Face to Face
From freshwater to saltwater, from cave diving to drift diving and with more shipwrecks than many entire countries, the state of Florida, from a diver’s perspective, may just have it all. On the Gulf Coast, along Florida’s western shore, there are beautiful coastal islands, warm waters and a subtropical climate. With artificial reefs, natural dive sites teeming with tropical marine life and wreck dives, it’s a desirable dive spot. Crystal River, about 113 kilometres/70 miles north of Tampa, has both salt and freshwater springs that are known for manatees and it’s the only place in the United States where you can snorkel with these remarkable creatures. Southeast Florida has some of the largest artificial reefs in the country and many of Palm Beach and Broward County’s 60 wrecks are perfect for new divers. The Florida Keys are internationally renowned and are simply breathtaking, they are ideal for all types of divers who will love the living tropical coral reefs and the area’s shipwrecks.
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Visibility – Generally 10-25 metres/35-80 feet plus in calm conditions. Winter storms can reduce visibility. Some of the springs are “crystal” clear.
Water Temperature – Depending on the area, water temperature can range from 16-27°C/55-80°F – towards the cool end of this range in winter and warmer in summer. Freshwater springs have more constant temperatures between 20°-22°C/68°-72°F.
Weather – Subtropical to tropical with warm humid summers and comfortable winters.
Featured Creatures – Extremely varied and abundant, depending on location. Larger pelagic animals like sea turtles, sharks, sailfish and whales are regularly spotted. Tarpon, snapper, redfish, large mouth bass and garfish populate estuaries. Goliath grouper, hogfish, amberjack, barracuda and lobster live on the wrecks and reefs. The Gulf Coast is home to manatees and sea turtles.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses for diving on the deeper wrecks. The PADI Drift Diver and PADI Boat Diver courses will help you enjoy diving off Florida’s east coats. The PADI Cavern Diver course is also a good choice for many of the freshwater systems.
Language – English. Spanish is commonly spoken in Southern Florida.
Currency – US dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports – There are more than a dozen international airports in Florida, but Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa and Key West International Airports will get you closest to prime dive locations.
Electricity and Internet –110-120 volt, 60hz. Internet is widely available.
Topside Attractions – Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to stroll through the historic Key West home of one of America’s iconic authors. Go to Gatorpark to experience the Everglades National Park by airboat and check out alligator nests, an Indian fish camp and all sorts of wildlife. Stroll down Ocean Boulevard in South Beach Miami and check out the sleek architecture or head out on the town when the sun goes down. Of course, Florida is also home to many major theme parks.
Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Florida.