Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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Whether you want to gawk at the colorful corals and fish or dig deeper and probe through ancient shipwrecks, scuba diving is a great way to explore the underwater world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a scuba pro or still looking for the right spot to take your first dive, Florida has something for you. While The Keys are world-renowned and a popular diving destination in Florida, the Sunshine State a lot more to offer water enthusiasts. Check out these unique diving spots in Florida that you may not have heard of.
If you’re interested in one of Florida’s historical shipwreck dives, head to the Fort Lauderdale area to experience the fascination that is the Copenhagen Wreck. Built in 1898, the ship was carrying a cargo of coal to Havana and tragically sunk on May 26, 1900, when it crashed into a reef. For more than 40 years the ship was seen from above water and used for Navy target practice until officially given the title of the 5th underwater archaeological preserve in Florida in 1994.
Scuba divers interested in military history will appreciate Destin, as you will find a variety of colorful corals and exotic sea life amongst airplanes and missile parts scattered around the clear warm waters. The limestone outcroppings begin just a few miles off of the beach in this quiet seaside town in the Panhandle, where you can regularly find huge schools of tropical fish, mackerel, and amberjack in addition to dolphins, rays and loggerhead sea turtles.
One of the deepest cavern springs in Florida, Blue Grotto is 100-feet of deep clear water caverns right down the street from Devil’s Den. Open to divers at any skill level, Blue Grotto has a unique compressed air supplied bell down at 30 feet, allowing you to remove your regulator, soak in the sights, and share the experience with fellow divers. It’s just one of the natural wonders in Williston.
Located near the small town of Williston you will find a unique 60 foot deep prehistoric and geological underground spring called Devil’s Den. One of the top hidden caves for divers in Florida, this area has so much history that remains of extinct animals and prehistoric man have been discovered here, dating back to 75,000 B.C. If that doesn’t impress you, maybe the year-round 72-degree water, dynamic rock formations, and 33 million-year-old fossil beds will. If you visit on a cold winter morning, you might see steam rising from the cave. Hence, how the nickname “Devil’s Den” was created.
A unique area like no other, Crystal River is known for the best freshwater dives around. In addition, you can combine a dive here with snorkeling with the manatees. You can explore King’s Bay with 72-degree spring-fed waters and 65-feet deep caverns. The Gulf waters provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and a chance to regularly find snapper, redfish, tarpon, and bass.
Loved by locals, one of the clearest springs in Florida is Ginnie Springs. This freshwater dive is fantastic for those looking for adventure. A true paradise for open water and cave divers, here you will find 1,000 feet of subterranean passages underneath a 50-foot head spring measuring over 100 feet across. To add more awesomeness to Ginnie Springs, the 50-foot spring head gives access to another astonishing 30,000-feet of complex passages called Devil Spring.
The “Shark Tooth Capital of the World,” Venice gives divers a rare opportunity to show off their skills in a tangible form. If you’re looking to take a souvenir home with you after your dive, then you might consider visiting Casperson Beach, a dive spot known for prehistoric shark teeth. Sift through the black sand 25 feet deep to discover tons of prehistoric keepsakes.
Located in Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Fort White, Blue Hole Spring is said to date back to prehistoric Native American hunters who frequented the area. Standing as one of the only places in Florida where cave diving is allowed, the largest of the seven springs in Itchetucknee is a series of underwater passageways shaped like a cone. This 500-foot deep and often overlooked spring is located in a peaceful wooded area, shining a gorgeous color of blue in the sunlight from its crystal clear waters.
Located off the Gulf of Mexico, Siesta Key is a world-class beach with white sugary sand. Beyond this, divers will enjoy plenty of shore and boat dives, natural rock formations, and dynamic artificial reefs. Eight miles out and you will find M-10 and M-17, two vessels that sank in 1900 and created artificial reefs and attract tons of snapper and amberjack. Point of Rocks is another popular landmark for divers in the area, as you can find an array of exotic fish and dolphins nearby.