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Have you ever dived the United States top ten? Scuba diving is now the most popular recreational water sports in the world as shown by the increasing numbers of enthusiasts, scuba diving sites, and companies selling scuba diving equipment. With that said, scuba divers have different criteria when choosing for the best site, so here are the 10 best places to go scuba diving in the United States.
10) SS Wisconsin - Kenosha, Wisconsin:
The 215- foot Wisconsin delivers if you are looking to find stuff like artifacts and anchors. The ship sunk on October 29, 1929, 6 miles east of Kenosha, Wisconsin. It settled to the bottom of the ocean, 130 feet beneath the surface. You only need to peek inside a large opening to see all the cargo. Make sure you go to the port side to be able to see the cargo. There are three cars that still remain aboard- a Hudson, an Essex and a Chevrolet. Photo: WHS, Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program
9) USTS Texas Clipper- South Padre Island, Texas
You can find the Texas Clipper artificial reef 17 miles off the coast of South Padre Island. Intentionally sunk in 2007, the 473-foot former Texas A&M University research vessel was cleaned so that even open-water divers can locate the promenade and A-decks at 62 and 80 feet, then swim as many laps as they like. Photo: TPWD
8) U-352- Morehead City, North Carolina
The best part of underwater historic sites like North Carolina’s U-352 is that they’re anything but static. The outer shell has largely rusted away, revealing a more intimate look at the cramped quarters of this 218-foot machine. “You can see the insides — you can see doorways,” says local dive instructor Tyler Boruff. Those who can get past the awe factor and can train their focus tighter might see the glint of an artifact that’s just been churned up. “The bullet casings are small, and not everyone sees them,” says Boruff. “I’ve found several, but I always leave them.” Photo: NOAA, Casserley
7) USCGC Spar - Morehead City, North Carolina
There’s one reason divers love the Spar: teeth there are rows upon rows of teeth all curling back toward the gullet of the unflappable sand tiger shark. This 180-foot vessel, lying on its port side thanks to Hurricane Irene, is a favored hangout for dozens at a time. They hover such that when the current picks up, divers are treated to some curious choreography. “The waves crash over the wreck, creating this surge pattern,” says Boruff. He stays low to the structure, eyes trained above as “the current shoots them right over top of you.” Photo: USCG
6) USS San Diego - Islip, New York
The country’s only World War I wreck, the 503-foot San Diego 13.5 miles off New York’s Fire Island now belongs to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places — it is a no-take zone. It’s upside-down, resting in 110 feet of water with a hull at a depth of 70 feet. Much of it has already been salvaged, but bullets, portholes and brass valves remain. Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command
5) USS Oriskany- South East of Pensacola, Florida
On May 17, 2006, the USS Oriskany became the largest ship intentionally sunk as an artificial reef. The USS Oriskany was sank 24 miles Southeast of Pensacola, Florida, the cradle of Naval Aviation. Engineers expected the sinking to take anywhere from five to eight hours, the Oriskany surprised all in attendance when she sank in only 37 minutes. Photo: Oriskany Museum
4) Sandusky - Mackinaw City, Michigan
It’s another on the list of must-sees: A wooden brig well preserved by Lake Michigan’s frigid depths. The 110-foot-long Sandusky sunk in 1856 west of Mackinaw City, Michigan. For most divers, it’s not the propeller or twin masts, but the ram-shaped scroll figurehead that is the most beloved detail. Drawing: David Domovan
3) USS Spiegel Grove- Florida
At the time of its sinking as an artificial reef in May of 2002, the 510-foot-long and 85-foot-wide Spiegel Grove (LSD-32), a former Loading Ship Dock originally constructed in September 1954, was the largest deliberately placed artificial reef in the world. Since that time, her title of “the biggest” fell to the USS Oriskany off Florida’s Gulf Coast in 2006, and the recent sinking of the 520-foot-long USNS Vandenberg near Key West has stolen a bit of the Spiegel Grove’s thunder, but she still remains one of the world’s premier wreck diving sites.
2) USS YO-257 - Oahu, Hawaii
“The YO-257 is pretty exciting for two reasons,” says Heuermann. “It was sunk as an attraction for the Atlantis Submarines (tour company), so it’s easy to penetrate — the entries and exits are very clear.” The other reason is the environment. “Stingrays come by in threes and fours to do fly-bys.” Heuermann warns as mesmerizing as the rays are, divers need to stay alert. “We always brief about the sub — you’ve got to stay out of its way!” Photo: Honolulu Scuba Company
1) Carthaginian II - Maui, Hawaii
And the final one on our list that is well deserving of the number one diving spot in United States is Carthaginian II - Maui, Hawaii. The highlight of diving Maui’s Carthaginian II wreck is something passengers buzzing by in the Atlantis submarine will never see: three frogfish that have lived on the wreck for five years, according to Lahaina Divers general manager Tim Means. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, you see all three,” he says. The former whaling museum, a 100-foot-long steel-hulled schooner once a fixture of the Lahaina Harbor, was sunk in 2005 at a depth of 95 feet.