Ten Best Dive Spots in Broward and Palm Beach

Scuba diving is hands down the best way to get a glimpse into the colorful and bustling submerged cities of marine life that have been created, both naturally and artificially, along the over 1,000 miles of coastline hugging the state of Florida.

Hundreds of tropical reefs and sunken shipwrecks surround the Sunshine State, the majority of which are located in the warm, Atlantic waters off the southeast coast.

With so many of these sites to choose from, it can be hard to decide which underwater expedition to take on next, so here are ten of Broward and Palm Beach’s best dive spots to help.

Enter the waypoint into your Garmin, or if you're having trouble finding the exact spot, plug the coordinates into your GPS and start exploring!

10. SS Copenhagen 

Waypoint: COPENH                  Latitude                         Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 12.349                     W 80 5.108
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 12 20.940               W 80 5 6.480

This wreck, originally a 325-foot steamer, sank on its own in the year 1900 and is now a popular site for local and visiting novice divers. It sits scattered in hundreds of pieces in about 30 feet of water, near the Pompano Drop Off Reef. Here you’re guaranteed to see parrotfish, moray eels, many tropical reef fish, and a variety of corals, both hard and soft. While floating around, be sure to check out the beds of the ship’s former boilers, located in the middle of the wreckage. There are endless cracks and crevices here where eels and damselfish routinely make appearances.

9. Hog Heaven 

Waypoint: HOGHVN                Latitude                         Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 8.050                     W 80 4.850
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 8 3.000                 W 80 4 51.000

This 180-foot barge is unlike other wrecks because it lies upside down due to an unfortunate turn of events while it was being sunk to become an artificial reef in 1986. Its depth ranges from 50 to 65 feet and is a great beginning dive for those who are open-water certified. Blue and French angelfish are regular sights among the tangled looking barbs that form a sort of subaquatic forest of corals. Wade through the jungle gym of openings at the bottom to find yellowtail snapper and more schools of grunts.

8. Barracuda Reef Moorings

Waypoint: CUDARF                  Latitude                          Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 4.990                     W 80 5.720
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 4 59.400             W 80 5 43.200

Surrounded by the first-ever mooring buoys installed in Broward County, Barracuda Reef is your local fish watcher's dream. Lying only a half-mile out from John U. Lloyd State Park (6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach), it’s easily accessible by boat or even a short swim and home to hefty numbers of reef fish and corals, including brain, star, and staghorn. Peek inside the crevices along the 15-foot-high ledge to find crabs and lobsters as well as a cornucopia of colorful reef fish.

7. Mercedes

Waypoint: MERCED                 Latitude                          Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 9.370                     W 80 4.513
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 9 22.200                W 80 4 30.780

The scattered remnants of what used to be a behemoth of a ship, the Mercedes wreck lies about 70-plus feet underwater. She’s been battered and broken over the years to form an extended playground for goliath grouper, amberjacks, and other small critters that climb in and out of the coral wall on the tipped-over top deck. What the Mercedes lacks in structure she makes up for in sheer numbers of fish. Because the reef sites surrounding the wreckage are relatively vast, there’s a good deal of room to explore here and nitrox is recommended to give you more bottom time.

6. The Caves / Twin Ledges and Oakland Ridge Moorings

Waypoint: CAVTLM                     Latitude                          Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                          N 26 7.750                     W 80 5.460
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds        N 26 7 45.000               W 80 5 27.600

If you’re looking to bring home more than just some sick scuba selfies or sweet GoPro videos, the Fort Lauderdale ledges are an ideal spot to score some dinner. Great for novice divers and/or snorkelers, the series of ledges located two to three miles north of the Port Everglades inlet are a great place to enjoy a casual, underwater expedition. With the hogfish and yellowtail populations, spear fishing is popular here and lobsters are also abundant.  Depth ranges from an easy 15 to 20 feet and visibility is typically good, from 15 to 25 feet.

5. Hammerhead Reef

Waypoint: HAMMER                 Latitude                 Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                        N 26 5.250             W 80 5.166
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds       N 26 5 15.000       W 80 5 9.960

If exploring crevices for lobster, swimming through tight coral passages with yellowtail schools, and getting surprise visits from sea turtles and southern rays is more your style, then Hammerhead Reef is your go-to dive spot. Big parrotfish and bright angelfish will buzz around your bubbles as you glide along the two-and-a-half-mile stretch of ledges at 60 to 90 feet below the wave break.

4. Guy Harvey

Waypoint: HARVEY                   Latitude                           Longitude
Degrees/Minutes:                       N 26 12.655                     W 80 3.946
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds:     N 26 12 39.300               W 80 3 56.760

Situated just three miles south of the Hillsboro Inlet, the Guy Harvey wreck is an advanced, deep dive meant for experienced divers. Before sinking, the ship was painted by the famous artist but today the freightliner is painted only by corals. You’ll descend onto her rocky top deck first around 110 feet below and be surprised by the amount of fish circling. While the light penetration isn’t as heavy at her bottom of 140 feet, you will still enjoy flashes of yellow and black stripes, neon blue, and fiery orange as schools of fish dart around either side of you.

3. Captain Dan

Waypoint: CPTDAN                 Latitude                          Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 13.127                    W 80 3.974
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 13 7.620                W 80 3 58.440

One hundred and ten feet below the surface of the light blue waters off of Pompano Beach lies the Captain Dan, a 175-foot Coast Guard tender. The enormous ship is largely still intact, offering a diving experience akin to the opening scenes of Titanic when the rover explores room after room, allowing you to imagine what life aboard was like before it was swallowed by the sea. A diving light is recommended to take full advantage of the interior workings. Outside the vessel, you’ll spot goliath grouper, barracudas, and plenty of jacks.

2. Fort Lauderdale Wreck Trek

Waypoint: SCUTTI                     Latitude                          Longitude
Degrees/Minutes                       N 26 9.520                      W 80 4.760
Degrees/Minutes/Seconds     N 26 9 31.200                 W 80 4 45.600

This three-wreck drift dive is a must for any intermediate to advanced diver. At depths ranging 60 to 75 feet, you’ll coast from south to north with the current over the Jay Scutti, Tracey, and Mercy Jesus wrecks. You will typically descend on the Jay Scutti first, where if you look closely you’ll catch stingrays hiding in the surrounding sands. As you make your way into stage two, through the large openings of the old Tracey oil rig, you’ll be surrounded by schools of grunts swimming gently around all sides of you as if you’re one of the pack. But beware of the large barracuda that are often found above the top deck as they are not afraid to remind you that this is their home, not yours. You’ll end with the Mercy Jesus at a max depth of 70 feet. Her wide-open hull can sometimes be jam-packed with schools of fish offering an experience similar to what you would imagine being an extra on the set of Finding Nemo would be like.

1. Blue Heron Bridge

Phil Foster Park, 900 Blue Heron Blvd., Riviera Beach.

If you are a South Florida scuba diver and haven't been to Blue Heron, you need to get out from under your rock and under the bridge instead. This world-famous dive site is home to one of the largest varieties of marine life including seahorses, lobster, cownose rays, octopus, pipefish northern stargazer, batfish, and manatees. Depths range from only six to 25 feet and access to the exploration is effortless as you enter just underneath the bridge over the small beach on the west side. Enter the adventure about 30 minutes before high tide to get the best visibility, and make sure to use your dive flag as there is a lot of water traffic in the area. All in one dive you’ll get to swim alongside schools of grunts near the rock trail, play "find the seahorse" on the sunken shopping carts, and possibly spot a swarm of rays floating past one of the two mini-wrecks on the east side while trying to coax out lobsters and eels from their hiding spots.

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