Miami is one of my favorite cities in the world. There is just so much to see and do that there’s never a dull moment. But.. is Miami good for scuba diving you’re wondering?
Well you might be surprised, but Miami is actually host to a number of fantastic dive sites!
And with my below recommendations, you can now add diving to the list of awesome things to do next time you’re there 🙂
Here are the top places to dive in Miami…
The Best Places To Scuba Dive In Miami
Biscayne National Park
Those looking for the best diving in Miami should head to Biscayne National Park.
Biscayne National parks roughly 170,000 acres are mostly submerged habitats, where you will get the opportunity to see things like; manatees, sea turtles and large schools of tropical fish.
As part of the Maritime Heritage Trail, you will also experience the only underwater archaeological trail in the National Park Service system!
The pristine reefs in this region offer some of very best scuba diving in Florida as a whole, and provide the opportunity to see a huge amount of exciting marine life.
There are scuba and snorkel tours on offer for the chance to explore some of the parks many shipwrecks, beautiful mangroves, and the northernmost part of the park contains the Florida Reef (the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only living barrier reef on the continental US).
Neptune Memorial Reef
Neptune Memorial reefs expansive (and still growing) 16 acre site is the largest man made reef ever conceived, and one of the most popular dive sites in Miami.
This very unique artificial reef which was built in the image of the lost city of Atlantis is located just three miles east of Key Biscayne and you can dive here through one of a number of tour operators in the Miami area.
Since it’s installation, the fish population in the area has exploded, so as well as explore the interesting underwater structures, you’re sure to come across large amounts of marine wildlife as well.
Neptune memorial reef is also named as such as it offers the opportunity for placements of underwater memorials and it is an area where loved ones cremated remains can be scattered.
Many families that visit the site also become scuba certified divers here in order to place and then visit their loved ones.
Located just east of Key Biscayne lies the wreckage of a large freighter, the Sheri-Lyn.
After spending a year on Miami river with unpaid docking fees, it was donated to DERM who sank it in 1987 to create an artificial reef/wreck dive.
It lay there fully intact until 1992 when it was ripped into pieces by hurricane Andrew spreading the wreckage over a large site and attracting an increasing amount of coral and marine life toward it.
One of the most popular wreck dives in Miami, the 253ft Sheri Lyn provides tons of opportunity for exploration, with multiple chevron tanks amongst the scattered wreckage.
The large wreck site has attracted a large amount of coral and marine life, with goliath grouper and other large pelagic marine life often seen in the area.
[At 90 feet below the surface diving the Sheri Lynn is reserved for advanced divers]
Another reef dive that’s close to Key Biscayne (one mile away) is that of Emerald Reef.
Comprising of three shallow patch reefs Emerald Reef has a variety of different coral and sponges, barracuda, lobsters, large amounts of juvenile tropical fish making this a spot that’s well worth your time.
The very shallow natural reef has an average depth of just 20ft which makes it perfect for all levels of diver (and pretty good for snorkeling too!)
Half Moon Shipwreck
The Half Moon shipwreck is another very shallow dive in just 10 feet of water.
Located just off shore between Key Biscayne and Virginia Key, this shipwreck has been designated an underwater archaeological preserve.
There is a long and storied history behind the Half Moon which includes it being seized by the British in 1914 as a war prize, being used as a floating restaurant, sinking in 1926 but raised and then used fishing barge, before finally sinking again in 1930!
Here you can explore the 154 foot long wreck, as well as the many tropical fish that now dwell around her, and thanks to the shallow water depth this site is great for snorkeling as well as diving.
The Best Scuba Diving Near South Beach
Jose Cuervo Artificial Reef
If you’re in South beach and looking for a hassle free shore dive then you should check out the Jose Cuervo artificial reef.
Underwater you’ll find a concrete bar – Another of Miami’s intentionally sunken attractions that was sunk during the “sinko” de mayo festival in 2000.
The bar is located just off shore and requires only a short swim out (150 yards). Simply head out from the first street lifeguard tower and look out for the two mooring buoys indicating the location of the bar below.
Marine Life Scuba Diving Miami
You can expect to see an exciting and varied amount of marine life whilst diving in Miami, just some of which includes;
- Sergeant major
- Nurse sharks
- & many more tropical fish and hard and soft coral
Wreck Diving In Miami
Miami is is known as the “wreckreational” dive capitol of the world with ships, army tanks and planes amongst the very many sites to choose from.
Having trouble trying to choose which wreck to explore is a very real problem when diving in Miami! But luckily there are a couple of “wreck trecks” that you can choose from (a cluster of wreck sites close enough to one another that you can enjoy exploring multiple sites).
Many of the wreck sites in Miami were intentionally sunk, and there are currently over 75 sunken sites to explore.
The sites themselves are at varying depths with varying degrees of difficulty meaning there’s a wreck dive for all levels of diver to enjoy.
If wreck diving is your thing, then head over to the Miami-Dade County’s Environmental Resources Management website. Their Reef Finder is a map of the many different artificial reefs in the area.
Miami may not be a bucket list dive destination for most, but it’s a fantastic city with some surprisingly good dives to enjoy whilst your here.
Scuba divers heading to Miami can enjoy a variety of dives including both artificial and natural reefs, drift dives and so many wreck dives you won’t be able to choose.
For the best scuba diving in Florida as a whole, consider heading to south Florida towards Key Largo and the Florida keys.