With the tight economy forcing American boaters to reconsider expensive trips abroad, the appeal of Florida yacht charters has increased dramatically in the past two years. Perhaps not on par with a Virgin Islands yacht charter, there are still plenty of points of interest while cruising along the South Florida coast, especially for charterers who also enjoy scuba diving.
While the Florida Keys may be known for their fishing and scuba diving locations, both Broward and Miami-Dade counties have some of the best spots to scuba dive in the nation. From natural reefs to sunken ships, it’s amazing what can be found off the shores of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Many of the reefs and wrecks can be found in 60 to 80 feet of water, making South Florida a great choice for both novice and advanced divers.
Here are some of our top picks:
Tugboat Jay Scutti (off Ft. Lauderdale)
Sunk in Sept. 1986, this 95 foot tug was seized by the government in a drug smuggling operation. It was bought at auction by a man who renamed it the "Jay Scutti," after his son. The wreck lies in 70 feet of water and is centered between a 45 foot wreck named "Moonshot" and another named "Pride," a 95 foot sailboat. All three wrecks are tethered together by a cable. Divers can usually explore two of the wrecks in one dive. Lots of fish inhabit the Jay Scutti, and it’s possible to enter the wreck through various openings.
Hammerhead Reef (off Ft. Lauderdale)
Located just south of Port Everglades and running to the Dania Pier, this two and a half mile reef is famous for its sharks, rays, and large grouper. The front portion of the reef is in 60 feet of water, while the back side plunges to 80 feet. In some spots, the reef rises to nearly 20 feet. Tons of marine life call this reef home and make it a great spot for reef diving.
Miami Beach Wreck Trek (off Miami Beach)
It’s pretty impressive how artificial reefs have been created by linking multiple wrecks together via a guide cable. The Miami Beach Wreck Trek is a shallow dive, about 50 to 60 feet of water. It begins with a pair of army tanks on the southern end. As they swim north, divers encounter several tons of limestone boulders and more wrecks like the "Rio Miami," a 105 foot tug which sits upright in about 65 feet of water.
Also off the Miami Beach coast is a trio of sunken tug boats. The "Belzona Ona," lies in 85 feet of water. About 75 feet away is the second tug, "Belzona Two," in 60 feet of water. The deepest of the trio, "Belzona Three," is a 100 foot tug at a depth of 85 feet.
Not far away is the "Belcher Barge #27," a 195 foot steel barge that was sunk in 1985. The barge flipped on its way to the bottom, but experienced divers can penetrate it and swim the ship’s entire length.
Please comment to let us know about your experiences diving these awesome Florida dive sites!
In addition to cruising in south Florida, Bahama yacht charters are great options for closer-to-home getaways. Contact our local charter guides for more details in Miami, the Florida Keys and nearby Bimini, Bahamas.
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