Fort Lauderdale, or the “Venice of America” – as it is dubbed thanks to its expansive system of canals, is a coastal city in the state of Florida that has established itself as a popular beach destination within the US. This is partly due to its subtropical rainforest climate that ensures pleasant temperatures throughout the year. Besides being a great beach destination, Fort Lauderdale is also one of the best diving locations in the region.
Fort Lauderdale is often dubbed the shipwreck capital of America due to the large number of wrecks – it is believed that these waters hold the highest number of warm water shipwrecks in the States, with more than 100 recorded artificial reefs.
It is also worth noting that Greater Fort Lauderdale is one of the few destinations within the continental United States where divers can explore living coral reef straight off the beach. The reef is part of the Florida Reef Tract, that extends from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet. Hundreds of species of fish and an abundance of marine flora can be found along the coast.
Fort Lauderdale has two main seasons - summer, which lasts most of the year, and winter, which still offers warm temperatures. As such, diving here is possible year-round with plenty to see regardless of when you choose to stop by.
From December to February, or the official winter season, it’s when the bull sharks and sailfish can be observed closer to the shore. Some have also been lucky enough to spot whale sharks during this period.
From March to May, hammerheads come by and the sailfish still linger on for some time. During the official summer season, which starts in June and ends in late August, divers can spot manta rays, lemon sharks, hawksbill turtles, loggerheads turtles, and even whale sharks.
From September to November, the area experiences the hurricane season, but the diving conditions remain good, with fewer than two storms during these months. However, for optimal conditions, it would be best to plan outside of the hurricane season, if possible.
The water temperature in Fort Lauderdale remains balmy throughout the year. From January to mid-March, the temperature ranges from about 21° to 23° C, or 70° to 74° F, while from mid-March to November it reaches up to 25.5° C, or 78° F.
Fort Lauderdale is a great drift diving area with currents running parallel to the shoreline.
The water visibility in Fort Lauderdale ranges from 12 meters/40 feet to 30 meters/100 feet, depending on the weather.
• Wreck diving
• Drift diving
• Reef diving
• Night diving
This British cargo ship sank in 1900 on its way to Havana, Cuba, when it ran aground on the Pompano Drop-off reef. For a while, it remained visible above water but was afterward used for target practice by the Navy during WWII and eventually sank. The shipwreck is broken up but you can still make up many of its features. In 1994, the wreck became an Underwater Archaeological Preserve and in 2001, it was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.
Tenneco Towers is the largest artificial reef in Fort Lauderdale, featuring five oil platforms that were previously used in the Gulf of Mexico. Three of the rigs are found within recreational diving limits while the other two are reachable only by technical divers. Having been relocated in 1985, the pillars are already filled with a massive growth of sea sponges and corals. Schools of fish bring life to this site every day.
This former tender became an artificial reef in 1990 and now rests upright on the bottom of the seafloor within recreational diving limits. Wreck divers can explore its insides through the large access holes that allow for easy penetration. The shipwreck is now home to large barracudas, amberjacks, goliath groupers, parrotfish, and numerous other species of fish.
The Hammerhead Reef is a large reef that makes for a great drift dive for advanced divers. It contains many overhangs, crevices, undercuts, and ledges which hide numerous species of marine animals. Lobsters, eels, sea turtles, and colorful tropical fish are frequently spotted here, and southern stingrays are often found buried in the sand.
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