Florida is known for its warm weather and beautiful beaches, but it’s also home to some of the best spots for scuba diving in the world. Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced diver, there are plenty of places to explore below the surface of Florida’s waters. Here are 13 top locations that will make your next scuba diving trip unforgettable:
1. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a Florida State Park located on the Florida Keys, and it’s the only underwater park in the world. It was established in 1967, and is located off the coast of Key Largo. Because it’s an underwater park, there are no facilities or visitor centers for people to see or appreciate, you have to get out into the water yourself! This can be done via snorkeling or scuba diving.
Since most of us have never been scuba diving before (or at least not very often), we’re going to take a look at what you need so that you can safely enjoy this activity while on vacation in one of these awesome spots:
2. Blue Grotto Dive Resort
The Blue Grotto Dive Resort is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is one of the best places to dive because it has an abundance of marine life and a great variety of colorful coral. When you dive here, you should expect to see turtles, sea snakes, and octopuses that are at least as long as your forearm.
You can get there by plane or boat from Port St. Lucie or Fort Lauderdale airports; if you’re driving from Miami or Orlando airports it may be faster to take the ferry over instead! You’ll want to bring your swimsuit and towel for this excursion, and maybe some snorkeling gear if you want to get in touch with nature even more intimately than usual!
After your adventure ends up wetter than expected (it’s bound not to happen), there are plenty of restaurants nearby where you can grab something tasty before heading back home again. The Breakers hotel might be just what’s needed after all those hours underwater!
3. Ginnie Springs
If you’re new to scuba diving and want to get your feet wet, Ginnie Springs is the perfect place for you. This popular dive spot is open year-round and has several different levels of certification available through the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) program. If you need a refresher course or want some extra practice before taking the plunge, Ginnie Springs offers classes in both pool sessions and open water dives.
If you’re traveling with kids, this park makes an excellent choice: there are plenty of shallow spots where those with little experience can safely practice their skills without getting too deep into things. The calm waters here also make it possible for even very young children who aren’t yet ready to go underwater on their own, or who don’t have much mobility, to enjoy themselves while staying safe above water!
Alternatively, if this isn’t your first time around alligators but it’s still important that everyone stay together and visible at all times (especially after dark), then consider booking one of their group lessons instead; these include private instructors who will accompany each student throughout their time at Ginnie Springs so no one gets left behind by accident
4. Key Largo Undersea Park
Key Largo Undersea Park is a unique underwater park in Key Largo that offers divers and snorkelers a chance to experience the incredible marine life of the Keys. The park was created as part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary System, which strives to protect and preserve our natural resources within the state. As such, it serves as an important conservation area for sea turtles, eels, grouper and many other species of coral reef fish.
Key Largo Undersea Park contains several historical shipwrecks which can be explored by certified scuba divers or those with experience snorkeling. Some notable wrecks include: The USS Josephine Ford; S/V Fort Jefferson; S/V Captain Van Winkle; Vaca Key Reef Light Station; S/V Yankee Clipper (also known as “The Andrea Doria”).
5. Devil’s Den
Devil’s Den is a cave system in Florida. Located at the bottom of Devil’s Den Spring, this deep cave system was formed thousands of years ago by running water and erosion. The springs here have been a popular dive site since the 1960s when visitors began to explore its depths. While you can’t dive right into Devil’s Den itself without special permission from park officials (and even then there are restrictions), these cavernous wonders are worth visiting if you’re looking for some spectacular sights under water.
6. Manatee springs state park
If you’re looking for some more of the natural side of Florida, then Manatee Springs State Park is a great place to check out. The park is located in Ruskin, Florida, on the west coast of the state. It is a Florida State Park and it has been around since 1969!
Manatee Springs State Park has many different things to do including kayaking and canoeing, swimming (of course), hiking and picnicking as well as camping at one of their multiple campgrounds throughout the park. If you are wanting something different from scuba diving then why not try snorkeling? You can also rent boats here at this location if you don’t want to bring your own with you on vacation!
7. Rainbow River
Rainbow River is a beautiful body of water that provides the perfect backdrop for your scuba diving adventure.
This is a great place to go for a family vacation or if you’re looking to get away from it all with your friends. If you’re not interested in diving, Rainbow River has plenty of other activities for you to enjoy such as kayaking, canoeing and tubing. Divers will love the crystal clear waters of Lake George and its numerous caves and holes that they can explore. Rainbow River is also home to some fantastic fishing opportunities so make sure your fishing license is up-to-date! You might even see some wildlife while out on the river too; make sure you have your binoculars handy because there are lots of otters who live here!
8. Cathedral Caverns State Park
This park is home to some of the world’s most beautiful cavern systems, with underwater passages that stretch for miles beneath the surface. This dive site offers a variety of options for divers to choose from, including both shallow and deep dives. Located in Wakulla County, Cathedral Caverns State Park is one of the oldest underwater diving sites in Florida, offering over 100 years’ worth of history as a premier site for scuba diving adventures.
The park can be accessed through boat or by hiking down into the cave system, a challenging journey that involves scaling down nearly 400 stairs and traversing through tight spaces with low ceilings but plenty of air pockets if you get stuck! The dive shop operates out of nearby St. Marks River State Park and supplies all necessary equipment rentals (including tanks) along with expert guides who will lead your group through this exciting underwater adventure!
9. Jules Undersea Lodge
One of the best places to go diving in Florida is the Jules Undersea Lodge. Located in Key Largo, this luxury underwater hotel is open year-round, offering world-class scuba training and certified instructors on site. The resort also offers some incredible dining options, including a fine dining restaurant and a casual café. Depending on your preference, you may want to opt for a stay at the lodge itself or at one of their villas just outside it, either way you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience!
10. Key West Shipwreck Dive Trail
The Key West Shipwreck Dive Trail is a series of shipwrecks along the Florida Keys. The trail is among the most popular dive sites in Florida, and it’s easy to see why: it’s home to numerous underwater wrecks that are teeming with marine life. While there are many great scuba diving locations in Florida, this one stands out for its number of wrecks, as well as its proximity to land. You don’t have to venture far from your hotel room or rental car (as long as you don’t mind driving on bridges) before you’re in this amazing undersea world!
The trail consists of five different sites within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and encompasses more than 100 years of history (from Civil War times through present day). Each site has an interesting story behind it, like how some were sunk intentionally so they would help form artificial reefs; others were damaged by natural phenomena like hurricanes or storms; still others were intentionally destroyed by pirates looking for treasures aboard them! Luckily for us scuba divers who love exploring these fascinating historical artifacts at depths ranging from 30ft-120ft below sea level…we get first pick at seeing what lies beyond those cold metal bars blocking our way into these underwater worlds!
11. Dry Tortugas National Park
If you’re looking for an easy way to get out on the water, then look no further than Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles west of Key West, this national park is made up of more than 70 islands. It also happens to be a great place for scuba diving.
12. Fort Jefferson Island with Campbase
Fort Jefferson, a former military fortress in the Dry Tortugas National Park, is one of the best places for scuba diving in Florida. Located west of Key West on an island known as Garden Key, you can explore Fort Jefferson and find some great dives along with it. The fort was built during the Civil War and has been preserved since its decommissioning in 1874.
The Dry Tortugas is also home to many other protected areas including a national park, wildlife refuge and marine sanctuary. This means that even if you don’t stay at any campsites while diving here (like Campbase), you’ll be able to see lots of wildlife without disturbing their habitats or getting too close for your own good!
13. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
On your next trip to Florida, make sure you visit the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Located in the Florida Keys, this protected area is the only place in the world where you can dive in an ocean and see manatees! Although it’s hard to imagine a place as beautiful as this being endangered, coral reefs are under attack from climate change and pollution. Thankfully for us humans, we have great organizations like NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) who work tirelessly to protect them.
Conclusion: Best Places For Scuba Diving In Florida
If you’re looking to explore Florida’s underwater world, there are many amazing places to go. You can find these spots by using this list as a guide and researching on your own. With just a little bit of research, you can find out which sites are best suited for your needs and preferences. From snorkeling in shallow waters with your family or friends to diving deep into shipwrecks with experienced scuba enthusiasts there truly is something here for everyone!