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Diving & Snorkeling Sarasota's Waters


SNORKELING:
Sarasota Florida Sunset
One of the best places on the entire Gulf Coast to snorkel is a spot called Point Of Rocks on the South side of Siesta Key. You will see all kinds of stuff on the reef, including the odd shark, snook, small grouper, and many other tropical reef fish. The reef is about 20 yards wide in some places and very long running parallel to the shore. Depending on the tide you will be in about 15 - 18 feet of water.

Bring at least a 3/2 wetsuit in February... better yet, go from June - September when the waters are warmer.

Offshore about 100 yards from Bradenton Beach is a 90 foot sunken freighter called SS Regina. It was a molassas hauler that sank in 1940. Regina is protected by Florida laws forbidding unauthorized disturbance, excavation, or removal of artifacts. Remember to display a "diver down" flag.

SS Regina info


DIVING:
The Bayronto - This old British freighter, built in 1905 sank in September 1919 during a powerful hurricane that sank a few other ships in the area as well. The Bayronto had recently finished repairs after being torpedoed by the German submarine UB-88 and was enroute from Texas to Europe carrying a load of grain. She rests turtled in 105' about 30 miles west of Venice / Sarasota. Big fish usually surround the wreck, and there is a large debris field off her stern. The Bayronto was 400 feet long, had a 52 foot beam, displaced 6,405 gross tons and was powered by a 495 nhp triple expansion engine. Visibility: 20 - 100 feet. Large jewfish, nurse sharks, turtles, amberjack, tuna, dolphins, lions paw scallops, murex, grouper, cowries, blue angelfish, and other tropicals thrive here. Coordinates are N 26-45.956 / W 82-50.801 - N 26 46.333 / W 82 51.400

Crane Barge Sarasota
The Crane Barge is approximately 90 feet long and sits upright in 110 feet of water 29 miles off Sarasota. This wreck is great for spear fishing.

Sugar Barge Bradenton
The remains of this 75 foot long barge lie in 15 feet of water, 100 yards off Bradenton Beach. This site is a popular beach dive and is easily located because of a metal post that sticks through the ocean's surface. She is also known as the Molasses Barge.


*As always, dive at your own risk, be very, very careful, bring at least one dive buddy, use a diver down flag, seek professional equipment and advice, and be prepared!

LONGBOAT KEY:

Whitney Beach A handful of public accesses on the north end of Longboat Key. Secluded and quiet with blindingly white sand. Very limited parking and no amenities.

LIDO KEY:

Lido Beach 400 Ben Franklin Drive, just off St. Armands Circle. Where many locals go to flee from seasonal crowds. The concession is home to one of the best hamburgers in town and, best of all, serves beer. Lifeguards, beach wheelchairs, gift shop, playground, cabana rentals.

North Lido Beach At the north end of Lido Key. Surprisingly remote, thanks to a small forest of Australian pines. Great for shelling and strolls, with a nature trail through the trees. If the tide is low, you can walk far enough north to see some of Sarasota’s most spectacular Gulf-front homes.

South Lido Beach 2201 Ben Franklin Drive. Big with boaters and personal watercraft enthusiasts (both of whom must stay out of designated swimming areas, of course). The shady picnic area hosts many a gathering throughout the year. Playground, volleyball court, fitness trail, grills and fishing. Lifeguards are only present on weekends from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Beware the dangerous currents and don’t feed the raccoons!

Bird Key Park 200 John Ringling Blvd. Not technically a beach for swimmers, it is one of the few places where dogs can splash to their hearts’ content. Also a lunchtime favorite for downtown workers, and on weekends the spot comes alive with windsurfers, kayakers and fishermen.

SIESTA KEY:

Siesta Key Public Beach Midnight Pass Road. The area’s most popular beach. Siesta’s 800 parking spaces fill up quickly during seasonal months, but the internationally renowned quartz sand is well worth rising early to find a spot. If the lot is full, try one of the 13 beach accesses located between the beach and Siesta Village. The main site offers beach wheelchairs, lifeguards, grills, playground, volleyball and tennis courts, gift shop, fitness trail, ball field and occasional live music.

Turtle Beach South end of Siesta Key. Narrow beach that becomes narrower at high tide. Two boat ramps provide access to Little Sarasota Bay. Two horseshoe courts, playground, volleyball court and dune walkovers; no lifeguards.

CASEY KEY:

Palmer Point Beach 9399 Midnight Pass Road; south end of Siesta and north end of Casey Key. Popular with boaters; very secluded. No lifeguards or amenities.

Nokomis Beach 901 Casey Key Road. Sarasota’s oldest public beach; boat ramps and a boardwalk.

North Jetty Park On the southern tip of Casey Key, adjacent to Nokomis Beach. Popular picnicking area. The jetty juts out into the Gulf for some of the finest fishing around and lots of dolphin activity, and the surfing draws people from across the state. Concession sells beer. Bait shop, boat ramp, horseshoe and volleyball courts.

VENICE:

Venice Beach 101 The Esplanade. Famous for its petrified sharks’ teeth; also popular for scuba diving and snorkeling along its coral reef. Near the shops and restaurants of downtown Venice. Concessions, showers, beach wheelchairs and volleyball courts.

Brohard Dog Beach and Paw Park 1600 Harbor Drive S. The area’s only beach where dogs can roam free of leashes. Watering hole, “penalty box” for frisky critters and a waste-disposal area. Home to Sharky’s Restaurant, the City of Venice municipal pier, and a wetland area ideal for fishing and bird watching. Snack bar and bait shop.

Caspersen Beach 4100 Harbor Drive S., south of Venice Airport. The southern two-thirds of the beachfront have been left in a natural state. Excellent shelling, boardwalk, nature trail, fishing pier. Picnic area and restrooms; no lifeguards.

Service Club Park 1190 Harbor Drive S. Boardwalks, fishing, playground and restrooms; no lifeguards.

ENGLEWOOD:

Blind Pass Beach 6725 Manasota Key Road. Canoe launch, fishing, nature trail and restrooms; no lifeguards.

Manasota Beach At the west end of the Manasota Bridge. Scenic boardwalk on the Intracoastal that winds through the mangroves, two boat ramps, docks, volleyball court and fishing.

BOCA GRANDE:

Gasparilla Island South of Englewood and across the bridge to Boca Grande. Includes the following beaches: Range Light, Sea Grape, Sea Wall, Dune and Light House. Gift shop at Light House Beach. Excellent fishing; one of the state’s top locations for tarpon.




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