As I work on this list, I will add directions ,local dive shop info and more. Stayed tuned and watch this area grow. Ultimately every link will open a separate page with info on that site.
Local East Coast Florida DIVING LOCATIONS
(From Sebastian Inlet and south)
Great diving sites extend from the Sebastian Inlet to Round Island, including coral and artificial reefs and the site of the 1715 wreck of the Spanish galleon in the south end of Vero Beach.
There are four artificial reefs along the beaches of Indian River County, about 200-300 feet off shore. The first, deployed in 1987 by FP&L, is located along the south beach of Vero Beach at a depth of 38 feet. The remaining three were placed in 1999 by the Indian River County Government and are located at depths of 66, 71 and 73 feet along the beach front of Vero Beach.
Visibility is touch and go depending on the chop.
The first reef is
- Verobeach Reef
. This unique habitat is a nursery for all types of marine life – turtles, lobsters, manatees, rays, sharks, and over 200 species of fish and the Oculina Varacosa, Oculina Diffusia, fire, and a few other types of coral. The reef begins at about the Sebastian Inlet and runs unbroken to Riomar. It then picks up again off Sandypoint and extends a little south of the Ft Pierce Inlet. This reef, which parallels the coastline, is located very close to shore and extends out about a half mile.
The reefs foundations are exposed limestone formations which rise up from the bottom in various shapes and sizes. Some areas can be seen at low tide like the Riomar reef. The limestone ledges in some areas jet up from the bottom like huge monolithic outcroppings with vast caverns that disappear into the abyss. The ledges are very pronounced in the Vero Beach area with some of the highest ‘Relief’ –as referred to by engineers — found anywhere. This habitat is most unique and is not found this close to the coastline anywhere else.
Sebastian Inlet, South & North Jetty and Inlet Cove Tidal Pool I love this place! Click on the link for full writeup about amenities. A fabulous day at the beach spot!
Sebastian South Beach
El Capitana Wreck & Museum –
The El Capitana was a 50 gun frigate that last set sail from Havana on July 27, 1715. She was part of the famous 1715 fleet of eleven ships carrying 14,000,000 pesos in registered treasure. On July 30, 1715, only three days off Cuba, a hurricane caught the Spanish fleet off Florida and drove ten vessels into the reef. The Capitana struck the coast two miles south of Sebastian Inlet. Her cargo was spilled into 30 feet of water. The Capitana’s broken hull drifted inshore before sinking and left behind a 700 foot trail of treasure.
All that remains of the El Capitana today are a few cannons and a ballast pile in 20 feet of water.
There is a little museum you can see some neat artifacts. Pretty cheap. This is a state park so salvaging is not legal here. Also in front of the museum is a huge sea wall. Access is a short walk, park along the river side. You will see paths to the beach. The reef is in 3-6 feet of water about 20 feet from the shore. If you go out further the water depth gets to around 20 feet.
Indian River County Access
Wabasso Beach – near Disney resort
Vero Beach. Take CR 60 (Beachland Blvd) to the eastern end. Park by the Ocean Grill. Swim straight out from the north end of the ocean grill to the wreck.
You see the usual tropical fish and an enormous rusty old bolier that on good days can be seen from shore.
Sea Grape Beach Access
Turtle Trail Beach Access
Vero Beach Inn & Pier
Huniston Park – nice restuarants around and they do a farmer’s market here in season and a few craft fairs
Rio Mar 1715 Wreck Site – Head down SR60 directly to Beach and turn right. You will find this tiny turning, I think 1st road on left. There is only about 5 parking spots but it is away from the sunbathers. There is a shower which is always a plus. The beach access is a stair crossover. The beach access is close about 30 steps till you reach the waters edge once you walk down the steps. Reef is very close and lobsters can be found in this area easily enough. Getting out of the water is a bit of a grind as there can be a huge ledge you have to hump over. I take the gear off and pass to hubby to hold while I jumped up. this ledge is probably a good foot drop. So when you walk out, you have to take a huge step up. With heavy gear after a dive, it sucks. But you can get around it. There are a few areas to the left I have seen divers swim towards and there does not appear to be a ledge there. I saw two lobsters taken out from here (8/10/11) and eight right around the corner at the main park. I dive this site often when viz is good. It can be hit or miss depending upon whether, but when it is good, it is good. You will see many sea cucumbers, sharks, turtles, shark teeth
Round Island Beach
Paddle Wheeler Wreck
Urca del Lima
Just north about 1000 feet of the Pepper Park dive site. It is easily spotted by looking for the four floating bouys.
You will see wooden planking from the ship, cannons, a huge anchor and ballast stones.
This is a PROTECTED ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE taking anything from there is a Misdeameanor of the First Degree or a Felony of the Third degree.
US 1 to North bridge Causeway. North on A1A to UDT Seal Museum. Park by the Bathrooms/Showers.
Lots of parking, facilities, tables, pavilions, showers and easy access. The 1st and 2nd reefs are less than 300 feet off the beach. 3rd and 4th reefs are about 500 feet off the beach in 10 to 20 feet of water. Good bug hunting site, but spearfishing is prohibited. Swim out about 200 yards to the 5′ ledges.
Critters to be seen are rays, bugs, cuda, spadefish, Jeels, turtles, plenty of blenny’s and sea cucumbers. If you see a Mortar Round DO NOT TOUCH! These are left over from the Navy Seal training Era and will cause Horrific Burns! Take a good compass reading on it and call for the Sheriff’s Office EOD.
I had fun here last summer for the first time. We caught two lobsters but saw a ton. It was only our third time lobstering so we expect to do better next time.
The viz was pretty yellow and perhaps 20ft last time I was in. It is hit or miss here at times. If it is bad, I just drive further south. Water is much colder than LDBS. I went to go in skin diving as I usually do and had to go back to get the suit on. It is a fair walk from the car.
(5/12)they took out the ramp and you can take a straight walk to the shore, much easier than hoofing it up the old stairs and down and around the longway due to handicap ramp that used to be there)
Cons – a pretty good walk to the water, lots of boaters.
The best rocks and ledges are found at the south end of the park. You will find an old box building that used to be a Holiday Inn before the hurricanes ruined it. Reef is straight out. When the visibility is good enough to head out, you will be able to see the reef from shore. reef is about 2-300 yrds off shore. You will see the dark areas from the shore. Plenty of people spearfishing here.
House of Refuge – 301 SE MacArthur Boulevard
Fishing, Snorkeling, Diving, Dune Walkovers, Parking, Museum
Martin County Beach Access
Bath Tub Beach – Bathtub Beach is on the south end of MacArthur Boulevard, Stuart (1585 SE MacArthur Blvd, Stuart, FL)
to one located just south of the St. Lucie County line on the north. Bathtub Beach is a shallow little low tide lagoon made by a coral reef close to shore. Best to swim it at high tide, there are 3 reefs. Apparently you can see eagle ray, school of tarpon, snook, pompano, huge school of chubs, and sharks. It is the only one of these to have any amenities beyond the standard wooden stairs over the dunes. It is very popular with families with children because of the calm, shallow pools at water’s edge warmed by the sun’s rays and protected from the breaking surf by large offshore rock formations. The smallest beach strip is the Park-N-Fish located just north of the House of Refuge.
One of the most popular sunning and swimming beaches, the soft sands are also a favorite for early morning and evening promenades. Scuba diving is also available offshore in the shallow waters around the reef. An idyllic spot – one of the best in Martin County
Phil Foster Park – Blue Heron Bridge
Deerfield Beach – several good sites here.
N. Deerfield Beach
Directions to site:
SE 4th St & SE 21st Ave, Deerfield Beach, Broward,
Hillsboro Blvd East to N Ocean Way South
Parking here is metered parking. There aren’t any amenities. Also the lifeguards don’t allow diving here but it is a decent place for early morning or night diving. Average is 15ft.
The diving is a rock ledge than runs out past out past the swim buoys. You will generally spot sea turtles, rays, tropical fish of all variety, hard corals, and stone fish.
S.E. 12th St.
Take I95 to the Atlantic Blvd. Exit; go east across the intracoastal bridge to Ocean Drive (a.k.a. A1A), then head south to SE 12th st. (look for the signs of the Fairfield Condominium and the Best Western Beach Comber hotel) then go east to the end of the street.
Pretty good site, not too crowded and very easy, relaxing dive.
There are four parking meters at the site that only take quarters at $1.00 per hr. As per other busy shore diving sites there between 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. as the meters will be occupied if not there by then. If the meters are full you will find benches on the other side of the meters. Set up there, suits are highly recommended due to the fire coral you will find there. Then park your car on the grass lot to the south of the shopping strip at the intersection of SE 12th St. and A1A, which is free.
DO NOT PARK AT THE SHOPPING STRIP OR ON THE GUEST PARKING SPOTS OF THE CONDOMINIUMS OR YOU WILL BE TOWED!!
As in LBTS, this is a two tier reef but the first tier is much closer to shore. It is also more varied in its topography. Surface swim is about 75 feet to the buoy. Gentle .5 knot north current is usually there but can switch from beginning to end of dive like LBTS. Swim on your back to about 10 – 20′ past the buoy, reef will be below. The reef starts out patchy but head east it opens up into a nice, healthy reef, with lots and lots of marine life. The reef is very nice if you start out going south, but it’s even nicer if you start out going north. Keep the current in mind though. Tons of little macro life with of juvie damsels, blennies, neon gobys, and wrasses. There is a beautiful view of the seafans and lots of coral life like christmas tree and crabs. Turtles have been known to be seen and I have heard people say that they have seen blue ring octopu but I thought those were only in the Pacific.
Max depth, between 20 – 25′. I would recommend this site for newbies or those who just want a quick refresher. The easy dive-ability makes it a good night diving site too.
It is a beach site that does have one shower and a few benches for setup. It is a quick walk into the water. There are not any bathrooms or place to change. If you want a fill or need any quick repairs, there are two dive shops pretty close…South Florida Diving Headquarters (just east of the bridge and 50′ north of Atlantic Blvd.) and Force E( less than 1/2 mile west of bridge) There are lots of little cafes and restaurants.
Lauderdale by the Sea – Datura Ave, Hibiscus Ave, Palm Ave
I love this place and have MANY posts dedicated to it. Fun, easy and plenty to see.
Helpful sites for LDBS
Dania Beach – Pier and Euro Jacks
I went down a few times but it has been too rough and red flags. Will try again this year. There are two jacks on the shore above the beach that mark the location of the jacks. Head North along the beach past the pier and look for those two jacks. Enter the water there and head East to find them.
The attraction is the EroJacks, jacks like the child’s toy but 4 feet tall and made of concrete. There are hundreds of jacks piled in a long groin/jetty running perpendicular to shore. There are quite a lot of small fish and inverts that live inside the reef. You can spot huge tarpon there and a variety of small and school fish. Find the reef by looking for the single jack on shore. The reef is straight out from it. Offshore, the reef terminates at the first natural reef line (parallel to shore). It’s nothing to write home about, but once you’re there you may as well check it out if you have the air time (you will). The reefs are less than 20 feet deep. Good spear fishing place.
Jupiter Inlet Beach
Worth Avenue Pier Debris (Palm Beach)
The debris from the old pier is spread across the bottom in a west to east direction directly in line with the Worth Av. street sign. The eastern edge of the pier reveals a patch reef and ledges that run North and South. Depths range from 8 to 14 feet.
I will updating all these and you will be able to click on the link to get the scoop on each.