Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Fort Lauderdale waters remain warm year-round, so it's total immersion 12 months a year. Ocean temperature ranges from 72 degrees in the winter to 80 degrees in the summer.
Over the past 20 years, the artificial reef programs of Broward County have placed upwards of 76 artificial reefs on the ocean floor as magnets for fish and reef life. Today, Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to the largest collection of warm-water wrecks in the Western world.
Ever tried beach diving?
Greater Fort Lauderdale is the only place in the continental USA where you can snorkel and dive on a living coral reef-straight off the beach. That's right, diving without B.O.B. (Benefit Of Boat). In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Hollywood, the first reef swings in close -- where it's an easy five-minute swim, just a hundred yards from shore. And the variety of fish and critters is astounding.
Our backyard's a wreck.
For divers, this is wreck heaven, with shallow wrecks, deep wrecks and everything in between. Signature wrecks include:
• The SS Copenhagen: This 325-foot steamship ran aground on the first reef in 1900, in only 25 feet of water. Today, the natural wreck is a state underwater museum and archeological site, and it's wildly popular with both scuba divers and snorkelers. View SS Copenhagen guide
• Usikusiku: Swahili for ‘twilight', the Usikusiku was built in South Africa and owned by a paraplegic couple who took sailing lessons and set sail for the Caribbean. There they became parents and eventually ended up in Fort Lauderdale where they have lived ever since. They ultimately donated the boat to the Broward County artificial reef program. Located in Hollywood at 26o 00.4407'N, 80o 05.5850'W. The dive trail is a series of ship and boat wrecks that spans a distance of over one quarter mile so divers can swim easily between them.
• The Captain Dan: The 175-foot ship saw service as a U.S. Coast Guard tender. The top of the wheelhouse is 70' below the surface, and her deck, at 90'. The artificial reef is home to large barracuda, goliath grouper, amberjack, parrotfish and swarms of small fish. Certified wreck diver? C'mon in: the Dan was prepared with large access holes for easy penetration.
• Rapa Nui Reef: Combining a man-made reef with public art, the Rapa Nui Reef in Deerfield Beach is a new underwater sculptural environment for divers to explore and marine life to inhabit. Rapa Nui is the Polynesian translation of Easter Island, and the reef serves as a tribute to the iconic stone figures found on the island. It is located in 70 feet of water between the second and third reef directly off of the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier.
• Wreck Trek: Looking for bragging rights? How about three wrecks in one dive? When the currents cooperate, if you manage your air, you can drift-dive from Jay Scutti to Tracy to Mercy Jesus -- all on one tank.
• Shipwreck Park: The dramatic sinking of Lady Luck, a 324-foot ship, took place in July 2016, just a mile from the Pompano Beach fishing pier, and is the centerpiece of the new Shipwreck Parkfor divers. Complete with underwater art exhibits, it is one of the largest contributions to Florida’s artificial reef system and is the most easily accessible major dive site in the nation. At least 16 other shipwrecks are in the vicinity. Shipwreck Park is expected to become a major dive site and underwater arts park for divers.
Maximal or minimal? Strap on 60 pounds of scuba gear to linger on the reef for an hour. Or rock just mask, fins and snorkel to freedive -- to zip around like a sea otter.
Reefs or wrecks
Dive from beach or boat
Recreational or technical?
Enjoy an easy dive to 45 feet, or a gear-intensive, push-the-limits wreck dive to 200 ft+
Drift-dive the reef to see the sights, or hunt for fish and lobster
Shoot photos or video
The choices don't end there...Take the word "diving," and in front of it, place every prefix for sub-ocean adventure you can think of: sport, tech, reef, wreck, lobster,spearfishing, day, night, beach, boat, shore, drift, anchor, rebreather, underwater photography and video (but not cold-water or ice).
For divers, Greater Fort Lauderdale is a subtropical blue-water destination that's a unique blend of exotic and familiar. It's a dizzying kaleidoscope of peoples, languages, customs, foods and apres-dive fun.
Lobstering and Events
Love to chase them lobster? Lauderdale-By-The-Sea kicks off Florida's annual crazy for the crustacean with BugFest. During Mini Season (July 29-30, 2020), the two-day lobster chase is served with generous sides of diving and snorkeling, parties, cookouts, contests, music and prizes. Lobster madness throttles back to a dull roar when "regular" season opens a week later. (August 6 - March 31). Click here for rules and regulations.