This article is intended to provide the already qualified Scuba diver with information which will help to plan dives in the waters of the USA, whether as a local resident or a visitor. Information is provided without prejudice, and is not guaranteed accurate or complete. Use it at your own risk.
The US is a huge country, and diving destinations range from polar to tropical, inland to oceanic islands, and high altitude lakes to caves near sea level.
Climate, weather and sea conditions
Enormously varied, depending on where you are, and when you are there.
Also enormously varied, as there are coasts on three oceans and dozens of seas. Several major currents flow past the US coastline.
Diving destinations and sites
There are thousands of sites spread across the states.
- Main topic: Diving in California.
California is a state of the US with a coast on the cool temperate North Pacific. It has a relatively long history in scuba diving. The dive sites include:
Diving destinations include:
- Diving in the Florida Keys:
- 1 USCG Duane.
- 2 USCG Bibb.
- 3 USS Spiegel Grove.
- 4 Queen of Nassau.
- 5 John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. — A Florida State Park on Key Largo, which includes approximately 70 nautical square miles (240 km²) of Atlantic Ocean waters. The primary attractions of the park are the coral reefs (such as Molasses Reef) and their associated marine life. One of the most famous features of Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Christ of the Abyss. The statue is a third casting of Il Cristo Degli Abissi, the original of which is in the Mediterranean near Genos, and is in about 25 feet (7.6 m) of water.
- Biscayne National Park containing Biscayne Bay, one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States, is a U.S. National Park in southern Florida.
- South Florida
- Cave diving in the extensive limestone cave networks.
- Vortex Spring is a cold, freshwater spring which consists of a 200 ft (61 m) basin with sloping sides and an underground cave which links the spring to the Floridan aquifer. Water temperature is steady at 68°F with no thermocline, and is typically very clear. The spring runoff flows into nearby Otter Creek, which joins Sandy Creek a short distance upstream of Ponce de Leon Spring. There are many fish in the spring; large carp swim in the basin and freshwater eels live in the cave. The cave has been measured to a total of 1,642 feet (500 m). The spring has a commercially operated recreation, camping and dive park, and is near Ponce de Leon. It is the largest diving facility in the state of Florida. It is a popular diving area both for experienced and novice divers, and Dive training is offered at the park. There are two underwater training platforms at 20 feet (6.1 m) which are often used for Open Water certification dives, and a "talk box" that divers swim into, allowing them to talk to each other while under the surface. The cavern entrance is at 58 feet (18 m) below the surface, and has an opening of 9' x 12'. A handrail is mounted along the wall of the cave. The cave is accessible to 310 feet (94 m), further passage is blocked by a steel grate. Experienced divers are allowed to dive to 115 feet (35 m).
Dive sites include:
- Molokini — a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater which forms a small islet in Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe, part of Maui County in Hawaiʻi. It is about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of Makena State Park and south of Maʻalaea Bay. It is a popular tourist destination for scuba diving, snuba and snorkeling. The islet is a Hawaiʻi State Seabird Sanctuary.
- Snorkeling, scuba, and snuba tours depart from Maʻalaea Harbor and Kihei Boat Ramp.
- Molokini's crescent shape protects divers from waves and the channel's powerful currents. However, experienced scuba divers can also drift dive off the 300 feet (90 m) sheer outer wall.
- The crater houses a lush reef with excellent visibility as deep as 150 feet (45 m). Molokini is home to about 250 species of fish, many endemic. Most commonly observed among these are the Black Triggerfish, Yellow Tang, Moorish Idol, Parrotfish, Raccoon butterflyfish and Bluefin Trevally. Due to constant exposure to park visitors and the long history as a conservation district, the fish of Molokini are extremely comfortable with the presence of nearby divers. Small Whitetip reef sharks and Moray eels are occasionally seen in the crater.
- 38 different hard coral species can be found in the waters of Molokini, as can approximately 100 distinct species of algae.
- The best conditions for diving occur in the early morning. Because Molokini attracts many boats, the Hawaii State Division of Boating and Recreation established mooring buoys and "Day Use Mooring Rules" for Molokini to protect against damage from dropped anchors. Its popularity has led many water-sport guides to comment that overcrowding has made the experience less attractive.
Lake Michigan offers diving on some of the best preserved shipwrecks in the world.
Dive sites in the Thousand Island area can be reached by charter operators in both New York and from Ontario. Dive sites in the Thousand Islands include:
- 11 Roy A. Jodrey. The wreck site is literally adjacent to the United States Coast Guard station on Wellesley Island. Dive boats are required to contact the coast guard statoin on channel 16 when divers enter the water and exit the water. The wreck is one of the deepest in the area and the wreck is considered one of the pinnacle dive sites in the Thousand Islands.
- 12 A. E. Vickery.
- 13 Maggie L. The wreck is unique in that there is an undersea cable crossing over top of it.
- 14 Keystorm. The wreck is unique in that its masts are still standing (though the wreck is sitting on her side). The wreck starts at a depth of 30 feet and reaches 115 feet.
- Main topic: Diving in North Carolina
It's sometimes referred to as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" because of the numerous shipwrecks, in diving range to 130 feet. Sand Tiger or Ragged Tooth sharks are often seen.
- Ricks Spring is a karst spring, a natural water outflow from a cave in Logan Canyon within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in northeast Utah. The spring is not an artesian source, but comes from the Logan River. Ricks Spring is the best known of several springs in an underground water network of the area. The local rock is made up of sedimentary layers. Pressure and earthquakes have caused the rock to fold and fracture exposing weak points. Over time water flowing through these points eroded through the limestone creating a path from the river and other inflows at high elevation to flow and emit from the spring. There are two caves at Ricks Spring. An above water cave extends into the rock about 25 feet. The second cave is an extensive network of both wet and dry passages that is only accessible by cave diving. As of 2009, it had been explored to about 2200 feet.
Its not surprising to find that Puget Sound is the nation’s leading producer of farmed bivalve shellfish (clams, geoduck, mussels and oysters), the cool clean waters of Puget Sound provide a rich habitat for marine life and the areas complex coastline carved by glaciers provides a stunning and complex backdrop to the many unique creatures and plants found in this area. Giant Pacific Octopus and friendly wolf eels are common. Colorful sponges, sea cucumbers, sea stars, soft corals, anemones and fish can be seen on nearly every dive.
- There are several popular dive sites centered around Blakely Harbor near Bainbridge Island accessible by boat including wreck diving an older 70' long wooden shipwreck simply known as The Boss. To find this site go to Blakely Harbors southern shoreline that heads out to Restoration Point. At about the midpoint of this shoreline, you will see a yellow buoy in about 50 feet of water. This is a PADI dive buoy marking The Boss which is maintained by local divers. The hull of the boat is in about 50' of water and is easily recognizable as it is covered in a field of white Plumose Anemones.
- The Colvos Passage Marine Preserve Area is accessible from Sunrise Beach Park latitude 47° 20.87 N longitude 122°33'30 W at 10015 Sunrise Beach Drive Northwest, Gig Harbor WA 98332 - this protected marine area near Gig Harbor is considered one of the best shore accessible diving areas in Puget Sound. Known for its many friendly Wolf Eels and its 25 foot high rugged rock wall that runs along the shoreline for about 200 feet. There are also sightings of Giant Pacific Octopus, Ratfish, Copper, Brown, and Quillback Rockfish, Lingcod, Greenlings, many varieties of sculpins, Green Sea Urchins, scallops, Rock Sole, Starry Flounder, countless sea stars, warbonnets, gunnels, and different varieties of nudibranchs.
- Edmonds Underwater Park — in the northern Seattle suburb of Edmonds. The park is relatively shallow with a maximum depth of about 45 feet. There is a network of anchored ropes that lead to a variety of submerged features. Shipwrecks include the large tugboat Triumph and the Lopez Pontoon . The site is known for large ling cod, cabezon, octopus, surf perch and rockfish, and a lot of invertebrates. Grey whales have also been seen by divers.
- Misery Point Reef is an artificial reef close to Seabeck created when the WDFW sank the debris here for a fish habitat and to create a fishing reef and is comprised of huge grey concrete slabs and steel I-beams, remnants from the old Hood Canal Bridge. . The shallow end lies about 45' deep and it extends to 80'. This is a great location to find lingcod, cabazon, rockfish, perch and greenling and invertebrate life such as plumose anemones, cucumbers and sea stars. It's north of the navigational marker north of Misery Point near Seabeck Bay. * 1 Misery Point Water Access, 15376 Seabeck Hwy NW, Seabeck, WA 98380-9583 (Southwest from Seabeck .6 mi on Seabeck Holly Rd, right .6 mi n Miami Beach Rd, left 1.4 mi on Miami Beach Lp Rd to public fishing sign, access on right.), ☏ . concrete boat launch near Seabeck is open year round and has overflow parking.
- Well-known to regional scuba divers, Orchard Rocks Conservation Area is northeast of Manchester State Park on the Kitsap Peninsula in the waters and bedlands of Rich Passage within a 400-yard radius of Orchard Rocks day marker and accessible by boat. The natural bedrock and boulders provide habitats for rock associated fish and invertebrate species. Copper rockfish and quillback rockfish once were common at this site but now are rare. Brown rockfish are common as are lingcod, red Irish lord, buffalo sculpin, striped seaperch, and pile perch . Kelp greenling, painted greenling, cabezon are consistently present in the reserve. Dominant invertebrates include red rock crab, spider crabs, red sea cucumber, and orange sea cucumber. Harbor seals frequently visit the site and are often seen hauled out on the exposed rocks at low tide. California sea lions are also commonly observed at the site and may be seen hauled out on nearby navigational buoys.
- Seacrest Cove 2 is a local dive site in West Seattle, Washington. The site is within Seacrest Park. Cove 2 is often used as a training site for Open Water, Navigation and other scuba classes. The site has a moderate slope leading down to depths greater than the recreational limit of 130 feet (40 meters). Because of the easily reached deep areas Technical Divers also use Cove 2 for training. The site has a silty bottom, but many submerged logs and pilings and sunken boats (the Honey Bear) that are well decorated with Pacific Northwest Marine Life. There are restrooms in the pier building and a great little Fish and Chips bar within easy walking distance. The site sports a nice view of the Seattle skyline across Elliot Bay. There is an exclusion zone of 150 feet around the walk-on ferry dock. Other sites (Coves 1 and 3!) are just to the north and south respectively. Most parking is curbside on the street.
- Sund Rock is a designated conservation area on Washington's Hood Canal. The area is known for abundant and diverse life, including Lingcod, Giant Pacific Octopus, Wolf Eel, as well as nudibranch, anemone, and sea cucumber.
- Well-known to regional scuba divers, the area sports two major walls, known colloquially as the north and south walls. These walls have total depths of between 70 to 80 feet, depending upon the tide. Several other walls exist, some going down beyond 100 feet (30 m) in depth. Additional features at the Sund Rock area include the "fish bowl" (a reef-like area full of life), a large sunken boat just to the north of the north wall, and a small wrecked boat between the north and south walls.
- Recreational divers appreciate Sund Rock because it is not a current-sensitive area, the main walls are easily within recreational dive limits, and because of the abundant sea life. Technical divers enjoy the deeper walls and other areas that allow them to dive beyond recreational limits.
- Because Sund Rock is a conservation area, no hunting or gathering of any kind is permitted. Two ways exist of entering the waters in the area. The "free" way involves a somewhat steep but short hike and a relatively long surface swim. Hoodsport'n'Dive, a dive shop that operates out of the town of Hoodsport about two miles away, sells more convenient access. The fee as of March 2009 is $16.00.
- Well-known to regional scuba divers, Z's Reef Marine Preserve is a designated conservation area on the shores of Fox Island south of Gig Harbor. A variety of fishes typically associated with rocky habitats congregate at the site and in such quantities that are unusual for southern Puget Sound. The dominant fishes include copper rockfish, brown rockfish, and quillback rockfish. Other common fishes include lingcod, kelp greenling, painted greenling, wolfeel, and striped seaperch. Pregnant rockfishes are observed at the site during the spring indicating that at least some fishes use the site for reproduction. Other marine organisms include sea stars, encrusting organisms such as giant barnacles, red sea cucumbers, shrimp, and red rock crabs. Seastars are common including sunflower seastar and gumboot chitons are also frequently observed.
- . Police.
- . Ambulance service
- . Sea rescue
- . Recompression chamber
- . DAN hotline
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