Sensational Southwest Florida Diving
Southwest Florida diving deserves as much recognition as our beautiful Gulf beaches and outstanding golf courses. Let’s face it, not everyone is a land lubber. There are many who are not content to simply stroll along the shore or cruise along the tide; some of us prefer to be in-the-water ! Fortunately, those wishing to experience Southwest Florida diving have lots of options. As someone who enjoys diving and who has traveled the world in search of great sites, I wanted to share the following list with other enthusiasts as it offers insight on popular Southwest Florida diving sites.
Baja California Reef
Built in 1914, the Baja California was a Norwegian Freighter that weighed some 1,648 tons. The ship was carrying war materials when it departed from New Orleans and was bound for Guatemala, but was ultimately torpedoed by U-84. This happened approximately 60 miles off the Naples inlet. Now a thriving reef, its resting place has become one of the more popular Southwest Florida diving sites, just outside of Naples.
Latitude: 25 21.38’N , Longitude: 82 31.96’W
25 21.436’N, 82 31.979’W
25 21.522’N, 82 31.901’W
25 21.585’N, 82 31.91’W
Depth: ~ 110 to 115 ft
The Air Force Relay Tower Reefs are situated within a Gulf triangle outlined by Marco Island, Everglades City, Key West, Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas. These surface to bottom towers have evolved into artificial, vertical reef structures which attract a wide variety of fish species. Though maintained by the Department of Defense, no one seems to mind that these towers have become a popular destination for diving and spear fishing.
The following GPS coordinates and Lat/Lon waypoints can help you navigate to the site, but frankly, once in range, the towers are easily observable.
D Tower: 25 34.0’N, 81 43.0’W
Depth: ~ 28 ft
L Tower: 25 22.03’N, 82 27.9’W
Depth: ~ 100 ft
P Tower: 25 07.0’N, 82 00.0’W
Depth: ~ 65 ft
R Tower: 25 28.0’N, 82.06.11’W
Depth: ~ 65 ft
S Tower: 25 02.0’N, 82 22.0’W
Depth: ~ 80 ft
T Tower: 25 48.0’N, 82 13.0’W
Depth: ~ 65 ft
W Tower: 24 56.0’N, 82 43.0’W
Depth: ~ 120 ft
The Fantastico was a 200 ft. Honduran freighter which sunk during the “Storm of the Century” on March 19, 1993. The storm battered the west coast of Florida with a tidal wave of water regrettably decimated lives and property. As a dive site, the Fantastico is a fantastic location to see an amazing variety of fish.
Latitude: 26 17.78’N, Longitude: 82 49.88’W
26 17.775’N, 82 50.082’W
Depth: ~ 100 ft to 115 ft
The Bayronto was a British steamer that had to be abandoned suddenly during a September hurricane way back in 1919. Some speculate that treasure can be found around this dive site. To be sure, as an artifical reef, it is rich with a variety of marine species.
Latitude: 26 45.80’N, Longitude: 82 50.84’W
26 45.83’N, 82 50.86’W
Depth: ~ 110 ft
USS Mohawk CGC Veterans Memorial Reef
As a WWII Coast Guard Cutter, the USS Mohawk and its crew established an esteemed legacy of service to the U.S. The Mohawk, measuring 165 feet in length, spent years as a popular historical attraction after it was decommissioned. Cost to maintain the ship were, however, significant. It was on the verge of being sold for scrap before Lee County officials negotiated a deal that led to The Mohawk’s serving as an artificial reef. The Mohawk now serves as an underwater Veteran’s Memorial as well as popular destination for divers. The ship was sunk in only 90 feet of water located just off the coast of Sanibel Island.
Latitude: 26 33.075’N, Longitude: 82 43.481’W
Depth: ~ 87 ft
Captiva Blue Hole
On the surface, sink holes are never fun to encounter, but when you come across one underwater, it makes for an interesting dive site. The Captiva Blue Hole (some refer to it as “The Crack”) is located some 30 miles off the coast of Boca Grande. The sink hole descends to depths of approximately 180 feet. Lots of interesting coral line the walls, and great variety of fish will be found along the bring.
Latitude: 26 28.90’N, Longitude: 82 44.19’W
Depth: ~ 90 ft down to 180 ft
The Santa Lucia
The 47 foot long Santa Lucia formerly served as a turtle boat. Sunk in 1997, it now exists as an artificial reef and popular Southwest Florida diving site, located almost four miles west of Gordon Pass in Naples.
Latitude: 26 5.388’N, Longitude: 81 50.626’W
Depth: ~ 20 ft to 25 ft
The Black Hole (or Naples Spring)
It is believed that this site once served ancient Paleo-era civilization since fascinating artifacts have been found in its periphery. The Black Hole is a freshwater spring within the Gulf that measures some 100 feet in diameter and more than 220 feet deep, forming a bowl that drops away from the sea floor at around 70 ft. depth. Visibility can alter drastically from day to day, and you may want to acquire some experience diving caves before taking on this challenge.
Latitude: 25 50.563’N, Longitude: 82 09.114’W
Depth: ~ 65 ft down to about 220 ft
After the Dive
Of course, after a day experiencing Southwest Florida diving, there’s nothing more appealing than diving into your own comfortable chair (or bed) at home. For those who love life in and around the water, here’s a list of great properties in Naples; and be assured, there’s not a dive among them. For more information on any of these homes for sale, connect with Realtor (and Diver) Rusty Van Buskirk.