The Best Diving Spots To Check Out On Your Florida Trip

Florida is a dream for scuba divers so this is your chance to get certified and head to these amazing places to check out its gorgeous coral reefs, wrecks, caves and other sea creatures
The Sunshine State offers unparalleled opportunities for scuba diving
The Sunshine State offers unparalleled opportunities for scuba divingErin Westgate/

The Sunshine State of the United States of America is blessed with an abundance of freshwater springs and lakes along with an enviable 2,170km of coastline. Florida has plenty of bridges, wrecks, reefs, statues and protected areas that attract lots of tourists, many of whom are keen to put on their diving harnesses and swim underwater.

Here’s your guide to some of the best locations in the state for a spot of scuba diving.

Ginnie Springs

Diving in Ginnie Springs
Diving in Ginnie SpringsValerijs Novickis/

Some 13km from the town of High Springs lie the crystal clear diving sites of Ginnie Springs. There are three locations here which certified divers can choose from: The Ginnie Ballroom, The Devil’s Spring System and the Santa Fe River. The first two are a haven for people wanting to explore underwater caves while the Santa Fe River site contains prehistoric fossils. Divers can also go tubing, paddleboarding and kayaking if they feel like it.

Independent instructors are at hand to teach you how to scuba dive if you want to learn. The property has seven springs, a full dive shop with rentals, hot showers, a large campground full of tent camping sites and a rental cottage.

Rainbow River

Spotted gar hover over seagrass in the Rainbow River
Spotted gar hover over seagrass in the Rainbow RiverErin Westgate/

Rainbow River is one of the best freshwater scuba diving experiences you can have in Florida. It lies 37km northeast of Ocala and the dive site has a visibility of up to 60m, making it easy to observe the flora and fauna of the river system from its spring beds, gar and turtles to otters and anhingas. It is the best place for drift dives with scuba divers frequently discovering shark teeth and fossils.

Biscayne National Park

Coral reef in Biscayne National Park
Coral reef in Biscayne National ParkJoshua Lehew/

Biscayne National Park is 95 per cent underwater and unfurls over 1,72,900 acres. It’s unique blend of sea, coral reef, barrier island and estuarine environment houses over 600 species of tropical fish, many so brightly coloured they rival the night skyline of Miami.

Scuba diving below the water's surface converts the blues and green of the surface and sky into darker shades. The park’s Maritime Heritage Trail offers an exciting opportunity to explore the remains of some of the park's many shipwrecks. Visitors can cover six wrecks, spanning nearly a century and a wide variety of sizes and vessel types. All the wrecks in the park waters are protected as cultural resources, and it is against the law to remove any artefacts from them.

Devil’s Den

Devil's Den, Florida's only underground prehistoric spring
Devil's Den, Florida's only underground prehistoric springADRIAN DIAZ CADAVID/

On the surface Devil’s Den looks nothing special but with each step into the 15m sinkhole your view will change. It is Florida’s only underground prehistoric spring and boasts a multitude of artefacts and fossils within its confines. It is always a smooth 22°C underwater so you will need a 3mm wetsuit to explore the spring’s multiple air pockets. The site’s cave systems are closed to divers.

Visitors can spot guppies, catfish, turtles and fossil beds dating back 33 million years. This is a privately-owned spring and there are campsites and cabins available on the premises for divers who want to stay for longer.

Molasses Reef

Fish and coral in Molasses Reef
Fish and coral in Molasses ReefJoe Quinn/

Molasses Reef is one of Florida’s biggest and best reefs with over 30 dive sites ranging in depth from 2-27m. Its crystal clear waters and easy access make this destination a great choice for beginners, intermediate and advanced divers alike. Situated in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the reef is home to more than 600 species of corals and other creatures, just like its neighbour, the Biscayne National Park. Divers will marvel at the beauty and diversity of marine life and spot turtles, eels and sharks during their time underwater.

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