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Florida shore diving

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Sep 3, 2004

A friend and me are planning to make a diving trip in Florida (in spring, or fall)
We're looking for good shore dive spots in the north part of the state (atlantic or gulf, the upper half of the state).

Some wrecks would be a must, and depths from 0 to 100'. The reason we look for "north florida" is that we're from Canada, so we have to make about 24 hours of car to get there, so the closer will be the better.

The reason for shore diving is that we have limited funds. If someone knows campground sites near diving sites, we'll take all infos!

I know these are not the ideal conditions, but we'll make the most we can with the less.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Check out diving in the springs. Most of the springs are in the top half of the state and many of them are state or federal parks. Camping is cheap, the water is always the same temperature and entry into the springs couldn't be easier. This time of year, you are likely to be swimming with manatees.

The visibility in the Florida Springs some of the best in the world -- sometimes up to 200 ft. (but bring a flashlight -- it gets dark below 15 or 20 meters in a lot of these springs). The inside of the springs is unlike anything I have ever seen -- far more interesting than the inside of a wreck and absolutely impossible to capture on film. Spring diving is about my favorite freediving experience -- they are so interesting that I'm planning a trip to Merida, Mexico in April to dive in the cenotes on the Yucatan.

A good place to start researching Florida Springs is Blue Spring (http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/default.cfm). The preceding link has links to other FL state parks and additional information about springs. Also, Jeff Richardson has a site that is dedicated to florida springs: http://home.earthlink.net/~fl_springs/.

Florida's state park system seems to be one of the best in the U.S. and there are plenty of diving opportunities that are available in the parks (both shore and spring diving).

Good luck!
Are these spots only for freediving? Because we'll make scuba (the most, cause my partner ain't a freediver)

But it looks awesome. Are they deep?
You can defnitely scuba. There are some restrictions (freedivers can take lights into the springs, but SCUBA divers can't). Blue Spring is about 100 ft deep, I think, with a healthy current to swim against as you descend. Divers often sit on the shelves in the spring -- it's a different world

Jeff Richardson has some profiles on his web site that should be useful for guaging the swimmable depth of some of the springs.

Wear gloves and beater fins if you've got them -- you get around using your hands on the rocks, but those same rocks can chew up fins if you're not careful. The surfaces are relatively smooth, but they are hard and I think that they could chip certain kinds of fins (e.g. carbons).
These springs are definitly added to the plans.

And is there good spots for reef diving in the ocean, near (max. 200km) these springs?

My buddy is a wrecks addicted, and this is his "dessert" and we must do it, if I want to be able to do some freediving and spearing.
I have only done reef diving on the west coast (Marco Island). There are lots of artificial reefs in the 10,000 islands area. It may be one of the best sport fishing regions in the U.S.

Spearing is another matter -- I think that you need to be 15 miles off-shore on the Gulf side, and Marco is way over 200km from the Orlando Area (maybe more like 250 miles). It takes about 4 hours to drive from the greater Orlando area to Marco. Vis on the west coast is mediocre (30' on a good day), but there is lots of life in the water. Giant grouper are plentiful. There is nothing like getting right up near a 500 pound fish :D. If you do decide to go down to the 10,000 islands check out http://www.scubamarco.com/ -- they take freedivers.

Maybe someone can chime in about the Atlantic side. I haven't done any diving there, but there are guys who frequent the forum that do some yak diving. Sometimes the vis on the Atlantic side is spectacular. Spearing rules are different too.

The Florida state parks web site has excellent search tools. For example, here's a list of all parks in the north region that allow SCUBA:

There seems to be no shortage of wrecks. Here's a site that lists a few: http://www.divetravel.info/destinations/usa/florida_divesites.htm. The most famous one is the Spiegel Grove, off Key Largo. Should be free-diveable if you can find someone willing to take you, but operators in Largo normally don't want to hear about freediving unless it's in 3' of water.

BTW, not sure why you'd want to drive. Flights to FL are incredibly cheap from most major cities and car rentals are cheap in the off-peak seasons. I would be surprised if you could save any money driving. It is cheaper for my entire family of 5 to vacation in FL (1200 miles away) in the summer than it is to go to Atlantic City (100 miles away). Fl is cheaper, more interesting and the weather is better -- no hotter in FL mid-summer than than is it in New Jersey. Go figure.
The only reason we don't fly there, is the scuba equipment. Rent it there will cost us so much, and we'll probably make some stops in other states
Hi Milhouse,

Shorediving in salt water in Florida is not going to be deep, especially in the northern half of the state. There are several places with jetties that might be right, Alabama Point near the Ala/Fla line, St Andrews Park in Panama City, Mayport north of St Augustine. I know zip about Mayport, other than its big, and haven't dove the other two in years, but they used to be real nice. Check local and state regs. There are a few wreaks along the beaches, a blockade runner and old sailing ship in Gulf Shores, Ala and others I don't know. Can be very cool, but all require a local guide to find.

If you are diving in springs (Pez is right, they are great) be careful, especially with lights. Some places, like Blue Springs, you can get deep enough that, if your light is on, you can't see the light from the entrance. It is much more dangerous than it seems. Lots and lots of people(mostly scuba types) have died in places that look safe.

I live near Vortex, dive Morrison and canoe to Cypress often. No shore diving in the North part of the state. If you do watch out for the bulls just past the sand bars/dark areas. the latest shark attack victims ventured there. Feeding grounds. You can try St Andrews jetties. You have to catch the tides just right. On the weekends you risk the fishermen catching you
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