired her to write her dive mysteries set in the Keys. Mer, the marine biologist heroine character, visits many of them in the pages of Adrift and Beached, two of the Mer Cavallo Mysteries.
If you are looking for the best dive centres in Key Largo we have a whole article on that too.
Different Styles Of Scuba Diving In Florida Keys
People across the world know the Florida Keys as a utopia for scuba diving. With a diverse ecosystem and various unique diving spots, this place can offer more than one type of underwater diving. Lets find out what they are!
Coral reef diving
Approximately two-thirds of coral reefs in entire Florida sit in Biscayne National Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The latter is a preserved area surrounding the string of islands in the Florida Keys.
Ergo, these oases are truly wonderlands for coral reef diving! Divers can catch sight of different reef species with many colors, shapes, and sizes. There are many dive sites that have great reef systems in Florida, but the Florida Keys perhaps own the best reef complex in the world!
The coral ecosystem stretches along the seabed, from shore diving spots to offshore ones. Its structures are sophisticated and diverse, forming arches and caves for sea animals to live in. Therefore, you can stand a chance to witness a broad range of marine life.
Besides, there are also artificial coral reefs that accommodate both divers and snorkelers. These kinds of reef systems usually aim to conserve aquatic fauna and flora and serve commercial purposes.
The number of shipwrecks in the Florida Keys is super impressive! People estimate that there are roughly 1000 wrecks of different types around these islands. No wonder why wreck diving is also a popular recreational activity in this area.
Read Also: Panama City Beach Jet Ski Rentals
John Pennekamp / Christ Of The Abyss
One of the places that should be on the top of your list to dive is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the nations first underwater preserve. Located near Key Largo, the visibility here is almost perfect, making it a favorite dive destination for beginner and advanced divers alike.
The statue of Christ of the Abyss is an eerily magnificent site to dive. Located 25 feet beneath the surface, the statue is prominent and distinct. Divers also love this site because it features canyons and trenches to be explored as well as a large variety of eagle rays and sea turtles.
Sinking Under Fishy Circumstances
One Man’s Junk Is a Fish’s Treasure
In addition to the usual suspects, you’ll find a number of fish species on Florida Keys wrecks that may be slightly less common on its reefs:
GREAT BARRACUDA It’s hard to dive the Keys without seeing a ‘cuda, and you may actually encounter an entire school of them on a dive. Barracuda are the most common fish on the Duane and Bibb and second on the Thunderbolt.
FRENCH AND BLUESTRIPED GRUNTS Grunts are the John Does of the Florida Keys, and there’s probably not a wreck you won’t encounter them on.
BAR JACKS According to REEF, Bar Jacks are the most common fish species on the Eagle and Thunderbolt, second on the Bibb and third on the Duane.
GOLIATH GROUPER Once on the verge of extinction, these behemoths are making a comeback, and they love wrecks as much as we do.
Also Check: Snorkeling In Belize Barrier Reef
Scuba Diving In Florida Keys: The Best Guide For Beginners
First, lets talk about where the Florida Keys are and what is special about them. They are a chain of tropical islands lying on the southern tip of Florida. The oases of Florida Keys are paradises for scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, and dolphin watching.
Colorful coral reefs and exotic marine life are the hidden gems of the underwater world in the Florida Keys, rendering them one of the fascinating destinations for scuba diving in South Florida!
There are five main areas in the Florida Keys: Key Largo, Key West, Islamorada, Marathon Key, and Lower Keys. These islands can be a perfect escape for your summer vacations! Scroll down to read more about underwater diving in the Florida Keys!
The History Of The Florida Keys
Until the end of the 19th Century, the Florida Keys were only accessible by boat. Until the director of the East Florida Railroad decided to build one the craziest railway projects from Miami to Key West! The route was achieved in the 1910s, but the hurricanes ended severely damaging the bridges in 1935, so the train service stopped.
Then the car replaced the train. You can still visit a large part of the original railway bridge next to Pigeon Key. A total of 42 bridges is linking 43 islands, including the Seven-mile Bridge between Marathon and Bahia Honda which is one of the longest in the World.
In November 2015, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Keys coral reef is the 3rd world largest barrier reef after Australia and New Caledonia, and the only living coral reef in the USA.
The sanctuary covers 2,900 nautical miles from the south of Miami to Dry Tortugas National Park. As part of the sanctuary protection, a voluntary recognition program, named Blue Star, was launched for the operators in scuba diving, sailing, kayaking, to promote responsible activities that are not harming the ecosystem.
Within the sanctuary, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. After 3 consecutive days of diving in Key Largo, I can tell they did an excellent job, and anyone can see the obvious benefits of such protective measures.
Read Also: Scuba Diving In Maui Hawaii
Surface Intervals: What To Do On Land
When youre not breathing out of a regulator, stay connected to the aquatic world with a SUP yoga class with Lazy Dog Yoga. After a paddle through the mangroves, we anchored our boards for a peaceful yet powerful vinyasa yoga class. Instructor Kayla led a class that was both friendly to the beginners in the group and challenging for a SUP yoga enthusiast like myself. My favorite part? It was the least rushed class Ive ever been to most try to shoehorn the whole thing into an hour, which after you paddle out and set up leaves little time for, well, yoga. With a two hour time slot, we took our time and enjoyed ourselves its the way they do things in the Keys, apparently.
Classes are held three times a week at $30 a class Paddle Fit classes and SUP and kayaking tours also available.
Top of my list when I return? A trip to the Eco-Discovery Center, which unfortunately is closed on Sundays and Mondays, coinciding with my days in Key West. The center shows off the local flora and fauna, intending to increase awareness and appreciation for the ecosystem of South Florida. Theres a 2,500 gallon reef tank with living coral and tropical fish, a live Reef Cam, and a mock up of the nearby Aquarius, the worlds only underwater ocean laboratory, showing how scientists live beneath the sea during research expeditions.
Best Coastal Hotels In Florida
Accommodation is a crucial concern when going on a holiday, right? Its a pity not to find a terrific hotel or resort to relax during your traveling journey. Dont worry, my dear! I will shortlist some excellent hotels for your experience in the dreamland of Florida!
Thousands of hotels are constructed in Florida a popular tourist attraction. Theres no doubt about that. But if you wish to go scuba diving or join in other water activities, coastal hotels and resorts seem to be the optimum choices, dont they?
Hotels / Resorts
You May Like: Pontoon Boat Rental Siesta Key
Ways To Watch The Marine Life In Destin
Undoubtedly, Destin has one of the most diverse marine biodiversity in Florida. Therefore, the local people often exploit the mesmerizing sceneries as a tool to attract tourists all over the globe. Visitors can admire the wildlife in different ways and from various angles.
An interesting activity is to take part in a dolphin cruise. A large population of wild dolphins live in Destin and have become a tourist attraction. You can wish to float on the crystal clear water and witness dolphins swimming around!
In addition, the Okaloosa Island Pier is famous for its wide range of sea turtles. Specifically, there are several species of saltwater turtles swimming around the pier. They also occasionally get close enough for visitors to take some spectacular photos!
If you want to challenge yourself a little bit, snorkeling is an ideal experience for you to try. Typically, people will snorkel in shallow water, so non-swimmers are also congenial! You will stand a chance to wear cool goggles and observe schools of fish under the water!
Another fascinating way to watch marine life is to go scuba diving. You will need a special suit to dive deep under the water. Scuba diving allows you to see the magical world of coral reefs and colorful fishes under the waters surface. You can even swim through some shipwrecks!
Best Scuba Diving In Florida: 21 Dive Spots For 2022
by Ian Fortey Updated on January 4, 2022. In Scuba
There are plenty of great dive spots on the West Coast and all along the East Coast as well. But you know as well as we do that the best scuba diving is in Florida. Its the dive capital of America. The problem is that youre spoiled for choice. You could dive at 100 dive sites in Florida and still barely scratch the surface. Lets narrow down the field a little for you. We think these spots offer the best of the best in Sunshine State scuba diving and snorkeling. No matter what you want to get out of a dive, we have you covered. From amazing marine life to ship wrecks and more. Check out the best scuba diving in Florida.
You May Like: Carbon Fiber Kayak For Sale
Scuba Diving In Florida: The Best Guide For Beginners
Scuba diving in Florida might be far more ideal than anyone can ever expect! It is because the geographical location of Florida has endowed it with a myriad of exclusive and fabulous features. Wonder what they are? Dont miss the following lines!
Lied between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean, Florida owns hundreds of miles of coastlines. No wonder why all the best beaches are located in this state! Whats more, the coral reef barrier in FIt is undoubtedly true that Destin is among the best places in Florida to scuba dive! As you all know, the Gulf of Mexico, along with the Atlantic Ocean, lines the coastal borders of Florida. Destin lies in the Northwest part called Panhandle and adjoins the water of the Gulf!
The average ocean temperature in the Gulf of Mexico is usually warm in all seasons. Hence, scuba diving in Destin is possible at any time during the year! No wonder why Destin has become a household name when it comes to diving!
If you wish to have a wonderful time in this city, read my article immediately! I will help you go through some helpful knowledge about scuba diving and the unique features of Destin. Believe me! Every section below will challenge your expectation!