Greater Fort Lauderdale’s 23 miles of clean, Blue Wave-certified sands are sunbathing and people-watching nirvana. But if you spend your entire visit on land, you’ll actually miss some of the most stunning sights the city has to offer. Just offshore is a three-tiered living coral reef system and more than 75 artificial reefs that have made this one of Florida’s most popular dive destinations.
If you’re not yet scuba-certified, plan a June trip to take advantage of Learn to Dive Month. Greater Fort Lauderdale dive shops roll out special savings on training programs while the water temperatures hover near 80 degrees. There’s never been a better time to experience great diving right in your own backyard – no passport required! It is easy to get your feet wet during June’s Learn to Dive month.
“Learn to Dive Month” Details
From June 1-30, seven scuba shops in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area are offering package deals that include a free graduation dive when you complete your certification program, four hotel nights for the price of three and discounts on scuba gear. Timesaving tip: Do your precertification coursework online at home to allow more time in the water during your trip. Certification can be completed in just three days, but you should allow four days if you’re traveling by air. The Diver’s Alert Network recommends an 18-hour surface interval before flying after multiple dives.
Where to Dive
Dive operators from Deerfield Beach, north of Fort Lauderdale to Hollywood, south of Fort Lauderdale run daily boat trips to the outer reefs. The area is also known for its excellent shore diving, with dive sites beginning in 15 feet of water only a few hundred feet from shore. Once you’re certified, grab a buddy and a dive flag and swim into the aquatic wonderland from Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, just south of Anglin’s Pier at Commercial Boulevard; Greene Street, three blocks north of Hollywood’s North Beach Park; or John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach.
What to Expect
You'll see soft coral sea fans undulating in the currents, stony corals with bristly Christmas tree worms dotting their surfaces (wave a hand near these plant-looking critters and they withdraw quickly into the coral) and a proliferation of brightly colored tropical fish, such as angelfish, sergeant majors and parrotfish. Southern stingrays, moray eels, nurse sharks, spiny lobsters and loggerhead sea turtles also make appearances. Drift diving is popular on the Greater Fort Lauderdale reefs, eliminating the need for long swims; divers simply ride the current towing a dive flag and get collected by their boat at a specified time.
Thanks to an active artificial reef program, it’s also possible to dive multiple wrecks, ranging from the beginner-friendly Copenhagen – remains of an 1898 cargo ship in 30 feet of water off Pompano Beach – to the coral-encrusted Jim Atria in 130 feet of water off Fort Lauderdale shores. Barracuda and grouper often take up residence around the sunken ships. Other notable scuba spots include Tenneco Towers, a series of submerged oil platforms in Hallandale, and an antique mine car in Hollywood.
Other wrecks to explore include the Ancient Mariner, an 85-foot schooner, in Deerfield. This former Coast Guard Cutter Nemesis served as a sub chaser during WWII. The Rodeo 25 in Pompano Beach, a Dutch freighter that was built in 1956. And the Jay Scutti. This tugboat lies at the center of several wrecks that form an artificial reef in Fort Lauderdale. The tugboat was sunk in honor of the owner's son, Jay. All of these wrecks and others like them help create a stable underwater environment awash in fish and other sea life.
If You Go
Visit www.sunny.org/learntodive to find dive shops offering promotions for Learn to Dive Month. Also, check out www.sunny.org/lauderdeals for more ways to save on hotels and activities during your stay.
This article was brought to you by the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. To plan your trip to Greater Fort Lauderdale, visit www.sunny.org.