Diver at Poseidon's Playground off Alabama's beaches

Beyond the Beaches: Snorkeling & Diving Adventures along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Part 1: Diving the Gulf Coast 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are known for breathtaking beaches. But underneath the surface of those rolling waves, an equally stunning aquatic landscape waits to be explored. 

Sitting right on one of the largest artificial reef systems in the United States, our area offers endless possibilities for underwater exploration. Across the Gulf Coast, dive shops and instructors are making it possible for visitors of all skill levels to dive into the vibrant marine landscape of the Gulf. Whether you’re swimming with a school of tropical fish on a shallow beach dive or exploring an eerie shipwreck on the seafloor, you’ll love seeing the hidden depths that live right off our sandy shores. 

If you’re a novice diver or have never dived our shores before, check out these easy (but amazing) dives that offer the perfect introduction to the world beneath the waves.

New Venture diving in Orange Beach, AL

Start with a Snorkel 

If you’re just getting into diving, snorkeling is a fun way to get your underwater feet wet. Armed with a snorkel mask and a pair of fins, you can explore the Gulf of Mexico’s vibrant reef systems and make friends with the local marine life with no experience needed! 

There are a variety of local dive and snorkel shops where you can purchase your gear, but a guided snorkel tour is the best way to get the ultimate Gulf Coast experience. At Down Under Dive Shop, snorkel trips are led by a professional dive team that can show you how to snorkel safely and help you find the best spots to see some magical marine life. You’ll swim with hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic life that live and play among the jetties and artificial reef systems off the Orange Beach coast.

During the season, snorkel trips are offered four times per weekday as weather allows (no weekend snorkels). The cost to snorkel is $50 per person, gear included. For more information, contact the shop. 

Diver at the Capt. Shirley Brown wreck

PADI Seal Team

For those with tiny explorers, Down Under Dive Shop is making underwater adventurers of all ages with their fun PADI’s Kids Kamps. Over three days, divers as young as 8 years old will learn the ins-and-outs of diving from PADI-certified instructors as they suit up to undergo exciting scuba missions in the facility pool. Topics include underwater navigation, environmental awareness, marine photography, and more. 

At the end of the camp, graduates will take a guided snorkel trip to a local reef system to put their new skills to the test. They’ll also earn a certificate of completion, a Padi Seal Team decal and badge, and a logbook to document their future dives. 

The Whiskey Wreck

Just 150 yards from the beach, a 200’ Spanish Rum Runner offers some cool history and plenty of amazing marine life to adventurous divers. The wreck sits just off a sand bar in 20 ft of water, making it perfect for new divers who are ready to strike out without a guide. Past divers have reported seeing schools of fish, lumbering sea turtles, curious crabs, and even a shy octopus hiding in the debris! 

Because of its shallow depth, visibility is limited and varies with the tide. The Down Under Dive Shop offers in-depth tide reports and tips for the best times to dive The Whiskey Wreck. 

Poseidon’s Playground

This easy open-water dive features an enchanting underwater playground made of mythological statues and decorative reef tables. A man-made grouper reef includes figures of seahorses and dolphins, giving the impression of an underwater aquarium. Starting in 2014 with just three statues, the site has added more fun finds every year, including a shelled cross for underwater weddings! 

The site is located three miles off Perdido Pass at a depth of 40 feet, meeting the certification limit for novice divers, so it’s a great dive for beginners or young explorers. Charter dive boats make daily trips to Poseidon’s Playground with professional dive teams as your guide. 

The LuLu

The LuLu is a popular wreck site for divers of all skill levels. This 271-foot freighter was sunk intact in 2013 and is now a bustling artificial reef that attracts divers from across the country. The ship includes three separate levels, ranging in depths from 60 feet at the top all the way to 115 feet on the sandy floor. 

With plenty of open spaces to explore as well as cozy nooks and crannies for hidden creatures, the wreck offers endless possibilities for aquatic sight-seeing. Down Under Dive Shop runs morning charters to The LuLu that include two exciting dives led by their professional dive teams.

When it’s time to surface, you’ll find that life as a landlubber isn’t so bad when you’re on Alabama’s beaches.

Download our 2020 vacation guide to make the most of your trip, both in and out of the water.

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