Unrivaled theme parks and an assortment of beautiful sun-kissed shores make up strong selling points for a getaway to the “Sunshine State”. For scuba divers though, otherwise known as people who revel in the scintillating life beyond the surface, it is the surrounding aqua waters that are the state’s most prized possession. If you are of this school of thought then you’re in luck as we’ll be rounding up the top 10 scuba dives in Florida:
1) Devil’s Den
Contrary to what’s its name insinuates, the Devil’s Den is actually a turquoise paradise that is as intriguing as it is gorgeous. This serene haven is born out of a subterranean river running underneath a collapsed karst window which forms the roof. This feature holds the exclusive title of Williston’s and Florida’s only prehistoric underground spring.
The water therein averages about 72°F and it’s known to exhibit rising vapor particularly during the cold weather which forms a plume atop the cave’s entrance hence why early settlers believed it to be Lucifer’s very own doorsteps. Obviously, that’s not the case though, but it is a doorway to an assortment of fossils dating more than 2 million years old making it one of the most coveted scuba diving Florida hotspots.
2) Molasses Reef
A diving course set on easy, Molasses Reef is the go-to for many seeking certification within the area. It is located off tranquil Key Largo and is a collection of shallow reefs perfect for those looking to cut their scuba diving teeth.
The underwater life here is quite diverse encompassing fire and brain corals, sea sponges and fans, star and elkhorn among many other aquatic species. You’ll also find lobsters, eels, nurse sharks and corals crabs which call these enchanting waters home.
A coral-eating parrotfish, spadefish, and vibrant angelfish are also common passersby with the elusive sea turtle a rare treat for the lucky. The lovely marine display can be taken in from anywhere between 25 and 45 feet.
Marathon is a scenic destination taken straight out of a fairytale consisting of storybook sunsets clashing with defiantly green vegetation that shares occupancy with endearing sandy shores making a worthy member in a list of the top 10 scuba dives in Florida.
Its underwater appeal is also just as enthralling with Sombrero reef a nice starting point to find your underwater bearing in this maze of seemingly countless delicacies. Speaking of which, be prepared for a massive grouper lingering within dark corners, snappers glistening within rays of sunlight, sea parrotfish having crunchy corals for dinner and schooling grunts just minding their own business. Eels and nurse sharks hide within finger-esque formations of the reef with the general depth for the impressive show by Mother Nature standing at between 8 and 20 feet.
Islamorada is another great choice for novices providing reefs with depths ranging from 10 to 15 feet. The more experienced diver can try his/her hand at conquering the “The Eagle”- remains of an ancient Dutch vessel- which is challengingly poised between stretches of water totaling 110 feet deep.
Besides the rustic treasure, you are also likely to come across grunts, silversides, and sharks who’ve wondered down below for some alone time although they’ll hardly mind the intrusion if you have snacks to spare.
Alligator Reef is Islamorada’s- and the Upper Key’s- largest reef system and consequently avails 500 species for your viewing. For instagrammable shots and nice snorkeling spots, Pickles Reef proves the go-to for scuba diving Florida.
5) Blue Heron Bridge
You’d think a place located underneath a city bridge would have little to offer for the seasoned diver, however, the opposite, in fact, holds true. It is a case of good things coming in small quantities with the quiet waters neighboring Riviera Beach providing a nice but limited collection of batfish, octopus, seahorses, and rays.
Divers can also look forward to more below-surface goodies in the way of hammerhead stark statues, a pair of mini wrecks and sunken shopping carts. The Blue Hero Bridge may not look like much at first, but its 6 to 25 feet diving playground is a joy to behold.
6) Hog Haven
Hog Haven resides in 72 feet of water and is a 180-foot barge that was designed for the sole purpose of creating an artificial reef. And that it did quite spectacularly with the wreck now turned to humbled dwellings for countless fish varieties including barracuda, grunts, porkfish, sergeant majors and angelfish.
The ship accidentally sank in an upside down position in 1986 with reinforcements coming three years on in the form of the leftovers of the Pacific Reef Lighthouse providing enlightenment as to why the area has been christened the Jungle Gym.
7) Half moon
The Half Moon is another manmade triggered creation with the once popular racing yacht a prize of war after the German vessel got caught up in the first World War during an escapade to England. Unfortunate for its occupants but fortunate for divers, the wreck now sits at the bottom of the ocean providing chapters of history from an ancient time.
Before it found its way to the bottom though, Germania- as was its sobriquet during its heydays- was passed across various owners and was even a floating restaurant at one point before sinking in 1930 near Key Biscayne around Miami.
8) Christ of the Abyss
Serving up exactly what that tag suggests, this Coral Reef State park’s center of attraction is without a doubt the bronze 4000-pound Jesus Christ sculpture taking up 8.5 of the 25 feet of water in which it is located. It holds its own in a category of the top ten dives in Florida as well as the planet’s most visited diving spots.
Aside from the nonchalant Son of God putting his hands agape possibly wondering what he’s doing there, John Pennekamp also has a lot else to offer. These include groove coral formations and the odd encounter with stingrays and eagle rays probably wondering about on a tour of the odd structure.
9) Blue Grotto
Williston’s Blue Grotto dishes out a cascade of diving experiences ranging up to a maximum depth of 100 feet at the extreme bottom of the journey. The intensely blue and transparent pool remains that way all through the year- thanks in part to the luminous lighting system- providing a clear backdrop to savor the masses of aquatic life sticking around for free treats. It for this reason and plenty of others as well that it makes the cut of the top 10 scuba dives in Florida.
The crescent-shaped cavern which sits 50 feet below the surface is the joint of choice for the fish and is also home to a lineup of fossils that cling vehemently to the cumber walls. Tewnty feet above it lies Grotto’s sole air bell where you can share words of encouragement with friends beyond delving further below.
10) French Reef
Things with a French tag hardly ever disappoint and the French Reef which rounds out our top 10 scuba dives in Florida is certainly in keeping with this tradition. It provides stunning limestone cliffs that you’ll be hard placed to match and a gorgeous seascape as carved out by the maestro painter that is Mother Nature.
Those just testing the waters quite literally will take a liking to the reef which is amassed with canyons, ledges, and tunnels for guidance. What it also has lots of is biodiversity comprising of damselfish, jacks, grunts, and parrotfish among many others.
There you have it, the top 10 scuba dives in Florida that would not look out of place in a compilation of the world’s best.