Palm Beach

If you are looking to dive West Palm Beach, then look no further.  All diving here in West Palm Beach is drift diving, where the boat follows the reef system as divers let the currents guide them along the reefs and ledges to see turtles, eels, barracuda, plant life, coral formations, Goliath Grouper, and even sharks.

Depths in the West Palm Beach sites are usually 50 - 70 feet when we dive south of the inlet - dives sites such as Breakers, the Trench, Flower Garden, the Danny and the Mispah - all great sites for new divers as well as advanced. Dives are in the 70 - 90 feet range when we head to advanced sites north of the inlet more commonly known as the Juno Ledge and Jupiter Dive sites - Tunnels, the Wreck Trek, Area 51, the Deep Ledge, and other unique sites. Several reef systems, wrecks, and ledges hold an abundance of sea life, and the water clarity is usually 40+ feet. Water temperatures are in the 75 - 85 degree range in the summer months, and 72 - 78 degrees in the winter months. Wetsuits are suggested for both warmth and protection.

                                                                                            

Gilbert Sea:

Average Depth: 75 ft. /

23 Max Depth: 90 ft. / 27m

The Gilbert Sea was built in 1966 in the Netherlands. She was under a Honduras flag when she was seized by the US Customs Department -- 74 pounds of cocaine were found hidden inside the false bottom of a 55 gallon drum. The ship was seized as part of Operation Riverwalk and is now part of Governor's Riverwalk Reef, dedicated in honor of Governor Jeb Bush to commemorate his crime fighting efforts. After being turned over to the Artificial Reef Program, the front portion of the wheelhouse was painted with murals. The ship was sunk in 2002 in 90' of water just 1.5 miles from the Palm Beach Inlet. The reef is quickly becoming a haven for tropical and game fish and is quickly being overgrown in coral.

 

Zion Train:

Average Depth: 75 ft. / 23 m

Max Depth: 90 ft. / 27 m

Built in Netherlands in 1962, the 164-foot long Zion Train now rests upright on the bottom, facing south in 90 feet of water approximately one mile north of the Jupiter Inlet.

The Zion Train was first used to move cargo in Europe. In July 1997, while in port on the Miami River with a crew of nine Haitian citizens, five of the ship's crew members were shot and killed by "pirates". Three months later, the ship ran aground off South Beach. Federal marshals later seized the ship for nonpayment of dockage fees and sold it to Schurger Diving & Salvage, Inc. The ship was scuttled June 2nd, 2003.

 

Area 29:

Area 29, one of the deeper dive sites at 80′ to 90′, is a destination chosen for its good visibility, hunting opportunities, and sightseeing features. When inshore sites are subject to less than acceptable visibility, the boat captains usually resort to “Old Reliable ‘Area 29. At this low- profile site the ledge is broken up so that as divers drift North they come into a series of “aquariums” that are home to prolific fish and marine critter life. Sightseers can marvel at the variety of tropical fish that inhabit these mini-environments. Palm Beach’s classic big blue Angelfish along with their queen, French, and gray cousins are all here. Tomtates and other grunts of several species inhabit these arenas in large numbers. Squirrel fish hide in their little nooks as goatfish stir up the sand to find their next meal, Loggerhead turtles use the ledge to duck under for a nap while the little Hawksbills munch on the sponges. Hunters favor Area 29 for its game fish in season, it is common to see the prized gag and black Groupers all over this dive site.

 

Bluffs Reef:

Often described as one of Jupiter’s prettiest Local Reefs, Bluffs is a series of cul-de-sacs along a high ledge. The cul-de-sacs are little aquariums that at their 65′ depth still show a great deal of color from the corals and sponges. Mixed into all this color are many tropical fish, some in large schools difficult to see through. In the 65′ to 70′ on top of the ledge, the features of Bluffs can be enjoyed by the novice and experienced drift diver alike- Along the main ledge there is a resident Goliath Grouper surrounded by an entourage of Glassy Sweepers. Large Green Morays are common here as are Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Green Turtles which may be napping under the ledge or enjoying maybe even searching for a meal on top of the ledge. Even though the ledge mesmerizes, don’t forget to look to the West once in a while for the huge Southern Rays that bury themselves in the sand. Recently, a little Reef Shark has taken up residence here and is often sighted by the diver who is attentively looking and lucky enough to be in the right spot. Being one of the easier dives, in terms of navigation and depth. and having so much marine life to offer, Bluffs is an often- requested site, for good reason.

Boca Raton (outer reef)  like many South Florida Reefs, Boca Artificial is a section of the outer reef, running parallel to the shoreline. The highest concentration of sea life and coral cover is on the western facing ledge (main ledge). On the inside of the undercut ledge, the reef is 10+ foot high. The top edge is jagged and heavily overgrown with soft corals, sponges, algae, and other invertebrates. There is a small artificial reef composed of 20 Erojacks that were originally stacked 6 ft. high in a sandy depression. Five Erojacks were knocked off of the pile by Hurricane David and thrown into the sand hole about 5 ft. away. More were knocked off by later storms. Angelfish, Bermuda chub, barracuda, lobster, and many fish are present.

 

Budweiser Wreck:

The Budweiser Wreck is a 167 foot coastal freighter which was acquired and sunk with the financial help of Budweiser. The wreck is placed in 97 feet of water in July of 1987 by the Palm Beach Artificial Reef Program. She was placed 4 and 1/2 miles south of the Boynton Inlet.

The main deck is reached at approximately 70 feet and there is a large open section that can easily be penetrated by divers safely. There is a great deal of coral growth due to the age of the wreck. There are davits, funnels and the props were left intact making great props for photography.

 

Breakers Reef:

According to many local dive boat operators, Breakers Reef is one of the prettiest in the Palm Beach area. It is aptly-named for its location just offshore of the Breakers Hotel, one of the world's most famous luxury resorts.

The inside reef lies in about 40 feet of water, with the outside edge, further east, in about 60 feet. The ledge is very long and runs north and south, twisting occasionally. It is beautifully decorated with sea fans, sea plumes and various soft corals, often swaying in the currents. Sponges adorn the ledge. Sea turtles can often be found sleeping under the ledges, sharing their refuge with octopus and spiny lobsters. A school of Atlantic Spadefish frequents this area, as well as a pack of barracuda.

This colorful reef has a coral encrusted statue of King Neptune, six feet tall, in approximately 55 feet of water, at one end of the ledge, reigning over "his" portion of the ocean realm. This makes a great photo opportunity.

 

Rolls Royce Wreck:

Where else but in Palm Beach would someone donate a mint condition Silver Cloud Rolls Royce to initiate the Palm Beach Artificial Reef Program? Of course, at first, it was quite amazing to see a highly polished Rolls Royce sitting on the bottom complete with hood ornament. Vandals have since taken the "Lady" and the polish has disappeared.

Lobsters have taken up residence in the back seat and pork fish now school under the hood. Hogfish surround the vehicle in the sand. The Rolls Royce is located about one mile south of the Palm Beach inlet in an area known as artificial reef site number 2. She is located near the Owens, a 125 foot freighter, and The Barge. All were sunk during 1985.

 

Cable Crossing:

An excellent 25 feet deep reef. Communication cables cross the reef at the north and south end. Large numbers of tropical species can be found here and other unique creatures such as guitarfish and sharp—tail eels. This spot is commonly used for open water training dives as well. It’s not just a great first dive but a spot to be enjoyed anytime.

 

The Flower Garden Reef:

A gorgeous area with scattered patch reefs on the inside and a honeycombed reef on the outside, with plenty of area for the numerous species that live here to hide. Part of the reef is called The Fish Bowl, where there are so many fish that you can’t see the reef. Like the Breakers Reef, you can find just about anything here, including flying gurnards and batfish. This is a great place for pictures!

 

Tear Drop and Ron’s Rock Reef:

Another beautiful 45 to 60 feet reef, this area is well known for turtles, lobsters and tropical fish. It is a beautiful patch reef until you get to the north end, where you find Ron’s Rock. This is a section of reef that is completely separate from the main section, and deserves some exploring. Yellowhead, jewfish are abundant in the sand, and goliath groupers, sharks and turtles are often found here!

 

60′ Rock Piles Reef:

Just south of the inlet is an artificial reef, which was formed when the Palm Beach Inlet was made. This site is known for its large variety of marine life and shells. It is also a favorite for lobster hunters.

 

Bath & Tennis Reef:

A long reef line with 6 feet ledges, where you can see beautiful southern stingrays, tropical fish and lots of lobsters. This reef is one of our guests’ favorites. It has a nice easy edge to follow and you just never know what you might see

 

Paul’s Reef:

A local favorite, this beautiful 8 feet ledge runs SE to NW and is decorated with lots of colorful soft corals, barrel sponges and rock crevices.  Loaded with turtles, eels, southern stingrays, spotted eagle rays and even sharks, you will not be disappointed!

 

The Fingers Reef:

This reef has beautiful rocky ledges that are shaped like fingers. It is located on the outside of The Breakers Reef. The ledges get bigger the further north you dive ranging 50 to 80 feet. It’s a favorite among loggerhead turtles and nurse sharks.

 

Larson’s Valley Reef:

A white sandy road with a ledge on the right and a reef of the left side. An abundance of turtles, nurse sharks and lobsters can be found here. It is usually dived with Yellowtail reef since they basically run into each other.

 

Yellowtail Reef:

Within 10 minutes of the inlet, this beautiful 5 feet ledge was named after the abundance of yellowtail snapper which are found everywhere on the ledge. This is also a great place for turtles, nurse sharks and lobsters.

 

Awesome Alley Reef:

This beautiful reef line, located close to the inlet, has lots of coves, gullies and brightly colored sponges. During turtle mating and nesting season you can see as many as a dozen turtles on one dive! Moray eels, lobsters and many other creatures live on this reef. It is a great dive when the current is strong because it is very long and easy to follow. Spearman’s Barge is located at the north end of the ledge in 65 feet of water.

 

Jolly Jack’s Reef:

This reef has a nice 6 to 8 feet ledge.  Under the ledge you can find sleeping nurse sharks and turtles. At least one goliath grouper calls this reef home. There are numerous species of fish such as grunts, spadefish, parrotfish, and horse-eye jacks (which the reef is named for), and there are plenty of invertebrates. Lobster can be found in the cracks and crevices.  A very pretty dive site, great for photos and video!

 

Lost Shaft:                            

A 90 feet deep ledge, close to the inlet, with large ledges and lots of relief sometimes running as high as 14 feet. Large nurse sharks are usually seen here.

 

Juno Ledge:

This 15 to 20 feet ledge is in 65 to 90 feet of water. Large rocks and cave formations can be seen in addition to numerous parrot fish, sharks and turtles. There are large schools of spade fish and other tropical fish, goliath groupers and moray eels as well. This is a local favorite and for good reason.

 

The Chimney:

This reef line is one of the few ledges that starts as a huge ledge and then gets smaller as you go north. It is a 15 feet ledge, in 110 feet of water, so it is considered an advanced dive.

 

The Playground:

An artificial reef made up of 1500 tons of concrete, was sunk intentionally for fisherman, however, divers frequent the spot. With a depth of 130 feet, it’s a great place to see large fish and sharks. This is considered an advanced dive.

 

Double Ledges:

Beautiful twin ledges that lie south of the inlet in 70—90 ft. of water. These sites should not be missed, as the amount of marine life on them is unbelievable! A friendly hawksbill turtle named Madeleine can usually be seen swimming up to divers to say hello!

 

Shark Canyon:

This is one of our favorite sites. The layout of this site makes for a very interesting and exciting dive. Home to resident Caribbean reef and nurse sharks, it’s definitely a favorite among divers! It is an inshore double ledge system with the deeper ledge in about 87 feet and the top ledge rising to 65 feet, with a plateau between them in 74 feet. Schools of spadefish, jacks and many other colorful tropical fish cover the reef. Loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles, as well as the very rare leatherback turtle have all been spotted here.

 

The Corridor:

A 1700 feet drift dive encompassing the Mizpah, PC117o, Amaryllis, China Barge, Brazilian Docks and rock rubble connecting them all together. It’s an excellent site with lots of fish life, including southern stingrays, eels, turtles, groupers, and much more. Many corals and colorful sponges grow here, and frogfish can be found in the rock piles. You’ll never be disappointed with this exciting dive

 

The Spiny Oyster Barge:

This large barge lies in 110 feet of water about 20 minutes north of the inlet. It is a photographers dream because of the beautiful corals that cover the entire wreck. There are several pictures featuring this barge in the Pieces Book – The Divers Guide to Southeast Florida by S&S Cummins.

 

The Princess Anne:

Sunk in 1993, this 350 feet car ferry used to carry 800 people and some 200 automobiles across the Chesapeake Bay. The top of the wreck rises to about 70 feet with the propeller in about 100 feet of water. You can see schools of barracuda and jacks, large goliath groupers, and the occasional bull or hammerhead shark.

 

Spearman’s Barge:

Located on top of Awesome Alley (aka mid—reef), on a section we call First Gully, this barge is covered with life. It sits in about 68 feet of water, the top rising to about 60 feet. Home to a resident hawksbill turtle and visited by loggerhead turtles, it has schools of silversides and copper sweepers inside and lots of brightly colored grunts and snappers covering the outside. It is also not uncommon to find a nice green moray eel living there as well. A great dive for photographers.

 

Governor’s River Walk Reef:

Lies in 55 to 90 feet of water just south of the Palm Beach Inlet. These 4 ships were turned over to the County by US Customs as part of Operation River Walk, a program to eliminate drug smuggling operations on the Miami River. The names of the wrecks are the Shasha Boekanier, Gilbert Sea, St. Jacques, and Thozina. There is a great variety of tropical fish, turtles and sharks to be seen here. There is a memorial statue placed by the Delray Beach police and firefighters at the northern tip of the Shasha Boekanier.

 

Breakers Shallow:

An inside ledge 30 feet in the sand with fingers and undercuts. Rises 8-10 feet in places to 20 feet on top. There are plenty of juvenile tropical fish and many invertebrates. This site frequently used by instructors to give students their first saltwater dives, and frequented by private boats. One of the few places in the Riviera Beach area where the 30 foot reef line is well developed.

 

MV Castro Wreck:

The M/V Castor was sunk on December 14, 2001 in 110 feet of water where she sits upright with her bow to the South. The wreck is 258 feet long by 37 feet wide by 50 feet tall rising to within 60 feet of the surface. For safety reasons, all hatches and doors have been removed. With the main deck at 90 feet and a maximum depth of 110 feet, this is a great dive when using a 36% Nitrox mix. By diving the wreck with this mix you get more bottom time on the wreck and more bottom time on the following dive.

 

Captain Tony Wreck:

The Captain Tony a.k.a. M/V Becks was sunk on October 22, 1996 in 85 feet of water where she sits upright with her bow to the South. Originally named the M/V Becks, this 167 foot long Dutch freighter was renamed the Captain Tony in memory of Captain Tony Townsend a local dive charter captain. Today there is much to see on this wreck and there are numerous opportunities to penetrate the wreck with reasonable safety. Look for several large Jewfish that sometimes hangout in the engine room.

© 2002 Ideal Scuba Academy