Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in the Bradenton Area
The tranquil waters of the Gulf of Mexico are splendid for swimming, but there are untold treasures that lie beneath the waves. The Bradenton Area is home to many natural and artificial reefs, all of which are perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. Donning a mask and fins is the perfect entry into exploring the underwater world, or you can further your underwater horizons by learning how to scuba dive! Remember to use all safety precautions around the water, and only snorkel or dive with a ‘buddy’ present.
Leave what you find
When exploring the waters of the Bradenton Area, always adhere to our “Love it Like a Local” and “Leave No Trace” principles. Many of the treasures you’ll discover beneath the surface are protected wildlife that need to be returned to their homes. While it’s fine to look at, and even touch some of them, remember to always leave what you find and ensure they return to their natural habitat.
A Beginner’s Guide
You need only a few important pieces of gear to observe the underwater world, like a mask, snorkel, and fins. Luckily, you’ll find all of this inexpensive gear in the local shops on Anna Maria Island. Practice makes perfect, so don’t expect to be Jacques Cousteau on your first underwater outing! Check out YouTube to study some snorkeling tips and tricks, then take what you’ve learned and test out your skills in your hotel pool or in the shallows of the beach. When you’re comfortable, it’s time to grow in your new hobby.
Enjoy Snorkeling From The Beach
Nearly every scuba diver starts their journey through snorkeling at the beach. A beachside snorkel will introduce you to the unique marine world that most people only experience at an aquarium. Snorkeling along the shallows of the shore will present you with beautiful emerald-teal water, tropical fish, and maybe even a manatee! Be sure to check in with the friendly lifeguards on the conditions of the water before getting wet, since the water conditions can change. And don’t forget the reef-safe sunscreen or a rash guard to protect your skin from the sun!
Once you advance in your snorkeling abilities, you may find that staying on the surface just doesn’t suffice. Taking your skills to the next level in your underwater exploration means learning how to scuba dive from a certified diving instructor. Fortunately, you’ll find multiple scuba shops and dive charters that are delighted to teach others how to safely enjoy our underwater world. It is recommended that you contact a local dive outpost a couple of weeks before you visit the Bradenton Area since there are necessary education components to becoming a certified scuba diver. Plan to spend a few days learning, either online or in a class setting—then you’ll have the opportunity to practice your new knowledge by donning a regulator, tank, and a BC and getting underwater with your scuba instructor. Don’t worry about needing to purchase all of the expensive gear, most of these shops rent these items for a nominal fee.
Wrecks and Reefs
The Bradenton Area boasts over 13 artificial and natural reefs, all of which attract novice and skilled divers alike. Because of the sandy bottom, diving the Gulf of Mexico provides a different seascape than many other locations. A wide variety of large and small fish naturally congregate at artificial reefs and limestone outcroppings. You’ll typically find colorful sponges, large gorgonians, urchins, crabs, and other marine creatures on these reefs. Some dives are accessible from the beach, including Spanish Rocks, a naturally occurring reef, and the Regina—an old steel-hulled shipwreck. For other dives, you’ll want to board a charter, like Blue Water Explorers Dive Charters, which will take you to the 1-Mile, 3-Mile and 7-Mile reefs. Don’t worry, the name indicates the distance from shore, not the depth of the water! Be sure to bring your underwater camera or GoPro, Goliath Grouper are often found out here!