We see huge bait balls, nudibranchs, crabs, mantis shrimp, bi-colored damsels, spotfin butterfly, queen and french angelfish, as well as the invasive lionfish. Grab souvenirs in the form of dead sand dollars and vacant shells (often in mint condition). Big schools of snapper, snook, porkfish, jacks, spadefish, mackeral, and look-downs also cruise our sites.
This is a breeding ground for the protected, massive Goliath Grouper reaching up to 7 feet and 700 lbs. At times, dozens will stack up in an area the size of your living room. Like people, they have different personalities; some are curious and inquisitive, some are shy, while others are grumpy and ornery. They can 'bark' at us by moving water through their swim bladder creating a percussion wave with a very audible thud!
Another favorite is the large Loggerhead sea turtle which are seen regularly especially in the spring and summer. We see harmless Nurse sharks (glorified catfish) at times, but other shark species are rare to spot. Our local dive sites have intense concentrations of these critters and dozens more.
Our visibility may not be Cayman but it doesn't have to be to offer truly rewarding dives here! Visibility ranges from 15 to 50 feet in depths between 30 to 45 feet on Near and Middle Ground trips. Advanced divers can check out Marco's Blue Hole, R Tower, Paddlewheel wreck and many more.
The Hole is an awesome dive. It's an 80' wide sinkhole 23 nm. southwest of us in 70' of water. It has a vertical shaft down to 90' and then caverns open. The fish swim around upside down there, oriented to the roof! Weather is the main factor in determining conditions so we confirm most trips no more than 3 days in advance.
In general; spring, early summer, and late fall can produce our best conditions. However, visibility can be poor or get very nice any time of the year depending upon how Mother Nature is treating us. If you heard that Gulf Diving was poor, you heard it from someone who hasn't dived with us. We are always honest about what we expect our local dive conditions to be.
The sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico on Florida's West coast is a large shelf with a very gentle slope. The natural bottom is mostly flat, sandy bottom with a few limestone ledges and swiss-cheese like holes. It's for these reasons that any structure, be it artificial reefs or shipwrecks, quickly attract fish and other sea life. It isn't much longer before these sites become colonized with soft corals and sponges. Our dive sites literally become oases in the desert! We often see the entire food chain stacked on dive sites often less than 1/2 a football field in area, which means it's that much easier to see things without straying too far from the dive boat.
We take a maximum of 6 passengers. To reserve a spot for a non-diver the fee is $100. If spots are available just prior to departure, the fee drops to $45.
Can be arranged on a selective basis. If on any trip any of the passengers are opposed to spearing, there is no spearfishing. If you have not speared with us previously there is an educational/safety oriented presentation that must be completed in addition to charter fees. That also includes a guide for your dives. You will need a valid Florida Fishing License. We don't rent spear guns, but do stock a wide selection of A.B. Biller and Hammerhead guns and accessories. Call the shop for rates on chartering the boat for dedicated spearing trips. Spearfishing safety course $100
The snorkeling in our area is very limited both in terms of how far you can typically see, and what there is to see. Close to shore, the gulf has a mostly sandy bottom so there isn't much structure and habitat that holds life. There is a small patch reef (soft corals and sponges) off of Wiggins pass park in Naples but the depth is around 15 feet and the visibility is generally less than that, so you can't see the bottom from the surface. There are also breakwater piles off of south Marco that hold a lot of life, but again the water near the shore is typically very clear.
Nearly all of the local beach areas have sand dollars, shells, and a few species of fish that can be seen if the visibility is decent (walk in up to your waist and still see your toes). We have run some snorkeling boat trips in the past, but we want to be up front about what you can expect to see. Getting away from shore to our local artificial reefs and wrecks does improve the visibility, but it typically just isn't enough to see top-to-bottom. Really, the best way for non-certified divers to find sea life during your time in Florida is by getting underwater with our Discover SCUBA program!