The sunshine state of the USA is not famous only for its sandy, sprawling beaches, and miles of coastline! The peninsula located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico is surrounded by water on three coasts. Its diversity of marine wildlife and underwater environments makes the state ideal as a scuba diving destination. Apart from scuba diving, Florida is also preferred by water sports lovers, especially those into knee boarding and snorkeling. You can pick from beautiful coral reefs, underwater caves, and historic undersea wreckage sites if you are unsure about where to scuba dive in Florida.
Why Florida is sought after for Scuba diving
There are several reasons for Florida’s popularity as a scuba diving destination in the USA. These are:
- Diversity of spots – catering to scuba diving enthusiasts with varying needs and penchants.
- Excellent connectivity to the rest of major US cities and European destinations.
- Nice weather for most of the year.
Top Scuba diving destinations in Florida
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
Touted as the first underwater park in the USA, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a major choice for scuba diving in Florida. It has been named after John Pennekamp, the newspaper editor known for his efforts to preserve the Florida Keys Reef in the 1960s. While diving, you can enjoy watching the colorful enticing corals. The marine wildlife is also amazing and the species of lobsters and parrotfish are nothing short of visual delights.
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
If you want somewhat offbeat diving experience in Florida- go to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. The experience of diving while watching the manatees swimming around is an enthralling experience. The manatees are large herbivorous marine mammals and they are also called sea cows. In the National Wildlife Refuge, you can pick a spot to dive and sink to the bottom- watching this huge but harmless marine animals swimming in the vicinity.
Do not be frightened by the ominous name as this underwater cave is a haven for scuba diving lovers visiting Florida! The roof of this cave collapsed thousands of years back. So, you can reach the subterranean river easily. It is also used as a scuba diving training zone. The water in Underground River has a temperature of 72 °F, so you will never feel too cold! The surface opening was narrow but it was widened in the 1990s. It is nothing short of an underwater visual extravaganza!
- Rainbow River
If exploring undersea dark caves is not your thing, and you are wondering where to scuba dive in Florida try this! The Rainbow River, located in Dunnellon, Florida offers a perfect rejuvenation recipe for Scuba diving lovers looking for freshwater destinations. The 5.7-mile river is a delight that you will not know until you have dived to the depths of it. The crystalline turquoise water of the spring-fed river, amazing underwater vegetation and wildlife will leave you dazzled. Based on the time you head there, what you see under water may vary. Most divers watch the enticing turtles- there are enough varieties. The amazing underwater flowers are enthralling too.
To enjoy scuba diving in the Gulf coast region in Florida- Sarasota is a good choice. There are a number of dive shops here and the dive sites offer a lot of attractions. You can enjoy diving almost all over the year as water visibility and temperature remains ideal. The major dive site is the wreckage site of Bayronto, a British freighter which sank to the deaths of sea in a hurricane in 1919. Around 18 miles southwards of Sarasota is the famous Venice Beach, which is a great place to lounge around for a few hours. It is known for abundance of fossilized shark teeth deposits. The teeth fossils belong to ancient shark species that used to inhabit the waters millions of years back.
- Panama City
Popular with tourists preferring its vast coastline, Panama City also attracts a large number of water sports lovers. There are diving schools and several attractive dive sites around the coastline to explore.
Known better for its flamboyant Beach scene, Miami is also good for diving. There are several world war era wrecks that serve as nice dive sites. You can try any of the 75 dive-able wrecks near the city coastline. Flamingo reef is also ideal for divers.
These were but a few of the many fabulous diving spots you must visit when in Florida. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and set out on a vacation like no othe