Is there scuba diving near Sanibel Island? Yes!
Where there’s open water, there’s a chance for diving. While diving isn’t the #1 attraction in Southwest Florida, there are a few sites that you can dive to get your feet wet and scratch that “itch” to go diving.
You should know that the biggest hindrance to diving in SWFL is visibility (viz). The further from shore you are, the better the viz. Most of the shipwrecks and artificial reef structures are a 30-50 mile boat ride from shore, depending on where you launch.
Depending on the time of year, and, of course, the weather conditions, you could have as much as 50-ft viz or as little as 5-ft viz. On the flip side, the water is warm in SWFL, even in the winter months! Plus, most scuba divers also love boating, so a long boat ride out to a dive spot isn’t a “negative” for most of us.
Our Dive in Naples
My husband and I did a local dive trip with a friend who is familiar with Naples area dive spots. We had 5-ft viz, which made the diving experience not so pleasant, but we were only 25-miles offshore. Still, we were able to spear a few snapper and lionfish and enjoy fresh fish for dinner that night. I call that a good day!
Note: Lionfish are invasive to Florida. FWC encourages the capture of Lionfish to help maintain a healthy marine ecosystem. You can eat Lionfish! They make small but tasty fillets. Just be careful of the venomous spines. When we spearfish, we only catch what we will eat to ensure we’re not hunting without care for our marine environment.
Where to Dive Near Sanibel
While researching dive-sites near Sanibel, I found a great resource called SWFL Reefs, which offers an interactive map of the artificial reefs in Lee County and Collier County waters. Click here to see their Reef Map. The website also has great information about the fish you’ll find in our local waters, and how you can do your part to maintain a healthy reef system.
The ARC Reef is a popular artificial reef that’s only 15-miles from shore and a 60-ft dive, which is good for novice divers. Enjoy the 360 video of the reef featuring a Goliath Grouper swim over.
The USS Mohawk is another cool dive site, about 28 miles off the coast. The 165-foot Coast Guard cutter ship was sunk in 2012 as part of Lee County’s artificial reef-building program. Note, the ship rests on the bottom at 90-ft, but the main deck sits at 60-ft with a crow’s nest perch resting just 35-ft below the surface. On good visibility days, you don’t have to dive super deep to experience the shipwreck.
Lee County Artificial Reef Map
Click here to view the Lee County Artificial Reef Map, which outlines a number of great areas for scuba diving near Sanibel Island.
Click here to access the SWFL Reef website I mentioned above.
Another site that I thought had nice map images of dive sites near Sanibel & Captiva Island is linked here.