Diving in Fort Lauderdale
The Fort Lauderdale Artificial Reef
The Fort Lauderdale Artificial Reef is an impressive system of submerged structures designed to mimic coral reefs. The project began in the late 1980s when the city saw a need to protect its natural reef system from damage caused by large numbers of divers.
The first structures were made of concrete and PVC pipes, but as the project evolved, more sophisticated materials were used, such as recycled tires, sunken boats, and even airplanes. These structures provide a safe and stable environment for marine life to thrive, while also attracting divers and snorkelers from around the world.
One of the key benefits of the Fort Lauderdale Artificial Reef is that it has helped to revitalize the local economy by creating new opportunities for tourism. The reef attracts millions of visitors each year, generating revenue for hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in the area.
Moreover, the artificial reef acts as an educational tool, allowing scientists and researchers to study marine ecosystems in a controlled environment. It also helps prevent overfishing and poaching, as the fish population is able to reproduce and thrive in a safe environment.
Overall, the Fort Lauderdale Artificial Reef is a testament to the city’s commitment to protecting its natural resources while promoting responsible tourism and economic development. Visitors to the area can not only enjoy an unforgettable diving experience, but also contribute to the preservation of the marine ecosystem.
The wrecks of the Spiegel Grove and the USS Mohawk
One of the most popular dive sites in Fort Lauderdale is the Spiegel Grove, a 510-foot-long fune that was intentionally sunk in 2002 to create an artificial reef. Since then, the Spiegel Grove has become one of the most sought-after dive sites in the region due to its unique history and abundant marine life.
Divers can explore the various levels of the fune, including the deck, wheelhouse, and cargo holds, and encounter a wide variety of fish, including barracuda, grouper, and snapper.
Another popular wreck dive in the area is the USS Mohawk, a former US Navy vessel that was purposefully sunk in 2012 to create an artificial reef and honor the brave men and women who served in WW2. The Mohawk sits at a depth of 90 feet and offers an exciting diving experience for experienced divers. Over the years, the wreck has become a home for many different species of marine life, including sharks, barracudas, and sea turtles.
Whether you are exploring the Spiegel Grove or the USS Mohawk, Fort Lauderdale offers some of the best wreck diving in Florida. These wrecks not only provide an exciting adventure for divers, but also provide invaluable support for the local ecosystem as artificial reefs, creating new homes and habitats for marine creatures to thrive.
Blue Heron Bridge
Another popular diving site in Fort Lauderdale is the Blue Heron Bridge, an underwater haven for macro photographers and marine enthusiasts alike. Situated in Phil Foster Park, the Blue Heron Bridge is a protected area that boasts a wide array of marine life, including seahorses, starfish, octopuses, and many species of fish. The controlled environment makes this spot perfect for beginners and children who want to experience a glimpse of the underwater world.
Aside from its marine life, the Blue Heron Bridge also offers a unique diving experience that is unparalleled in any other location. Divers can explore the man-made reef structures that make up the bridge, as well as the numerous artifacts such as sunken boats and automobiles. One of the highlights of the dive is the sighting of the rare shortnose batfish, which is only found in this area.
The Blue Heron Bridge is also a great spot for night diving, offering divers a chance to encounter nocturnal species such as squid, octopuses, and lobsters. Moreover, the Park is equipped with excellent facilities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic areas, making it a perfect family-friendly destination.
The Coral Cove Park
For a quieter diving experience, explorers can venture to Coral Cove Park, a hidden gem located in Jupiter, Florida, just a short drive north of Fort Lauderdale. The park offers a pristine beach and clear waters that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and of course, diving. The shallow waters and calm tide make this park a perfect spot for beginner’s diving, snorkelling, and other water activities.
As the name suggests, the Coral Cove Park is home to a thriving coral reef ecosystem, offering a multitude of opportunities to interact with the marine life. Divers can encounter an array of unique species such as parrotfish, angelfish, and sea turtles. Additionally, there are numerous tunnels, caverns, and small caves to explore, promising an adventure for even the most experienced recreational divers.
What sets Coral Cove Park apart from other diving destinations is the seagrass beddo that stretches across the cove. The seagrass beddo provides an important habitat for juvenile marine animals and nursery fish, making it one of the most important ecosystems in the region. As a result, the park has strict diving restrictions to ensure the protection and conservation of this fascinating natural resource.
Coral Cove Park is also known for its remarkably clear waters, which provide excellent visibility for divers. The visibility is often up to 50 feet, which is particularly exceptional for a diving site in Florida. Divers can enjoy a vibrant underwater terrain and discover the nooks and crannies of the diverse marine species that call Coral Cove Park home.
With its abundance of marine life, unique seagrass beddo, and the clear waters, Coral Cove Park provides an opportunity for divers of every level to explore and connect with the underwater world.
One of the lesser-known but equally fascinating dive sites in Fort Lauderdale is the Hillsboro Inlet. Located just a few miles north of the city, the inlet is situated where the Hillsboro River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The waters here are known for their clear visibility and diverse marine life, making it a popular spot for divers looking for a more unconventional dive experience.
One of the most intriguing features of the Hillsboro Inlet dive site is the underwater statue of Nepture, the Roman god of the sea. The statue stands at a depth of approximately 55 feet and has become a popular attraction for divers, providing a unique photo opportunity and a sense of awe in the underwater environment. The statue was placed there in 1984 to commemorate the opening of the Hillsboro Inlet Bridge and has since become an iconic part of the area’s diving scene.
Aside from the statue, the Hillsboro Inlet offers a wide array of marine life, including sea turtles, stingrays, and a variety of fish species. Divers can also explore the natural rock formations and coral reefs that are scattered throughout the area. During the summer months, it is common to encounter schools of migrating fish, such as tarpon, that pass through the inlet.
The Hillsboro Inlet offers an excellent opportunity for divers of all levels, with dive sites ranging from shallow reefs to deeper wrecks. The area is also equipped with a variety of amenities, including bou ramps, parking, and restrooms for added convenience.
These are just a few of the many popular dive sites in the Fort Lauderdale area. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there are many options for underwater exploration in this beautiful region of Florida.
Why Fort Lauderdale?
I enjoy it because it’s more affordable than Miami Beach and has equal access to amenities. Fort Lauderdale, Florida is a popular destination for a variety of reasons, including:
Beautiful beaches: Fort Lauderdale is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and warm weather, making it a popular destination for sun-seekers and beach lovers.
Water activities: Fort Lauderdale is a popular destination for water sports and activities, including scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and boating.
Cultural attractions: Fort Lauderdale is home to a variety of cultural attractions, including museums, theaters, and historic sites.
Shopping and dining: Fort Lauderdale is home to a variety of shopping and dining options, including high-end boutiques, local shops, and a diverse range of restaurants.
Nightlife: Fort Lauderdale has a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.
Access to other attractions: Fort Lauderdale is located close to other popular attractions in Florida, including Miami, Palm Beach, and the Everglades National Park.
Fort Lauderdale is a diver’s paradise. With its clear waters, diverse marine life, and numerous dive sites, the city is a top destination for scuba diving in Florida. From exploring the depths of sunken ships to encountering rare species of fish, there is no shortage of adventure in this underwater world. Moreover, the city’s commitment to creating artificial reefs and preserving natural resources has helped sustain the local ecosystem and promote responsible tourism. So, whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, an action-packed adventure, or a blend of both, Fort Lauderdale has something to offer everyone.