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Only diving in gulfport area are the oil rigs in the gulf, but you would likely need to find a private boat to catch a ride. The better bet is to make the drive over to Pensacola Fl. (aprox. hour and half drive) a lot more options including the Mighty O, which is worth bringing the gear.
Hate to be a spoilsport and say leave your gear, but with just one day in August not much opportunity to dive around Gulfport, Biloxi,Pass Christian......if however you have the time and can make a trip over to Pensacola, Fl. you should have no trouble hooking up with one of the dive operators.....it's about 130 miles but all along I-10 so about 2hrs. travel time.
i live 15 mins away from gulfport and there are a lot of places on the beach that will take you out and they also train for anyone else-me and my boyfriend are also planning on going soon-we will be riding down the beach this weekend to find out some information and the oil rigs are off limits now and no one can dive around them unless you are working on them. if i find out any information ill write ya back after this weekend k
As others have said, take the short drive (1 1/2) to Pensacola and do a day diving there. The Oriskany is a great dive and there are many other great dive sites as well. Do a search for Pensacola dive operators on the board or google and you will get a whole list to choose from.
You might also be able to catch a boat out of Gulf Shores Al but the drive time would not be much less and you will be going to most of the same spots. Gulf Coast Divers in Mobile has always been good about booking trips. As for Pensacola-Try Dive Pros, Viking Diving or Scuba Shack. Keep in mind, we are expecting a bit of a storm this weekend and it might mess up some trips-if that happens then there are a few limited beach dives in the Flor-Bama area that you could make.
It's been thirty years since I was in the Gulfport area, but back in the late 70s, the Air Force had a standing order that we were NOT allowed in the water within something like 25 miles either side of Biloxi. That was still fairly soon after Hurricane Camille, and they considered the water still too polluted to be safe. I wasn't a diver at the time (and still won't be for another couple of months), but the times I walked along the beaches in Biloxi and Gulfport, I thought the water looked pretty nasty - heavy amounts of suspended stuff, and an often unpleasant smell. Close to shore, at least, you couldn't see the bottom through more than about 6" of the water.
We did make a couple of weekend trips to Pensacola while I was stationed at Keesler AFB, and I have to agree that the water there looked incredibly better than the water in Mississippi. I'm sure a lot of things have changed in 30 years, but I still think I'd head to Florida if I wanted to get in the water, instead of diving around Gulfport or Biloxi.
In the Gulfport Biloxi area you aren't actually in the Gulf until you are beyond the barrier islands. Mississippi Sound is the body of water between the shore and the islands and it is brown from the local rivers that empty into it. The Gulf waters beyond the barrier islands can be almost the same as Gulfshores, Ala. or Pensacola
There are a ton of places to dive out of Gulfport and Pascagoula. Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks has done a great job of creating artificial reefs from tugboats, pogeyboats, machine shop barges, to rubble. There are cut off liberty ships and tanks out there too. I lost any numbers I had during Katrina, but rest assurred, there is diving about an hour offshore. For a day trip, as you are asking, this would probably not work unless you know someone. Mark