The best wreck dives in the US for true adventure freaks

Stef Zisovska

Wreck dives are among the most exciting and challenging experiences for any scuba diver. Shipwrecks hide history, mystery, human stories, and make us wonder how it all looked before they sank. No matter what the story behind the wreck is, it’s a fact that they are attractive diving spots, melting into the environment little by little, and serving as underwater reefs that host plenty of plants and animals.

There are many wreck diving opportunities in the US and if you are a real adventurer you may want to see some of them. Even if you’re not a professional diver, some wrecks can be visited with the guidance of experienced divers. Check this list out.

Spiegel Grove – Key Largo, Florida

Diver photographing a large reel on deck, Spiegel Grove wreck, Key Largo, Florida – Author: Clark Anderson – CC BY-SA 2.5
Diver photographing a large reel on deck, Spiegel Grove wreck, Key Largo, Florida – Author: Clark Anderson – CC BY-SA 2.5

Spiegel Grove was an American Navy ship that sunk in 2002 off Key Largo. Spiegel Grove is a wreck dive that you definitely need to do your homework for. It’s not a kids’ game and there’s nothing simple about it. If you’re not a professional diver, don’t even think about doing it before you get some serious training and preparation. It’s the Middle Keys’ largest artificial reef at 510 feet long, and the currents in the area are totally unpredictable. However, many diving freaks do it, and it is often the best experience they’ve ever had. However, there are many divers that have died during or after a Spiegel Grove dive, so think twice before jumping into this crazy adventure.

Lulu – Gulf Shores, Alabama

The 271-foot Lulu in 2013 sank only 23 miles offshore from Orange Beach in Alabama. It has the shape of a huge aquarium where plenty of fish species breed and live, and it’s a must-see wreck diving spot for everyone who wants to swim with the snapper, Spanish mackerel, toadfish, or amberjacks that are seen here frequently. After the dive, you can enjoy a shrimp meal, which is the specialty of Orange Beach.

Oriskany – Pensacola, Florida

Beginning to sink
Beginning to sink

Oriskany was an Essex-class aircraft carrier from WWII. It’s the world’s largest artificial reef and the only aircraft carrier used within recreational limits. The Blue Water Adventures owner, Captain Dave Mucci, would say: “You’re diving a monument,” which is the perfect description of the Oriskany wreck dive. Recreational divers spend most of their time in the wheelhouse of the ship. The control tower that was once receiving fly-bys from war aircraft is now surrounded by whale sharks and manta rays. If you want to dive the largest shipwreck in the world, you know where to find it.

USS Algol – Asbury Park, New Jersey

USS Algol (AKA-54) c. 1944
USS Algol (AKA-54) c. 1944

The 459-foot cargo ship is now an artificial reef with an incredible diversity of life. You will see lots of marine life on this dive: barnacles, baitfish, crabs, lobsters, blackfish, sea bass, schooling bluefish all the way up to sharks.

Papoose – Morehead City, North Carolina

SS Papoose was an oil tanker built in 1921 in San Pedro, California, originally named the SS Silvanus. In 1926 Silvanus collided with the tanker Thomas H. Wheeler in the Mississippi River. It was declared a total loss and was rebuilt in Houston, Texas in 1927. Then it started operating as Papoose until 1943 when it was attacked by the German U-boat U-24. After drifting for days, it sank in 200 feet of water off the shore of Oregon Inlet in North Carolina.

There are plenty of wreck diving spots in the States that scuba divers love to visit. Wreck diving is not an easy thing to do, therefore make sure your body is ready for the challenge. Many things in life are awesome to do, but what matters the most is to stay alive. Anyway, if you are an experienced diver, check these places on your next vacation. Take care and good luck!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival