Scuba Diving in Fort Lauderdale
Jason Daniel Shaw
From reefs that run parallel to the beach, just offshore to more wrecks than you can dive in a weekend, the south Florida waters should have something for just about any type of scuba diver. Key Largo and the rest of the Florida Keys may be one of the most famous places in Florida to scuba dive but the Fort Lauderdale area holds its own and has a lot to offer as well. We spent a weekend exploring the underwater world just off the famous party beaches of Fort Lauderdale.
FORT LAUDERDALE REEF DIVING
If you exit the inlet at Port Everglades and turn to the north or south, you will run into three parallel reefs that lie in 15 foot, 30 foot and 60 foot of water. The first reef is accessible from the beach and is where a lot of the scuba classes in south Florida complete their dives. The second reef, accessible by boat, offers a line of mooring balls to tie up to for your dive. During our dives, the first 10 foot or so almost looked like the smog in Los Angeles but once below that, the visibility was great. Once on the bottom, the structure came to life with coral and sea fans providing homes to a variety of sea life. We even found a family of lobsters hanging out under some rocks. The current can vary so pay attention to that when planning your dive.
FORT LAUDERDALE WRECK DIVING
I have really come to love wreck diving and Fort Lauderdale offers a lot of wrecks to dive. My brother and I decided to try for the trifecta and hit the Jay Scutti, Tracy and Merci Jesus on one dive. These three wrecks are situated in around 60 foot of water and with a short distance of each other. We planned to start at the southernmost wreck, the Jay Scutti and swim with the current to the Tracy and then on to the Merci Jesus. Once in the water, we swam a short distance to the south to find our first wreck. Although you know that you are diving with the hopes of seeing a shipwreck, the first time that it comes into view, it is always an eery feeling. I am not sure if it is the slightly hazy water or the fact that a ship is not supposed to be on the bottom of the ocean. We explored the open decks of the ship and found lots of sea life that had made it their home, including a barracuda. After an obligatory photo with the ship, we continued on to find the next wreck. We swam for 5 minutes or so to the north and was not able to find anything but sandy bottom. Kyle was getting low on air so we decided to turn around and head back south. The current was quite strong and required a lot of kicking to get anywhere. Just as we were getting ready to ascend, I saw the shadow of a wreck to our left. We swam over and Kyle had just enough air for us to quickly survey it before surfacing. We were a hundred yards south of the boat when we surfaced. I was still confused as to how we missed the third boat so I did a bit of research. I found that the first shipwreck that we arrived at was actually the Tracy, the middle of the three ships. The last one that we saw was actually the Merci Jesus, the furthest north shipwreck. We had not swam far enough south to find the Jay Scutti. That just means that we will have to return for some more diving on another trip to south Florida.