The waters of Charleston, South Carolina, offer an amazing and diverse amount of excellent scuba diving. With its bounty of wrecks, reefs, ledges, and riverbeds, the area offers a unique habitat for a large array of sea life. Teeming with schools of fish, such as amberjacks, spadefish, barracuda, grouper, sharks and many species of tropical fish, the offshore area makes for a perfect start for beginners and seasoned veterans alike. Perhaps it is historic underwater sites that you love. Either way, you have come to the right place. Charleston, as you know, is one of the most historic cities on the eastern seaboard.
Throughout her past, Charleston has endured some major hurricanes, seen her share of historic battles (both on land and at sea), and experienced a powerful earthquake, back in 1886, as well as a tsunami in 1889. Through her peaceful and stormy past, Charleston has stored a “treasure chest” of history, both above and underground—and let’s not forget underwater! Aside from the beautiful marine life existing in the oceans, harbors, and waterways of Charleston, there are the historic artifacts and shipwrecks that are unique to this region and just waiting to be discovered.
A few of the local dive charters, all within the Charleston area, are:
Lowcountry Scuba: www.lowcountryscuba.com
Located in Mount Pleasant
Charleston Scuba: www.charlestonscuba.com
Located in Charleston
Phone: (843) 763-3483
International Diving Institute: www.internationaldivinginstitute.com
Located in North Charleston
Phone: (843) 740-1124
Highlighted below is just a very small sample of the many terrific dive sites in the area that you can explore. Of course, if you choose a private charter, such as one of the above, you will need to check with the individual organization for a complete list of their dive sites, as excursions vary from company to company.
For the more skillful and adventurous diver (with an advanced experience), you may wish to explore some of the richest marine fossil beds in the world. Between 2-15 million years ago, the eastern half of North Carolina was covered in shallow sea, teeming with huge predators, including mammoth sharks. As new teeth grew or as the predators died, their teeth dropped to the seafloor below. The sea receded between 10,000 and 1.6 million years ago. New mammals moved in to forage in the coastal swamps. Over many years, these waters cut deep into the geographical layers of the Lowcountry, creating rich fossil beds. The Cooper River is renowned for its giant, fossilized shark teeth, some as big as your hand, and dating back millions of years. Today, we can find evidence of the creatures that once lurked in these local rivers and tributaries, just waiting to be discovered!
If you have a real interest in history, you can enjoy the Cooper River Underwater Heritage Trail. This marked trail was developed by state archeologists and allows divers to examine the ruins of old plantation-era docks, and the sunken remains of historic river ships. Whatever part of the river you choose to explore, this experience can be very rewarding and exhilarating!
Frederick W. Day: Built in 1901, this schooner sank in the waters off the coast of Charleston in 1914. At that time, it was loaded with bags of cement, of which have formed a reef approximately 200 feet long. The top of the reef is about 40 feet and the bottom about 54 feet. This is considered one of the nicest dives off Charleston. Shallower than others, this site is a good spot for students as well, in their pursuit of open water certification.
The Subway Cars: Straight from the underground tunnels of New York City are subway cars that were sunk by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in their effort to create an artificial reef system. Fish and divers alike, absolutely love this spot and it is a great photo-op. However, it should be noted that the site is for advanced divers only, as it sits in about 100 feet of water.
The Comanche Wreck: This wreck had a fantastic career as an icebreaker on the Great Salt Lakes. It is now home to all kinds of marine life from amberjacks and spadefish to loggerheads and lobster. A true offshore favorite.
The Anchor Ledges: This is the perfect place for both the novice and the experienced diver. The Anchor Ledges sit at a depth of 60 feet and provide a diverse amount of marine life, including lobsters, tropical fish, and occasional sharks.
Indigo Ledges: These ledges are between 70 and 80 feet deep and an excellent site for Open Water divers. Swimming among the soft corals, sponges, and crustaceans are frequent visitors, such as the angelfish. Many of the larger species of fish that inhabit the area can be seen here as well.
Whether you are in search of the unique and exquisite beauty that the undersea world holds, you are a history buff, perhaps a treasure hunter, or maybe even all of the above, you have come to the right place. In Charleston, there is something for everyone, both above and below the water.
To experience even more of Charleston’s stunning waterways, join Charleston Harbor Tours on one of our 90-minute narrated harbor tour cruises around Charleston harbor. Click here to learn more about Charleston Harbor Tours’ historic cruises.