The list below offers information on what many regard as the best Southwest Florida diving sites. While our area always seems to garner acclaim for the beauty of the beaches, just beyond that stretch where the sands meet the surf, there are awesome spaces for exploration. In fact, earlier this month, news outlets broadcast a bit of video featuring an encounter between a whale shark and a diver which occurred off the coast of Naples. Whale Sharks, which can grow up to more than forty feet in length and weigh more than 20 tons, are the largest fish in the world. While they are carnivores, whale sharks prefer to dine on plankton as opposed to people. While the video with the whale shark appears below, this is just one possible species of life one may encounter during adventures among the best Southwest Florida diving sites. Sea turtles, rare manatees, dolphin and amazing array of fishy finds await along our coastlines. For those that enjoy diving, the list below offers directions to the best Southwest Florida diving sites.
Best Southwest Florida Diving Sites
The Baja California Reef
Formerly a Norwegian freighter, the Baja California was transporting war materials when it embarked from New Orleans to Guatemala in July of 1942. At some sixty miles off the Naples’ inlet, it was torpedoed by a German sub (U-84). There were 37 sailors that died during the sinking of the ship while others were rescued by nearby fishermen. The Baja California has since helped produce at thriving reef and remains one of the best Southwest Florida diving sites.
Latitude: 25 21.38’N , Longitude: 82 31.96’W
25 21.436’N, 82 31.979’W
25 21.522’N, 82 31.901’W
25 21.585’N, 82 31.91’W
Depth: ~ 110 to 115 ft
The Bayronto Wreck
A British Steamer, The Bayronto was navigating from Texas to Europe with a load of grain when it sank during a September hurricane in 1919. The ship lies keel-up and massive crack in the hull enables experienced divers to explore various compartments. The site is made home by an array of species which include nurse sharks and Goliath Groupers.
Latitude: 26 45.80’N, Longitude: 82 50.84’W
26 45.83’N, 82 50.86’W
Depth: ~ 110 ft
The Black Hole (aka Naples Spring)
The Black Hole is located some 27 miles from Gordon Pass at a depth of 65 feet. The hole, believed to once have been a sinkhole or natural springs, measures more than 100 feet in diameter. Along the ledge, you’ll find coral, sponge and a variety of fish. The hole itself reaches depths of more than 200 feet and as visibility can alter drastically, day to day, moment by moment, caution is advised. T
Latitude: 25 50.563’N, Longitude: 82 09.114’W
Depth: ~ 65 ft down to about 220 ft
Captiva Blue Hole
Another underwater sink hole regarded as a best Southwest Florida diving site, the Blue Hole is also known as “The Crack.” It is positioned approximately 30 miles off coast of Boca Grande. The sink hole reaches depths of 180 feet and a variety of colorful coral lines the walls. Many fish to be encountered here as well.
Latitude: 26 28.90’N, Longitude: 82 44.19’W
Depth: ~ 90 ft down to 180 ft
Dept. of Defense Air Force Relay Towers Reef
Located approximately 30 miles off the Naples’ coast of Naples, these towers were established back in the 1980s as integral to a radio relay operation essential to the United States Air Force. While the metal infrastructure towers above the Gulf surface, all the framework among the depths had spurred an amazing reef ecosystem which is not only popular with divers, but local fishermen too.
The following Latitude/Longitude points will help you navigate you to site, but on the approach, the towers are easily observable.
D Tower: 25 34.0’N, 81 43.0’W Depth: ~ 28 ft
L Tower: 25 22.03’N, 82 27.9’W Depth: ~ 100 ft
P Tower: 25 07.0’N, 82 00.0’W Depth: ~ 65 ft
R Tower: 25 28.0’N, 82.06.11’W Depth: ~ 65 ft
S Tower: 25 02.0’N, 82 22.0’W Depth: ~ 80 ft
T Tower: 25 48.0’N, 82 13.0’W Depth: ~ 65 ft
W Tower: 24 56.0’N, 82 43.0’W Depth: ~ 120 ft
The Fantastico, a 200 foot Honduran freighter sank during the infamous “Storm of the Century” on March 19, 1993. This storm produced serious squalls that ravaged Gulf waters before traveling north where the precipitation and winds generated tornadoes and blizzard-like conditions in Alabama and Georgia. The Fantastico’s final resting place off the coast of Fort Myers has since become a fantastic dive site. An amazing variety of fish will be encountered here.
Latitude: 26 17.78’N, Longitude: 82 49.88’W
26 17.775’N, 82 50.082’W
Depth: ~ 100 ft to 115 ft
This 85 foot barge, sunk in 1987, rests upright at a 40ft depth only some 14 miles of the coast of Naples. As one of the best Southwest Florida diving sites, you’ll find coral along the intact steel hull of the ship. It’s also said to be made home by some of the largest Goliath groupers you’re likely to encounter in The Gulf.
Latitude: 25.805667 Longitude: -81.856167
Depth – 40ft
The Paddle Wheeler
Located off the coast of Marco Island, a sunken Paddle-Wheeler that was carrying a load of brick remains something of a mystery. None know its origins, its name or exactly how it came to sink sometime in the early 1900s. Various artifacts have been retrieved from the site over the years, and efforts continue to unravel its story. Though regarded as one of the best Southwest Florida diving sites, caution is advised. Tthe ship rests at a depth of about 65 feet where the sediments and silt combine to make the Gulf waters cloudy, if not murky.
Latitude: 2553.325 Longitude: 8217.511
Depth: ~ 65 ft
The USS Mohawk
A Coast Guard Cutter of World War II acclaim, the USS Mohawk and its sailors spent the entirety of the war as part of the Greenland Patrol and are credited with launching more than a dozen attacks against German subs. After decommissioning, The Mohawk spent years serving as a historical attraction. It was later on the verge of being sold for scrap when Lee County officials brokered a deal enabling the ship to be sunk off the coast of Sanibel Island where it not only serves as a local, artificial reef, but also as an underwater Veteran’s Memorial (in fact, the first such underwater memorial in America). It remains one of the best Southwest Florida diving sites.
Latitude: 26 33.075’N, Longitude: 82 43.481’W
Depth: ~ 87 ft
The Santa Lucia
A former turtle boat, the 47 foot long Santa Lucia was sunk in 1997. It exists now as an artificial reef positioned almost four miles west from the Gordon Pass in Naples.
Latitude: 26 5.388’N, Longitude: 81 50.626’W
Depth: ~ 20 ft to 25 ft
In addition to being among the best Southwest Florida diving sites, this is the only real shore dive in Collier County. The underwater patch-work of reefs commence only 50 yards from shore. They extend further south some two miles before reaching Clam Pass. Outside that found among the Florida Keys, this is the largest patch reef system found in Florida. The proximity to the shore make this a particularly popular site with kayak divers too.
LatitidueL 6.3681924 Longitude: -81.899232
The diving, as well as the fishing, golfing, shopping & dining, or scenic strolls along the shores all combine to enhance the allure of life here in Naples, Florida. For you diving enthusiasts ready to take the plunge on the purchase of a home, I’m also happy to offer insight on some the best residential options available… and to be sure, there’s not a dive among them! For more information, slip off your goggles and fins and drop me a line when submitting the form below.