Diving Miami

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Miami, USA

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Country: USA  Area: Florida

Water Temp: 21 - 30°C (70 - 86°F)

Visibility: 10 - 30m (33 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 10 - 40m (33 - 131 ft)

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The city of Miami in the southern United States is famed for having some of the best wreck diving worldwide. It is also home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only one in North America: The Florida Straits. The variety wrecks and reefs are all located along the shoreline of Miami-Dade county and South Beach, and cater towards all levels of divers. South of Miami are the Florida Keys, which include numerous patch reefs and coral mounds that are perfect for snorkeling and beginner dives.

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The local Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) has invested considerable resources into further developing the region with artificial reefs. Since beginning this initiative in 1981, DERM has sunk ships, tugs, army tanks, an airplane and even manmade concrete reefs. This has sparked the growth of corals and has attracted diverse marine life, making for incredible scuba diving.

As a thriving metropolis with white sandy beaches, Miami draws tourists in for much more than the diving. It is well worth spending a few days on land to explore the city – and it is a great spot for families as well!

Miami City, Credit

Miami known as the “Wreck Capital of the Americas” is one of Florida’s top dive spots. There are a wide variety of wrecks that were intentionally sunk in an effort to restore marine life and stunt further erosion. Intermediate and advanced divers best explore these wrecks, while beginner divers are generally happier in the shallow reefs of the southern Florida Keys.

The reef itself – the Florida Straits – is the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only one in North America. There are over 75 diveable wrecks within minutes of the Miami shoreline, the Florida Keys are just over an hour away. Key Largo, the first of the islands, exists within the John Pennekap Coral Reef Park, and boasts over 600 species of tropical fish. With plenty of swim throughs, coral caves and deep holes, in addition to clear waters thanks to the Gulf Stream, diving the Keys truly is world class.

Climate & Sea conditions

Miami is a great destination year round. High season occurs during the winter, which spans from November to April. During this time, there are near perfect temperatures the days are clear. Between May and September, the city is quieter due to the very high humidity and heat. During this time, there is also more rain and storms.

The water temperature is warm year round, ranging from 21C in winter to 30C in the height of summer.

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Marine Conservation

The entire Florida Straights reef is protected by the ‘National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Program’. The local Miami Dade government oversees the majority of the conservation initiatives, with significant support from the private and non-profit sector.

Miami has had a relatively long history with marine conservation initiatives, which has led to incredible preservation of the Florida Straits and the Florida Keys. Major conservation efforts in the Miami-Dade region began in 1981, when Ben Mostkoff initiated an artificial reef program in reaction to the deterioration of local reefs. Along with the DERM, a number of environmentally safe materials have been submerged in particular areas in an effort to spark coral growth and attract marine life. These submerged items also assist in limiting erosion.

Numerous universities based out of Florida conduct extensive research in the region, with many programs focusing entirely on Marine Conservation. Further information on their initiatives can be found on the respective university websites.

 
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Shore Diving

Shore diving in Miami is not ideal. It is a long swim to be able to dive under 20 feet of water. Traveling with a boat is a far more efficient method.

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Boat Diving

Boat diving is by far the most popular option for divers in Miami. It allows for easy day explorations of the many wrecks and artificial reefs in the area. Most are only suitable for intermediate to advanced divers, but there are a few shallower sites and wrecks available for beginners also. These artificial wrecks and reefs are all close to the shore and in groupings so most tours and dive trips will allow you to dive more than one site.

One of the most famous sites in the area suitable only to advanced divers is the wreck of the Tortuga. It was sunk with a dramatic explosion in 1995 for the Hollywood film “Fair Game” and can be fairly easily penetrated due to the large openings and divers can explore the wheelhouse and other areas. There is not an abundance of marine life with barracudas and many schools of fish living amongst the wreck.

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Another brilliant dive which is suitable for beginners are the two Vietnam era M60 Army Tanks! These are placed in just 15m of water surrounded by limestone boulders, which were also artificially placed to protect the area and nurture the development of the new habitat. This has worked wonderfully with the site being perfect for all types of marine life such as lobsters, eels and other critters due the huge amount of hidey holes.

Key Biscayne is just south of the main Miami City area and a lot of dive schools have boat trips to the sites here as there is a range of spectacular artificial reefs and wrecks to dive. Another even further afield area visited on day trips by many Miami dive centres is the location of Key Largo. Key Largo is best known for its shallow reefs and deep wrecks, some of the best being the 510ft Spiegel Grove shipwreck and the beautiful coloured coral reefs of Elbow Reef, French Reef and Banana Reef.

Liveaboard Diving

Numerous liveaboard diving trips depart from Miami, sailing south towards the Florida Keys and the Bahamas over seven or more days. The diving itself generally avoids the ocean outside Miami, diving instead in the Caribbean, unless the Miami wrecks are specifically requested. The primary incentive for departing from Miami is the ease of accessing the city, in comparison to smaller Caribbean countries. Be sure to check those countries on Dive Report for additional information on dive conditions in those regions!

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How to Get There

It is very easy to reach Miami, and the method of transport used largely depends on the distance you must travel and your budget.

Miami has an international airport that is serviced daily by numerous domestic and international flights.

Busses also connect the city to the rest of the state and the country, for more affordable prices. A major nationwide company is Greyhound which will meet essentially all your transport needs. Trailways is the primary competitor, however it does not service quite as many destinations as Greyhound.

Miami Beach, Credit

Car rental companies are located throughout the city, enabling you to rent a car in Miami and drop it in another city. To drive a rental car within the USA you must be 23 years old. An International Driver’s License is also required, and insurance is strongly recommended. Major rental companies include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Enterprise and Rent-a-Wrek (a cheap favourite).

The Amtrak  train connects Miami to neighbouring cities as well as long-distance destinations.

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Where to Eat & Drink

Miami’s cultural diversity makes for a great variety in dining options. While not traditionally known as a food-centred city, Miami has slowly reinvented itself with a growing number of international chefs falling in love with the lifestyle. Miami Beach is home to an ever-growing number of hip fusion restaurants, while Little Havana remains an institution for Cuban fare. Versaille is one of the best ranked Cuban restaurants in the city, though El Palacio de los Jugos is growing in popularity as well. Bourbon Steak, Palme d’Or, The River Oyster Bar and Michael’s Genuine are other trendy favourites.

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In terms of nightlife, Miami Beach’s Art Deco district is infamous. Home to anything from intimate pubs to flashy lounges to Cuban salsa clubs, bar-hopping has become a popular night time activity along this strip. Hot spots and current activities change each weekend, and it is recommended that you pick up a local newspaper for the latest. The Miami Herald, Miami New Times and Ocean Drive Magazine are all good resources for finding the latest galleries, concerts and parties in this pulsing city.

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Other Activities

Miami is much, much more of a destination than just a diving hotspot, making it perfect for those who are looking for a holiday with a mix of everything. There truly is an infinite list of things to do in Miami – however, these are some of the highlights.

1. Deco District and SoBe: This area in South Beach (SoBe) has preserved over 800 buildings that date back to the 1920s and 1930s. A walk down Ocean Drive carries you back in time to the era of this unique ‘Tropical Deco’ style, unique to Miami. Take time to detour away from the architecture and swing in to the restaurants and shops of this new posh ‘American Riviera’.

Biking and strolling around, Credit

2. Little Havana: Migrating Cubans have informally created a pocket of home in this Miami neighbourhood in Calle Ocho. While actual sights are few and far between, the culture and food that line these streets is well worth a walk.

3. Florida Everglades: These shallow swamps and wetlands connect the Kissimmee River with the Florida Bay. Home to a variety of endemic plants and dozens of reptiles, this is a kayaker’s dream to explore.

4. Lowe Art Museum: This is Miami’s top art gallery, and is home to over 17,500 pieces from some of the world’s most famed artists.

5. The Beaches: Miami unsurprisingly has some fantastic beaches. Crandon Park Beach is well suited to families with its waterpark and merry-go-round, while Haulover Park cater to a more adult (… nude) crowd.

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Tips

Read up on Miami before you go! This is not a quaint scuba diving town, easily explored in the hours you aren’t under water. This thriving metropolis has a lot to offer, at times becoming a bit overwhelming. Conduct a bit of research before you arrive, picking out key sites and restaurants that appeal to your particular preferences. That said, make sure you don’t shy away from the Cuban culture. A bonus to Miami is that you essentially travel to Latin America, without actually leaving the United States.

Crime and safety can be a problem in Miami, and it is wise to suss out particular neighbourhoods before you venture out after dark. In the event of a problem, the police are readily available and helpful.

They love the water too! Credit

There are numerous world class hospitals in Miami, many of which are equipped to deal with decompression sickness. Be sure to travel with diving insurance, since American hospital bills escalate very very quickly.

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Rating 8/10

FLORIDA KEYS LOBSTERS

Miami1 Oct 2011 - 9 Jul 2012

THE WEATHER GOT VERY ROUGH AFTER I LEFT MIAMI ON SUNDAY OCT 2nd. WHEN WE GOT TO LITTLE MONEY KEY, IT WAS RAINING, WITH HIGH WINDS AND HEAVY SURF. THE COAST GUARD HAD ISSUED SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS AND NONE OF THE DIVE OPERATORS WERE GOING OUT. THIS WAS THE ROUTINE FOR THE FIRST COUPLE OF DAYS,BUT WE GOT ABOUT A 12 HOUR BREAK AND MADE 2 SHORE DIVES IN 18' OF WATER, ONLY TO FIND OUT THAT THE LOBSTERS WERE HOLED UP IN THE CORAL AS IF THEY WERE IN THE TANK AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD GROCERY, (OCT. 1st WAS OPENING DAY). WE TOOK 6 THE FIRST DAY AND ONLY GOT TO GET 2 MORE DIVES IN FOR THE DURATION OF THE TRIP, DUE TO THE WEATHER, BUT WE CAUGHT MORE LOBSTERS, AND ATE GOOD! VIS WAS APPX 15' AND THE CURRENT WAS MODERATE, BUT THE CORAL SHIELDED US ENOUGH TO MAINTAIN OUR BUOYANCY CONTROL FOR A GOOD HARVEST!

2011 10 06 004 2011 10 06 006 2011 10 06 007 2011 10 06 009 2011 10 06 018
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