Wreck diving is one of the more adventurous activities in which certified SCUBA divers can participate, but the layout and depth of many shipwrecks around the world can be too much for a diving beginner to navigate. However, that doesn’t mean new divers are sunk (punny!) when it comes to wreck diving — we’re going to show you three of the world’s best shipwreck dives for beginners so everyone can get out in the water together and have a great dive!
Sweepstakes – Ontario, Canada
The Sweepstakes, affectionately referred to as “Sweeps” by local residents, is a Canadian schooner that was originally built in 1867 in Burlington, Ontario. While hauling a load of coal across Lake Huron in late summer of 1885, Sweepstakes sustained significant damage to her hull on shoals near Cove Island, which was later deemed to be beyond repair when she was towed into the Big Tub Harbor in Tobermory, Ontario. As a result, the 119-foot schooner was stripped of any valuables and allowed to sink where she sat, in just 18 feet of water. The vessel is clearly visible from the surface, and the site sees scores of visitors in glass bottom boats and dive charter boats daily throughout the summer. What makes Sweepstakes ideal for new divers is not just its depth, but also that it is considered to be one of the best preserved 19th century Great Lakes schooners, allowing for excellent observation opportunities along its entirety.
Barbara G – Washington, USA
Washington state’s Puget Sound is brimming with shipwrecks in all depths, many of which experience extreme currents and conditions that would otherwise make these wreck dives off-limits to anyone without extensive diving experience. Not so with the Barbara G. This wooden-hulled fishing vessel is one of the more modern shipwrecks in Puget Sound, having met her demise during the area’s infamous Inauguration Day storm on January 20, 1993. Resting in just 30 feet of water, the Barbara G can be accessed from boat or shore, and while the boat is not fully intact, the mast, crows nest, pieces of rigging, a large steel fuel tank, and even an onboard toilet are easily visible amongst the wreckage. Its rotting structure harbors a host of marine life like sponges, nudibranchs, eels, anemones, and various fish, and visibility and natural light are typically outstanding due to the shallow location.
RMS Rhone - Salt Island, BVI
Considered by many to be one of the best shipwreck dives in the world, the RMS Rhone began life as a British Royal Mail Ship, shuttling cargo and passengers between England, Central/South America, and the Caribbean with the use of both steam and sail power. She met her untimely end in October of 1867 when a Category 3 hurricane dashed the “unsinkable” vessel into the rocky shoreline of Salt Island’s Black Rock Point, less than 250 meters from their destination. The captain was thrown overboard as a result the impact and never recovered, while frigid seawater rushing into the boiler room through the broken ship caused a massive explosion, killing all but 23 crew out of more than 150 passengers and crew on board. Today, the RMS Rhone is regarded as one of the top recreational wreck dives in the Caribbean, resting between 30-80 feet below the surface. Plentiful tropical marine life and corals have taken over the vessel, making it a visual delight for both new and experienced divers alike.
Image via NOAA’s National Ocean Service