10 incredible places in Florida to explore the underwater universe

Diving, snorkeling and cave visits will take visitors deeper into the underwater world


Along the coasts of Florida, each region has its own unique underwater landscape. There are different diving options to discover secrets, explore shipwrecks and witness the majesty and calm of the waters, allowing you to admire the natural beauty and offer opportunities for enthusiasts to connect and explore the intriguing underwater world.

To encourage visitors to explore beyond the wonders on land, VISIT FLORIDA presents 10 ideal diving destinations in the state and discover the peculiarities of the world underwater.

1. Underwater Museum of Art, Santa Rosa Beach

To start this adventure, it is recommended to visit the Underwater Museum of Art (UMA), one of the first underwater parks in North America. Located near Grayton Beach State Park and less than an hour from Panama City Beach, this museum fuses art with the preservation of the marine ecosystem, offering a unique experience to immerse yourself among sculptures while contemplating vibrant marine life that includes dolphins, groupers and sea turtles.

2. Alexander Springs Recreation Area, Altoona

Alexander Springs is a natural pool located one hour from the city of Ocala, being the only area of ​​the Ocala National Forest where diving is allowed. With crystal clear waters at 22 degrees Celsius all year round, this spring is ideal for families to enjoy a calm and relaxing bath. In addition to diving, the Alexander Springs Recreation Area has places to picnic, explore the trails, and observe local wildlife.

3. Morrison Springs County Park, Ponce de León

This spring, located less than 10 minutes from Ponce de León, in Walton County, near the state capital Tallahassee; It is considered a paradise for divers and is among the most popular places in the southeast of the state. With almost perfect visibility, the main pool is about 75 meters deep, while the deepest part can reach almost 92 meters below the surface. Every day, this spring produces around 48 million gallons of fresh water, ensuring an average water temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.

4. Lake Denton and Lake Tulane, Highlands County

Located near Avon Park, 90 minutes from Orlando, Denton and Tulane lakes are ideal training areas for beginning divers. With temperatures varying between 18 and 32 degrees Celsius, these lakes offer fascinating encounters with various species. It is the oldest documented lake in America, with an estimated age of more than 50,000 years, being the perfect place for diving due to its transparent waters and excellent visibility.

5. Egmont Key State Park, St. Pete/Clearwater

South of St. Pete and recognized as a haven of wildlife and natural beauty, is Egmont Key State Park, noted for its crystal-clear waters and expansive white sand beaches. This destination is a paradise for diving lovers, offering the opportunity to be close to 1,200 squirrel turtles that roam the island and a small population of sea turtles that nest there all year round.

6. Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, Pensacola

Pensacola is an ideal destination to visit year-round, with quiet beaches and waterfront restaurants serving delicious seafood. For diving enthusiasts, the city offers a route in which you can also see fragments of shipwrecked vessels, starting with the "Three Coal Barges", ideal for beginners, and culminating in the "Destin Liberty Ship", a reef artificial 1977. This Florida city is worth exploring for the combination of options on land and the opportunities provided by the depths of the ocean, offering a complete underwater experience.

7. Prehistoric Devil's Den Spring, Williston

Initially, the entrance to the cave may go unnoticed, but it has a small natural door that leads to a paradise of blue waters. The prehistoric cave has a diameter of 36.5 meters on the surface and a spring with a maximum depth of 16.5 meters, with exclusive access for divers and divers. In addition to the cave, the place offers camping space and has cabins available for rent.

8. John Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo

Just 90 minutes from Miami, Key Largo State Park is an impressive destination with its natural coral reef and the famous "Christ of the Abyss" sculpture, a 2.5 meter tall replica donated to the park in 1966. At nearly 70 square nautical miles, this was the first underwater park in the United States. The park organizes daily boat excursions so visitors can explore the underwater wonders safely.

9. Crystal River, Citrus County

Known worldwide as the manatee capital, the Crystal River region provides numerous options to interact with these extremely friendly giants. Accustomed to the warm waters of springs, these mammals usually inhabit the waters of Florida from November to March, which makes it easy to make visits with great visibility of the animals. In these springs, the permitted activity is diving, making the excursion a wonderful experience for nature lovers.

10. Jacksonville, Duval County 
For several years, the waters of Jacksonville were considered too murky for scuba diving, but experienced divers have discovered that these waters are abundant with fragments of shipwrecks, offering the opportunity to witness hundreds of fish and making it a unique diving adventure. Jacksonville holds countless hidden beauties to discover, housing more than 100 artificial reefs with hundreds of marine species, such as groupers and sharks that can be seen off its coasts.

Source: Visit Florida.

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