The calm summer waters provide us scuba divers with the exciting opportunity to explore new depths and pursue new adventures. The Florida Keys are home to some of the world’s most incredible diving locations, providing rich variety for every skill level from shallow reef sites to deep wreck dives. It is unbelievably peaceful to descend several feet down into the hundreds of shades of blue the ocean provides us with.
My favorite time to dive is at dusk. Partaking in a night dive turns a familiar reef or shipwreck into a new, thrilling dive experience. The breathtaking ride into a slowly setting sun is only the first of many wonderful aspects of night diving. People are frequently drawn to day diving because of the sunlight and the ability to see the entire reef. What many people don’t realize is that the night time brings out a rich variety of wildlife. Many animals tend to feed during the night so you will be sure to see sea turtles, lobsters, nurse sharks and octopus – just to name a few. Divers with a bit of nerves and little experience should consider taking a certification course, which will teach basic diving instructions and safety precautions. If you don’t need instruction, definitely look for dive shops that provide dive guides that will insure you see the best assets of a location along with its amazing critters.
In my 11 years of diving, one of my favorite night dive locations is Alligator Reef. Alligator Reef is located just four miles offshore from Islamorada. It is named after the ship the USS Alligator that sank by running aground due to the shallow depths in the early 1800’s. This then lead to the resurrecting of Alligator Light House, which still stands today. With beautiful corals and exotic critters just 20ft below the surface, this reef is perfect for all levels of divers.
During my last night dive at Alligator, I was out with a group of divers and towards the end of our dive I noticed a large shadow swimming in front of us. Busy with my group and looking for other critters, I at first did not think much of it. However, as the shadow got closer and closer, I soon realized I was in the presence of a 10ft hammerhead shark. Every diver got to see this majestic animal and had never been so in awe. After hanging around for a few seconds, just as smoothly as it had arrived, it did a quick sweep of its fins and elegantly swam away into the darkness not wanting to have anything do to with our group.
For you adventurous divers, the wreck of the Eagle is a great spot for night dives. The Eagle is a 300ft freighter that lies in about 100ft of water. She was intentionally sunk upright and intact to become part of the artificial reef system in December of 1985. In 1998, Hurricane George picked her straight up, knocking her on her side and splitting her in half. This event created an incredible dive site with great places to swim through the ship. Loaded with fish, turtles, octopus and the occasional shark; this wreck is sure to excite you.
My love for night dives gets stronger each time I have the opportunity to go. Whether you are a new diver or experienced you’ll definitely find night diving to be quite a thrill.
The Florida Keys are home to some of the world’s most incredible diving locations, providing rich variety for every skill level from shallow reef sites to deep wreck dives.