Best Scuba Diving in the USA: Where to Go

best scuba diving in the usa
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Everyone who scuba dives probably has specific places that they like to go to for the watersport, but there’s something to be said for trying new things. If you’ve been going to the same place over and over, it might be time to find new locations for the best scuba diving in the USA. For that, we’ve got your back.

Best Scuba Diving in the USA

We have focused on the most popular states and locations within them so that you get a well-rounded idea of where to go. Consider visiting them all throughout the years or pick one or two that are close to you.

1. California

California is well-known for its all-the-time sunshine and the closeness of the water to major cities. With such a pristine ocean so close, it’s no wonder that there are a variety of spots suitable for diving.

Monterey Bay

The National Marine Sanctuary in Monterey Bay is one of the best marine habitats in the area. Two favorite spots include Bluefish Cove and Whalers Cove, though you have to book early, as these locations only allow 30 divers each day.

This restriction gives you a beautiful site with a variety of sightings you might not be able to get at other locations. These include leopard sharks, abalone, harbor seals, and rock cod. Most of the time, conditions are favorable, which means you can go anytime you’d like.

Monterey Bay in the Point Lobos State Marine Conservation Area allows day and night diving. Consider trying both to see eels, juvenile fish, and shrimp in the daytime and nudibranchs at night. Just remember that the water can be cold, so you probably need to wear a drysuit.

Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island is home to several dive sights, but one of the best is Ship Rock. Just two miles from the coast, you can see sheepshead, garibaldi, leopard sharks, Pacific octopus, and more. The topography offers canyons and ledges to attract sunfish and yellowtail tuna.

Visibility is quite good (up to 100 feet in some places), and it’s suitable for all dive levels. Please make sure to wear a wetsuit or drysuit, as temperatures get about 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Florida

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Florida. It is well-known for its vacation allure from sandy beaches, so it also stands to reason that it has excellent scuba diving sites.

Southeast Area

Southeast Florida has over 23 miles of coastline and one of the longest reef structures. It runs from Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale to Miami. You’ll find warm, clear waters and over 100 wreck and reef sites here. Some of the locations are also available to snorkelers, though many of them require appropriate scuba gear to go underwater.

While you can go year-round, it’s best between May and September because of the turtles that ride along the current with you. You might also see sailfish or sharks, as the reef is part of the migratory path for large ocean creatures.

Of course, there are seemingly endless options, but you might want to consider muck diving in West Palm Beach at Blue Heron Bridge. It’s regarded as an artificial reef hotbed. Plus, you’ll see a variety of wrecks as part of the program, including Tenneco Towers.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is one of the most popular places to go to for many reasons. Of course, you’ve got famous wrecks and beautiful reefs, many of which are a part of the Shipwreck Trail. They come at a variety of depths and are ideal for a range of dive levels.

You must visit the Vandenberg and USS Spiegel Grove when you go! Some locations do have stronger currents, so it might be best to go with a tour guide. They will tell you if it’s suitable for beginners or advanced divers.

If you are a novice, you might want to start with Duane and Bibb, which have oceanic jacks and barracuda. Of course, you’ll find plenty of other wrecks to occupy your time along the Key West beaches, so you’ll have many things to do and see while you’re there.

best scuba diving in the usa

3. North Carolina

Most people don’t think of Morehead, North Carolina when they imagine scuba diving in the US, but it has a variety of wrecks and sharks. However, it’s better suited to intermediate divers.

Of course, you’ll find dive tours throughout the day wherein you can charter a boat to the Spar, which is a 180-foot USCG cutter that sits just 110 feet down. There aren’t any guarantees, but you’re likely to see up to 20 sand-tiger sharks in the area. Plus, the prey they eat is also there in abundance!

4. Missouri

You don’t think of the Midwest as being ideal for scuba diving, but Bonne Terre, Missouri has something amazingly different to offer. The mine here was used in the past to remove lead for ammunition manufacturing. However, when the resources ran out, it stopped being used.

It was abandoned, and the crew never cleared out or packed up the mining implements. Before they could, the area got flooded with water. Today, it’s possible to dive into the mine through 24 different routes, though you’ll need a guide.

Down below, you can find shovels and picks, ore cars, geology labs, a machine shop, movie theater, drinking fountain, and offices. If you don’t want to dive that day, you can also take a boat or join a walking tour to explore the coastline.

5. Alaska

From the humid Midwest to the “top of the world,” as it is often called, Alaska is home to an excellent dive site. Baranof Island is the perfect spot to see some jellyfish, though you have to get an operator to take you there because it’s offshore.

Of course, you have to carefully plan when to go because the presence of jellies might be seasonal from temperature changes and current shifts. It’s usually best to go in summer where you can see moon jellyfish at a depth of 80 feet. Plus, there are many things to see aboveground, such as the snow-covered glaciers and amazing waterfalls.

Conclusion

Have you ever wondered if you could scuba dive in locations other than California? If so, you now have your answer. The best scuba diving in the USA doesn’t have to be on the beach next to an ocean. Although, we did include many of such sites because they are breathtaking and exciting. With our list, we’re sure that you’ll find something that intrigues you enough to get you into your wet/drysuit!

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