Recreational dive sites

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Recreational dive sites include specific places that recreational scuba divers go to enjoy the underwater environment. This includes publicly accessible recreational diver training sites and technical diving sites beyond the range generally accepted for recreational diving. In this context all diving done for recreational purposes is included. Professional diving tends to be done where the job is, and with the exception of the recreational diving service industry, does not generally occur at specific sites chosen for their easy access, pleasant conditions or interesting features.

Bodies of water commonly used for recreational diving[edit]

  • Sea and Ocean shorelines and shoals. These are salt water sites and may support high biodiversity of plant and animal life forms. Shipwrecks are also common on some coasts, and are very popular attractions for a large number of divers.
  • Lakes, usually containing fresh water. Large lakes have many features of seas including wrecks and a variety of aquatic life. Artificial lakes, such as clay pits, gravel pits, and quarries often have lower visibility. Some lakes are at high altitude and may require special considerations for altitude diving. Abandoned and flooded quarries are popular in inland areas for diver training and sometimes also recreational diving. Rock quarries may have reasonable underwater visibility as there is not as much mud or silt cause low visibility. As they are not natural environments and usually privately owned, quarries often contain features intentionally placed for divers to explore, such as sunken boats, automobiles, aircraft, and abandoned machinery and structures.
  • Rivers generally contain fresh water but are often shallow and murky and may have strong currents.
  • Caves containing water provide exotic and interesting, though relatively hazardous, opportunities for exploration.

Popular features of dive sites[edit]

NASA image [1] showing locations of significant coral reefs, which are often sought out by divers for their abundant, diverse life forms.

There are a wide range of underwater features which may contribute to the popularity of a dive site:

  • Accessibility is important, but not critical. Some divers will travel long distances at considerable cost to get to a site with exceptional features.
  • Biodiversity at the site: Popular examples are coral, sponges, fish, sting rays, molluscs, cetaceans, seals, sharks and crustaceans.
  • The Topography of the site: Coral reefs, walls (underwater cliffs), rocky reefs, gullies, caves and swim-throughs (short tunnels or arches) can be spectacular.
  • Historical or cultural items at the site: Ship wrecks, sunken aircraft and archaeological sites, apart from their historical value, form artificial habitats for marine life making them more attractive as dive sites.
  • Underwater visibility: This can vary widely between sites and with time and other conditions. Poor visibility is caused by suspended particles in the water, such as mud, silt, suspended organic matter and plankton. Currents and surge can stir up the particles. Rainfall runoff can carry particulate matter from the shore. Diving close to the sediments on the bottom can result in the particles being kicked up by the divers fins. Sites which generally have good visibility are preferred, but poor visibility will often be tolerated if the site is sufficiently attractive for other reasons.
  • Water temperature: Warm water diving is comfortable and convenient, and requires less equipment. Although cold water is uncomfortable and can cause hypothermia it can be interesting because different species of underwater life thrive in cold conditions.
  • Currents and tidal flows can transport nutrients to underwater environments increasing the variety and density of life at a site. Currents can also be dangerous to divers as they can carry the diver being away from the surface support or the planned exit point. Currents that meet flow over or around large obstructions can cause strong local vertical currents and turbulence that are dangerous because they may cause the diver to lose buoyancy control risking barotrauma, or impact against the bottom terrain.

Regions where recreational diving is a major tourist industry[edit]

Regions of notable biodiversity[edit]


The Cape Peninsula (Cape Town, South Africa)[edit]

Recreational dive sites of the greater Cape Town region.
Marine bioregions of the South African coast

The Cape Peninsula marks the boundary between the cool temperate South-western Cape bioregion, which extends from Cape Columbine to Cape Point, and is dominated by the cold Benguela current, and the warm temperate Agulhas inshore marine bioregion to the east of Cape Point which extends eastwards to the Mbashe River. The break at Cape Point is very distinct in the inshore depth ranges, and the waters of the east and west sides of the peninsula support noticeably different ecologies, though there is a significant overlap of resident organisms. There are a large proportion of species endemic to South Africa along this coastline.


Dive sites of unique or exceptional interest[edit]

Wreck dive sites[edit]

Vessel Name Position Location Country/Territory
Adolphus Busch Looe Key, Florida United States
USS Arthur W. Radford Cape May, New Jersey United States
HMAS Adelaide Avoca Beach, New South Wales Australia
Antipolis S33°59.06’ E018°21.37’ Oudekraal, Cape Town South Africa
Aster S34°03.891’ E018°20.955’ Hout Bay, Cape Town South Africa
RMS Athens S33°53.85’ E018°24.57’ Mouille Point, Cape Town South Africa
HNLMS Bato S34°10.998’ E018°25.560’ Simon's Town South Africa
Bia S34°16'12.7" E018°22'38.3" Olifantsbospunt, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USCGC Bibb[1] Florida United States
SAS Bloemfontein S34°14.655’ E018°39.952’ False Bay, Western Cape South Africa
Barge Boss 400 S34°02.216’ E018°18.573’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Brisbane Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia
East Indiaman Brunswick S34°10.880’ E018°25.607’ Simon's Town, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Canberra Barwon Heads, Victoria Australia
HMNZS Canterbury Bay of Islands New Zealand
HMCS Cape Breton[2] British Columbia Canada
Cape Matapan S34°53.233' E018°24.533' Table Bay, Cape Town South Africa
Captain Keith Tibbetts Cayman Brac Cayman Islands
CS Charles L Brown[3] Sint Eustatius Leeward Islands
HMCS Chaudière[2] British Columbia Canada
Clan Monroe S34°08.817' E18°18.949' Kommetjie, Cape Town South Africa
Clan Stuart S34°10.303’ E018°25.842’ Simon's Town, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMCS Columbia[2] British Columbia Canada
USCGC Cuyahoga Virginia Capes United States
Australian Army ship Crusader Flinders Reef off Cape Moreton, Queensland Australia
Daeyang Family Robben Island, Cape Town South Africa
Dania[4] Mombasa Kenya
SAS Fleur S34°10.832’ E018°33.895’ False Bay, Western Cape South Africa
USCGC Duane[1] Florida United States
Fontao Durban South Africa
G.B. Church[2] British Columbia Canada
SAS Gelderland S34°02.070’ E018°18.180’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Gemsbok Cape Town South Africa
SATS General Botha S34°13.679’ E018°38.290’ False Bay South Africa
USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg (T-AGM-10)[5] Key West, Florida United States
Glen Strathallan Plymouth United Kingdom
SAS Good Hope S34°16.054’ E018°28.850’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMAS Hobart Yankalilla Bay, South Australia Australia
VOIC ship Het Huis te Kraaiestein S33°58.85’ E018°21.65’ Oudekraal, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Barque Highfields S33°53’07.9” E18°25’49.8” Table Bay, Cape Town South Africa
Hypatia S33°50.10’ E018°22.90’ Robben Island, Cape Town South Africa
Inganess Bay[6] British Virgin Islands
Jura Lake Constance Switzerland
Katsu Maru S34°03.903’ E018°20.949’ Hout Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Keryavor and the Jo May S34°02.037’ E018°18.636’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Kittiwake West Bay, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
Lusitania S34°23.40’ E018°29.65’ Bellows Rock, Cape Point South Africa
HMCS Mackenzie[2] British Columbia Canada
Maori S34°02.062’ E018°18.793’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
MS Zenobia N 34°53.5’ E 33°39.1’ Larnaca, Cyprus European Union
HMCS Nipigon Quebec Canada
Oakburn S34°02.216’ E018°18.573’ Leeuwgat Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Oriskany[7] Florida United States
MFV Orotava S34°15.998’ E018°28.774’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Oro Verde[8] Cayman Islands
P29 Patrol Boat Ċirkewwa Malta
P87 Simon's Town South Africa
HMAS Perth[9] Albany, Western Australia Australia
SAS Pietermaritzburg S34°13.300’ E018° 28.452’ Miller's Point, Western Cape near Simon’s Town South Africa
MFV Princess Elizabeth S34°16.068’ E018°28.839’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Quarry Barge S34°09.395’ E018°26.474’ Glencairn, Cape Peninsula South Africa
USS Rankin Stuart, Florida United States
Rockeater S34°16.127’ E018°28.890’ Smitswinkel Bay, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Romelia S34°00.700’ E018°19.860’ Llandudno, Cape Peninsula South Africa
Rozi Ċirkewwa Malta
SA Seafarer S33°53.80’ E018°23.80’ Mouille Point, Cape Town South Africa
HMCS Saskatchewan[2] British Columbia Canada
USS Scrimmage (MS Mahi) Waianae, Hawaii United States
HMS Scylla Whitsand Bay, Cornwall United Kingdom
USS Spiegel Grove[10] Florida United States
Stanegarth Stoney Cove United Kingdom
Star of Africa Albatross Rock, Cape Peninsula South Africa
SS Thistlegorm Ras Muhammad, Red Sea Egypt
HMAS Swan[11] Dunsborough, Western Australia Australia
T-Barge Durban South Africa
HMNZS Tui Tutukaka Heads New Zealand
Um El Faroud Qrendi Malta
Thomas T. Tucker Olifantsbospunt, Cape peninsula South Africa
SAS Transvaal S33°16.005’ E018°28.761’ Smitswinkel Bay South Africa
MV Treasure S 33°40.30’ E 18°19.90’ Koeberg South Africa
Umhlali S34°16.435' E18°22.487' Olifantsbospunt, Cape Peninsula South Africa
HMNZS Waikato Tutukaka New Zealand
HMNZS Wellington Wellington New Zealand
"Wreck Alley" – The Marie L, The Pat and The Beata[12] British Virgin Islands
Wreck Alley San Diego, California United States
Xihwu Boeing 737[2] British Columbia Canada
HMCS Yukon[2] San Diego, California United States
USAT Liberty[13] Tulamben, Bali Indonesia

Reef dive sites[edit]

Coral reef areas

Region/reef system name Location Country/Territory
Belize Barrier Reef Caribbean Belize
Chuuk South western Pacific Ocean Federated States of Micronesia
Great Barrier Reef Queensland Australia
Hurghada Red Sea, Indian Ocean Egypt
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Florida United States
Marsa Alam Red Sea, Indian Ocean Egypt
Diving in the Maldives Indian Ocean Maldives
Ras Muhammad National Park Red Sea Egypt
Diving in Thailand Indian Ocean, South east Asia Thailand

Cave dive sites[edit]

Cave system name Position Location Country/Territory
Boesmansgat Mpumalanga South Africa
Sistema Dos Ojos Yucatán Mexico
Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich Yucatán Mexico
Sistema Ox Bel Ha Yucatán Mexico
Sistema Sac Actun Yucatán Mexico
Zacatón Mexico

Quarry dive sites[edit]

Wazee Lake near Black River Falls, Wisconsin is a former iron mining quarry now used for scuba diving and other uses.

Scuba diving quarries are depleted or abandoned rock quarries that have been allowed to fill with ground water, and rededicated to the purpose of scuba diving.[14] They offer deep, clean, clear, still, fresh water with excellent visibility, and have no currents or undertow. They are often used as training sites for new divers, where classes and certification dives are carried out.[14] Scuba diving quarries are often stocked with fish, for the divers to enjoy, and often feature contrived “wreck” sites, such as sunken boats, cars, and aircraft for divers to explore while diving. Many have some manner of dive shop on site to offer air fills, replacement diving equipment, and rentals. Oftentimes lodging or camping is available on site as well.[15]

Water Conditions[edit]

Quarries lined with stone, instead of earth or clay, may have remarkably clear water, with greater visibility than in many inland lakes. Clean, clear ground water is the primary source of the water that fills these quarries once they are no longer pumped out for mining operations. Many quarry mining operations are located in areas where filling from other, less clean sources, such as rivers and surface runoff of rainwater is not as likely.

Over time, however, most quarries tend to be contaminated with erosion products and nutrients from surface runoff, causing many to acquire a green tint due to algae growth, and silty bottoms, with silt accumulations of several inches.

Equipment Required[edit]

Fresh water scuba diving does not require much different equipment then oceanic diving, although some cold water diving gear is very important, depending on the geographic location and time of year that is being dived. With water temperatures decreasing as depth increases, water temperatures at depth have been known to be as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. In those types of temperatures dry suit diving is recommended,[16] but in slightly warmer temps, heavy wetsuit diving is possible, and with the use of hoods, gloves and core warming wetsuits, a diver can dive in relative comfort for long periods of time in water temps down to 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Diving in fresh water is less harmful to most scuba gear then salt water, and requires less post dive maintenance.[17]

"Wreck" Sites[edit]

Operators of many scuba diving quarries often add objects or debris fields to the bottom of the quarry for divers to explore while scuba diving. Mostly these are man made objects such as boats, cars, and trucks. Some quarries have such large objects as school buses, small buildings, and even commercial airliners on the bottom. Often these sites are mapped out and marked with guide lines under the water.[18][19][20][21]

Types of Fish[edit]

Often, operators of scuba diving quarries make efforts to stock the quarry with fish, to provide enjoyment for divers using their facilities. Most common are the same types of fish that thrive naturally in local lakes and rivers. Some quarries are known for the size and quantity of these fish, and some quarries have schools of rare, not often seen species of fish living in their waters, which are not native to the area.


Temporary list of Wikipedia dive site articles[edit]

Temperate rocky reefs

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Williams, Chris; Bowen, Linda (2008). "Wrecks of the Duane and Bibb" (PDF). Advanced Diver Magazine Ezine (1, reprinted from ADM issue 4): 62–72. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "ARSBC". Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Charlie Brown Artificial Reef". Golden Rock Dive Center. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ "5 Star PADI IDC Centre, Kenya, Zanzibar". Buccaneer Diving. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  5. ^ "Vandenberg sinking this morning". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2009-05-27. Retrieved 2009-05-28. 
  6. ^ "BVI Dive Site: Wreck of the Inganess Bay". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  7. ^ Barnette, Michael C. (2008). Florida's Shipwrecks. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5413-6. 
  8. ^ "The Cayman Islands Shipwreck Expo Directory Capt. Dan Berg's Guide to Shipwrecks information". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  9. ^ "HMAS Perth (II) - Royal Australian Navy". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  10. ^ "The ''Spiegel Grove'' is believed to be the largest ever wreck deliberately sunk as a diving site". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  11. ^ "HMAS Swan (III) - Royal Australian Navy". Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  12. ^ "Cooper Island". Dive BVI. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  13. ^ " - Scuba Diving Community". DailyDive. Retrieved 2015-11-19. 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^
  16. ^ p.a.d.i. diving manual
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Underwater diving sites at Wikimedia Commons