Diving The East Coast of The USA
East Coast Waters and the Love of Scuba Diving
Scuba diving the east coast waters of the USA has something for everyone. With so many different locations, from the northern Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light in Maine, to the Florida Keys at the Bahia Honda State Park. There are numerous dives sites all along the coast. for all divers
Challenging sites such as Cathedral Rocks off the coast of Maine is best suited for the more advanced diver. Changing tides and winds can make the entrance to the waters treacherous. There is no relief as you make your descent, the topography remains rocky and jagged the deeper you go. At 70 to 90 feet, you find one of New England’s most treasured dive habitats. You see aquatic life from starfish to sea peaches. There will be plenty of opportunities to photograph this abundant marine life. Expect frigid water in the winter and milder temps during summer months.To get there, follow highway 127 north through Rockport, and keep looking for the signs to Ralph Waldo Emerson Inn.
Further down the coast to Delaware sits the USS Arthur W. Radford in about 140 feet of water, the top deck is at about 70 feet. You need to be an experienced recreational or technical diver to tackle this dive site. The Radford was scuttled in 2011 and forms the largest artificial reef off the east coast. After only seven years in the water, this wreck offers amazing opportunities to explore the interior and exterior of the ship. The occasional barracuda and sunfish are seen.
Getting there: several dive charters that serve the Delaware coast such as Scuba World and Dive Ocean City can be taken to the Radford.
The east coast waters are known for shipwrecks, and this gives both the experienced and new diver plenty of places to explore and photograph these outstanding habitats. Hundreds of these ships are concentrated in areas like Cape Hatteras and Charleston Harbor. Other lesser-populated ports are thinly scattered all along the coastline. Scuba diving has seen a dramatic increase in participation over the last few years. Dive shops are popping up everywhere in towns and municipalities. These towns want to cash in on these underwater gold mines. Diver attractions are being upgraded to provide better access and adventures.
In 1991 North Carolina designated the USS Huron dive site as “North Carolina’s First Historic Shipwreck Preserve.” This designation promotes the preservation of these wonderful historical treasures. The Huron was an iron-hulled gunship built about ten years after the civil war. After excursions to the Caribbean’s and then to the north, the Huron left the port of New York after repairs for a scientific cruise. It ran aground off the coast of Nags Head North Carolina and sank, killing 85 of the 115 crew. This wonderful dive site is only about 750 feet from the beach in about 30 foot waters. The USS Huron is considered one of the most famous shipwrecks in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”
Getting there: travel south or north on Interstate 95, take state Hwy 64 from Rocky Mount NC toward Nags Head. You will run out of road at the Atlantic.
Many divers count the Alexander Ramsey as their first dive. The Ramsey a 440-foot liberty ship about 2.5 miles from the Masonboro Inlet and close to shore, it rests in about 45 feet of water. This site is a popular location for open-water checkout dives. Visibility is good to almost to 40 feet and waters are moderate. This is another ship considered to be part of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” Getting there: Wilmington is at the southern tip of the North Carolina Coast Line. Find the I40 off of the 95 Interstate and follow this all the way into Wilmington.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic is a stretch of water off the coast of the Outerbanks of North Carolina. Many ships have found this area of the ocean as their resting place, WWII U-boats, sunken tankers, freighters and Civil War blockade ships. These sunken treasures are dotted all along the coastline. Untold thousands of scuba divers are looking for their fortunes among these ruins. Nearly 5000 ships have been lost off the coast of the Outer Banks, heavy fog makes navigation impossible at times. Surrounding Waters off Charleston Harbor are home to a trove of sunken history. The shores of Nova Scotia, to some extent, are known as a ships graveyard as well.
Gray’s Reef off the Georgia Coast is the location to one of the largest live-bottom reefs in the southern United States. This refuge covers nearly seventeen square nautical miles of habitat. A wondrous place to scuba dive, with over 150 different species of fish. The sanctuary is heavily protected from pollution, as it should be. Getting there: A lot of marinas and boat docks, along this pristine stretch of beaches, ferry divers to and from the reefs.
Moving south towards Florida there are dive shops at every exit along Interstate 75 and then some. Boating and scuba diving is big business in the sunshine state. Not only for the retail shops that supply the divers, but also charters taking divers to open sea dives. Industrial ship bottom cleaning is also a healthy industry. The latest and greatest dive and boating equipment can be found in Florida. Deep-water testing grounds and preserves are in abundance all along the coastline. If you love to scuba dive or you want to learn this excellent sport, there is no better place in the world than the state of Florida.
The Florida Keys are a mecca for Scuba Divers.
John Pennecamp Park in Key Largo is the largest of the dive operators and they run daily morning and afternoon trips for all skill levels. Dive sites include the Benwood Wreck, French Reef/Molasses and Snapper Ledge, all dives less than 50 ft depth and perfect for beginners. They also offer a unique dive to the Carysfort Reef Light which is the oldest functioning lighthouse in the US,built in 1852 it stands in 10-30 ft of water.