Jupiter is home to the northern-most reefs of the Great Florida Reef tract. Due to the Gulf Stream, Jupiter commonly has swift currents making it the drift diving capital of Florida. Sharks, turtles, and large pelagic fish are frequently sighted here. Jupiter is also the best location to witness the lemon shark migration during January and February because of the proximity of the Gulf Stream to the reefs. Wrecks (such as the Zion Train) are also a popular option.
West Palm Beach – 36 minutes (Drift Diving and The Zion Train Wreck)
West Palm Beach, also known as the Treasure Coast, contains a wide diversity of marine life. Located just south of Jupiter, West Palm features great drift diving and wreck diving. The Mizpah, a 185- foot WWII luxury yacht, has fantastic coral growth and is one of the most interesting wrecks to penetrate. Not too far away are the PC11 and the Barge Wreck. All of Palm Beach’s wrecks attract multitudes of fish.
Boca Raton – 27 minutes (Wrecks of the Ancient Mariner and Sea Emporer)
Boca Raton contains a number of different wrecks and reefs located just outside of the Boca Inlet. The notable wrecks are the Ancient Mariner and the Sea Emperor. The Ancient Mariner is an ex-Coast Guard Cutter sitting at 70 feet. This wreck is friendly to novice divers and often attracts a Goliath grouper. The Sea Emperor is a 171-foot barge and is conveniently located next to the “Aqua Zoo”, which is a pile of culverts that providing complex structure for the reef fish. This area is called the “Aqua Zoo” because these culverts often attract larger sea life, such as southern stingrays, goliath grouper, turtles, and nurse sharks.
Pompano Beach – (Miracle of Life Wreck)
Pompano Beach is situated between Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton and lies on the beautiful reef tract that runs from the Palm Beaches to Miami-Dade. Nolan’s Ledge, Pompano Drop Off, and Touchdown Reef are popular sites. There is also an abundance of historical and artificial reef sites, with drift diving as a popular choice. These Florida reefs are home to many coral and fish species including jacks, snapper, and trumpet fish that create a beautiful dive setting.
Fort Lauderdale - 0 minutes (Three Tier Reef System and the Wreck Diving Capital of the Southeast)
Lauderdale Diver lies right in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale Beach, which is one of the most famous diving destinations in Florida. There are a variety of natural and artificial reefs ranging from vessels, concrete modules, ships, and limestone boulders. You can find both deep and shallow wrecks and reefs that accommodate all levels of divers. There is a thriving aquatic life here in Ft. Lauderdale including lobsters, barracuda, nurse sharks, hard and soft corals, and tropical fish.
Miami – 36 minutes (Neptune Reef and Balzone Barges)
With over 75 wreck sites, it’s no wonder why Miami is one of the most popular dive destinations in Florida. Army tanks, ships, and tug boats are a few of the artificial reefs here that create a beautiful habitat for aquatic life. Corals of all kinds can be found living on these structures as well as on the naturally formed reefs. Tarpon, stingrays, snook, and cobia have all been spotted here.
Islamorada – 2hours 5 minutes (Wreck of the Eagle)
Islamorada is located just south of Key Largo. It offers similar diving to Key Largo, including many high profile spur-and-groove reefs. Some great reefs located in the area are Alligator reef, Conch reef, and pickles reef. The most famous wreck in Islamorada is the Wreck of the Eagle. This 287-foot ship lies on its side at 110 feet and is broken in half. Goliath grouper are often spotted here along with a number of larger visitors, such as sharks and large pelagic fish.
Key West – 3hours 46minutes (The Vandenberg Wreck)
Diving in Key West offers great diving opportunities for all skill levels. Beautiful reefs are located in shallow water, allowing beginner scuba divers and snorkelers to witness the abundance of life in these Florida waters. For more skilled divers, the popular Vandenburg wreck is 520-feet in length and is 100 feet down to the deck. This wreck is famous for its huge radar dishes, which provides a unique experience for divers.
Key Largo – 1hour 44 minutes (USCG Duane, Spiegel Grove, Christ of the Abyss and Molasses Reef)
Key Largo is located in the Upper Keys, and is considered the “diving capital of the world”. The reefs just offshore are some of the best in the country, making Key Largo one of the most popular destinations for scuba vacationers. The reefs are the most diverse in the country and depths range from 5-90 feet depth, making it a very popular snorkeling destination as well. The most popular Key Largo reefs would be Molasses Reef and French Reef, which both average 25 feet of depth. Molasses Reef is considered the most popular dive sight in the country, and contains some of the best coral coverage and most fish species. Key Largo is also home to the Christ of the Abyss, which is a bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ and sits in 25 feet of water. In addition to the reefs, Key Largo’s wrecks are some of the most awe-inspiring, including the USS Spiegel Grove (510-foot ex-Navy ship) and the Duane (310-foot Coast Guard cutter).
Bahamas - Nassau – Shark Diving and the James Bond Wrecks --- Freeport – Shark Diving and Theo’s Wreck
Just a short boat ride from the coast of Florida is the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas. This series of islands is home to some of the best diving in the Caribbean, exhibiting some the most pristine reefs and abundant marine life. The full range of dives is available here, including shallow reefs, vertical walls, wrecks, caverns, and blue holes. Shark dives are a very popular option as well, which puts you face-to-face with the large predators. Nassau and the Exumas are two of the many popular diving destinations, all of which can be reached within a few hours from Florida.
Northern Florida is home to a number of unique diving areas. Crystal River is a popular dive destination featuring clear waters, manatee snorkeling, and spring diving. The large population of manatees that congregate here provides one of the only opportunities to swim with the large mammals. High Springs hosts an impressive system of caves and caverns, providing the opportunity for cavern diving. The USS Oriskany is located off the coast of Pensacola and is considered the largest artificial reef in the world. This 888-foot aircraft carrier was sunk in 2006 continues to promote coral growth and abundant marine life. These are just a few of Northern Florida’s underwater attractions, located hours away from Lauderdale Diver’s South Florida location.
Crystal River – 4hours 42 minutes (Dive with Manatees)
High Springs – 5hours 8 minutes (Cave and Cavern Diving at Ginnie Springs)