Florida has some of the best places to scuba dive in the world. With an abundant coast line surrounding most of the state, there are amazing spots to see from Amelia Island to the Florida keys. All you have to figure out is what you want to see.
I want to see manatees.
You’ll have to stick to snorkeling, but you’ll definitely want to head to Crystal River where the sea cows are a plenty. They congregate in herds in the warm waters from November through about April. You won’t realize how impressive these animals are until you’re seeing one of these 10 feet, 1,000 pound gentle giants in person. Remember, they are protected and endangered, so don’t do anything that could harm them or their environment. Harassing or chasing them is strictly prohibited.
If you leave the posted manatee area and go for a dive, you can experience dozens of freshwater springs that boil from the underground aquifer, and you might spot tarpon, snapper, redfish, large mouth bass, and garfish.
I want to cave dive.
Head to Blue Grotto, a large clear-water cavern open to divers of all skill levels. The cavern reaches depths of 100 ft, but there is a compressed air-supplied bell at 30 ft where you can enter and take the regulator out of your mouth mid-dive and even have a quick conversation.
I want to swim with sea turtles.
Head to West Palm Beach for some gulf stream drift diving. Cast moving water will take you past beautiful coral reefs filled with marine life. The current will take you effortlessly across miles of habitat, with your best chance of catching some sea turtles during the season between May and September. Groups as big as a dozen will happily drift alongside you.
I want to find shark teeth.
Venice has an ancient riverbed about a mile off the beach known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World.” Divers from around the world come to look for shark teeth big and small.
I want to see artificial reefs.
Of the shores of Miami/Fort Lauderdale are a string of wrecks, including three retired oil platforms called Tenneco Towers. The rigs are covered in corals and sponges and populated with a variety of schools of fish. Miami’s “Wreck Trek” includes an 85-foot steel tug, two M60 tanks, the 110-foot Billy’s Barge, Ben’s Antenna Reef and dozens of 100-foot plus freighters.
There are plenty of beginners lessons and easy sites for those just getting started. And if you’re really nervous, there’s still a ton of nature you can discover sticking to your basic snorkel and flippers. I’d recommend looking up a tour or lessons with an instructor who can lead you to the best spots if you’re a beginner or just not sure where to go.
There’s plenty to discover off the shores of Florida if you’re adventurous enough to get out there. From living reefs and marine animals to ship wrecks and historical sites, you’re just an air tank away from exploring them up close and personal.