Miami Beach, and the Greater Miami area in general may not be thought of as a scuba diving destination, yet, the South Florida coastal area, from Palm Beach south offer remarkable wreck diving, along with many natural reefs extending from Key Biscayne all the way to Key West.
Wreck diving began in the 60s and 70s as derelict ships were sunk to provide habitat for fish to enhance the recreational fishing component of the tourism industry. When Lloyd Bridges brought Mike Nelson to life in the TV show Sea Hunt a new generation of adventure travelers was born. Scuba diving wasn’t known to many at the time, but as equipment improved and television took people around the world with Jacques Cousteau, the sport began to pick up in popularity.
Miami established an artificial reef program in the 80s that became a model for coastal communities around the world. Ships, confiscated on the Miami River for transporting drugs, were cleaned, towed to designated areas offshore and sunk in 80 to 120 feet.
While Crockett and Tubbs were showcasing the edgier side of Miami in the late 80s with Miami Vice, a fleet of dive boats were taking scuba divers to a variety of wrecks, that included a Boeing 727 in the early 90s. The plane was a media magnet, but couldn’t withstand the pounding of the ocean.
In 1999, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Watersports Marketing Council guided the production of a DVD to capture the best of the wrecks at that time. Watch the video and you’ll see several ships, an oil platform and pair a U.S. Army tanks.
Following the 911 attacks, permits to sink ships and other manmade material became increasingly difficult to obtain. Since 2001, there has been little activity, although
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