Commonly known as the “Wreckreational Dive Capital of the World,” the waters bordering Miami-Dade’s eastern shore are home to an incredible array of both natural and artificial dive sites. Due to its southern latitude and close proximity to the Gulf Stream, Miami enjoys the comfort of a temperate climate year round. Surface water temperature rarely falls below 70F degrees, and can climb past 85F in summer. These turquoise blue waters are home to the only tropical coral reef growing offshore a major continental U.S. city. The entire city is built upon (and of) oolitic limestone, “ancient coral” exposed with the retreat of the sea. The coral that is now living offshore makes up the northern reaches of a barrier reef that stretches southward through the Florida Keys. In addition to the many natural reefs, Miami is home to one of the world’s most prolific artificial reef programs. Miami-Dade County’s Artificial Reef Program was started in 1981 but artificial reefs were created in Miami starting as early as the 1920’s and continued for much of the 20th century thanks to the efforts of several organizations including (mainly) divers and fisherman. Dive Spots There are countless dive sites in the Greater Miami area. Here’s a list of local favorites including natural and artificial reefs of various depths. A complete map of the locations of artificial reefs throughout the waters off Miami-Dade County can be searched by name, site, or depth and material type using the Artificial Reef Locator or The Miami-Dade County Artificial Reef Catalog. Emerald Reef This natural patch reef off of Key Biscayne is one of Miami’s most beautiful. The diverse cover at this reef includes hard corals, gorgonians and sponges in 10-20 feet of water. Fish such as grunts and barracuda are also extremely abundant here. Water clarity can be outstanding. Half Moon The Half Moon is one of Florida’s 11 Underwater Archaeological Preserves. This two-masted schooner, originally called Germania, has seen a number of interesting uses throughout its history, including sailing yacht, war capture and floating cabaret. She finally sunk during a storm in the 1930’s outside of Bear Cut/Key Biscayne. The intact hull resides in 10-20 feet water with a sandy bottom and attracts a great number of juvenile fish and inshore species. This is a great spot for beginner divers or snorkelers. Neptune Memorial Reef Neptune Memorial Reef is a mausoleum resembling the lost city of Atlantis that resides in water 40-50 feet deep. This site is the final resting place of those that wished to donate money and their cremated remains for the creation of this artificial reef. In addition to the numerous brass plaques and concrete forms to explore, the structure has begun to grow corals and attracts numerous schooling fish. This is a fun dive and definitely unique! Ophelia Brian The Ophelia Brian is the latest ship to be sunk as part of the Miami Dade’s Artificial Reef Program. The 210 foot freighter was christened Hoheburg, but was lastly called Sea Taxi. She became the Ophelia Brian upon the intentional sinking on December 30, 2009 at the request of the Brian and Lavinia Snyder Foundation whom named it after their daughter. This wreck has a maximum depth of 110 feet and provides approximately 40 feet of relief. The Ophelia Brian has already started to attract much marine life and will become a haven for corals and many other species as the reef continues to grow. Wreck Trek The “Wreck Trek” is a string of artificial reefs lying just off the shores of Miami Beach. A great diversity of marine life now surrounds the artificial reef of radio towers, army tanks, barges, ships and assorted other rubble. The ability to visit multiple wrecks in one tank makes the diving exciting and varied. It’s in an average of 50 feet of water. Dive Shops and Dive Operators Equipment and dives can be arranged at any of the local retailers and dive operators in Greater Miami.