Scuba diving is an exciting pastime, and it’s one that can change your life. Earlier on my blog, I wrote about how to get started in scuba diving so you know how to prepare for this very fun, but very rigorous, activity. When you become a more experienced diver, the next question is, where do I go scuba diving? If you’re lucky enough like me to live in Florida, you’ll find that scuba diving and snorkeling destinations abound. Even better, many of the best diving spots in Florida are within a few hours’ drive from just about anywhere in the state. Here is a roundup of some of the best places to go scuba diving and snorkeling in the state of Florida.
Hands down, some of the best places to go snorkeling in North America can be found along the coral islands just west of Key West. The shallow water in this area, paired with the myriad of marine life, makes it a wonderful place for first-time snorkelers. If you’re looking to add to the experience, check out the nearby wreck of the Windjammer. The wreckage of this 261-foot Schooner is home to thousands of tropical fish and spiny lobster.
Would it be a complete trip to Florida without manatees? Crystal River draws in herds of manatees from November through April, so if you visit during that time, you’ll treat yourself to the presence of these gentle sea cows. The manatees are a protected and endangered species and can reach ten feet in length and a weight of 1000 pounds. Only snorkeling is allowed in the posted manatee areas. Harassment and chasing of the creatures are strictly prohibited. If you love wildlife, this is the perfect snorkeling spot for you. For my scuba divers out there, you can experience dozens of freshwater springs that boil from the underground aquifer. Some other species you’ll see here include snapper, tarpon, largemouth bass, and garfish.
Some of the best scuba diving places in Florida are found near each other at Devil’s Den and Blue Grotto. Devil’s Den is a sinkhole near the town of Willistown that early settlers thought was a den of hell due to the steam rising from its warm waters in the winter. For safety, the cave systems are closed to divers, but you can still enjoy the view from afar. Just a short distance from Devil’s Den, however, is Blue Grotto, a large, clear-water cavern. With a maximum depth of 100 feet, Blue Grotto is open to divers of all skill levels.