Yes, that may be a crude play on words, but you’ve got to admit, those sound like two great things to do on a Florida vacation – provided you like seafood and SCUBA diving. And you can do them, right here on Florida’s Emerald Coast. What are we talking about? Well, the great selection of fresh Gulf seafood and the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail. Developed by the Florida Department of State’s Underwater Archaeology Team in conjunction with panhandle communities, the trail links together 12 sunken ships off the coasts of Pensacola, Destin, Panama City, and Port St. Joe.
“This new underwater trail represents our latest effort to showcase a portion of Florida’s vast collection of shipwrecks,” said Secretary of State Ken Detzner. “Each location along the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail offers an adventurous opportunity for heritage, recreational, and ecological tourism.”
The wrecks range from the small Miss Louise tugboat off the coast of Destin, to the large U.S.S. Oriskany, which is the world’s largest artificial reef, off the coast of Pensacola. Many of the shipwrecks along the trail were intentionally sunken to become artificial reefs. However, some were sunken due to accidents, like the steamer Vamar, which sank off the coast of Port St. Joe under “mysterious circumstances” in 1942.
Each vessel’s depth is different, providing different diving experiences for people of varying levels of expertise. Sea life is abundant at each site, which was chosen by a team of local dive operators based on popularity, vessel history, and ecological diversity.
To tempt you even more, the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail has its own website which highlights each shipwreck with videos of the dive site, locations of local dive shops, and current marine weather forecast information. Participating dive shops can provide divers with a trail passport featuring information about each shipwreck, a dive log, and an official dive trail sticker.
The trail was funded, in part, by a grant agreement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Coastal Management Program, and by a grant provided by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Ready to book a flight and get to diving?
For more information on the Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, or if you have any questions regarding the Northwest Florida Regional Airport and how we can help you get to your underwater vacation, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.