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Jacksonville is home to more than 100 artificial reefs with hundreds of colorful species of marine life off our Atlantic Coast shore. The extensive reef system, a diverse array of marine life, and affordable diving rates make Jax one of the best diving destinations on Florida’s East Coast. Fish like cobia, tarpon, and grouper as well as several large shark species can be spotted off our shores. Our artificial reefs are perfect for a fishing expedition or a diving journey to explore the corals and sponges.
Jacksonville’s reefs are located along the continental shelf, an underwater landmass resulting in moderately shallow water known as shelf sea, spanning more than 40 miles wide off the coast.
Boats, planes, and culverts have been placed - or in some cases found - along the continental shelf to form Jacksonville’s reef system. These sunken objects placed in our waters provide food and shelter to marine life, and in turn, have created beautiful spots for divers and recreational fishermen to explore every day.
While our waters have for many years been considered to murky to dive, avid divers will be pleased to discover that Jacksonville has some pristine reefs with many interesting wrecks to explore and thousands of fish making them a unique and wild diving experience. Local experts say visibility can sometimes be as good as 100 feet. Summer is the best time to find warm, calm waters.
Unique from other Florida destinations, Jacksonville’s popular dive locations depths range from 50 to 110 feet, appealing to different levels of experience. Shallower depths are perfect for novice divers looking for a longer dive; deeper depths are ideal for spearfishing and maritime exploring. The wide range of depths creates unique experiences and diverse dives for sea lovers of all levels.
Among the 100 reefs off the coast of Jax, there are dozens of spots that are less trafficked, making diving in Jacksonville more affordable and easier for visitors to explore, without competing with others for the best underwater views.
If you’re looking for a unique spot to explore, Jacksonville has diverse reefs, each with a unique story:
Spike Reef is a local favorite, the reef's diverse depths make it a great spot to explore for divers of all backgrounds. Named after the 76-foot Coast Guard boat that was sunk in the summer of 2009 to enhance the reef. The original boat spent 20 years transporting an 84-foot crane barge used to repair infrastructure along the Intercostal (from Mayport to Mosquito Lagoon just north of Titusville). Located several hundred yards from the next nearest reef, Spike Reef sits at a 110 feet depth, and the ship reaches up to 75 feet from the surface. Spike Reef’s vertical relief creates an improved habitat environment for increasing numbers of fish, such as the Greater Amberjack.
Blackmar’s Reef offers a natural reef ledge system and features five wrecked-ships, two planes, and plentiful marine life.
Coppedge Tug Wreck, situated in shallow water, attracts seas of brightly colored fish.
The Nine Mile Reef, just a few miles from the Mayport jetties, is home to five wrecks.
Many local reefs have been placed by TISIRI, a local non-profit that is focusing efforts on reef creation, environmental conservation, and marine awareness. TISIRI stands for “Think It, Sink It, Reef It.” The group generates reef concepts incorporating recycled material and ultimately create marine bio-diverse hot spots.
Jacksonville’s reefs are an unexplored haven for fishermen and adventurers. The types of fish you are most likely to see on an average dive are Red Snapper, Atlantic Spadefish, and Seabass. Fishermen are most likely to catch Snapper, Cobia, and Greater Amber Amberjack near the reefs.