Thrill-seeking South Florida travelers will definitely want to strap on a tank and slap on some flippers to explore the Gold Coast’s wrecks and miles and miles of coral reefs. Check out this guide to 10 of the best dive sites in all of South Florida. The best part of the story is the fact that 7 out of 10 of these top dive sites are located within 25 miles of Fort Lauderdale.
2. The Spiegel Grove
At 510 feet, the Spiegel Grove is the largest shipwreck on the East Coast of the United States. It would take the rest of your diving life to explore all the nooks and crannies that she has to offer. Sitting upright in 130 feet of water off Key Largo, she is always full of large schools of fish and covered in colorful carpets of coral, sponges and anemones. She is a wreck diver’s dream.
3. Tenneco Towers
These two oil-rig platforms, once independent of each other but now interlocked due to past hurricanes, have one of the largest and most prolific collections of fish that I have ever seen. Sitting at a depth of 105 feet off Dania Beach, these rigs are a fantastic backdrop for wide-angle and macro photography.
4. The Sky Cliff
I have dived many wrecks over my 30 plus years of diving, and the Sky Cliff is my favorite. At 320 feet long and sitting perfectly upright in 205 feet of water, stunning is the only word that comes to mind. Bathed in the clear Gulf Stream that is so close to the coast off Boynton Beach, excellent visibility is almost guaranteed. The wreck is seldom dived so a lush growth of sponges, corals and sea fans abound, which is rarely seen by divers. Sharks, huge amberjacks and large schools of grouper and snappers are common sightings.
5. The Captain Dan
A short ride south of Hillsboro Inlet, the Captain Dan sits in 110 feet of water with her bow pointing due south so she is constantly being caressed by the north-flowing Gulf Stream. This wreck has something to offer all divers: large schools of fish, resident huge goliath groupers, wide-angle and macro photography, and great exploring below decks. She has lots of structure to investigate from bow to stern and will require many dives to uncover her secrets.
The 5 Best Reefs
1. & 2. French and Molasses reefs
Located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo, these two reefs are some of the most picturesque and most photographed reefs in the world. Large swim-throughs, mini tunnels, a mind-boggling array of fish, multicolored coral and underwater gardens put these reefs on every diver’s list of must-do destinations.
3. Boynton Ledges
With the Gulf Stream at its closest to the Florida coast, Boynton Beach has one of the most vibrant and colorful living reefs in the Southeast. Constantly being flushed with clear, nutrient-rich water, this reef system stands out as one of the best drift dives a diver could ask for.
4. Pompano Drop-Off
Just south of Hillsboro Inlet, this reef runs south to the Pompano Pier. In 25 to30 feet of water, it’s great for snorkelers and divers alike. A great collection of healthy and colorful reef, fish and parts of an old shipwreck await the diver. There are great opportunities for photography.
5. Anglin’s Pier
Once voted the best beach diving site on the East Coast by Scuba Diving magazine, Anglin’s Pier is located at the end of Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale by the Sea. Pick either the north or south side of the pier and you will never cease to be amazed. Interesting coral and rock formations, along with tropical fish of blazing colors hiding in the endless holes, ledges and mini mountains covered in all sorts of pastels, are simply a short walk off the beach! At a depth of only 15 feet, you can make a tank last more than an hour and a half. Plenty of time to explore as you Scuba Dive Fort Lauderdale.