Florida is a state that makes a lot of headlines. It seems to always be the location of weird news articles or the target of gargantuan hurricanes. But all of that aside, Florida is one of the most beautiful of the states in America, a stunning peninsula surrounded by sparkling waters that are teeming with sea life. Let’s have a quick look at Florida’s best diving spots.
For divers, Florida is a prime destination, one that can easily provide you with myriad diving opportunities on the east and west coast, and even some incredible underground caverns and caves. What, you thought Florida was all tropical waters and spring break vacations? Think again! Here are Florida’s best diving spots that are way more magical than any Disney vacation.
Half Moon Preserve and Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail– Biscayne National Park
Half Moon Preserve is a particularly fascinating spot for both novice divers and those with an affinity for history. Here is where you’ll find an old racing yacht which, despite having won the Kaiser’s Cup for speeding across the Atlantic Ocean, this German ship was the first to be captured during WWI. Meanwhile, the Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail in the same national park features 6 other wrecks to explore plus the Fowey Rocks Lighthouse for when you tire of using your sea legs.
Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary – Big Pine Key
Head south from Miami’s Key Biscayne and you’ll find Big Pine Key, home to this coral reef named after a British ship by the name of the HMS Looe that ran aground in 1744. To find it, simply head to the Bahia Honda State Park where it has resided just off the coast, complete with rocky ledges, coral for miles and gorgeous brightly-colored tropical fish darting in and out of every nook and cranny.
Molasses Reef – Key Largo
Right off the famed John Pennekamp Park, this is one of the most popular diving spots in all of Florida. While it’s a bit shallow at 25 to 45 feet, you’ll find a medley of interesting sea characters like nurse sharks, lobsters, and moray eels, to name a few.
Devil’s Den and Blue Grotto – Williston
Close by Gainesville, Devil’s Den is a steam-billowing underground warm-water spring is an absolute must for divers. It’s here that you’ll see fossils dating back 2 million years. There are also the remains of a man from 7,500 years ago! And while the name sounds spooky, there’s nothing scary about this place. It’s utterly fascinating, and given Florida’s dazzling beaches, this pure underground underwater world is a completely different experience.
Also in Williston, you’ll find the Blue Grotto, an 80-foot cavern that is home to crystal clear waters. Just 30-feet down, there’s a dive bell to ring before you venture further down into the deep below where fossils beckon, or if you’d rather, the Blue Grotto Cave has underwater rock formations that will truly take your breath away.
Blue Heron Bridge – West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach doesn’t sound like the place people flock to for diving. It’s often associated with the ritzy and glitzy, and even President Trump’s estate is there. But why not go for posh Palm Beach accommodations to luxuriate in after you dive at Phil Foster Park? It’s here that shallow waters just 20 feet below the surface will bring you into contact with the usual suspects as well as more unusual ones like the octopus. Plus, when the waters are warm, you’ll likely get your chance to dive among the manatees, one of the most gentle sea creatures in the world.
Gunsmoke – St. Petersburg
On the west coast of Florida, you’ll discover an old shrimp boat, Gunsmoke. It has the kind of history to it that could really only happen in Florida with smuggling, murders, and unclaimed drug shipments rounding out the story. Despite the torrid past, it’s an incredible diving site to behold.
Copenhagen Wreck – Pompano Beach
Most travelers head to Pompano Beach to sit on the sands and work on their tans, but if you’re a diver, you’ve got to look for the old Copenhagen wreck. In 1900, it was a steamship that was transporting coal to Havana when it ran aground in the shallow waters. In 1994, it was named a Florida Archaeological Preserve, making for even more reason to dive right in and see it.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, or peninsula in this case, for diving spots to check out in Florida. With a unique ecosystem and the tropical climate, diving in Florida can be done year-round making it a diver’s paradise.
Header image credits: Luke Dahlgren