Explore South Carolina Coast with Charleston Scuba

By:Marie McAden


Walking along the beaches of Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, you might not realize the amount of sea life that lies just off shore below the gray-blue waters of the Atlantic, but the ocean along the coast of South Carolina is home to an abundance of colorful fish, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and even octopuses.

Charleston Scuba offers you the chance to experience this underwater world. The dive shop offers trips to 20 different reefs, wrecks and ledges within a few miles of Charleston Harbor. At depths of 40 to 100-plus feet, visibility can rival Florida waters, offering divers the chance to see an incredible array of marine life.

This section of coastline is known for its large schools of amberjacks, spadefish, barracuda and grouper, as well as a variety of tropical creatures. Along with fish, you’ll find sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, moray eels and a host of other colorful critters.

One of the more shallow sites you can explore is the Frederick W. Day, a wooden schooner loaded with bags of cement that sank off the coast of Charleston in 1914. The bags have formed a 200-foot-long reef with a depth ranging from 40 to 54 feet.

Another wreck favorite is the Y-73, a 180-foot tanker submerged in 100 feet of water. Here, you’re likely to see sharks, rays, grouper and loggerheads. Equally popular is the Train Wreck, a series of New York City subway cars sunk by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to create artificial reef systems.

Other wreck dives feature tugboats, a large sunken barge, the two-story deckhouse of a cargo freighter and even a former icebreaker that once navigated the waters of the Great Lakes.

Those preferring natural dive sites also have plenty of diving options, including the 70- to 80-foot-deep Indigo Ledges, a reef line supporting a variety of colorful corals, sponges and crustaceans. Among the frequent visitors are tropical varieties, such as angelfish and large pelagic fish.

Eric’s Double Ledges feature five-foot geologic formations with arches and overhangs favored by large grouper, nurse sharks and occasionally sand tigers. This one lies at a depth of 75 to 85 feet.

Two-tank dive trips range from $115 to $180, depending on the distance to the sites. For more information, contact ​Charleston Scuba

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