OK, here’s something that’s really off the beaten path…
Florida Department of State’s Underwater Archaeology Team worked with coastal communities to develop the ‘Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail’ that links together a dozen sunken ships off the coast of Pensacola, Destin, Panama City and Port St. Joe.
Florida waters are among the best in the world for the sport and when you add the intriguing and sometime mysterious presence of ships resting on the seabed, it adds a whole new dimension to diving. Even better, the twelve ships (which were chosen for the trail by local dive operators for their popularity, history, and ecological diversity) were placed here to create artificial reefs at a variety of depths.
There are tugboats (Miss Louise, off Destin), oilfield supply vessels and navy tugboats and WWII minesweepers (Black Bart, USS Accokeek, USS Chippewa, and USS Strength off Panama City), a historic steamer (Vamar, off Port St. Joe), and the amazing USS Oriskany, an aircraft carrier off Pensacola that creates the world’s largest artificial reef and is surrounded the U.S. Navy dive tender YDT-14, oilfield supply vessel Pete Tide II, the freighter San Pablo, and three coal barges.
Participating dive operators can provide you with a passport containing details about each shipwreck as well as a dive log to record each stop. And be sure to visit www.floridapanhandledivetrail.com that has underwater videos of each shipwreck, locations of local dive shops, and an up-to-date marine weather forecast.
Sounds like one of the coolest things Florida’s ever done.