Freediving in Florida – Guide & Tips on when and where to go
With crystal clear waters, rich marine and vast diving opportunities, America’s Sunshine State is an excellent place to sink beneath the surface and explore the beauty of the sea. If you seek out vibrant coral reefs, caves, shipwrecks, and interesting species to see, this freediving in Florida guide tells you when to travel here and what places to visit!
Best time to go freediving in Florida
Florida is lucky to have a climate that offers excellent conditions for underwater sports almost year-round, but since it a large state with a long coastline, the conditions may vary depending on the location. The northern and central regions have a subtropical climate, while the southern tip features a tropical one.
The air temps are always pleasant for outdoor, but there are occasional cold air outbreaks during the winter months and heatwaves in summer when the humid weather increases the risk of thunderstorms and sometimes hurricanes (mostly between June and November).
If it comes to ocean temperatures, the southern you go, the warmer the water is. In Florida Keys, the water temperature can reach 86F/30C in summer and remains around 70-72F/21-22 C in the colder months. Water sports including freediving in Florida is possible year-round, but during the short and dry winter when the air and water temperatures drop a little, wearing a 3-5 mm thick wetsuit is recommended in order to spend longer periods in the ocean.
Tip: read our freediving wetsuit guide too and learn what type of suits are the best for warm and cold water diving.
Top 5 Florida freediving spots
Phil Foster Park – Blue Heron Bridge
Considered as one of best Florida dive spots, the Phil Foster Trail offers a lot to see for all types of underwater explorers including snorkelers, divers and also freedivers. The place is easy to get to, has free parking, outdoor showers and bathrooms, so it is perfect for an easy morning or afternoon dive when you are around West Palm Beach.
Entering the water is comfortable from the sandy shore. Starting the dive is the best on the left side of the beach, from where you just need to follow the trail that takes you through several smaller installations, aka artificial reefs that were put underwater to attract marine life. There is even a small wreck and some shark statues.
Regarding marine life, expect to see various types of fish (angelfish, barracudas, filefish damselfish etc…) and also rays, sea stars, octopus. Sometimes even manatees seek into the Phil Foster Park, especially in wintertime when they swim into the protected warm-water bays to escape the cold ocean.
The only thing you should keep in mind that be sure to arrive at high tide. At low tide, the visibility can be very bad because of the current making the dive not only unenjoyable. If you arrive at the right time, this could be one of your best freediving in Florida experience!
Related: Best places to freedive in the world!
When freediving in Florida, not only salt water places need to be considered since there are superb freshwater dive spots all over the state. The most popular among freedivers is the Blue Grotto near Willinston that became a prime training spot in the recent years.
This underwater cave system offers something for divers of all levels. With interesting rock formations and year-round pleasant water temperatures (72F/23C), Blue Grotto is a must-to-see freediving spot in Florida! Note: To explore the cave’s inner rooms (the largest one is as big as a football field) you need to be a certified cave diver and must be conducted by a qualified guide.
John Pennekamp Coral State Park – Key Largo
Those who look for the most vibrant Florida freediving places shouldn’t miss out checking out Key Largo coral reefs. The best spot to go is the John Pennekamp Coral State Park that lies just about an hour minutes from Miami by car and features abundant marine life with hundreds of coral and fish species to see.
There are numerous dive sites available from the park like Grecian Rocks, Molasses Reef, White Banks, Banana Reef, Garrets Reef and also the famous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue. Most of them are up to 70 ft/21 m deep therefore are perfect for freedivers at all levels. If you seek out a thriving dive destination, this nature preserve in the place where you need to go in Florida!
Another superb freshwater Florida freediving spot is the Devil’s Spring System where 3 springs await for divers, snorkelers and freedivers that want to spend some quality time in and under the water. Ginnie Springs is the most popular, where one finds a nice big cave with very clear water and a maximum depth of 50-55 ft/
The first room of the cave is relatively shallow and has a lot of light, but as you go deeper the darker it gets, therefore carrying a diving light is a must when freediving in the Ginnie Springs caves. In the second room, you find the source of the spring (you can feel a little current) and a little sandy area. There is even a rope in the cave you can pull on, but you need to be an experienced freediver with excellent breath-holding abilities to dive safely here.
Florida has a high concentration of huge shark species including tiger, hammerhead, silky, lemon, blacktip, bull and silky along it’s encompassing coastline. If you are looking for the most exciting Florida freediving spot, make sure to get in the water and come face-to-face with these wonderful creatures just a few miles offshore Jupiter.
The Jupiter shark diving trips are suitable both for beginners and advanced divers. Those who don’t feel comfortable freediving with sharks in the ocean can opt for the cave option, but experienced freedivers can choose the no-cage option too. There is no greater way to explore the ocean than to observe these wild predators in their natural environment. For more information or to book a shark diving trip, contact a licensed tour operator!
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AG is a certified diver and freediver who started to explore the underwater world in 2005. He enjoys sharing his experience of the best freediving destinations and equipment tips as well. Follow him on IG!