South Florida Dive Sites

In South Florida we are blessed with an abundance of dive sites, including many wrecks along the eastern coast. Many of these were purposefully sunk to create artificial reefs and have been adopted by numerous species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks looking for a good hiding place. As the coral grows, these wrecks get transformed into beautiful reefs full of life. They attract an abundance of fish and they also attract many scuba divers. Exploring these wrecks and discovering hidden creatures or just admiring the many species of fish is a delight. It’s like going on a mini vacation in another world.

Wreck diving is most enjoyable and we like learning about the interesting history behind these sites. What happened? How did they get there? We will continue to expand our list as we see more sites and we will update this page on a regular basis. The movement of storms and weather can also affect some of these wrecks so it’s going to be a good reason for us to visit them often!

Army Tanks – C-One – CastorConception – Copenhagen – Dema Trader – McAllister Tug  – Mike’s Wreck – Radio Towers – Rapa Nui – Spiegel Grove – Tenneco TowersTracy (Vitale) – United CaribbeanVandenberg

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Army Tanks

  • Depth: 50 ft
  • Size:  Two 40-foot Tanks
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Off the coast of North Miami Beach
  • Condition and history: In 1994 these two M-60 army tanks dating back to the Vietnam War era were placed at a depth of 50 ft in order to create an artificial reef. This dive site makes for an interesting dive, as one would not expect to find army tanks resting on the seafloor in South Florida. The limestone boulders placed around the tanks create a safe haven for lobster and other small sea creatures. Abundant sea life frequents this artificial reef including some pretty big barracuda.
Army Tanks dive site

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  • Depth: 60-70 ft
  • Size: 120 ft
  • Difficulty: Open Water
  • Location: Inside the Sunny Isles Artificial Reef Site
  • Condition and history: In 1990 this tugboat was sunk on purpose to create an artificial reef. The vessel is at about 60-70 ft of depth and is in one piece with lots of growth and full of life. The fact that it’s tilting over at almost 45 degrees makes for many interesting photos. It has multiple entry points for exploration and a prolific sea life.
C-One dive site

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  • Depth: 110ft
  • Size: 258 ft
  • Location:  Just south of the inlet offshore from Boynton Beach
  • Difficulty: Medium/ Advanced (depending on current)
  • Condition and history: The M/V Castor was built in the Netherlands and in 1970 and intended as a cargo ship for dry goods. In 1999 it was seized by the coast guard for drug smuggling and eventually sunk to form this beautiful artificial reef in 2001. This has allowed plenty of time for lots of growth but the real treat at this site is the Golliath Groupers that have come to call it home. Its been reported that as many as 60 have been spotted at this dive site during spawning. While originally the wreck was 237-foot-long, over time rust, and storms have blown around parts of the wreck leaving much of the ship at a 45 degree angle but the bow is still upright. This site can have strong currents and due to it’s depth requires advanced certification.
Castor dive site

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  • Depth: 68 ft
  • Size: 165 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Inside the Sunny Isles Artificial Reef Site
  • Condition and history: This Honduran freighter met its demise in 1991 when it ran aground during storms. Later that year it was moved to the Sunny Isles Artificial Reef Site where it now sits in 68 ft of water. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew broke the ship into three sections and the stern got separated and moved roughly 40 ft away. A multitude of fish can be found around this artificial reef.
Conception dive site

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  • Depth: 15-35 ft
  • Size: 325 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Off the coast of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
  • Condition and history: The broken up steamer ran aground on the Pompano Drop Off more than 100 years ago making it an historical shipwreck. Since 1994 the SS Copenhagen is protected under the Florida Underwater Archeological Preserves. This shallow dive site is available to divers and snorkelers alike.
Copenhagen dive site

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Dema Trader

  • Depth: 80 ft
  • Size: 165 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water / Advanced due to Depth
  • Location: Inside the Key Biscayne Artificial Reef Site
  • Condition and history: This freighter was sunk in 2003 to create an artificial reef. It has a prolific sea life and the windows were removed to allow penetration into the cabin. It rests on its keel at a depth of 75-80 ft. Heavy concrete culvert pipes and junction boxes were added in the cargo hold for more stability during storms and these double up as extra living and hiding places for many underwater creatures.
Dema Trader dive site

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McAllister Tug

  • Depth: 70 ft to the sand, 50 ft to the top of the tug
  • Difficulty: Open Water
  • Size:  100 ft
  • Location: 5 miles south of Port Everglades
  • Condition and history: This wreck was full of colorful corals and had lots of reef fish making it  an exiting dive. Shallow enough for open water divers and lots of areas for advanced or wreck divers to explore. The form of the harbor tugboat is very recognizable and while our visibility was only 40 ft or so it must be more spectacular in clear visibility.
McAllister dive site

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Mike’s Wreck

  • Depth: 20-25 ft
  • Size:  100 ft or so but highly scattered
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Elbow Reef in Key Largo
  • Condition and history: This wreck is the remnant of an unknown steel-hulled ship that sank on Elbow Reef. Parts of the ship are now intertwined with the reef. The prolific sea life is varied which makes it an excellent site for photo opportunities. The shallow depth is ideal for new divers as well as snorkelers.
Mike’s Wreck dive site

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Radio Towers

  • Depth: 50 ft
  • Size:  Each tower is about 20 ft square and 50 ft high.
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Off the coast of North Miami Beach
  • Condition and history: These radio towers (19 in total) were sunk with the intention of creating an artificial reef and the result was successful. Great barracudas hang out at the top and multitudes of tropical reef fish can be found at this site. Sometimes if you are lucky you will see nurse sharks. The base of the towers rest at a depth of 50 ft and the top is at about 30 feet. The radio towers are arranged into pyramidal structures giving the site an interesting look.
Radio Towers dive site

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Rapa Nui

  • Depth: 60-80 ft
  • Size:  150 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Off the coast of Deerfield Beach,  just east of the Deerfield Beach Pier
  • Condition and history: This 150 fT barge was sunk complete with a number of Polynesian sculptures made by a Dennis McDonald of Pompano Beach. Unfortunately the barge turned upside down and crushed most of these pieces of art. Divers have salvaged a couple of them and secured these to the top of the upside down wreck. There are ongoing plans to restore and/or replace more of the sculptures by the local community but in the meanwhile the sea life is already making a home here.
Rapa Nui dive site

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Spiegel Grove

  • Depth: 80-130 ft
  • Size:  510 ft x 80 ft
  • Difficulty : Advanced Dive
  • Location: Off the coast of Key Largo
  • Condition and history:  Sunk in 2002 the ship had a mind of it’s own and started to sink prematurely,  as she went down, it left her bow protruding from the water and the authorities deemed this a navigational hazard and threatened to blow her up. Fortunately a salvage group completed the sinking but the ship ended up on it’s starboard side. To everyone’s surprise after Hurricane Dennis the Spiegel Grove was found fully righted. Thank You to mother nature for one of the most spectacular dive sites ever.
Spiegel Grove dive site

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Tenneco Towers (shallow site)

  • Depth: 97- 110 ft
  • Size:  The towers are about 40 ft square and raise up almost 80 ft.
  • Difficulty : Advanced for shallow tower, second tower below recreational limits
  • Location: Off the coast of Hallandale Beach, lined up with the Hallandale water tower
  • Condition and history: In 1985 the Tenneco Oil Company transported five decommissioned oil production platforms from the Gulf of Mexico and created the largest artificial reef in southeast Florida. Three oil platforms are within recreational dive limits and were ideal for our deep dive during our AOW course. The shallower platform rests in 97 ft of water and the other two are at a depth of 110 ft with the top at 60 ft. The platforms are covered in soft coral and they attract a prolific sea life including sharks, great barracudas, Goliath groupers, queen angelfish and so much more.
Tenneco Towers dive site

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Tracy (Ken Vitale Memorial)

  • Depth: 70 ft
  • Size:  132 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: Off the coast of Ft Lauderdale
  • Condition and history: This 132 ft oil rig supply boat sunk in 1999 is a tribute to a well known divemaster (Ken Vitale) who died here. At 70 ft max this can be an open water dive and a great wreck. Note the plaque on the wreck to commemorate the passing of Ken Vitale. We found lots of life here, including a friendly Goliath Grouper that seemed right at home. For those that are certified for wreck driving, there are easy to enter penetration places (like 10 x 8 ft wide). Good place to start or hone your wreck diving skills.
Tracy (Ken Vitale Memorial) dive site

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United Caribbean

  • Depth: 70 ft
  • Size: 147 ft
  • Difficulty : Open Water
  • Location: ¾ miles off coast and 1 mile south of  Boca Raton inlet
  • Condition and history: This former smuggling ship built in 1969 was used to carry human cargo and drugs in its cramped quarters; as many as 300 people were reportedly carried in this small ship from Kenya under terrible conditions looking for a chance at freedom. It now rests on a sandy bottom with lots of corals and growth on the structure. Cutouts have been made that would allow for penetration. Lots of sea life, some mild current possible.
United Caribbean dive site

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    • Depth: 80-145 ft
    • Size:  523 ft
    • Difficulty : Advanced dive
    • Location: Off the coast of Key West
    • Condition and history:The 2nd largest artificial reef in the world, the Vandenberg is a former military troop transport and missile-tracking ship. This is an amazing site and part of the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail as the southern most wreck in the group (the first being the Spiegel Grove up in Key Largo). There are 6 mooring buoys attached to various parts of the ship. There are some interesting swimthroughs one of which exits in the middle of the old satellite dish .. how cool is that?
Vandenberg dive sie


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