There are a variety of specialties available to complete on the Florida trips including:
Florida diving is unlike any other. With two unique coastlines and hundreds of natural springs dotting the state, the panhandle offers something for every type of diver.
Florida is home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world, the Florida Keys Reef Tract. Summers in Florida bring humidity and clear waters while the Gulf Stream brings colder waters in the winter.
The Sunshine State can be divided into many distinct regions for diving. The Florida Keys, a chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida, is a popular spot for divers since it stretches over 120 miles of the coast. The Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach areas feature many sunken ships while the Gulf Coast is known for its abundant marine life.
What To Expect
There are no standard expectations for diving in Florida because every site is so different. There are over 40 coral species and 650 fish species that line the coast along with hundreds of sunken ships and artificial reefs.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the adjacent Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, cover approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps. The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 25 miles in length. These areas were established to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.
Be on the lookout for:
- Sea turtles
- Nurse sharks
- Moray eels
- Eagle rays
- Reef sharks
- Manta rays
Recommended Specialty Courses
- Perfect buoyancy
- Boat diving
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is an international marine conservation organization that implements hands-on programs to involve local communities in conservation-focused activities. REEF is based in Key Largo, Florida, with remote staff in Illinois, California, and Washington. Its mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. Read about REEF’s conservation efforts here.
Everglades National Park
Head an hour north of Key Largo for a visit to Everglades National Park. Everglades National Park is full of water, wildlife and wonder. The park is one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with 1.5 million acres of tropical and subtropical habitat. Hike and bike on the trails or take an airboat tour on the water to see the variety of plants and animals that can be found here. Be on the lookout for panthers, alligators, manatees and more!
Spiegel Grove Shipwreck
For diving enthusiasts, be sure to check out the USS Spiegel Grove dive site. The USS Spiegel Grove is a retired naval ship that was sunk to create an artificial reef. While diving on the reef, there are chances of encountering large grouper, tropical reef fishes and sometimes even sharks!
Manatees, also known as “sea cows”, are gentle giants that love to graze on seagrass. Kayak through mangrove-lined waterways at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, for a chance to see manatees, juvenile fish and a variety of birds.
Know Before You Go
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