Fort Lauderdale Diving
For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of learning, scuba diving is a fantastic sport and recreational activity, and a great way to cool off in the heat of the summer while enjoying some incredible under water scenery! It takes a little bit of work to get certified so that you can scuba dive legally, but that will actually get you involved in the sport more by getting you to learn the ropes. You can probably find a good dive shop right in your town, wherever that might be, and they will usually have classes starting all the time to get you certified and dive ready. They will usually start to train you in class first so that you understand the basics first, then they will take you out to a pool for your first introduction to scuba diving.
Once you’ve mastered the basics and understand what all the equipment you will be wearing is, the instructor will teach you everything you need to know about emergencies, buddy breathing, and hand signals. A good class usually takes from 4 to 6 weeks, and once you pass your written test you will then have to do your open water dive with the instructor so that you can show him you have mastered all the techniques needed to be a safe diver. That’s all there is to it, once he checks you out and qualifies you, you’re ready to dive anywhere there is a lake, river, or ocean, including those great tropical resorts in the Caribbean!
However, there are some fantastic places to dive while still in the United States, including Florida… Florida is probably the best state to dive in (except for Hawaii), and it has many dive shops and charter boats at the ready to take you out to the local reefs and wrecks. The Florida Keys is one of the hot spots in the state of Florida, and if you get a chance to dive there it will probably be one of the greatest continental U.S. experiences you’ll have… There are other fantastic dive spots in Florida though, including the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach areas. Both of these locations are known for their rich residents populating the coast in their mansions, but they also have some great wreck diving just offshore and some nice reefs also.
In the late fall of 1984, there was a really bad storm that blew a 198 feet long Venezuelan freighter called the Mercedes ashore near some of the mansions in Fort Lauderdale, and getting the ship very stuck. In fact, it became so stuck that the owners decided to just abandon the ship for salvage and the state of Florida had to pay to extricate it from the sand and then sink it offshore in a controlled explosion for an artificial reef. This was done in 1985, and ever since it’s been a fantastic wreck to scuba dive in that area. It’s big enough to spend several dives exploring it, and since it’s about 100 feet down below the surface your dive time is limited. However, the colorful tropical fish are all over the wreck in various shapes and sizes, and you definitely won’t regret it if you go! It is more of an advanced dive though, because of the depth and also the strong Gulf Stream current that runs through there. At times, it seems more like a fast moving river it’s moving so fast!
West Palm Beach is also a fantastic scuba diving town, and they have great reefs just offshore. A reef dive is usually a more relaxed dive because its shallower water and you can spend more time exploring the various nooks and crannies around it. You can spend a lot more time at 20 or 30 feet in depth than you can at 100 feet because of the decompression time involved. Usually, a charter boat will do two dives total, a wreck dive and a reef dive. With a reef dive, the charter boat can let you do a “drift dive”, having you drift with the current and then they will just drive the boat around to pick you up once you are done. That will save you a long swim back to the boat, and is the only way to go! Doing both a reef and a wreck will give you a little taste of both of the common types of scuba diving that you can expect just about everywhere you go diving, including the Caribbean!
I hope that gets you a little excited to take up the fine sport of scuba diving, there really is lots of fun once you learn! Whether it’s open ocean wreck or reef diving, or spring diving at the many Florida crystal clear springs, you should have a great time! Have fun!
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