• Welcome to ScubaBoard


  1. Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

    Benefits of registering include

    • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
    • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
    • You can make this box go away

    Joining is quick and easy. Login or Register now by clicking on the button

Best diving on the gulf side of Florida

Discussion in 'Florida' started by lowlysubaruguy, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. lowlysubaruguy

    lowlysubaruguy Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: The Gorge
    158
    50
    28
    As often as I go to Florida I’ve never been on the gulf side, thinking my next trip which might be December or January I’d like to try a couple places. Id love it if you could help guide me to a dive club that might get me hooked up with local divers that are willing to take a long distance newcomer into there group. Im a great boat hand and am always invited back. I don’t mind diving with a dive shop but I’d like to spearfish and lobster dive as well which often is not possible through a typical booked dive. Not to mention I need to make more dive friends in the area.

    With long term plans of spending my winters in Florida I should experience the gulf side a little before I pony up for a piece of property and my experiences in Florida are mostly limited to the southwest side of the state.
     
  2. greeniguana

    greeniguana Nassau Grouper

    90
    78
    18
    Any specific location? The FL gulf shoreline is about 800 miles....
     
  3. CuzzA

    CuzzA Solo Diver

    11,796
    15,504
    113
    The Gulf will be pretty cold by then. Most people stop diving January 1st as the Gag season closes. Winter diving the Gulf is a challenge as the Gulf normally takes the full brunt of cold fronts and gets pretty nautical. Our average viz is 20 ft. so that will be a change from your South Florida experience, however we have exponentially more grounds and structure including the Middle Grounds. The near shore reefs are beautiful, but rarely get dived except for the Spring and Fall when the viz is good. Winter viz will be good if you like diving the cold. Since we don't have the current our friends down south have, the run off during the rainy season makes near shore diving nearly impossible and requires longer trips to find blue water. A good rule of the thumb is for every mile out you get two feet deeper. In the summer this could mean 20-30 miles to find clean water.

    You may find the occasional lobster but it's rare. The Middle Grounds will hold a lot lobster and is very similar to South Florida reefs. Much healthier as well. This side of the state is predominately spearfishermen. Nevertheless, we have more Goliath groupers and fish than the south due to our abundant structure in relatively shallow water. You will be hard pressed to find a charter going out in the winter. I'd offer you a trip, but my dive boat isn't finished yet. Your best bet is to find some of the local spearfishing groups on Facebook, like Tampa Bay Spearfishing, and look for guys needing divers. Just understand most guys dive solo around here. So while you could be on a trip with 4-6 guys, you'll need to be self reliant on your dives. Offer gas money, bring beer, fruits, jerky and other snacks and help clean the boat and you'll get invited back.
     
  4. CuzzA

    CuzzA Solo Diver

    11,796
    15,504
    113
    As for your question of where. Naples or Tampa Bay. Check out Bill at Offshore Naples and TJ at Two Shea in Tampa for charters.
     
    NothingClever likes this.
  5. Sh0rtBus

    Sh0rtBus BUBBLLLLLLES! My Bubbles ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Denton, TX
    758
    486
    63
    Provided you have the experience for it you can dive the USS Oriskany out of Pensacola. But it's not a shallow dive. The flight decks sits at roughly 145 ft and I think somewhere in the 210 ft range to the screws. So definitely a deco dive. It's on my list for sure. Talk to the guys at Emerald Coast out of Destin and see what sites they can recommend to you. I'm looking to possibly take a trip down that way myself right after Christmas to get my newly certified son on some real diving adventures. I went in December of 2017 but the weather was horrible that day and vis was only about 30-40 ft. Wish I had more info for you but hopefully that at least gives you a starting point. I've been told, too, that you can shore dive out of Pensacola if you don't mind swimming out just a little but with the weather the way it was and the timing the morning I was there, we missed the right tidal conditions so we didn't get to do any dives there. Instead we drove to Vortex Springs in Ponce de Leon and made a couple dives there.
     
  6. NothingClever

    NothingClever Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    361
    403
    63
    Man, that was some gold, CuzzA. Thanks for taking the time to share your insight.
     
    CuzzA likes this.
  7. NothingClever

    NothingClever Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    361
    403
    63
    I have not dived with Two Shea but have heard good first hand reports.
     
  8. SJT1961

    SJT1961 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Tampa, FL
    71
    38
    18
    +1 for 2 Shea. FishandDiveTampa.com
    Adam or TJ will take care of you.
     
  9. sportxlh

    sportxlh Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: formerly Palm Beach Gardens, FL: now Atlanta
    2,588
    1,359
    113
    If you're thinking of the Panhandle, the diving out of Panama City, Destin and Gulf Shores AL is fun enough. Not world class by any means, but still fun.

    Most of the diving includes wrecks or sunk bridge spans. Goliath Grouper sightings are common. Destin has a few decent reefs (smallish but full if life). One of the biggest bull sharks I've seen was out of Destin (bigger than most I've seen on Jupiter's deep ledge). The panhandle is also good for macro... nudibranches, bennies, mantis shrimp and critters like bat fish or sea robins.

    Water will be cold that time of year and marine conditions can be rough. Watch marine forecasts
     
    drrich2 likes this.
  10. lowlysubaruguy

    lowlysubaruguy Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: The Gorge
    158
    50
    28
    Probably the lower third.
     

Share This Page