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The state of Florida is by far one of the most popular scuba diving and snorkelling destinations in the world. Thousands of both professional and underwater enthusiasts head to the Keys and other popular destinations each year to see the island’s unique and mesmerising reefs and diverse marine life.

Whether you prefer to submerge yourself in freshwater or saltwater, cave dive or discover shipwrecks or swim with a rainbow of fish creating a mesmerising light show, the evergreen state of Florida has it all. One of the most unique things about Florida is that it is the only place in the world where you can snorkel with manatees. Those incredible and friendly creatures love visitors and are always welcoming anyone who has come to give them a big hug.

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School of Snapper credit: negaprion/iStock

Following is a list of the top 5 diving and snorkelling sites in the US:

1 - The Keys - The Keys easily take the top position in our list. The Coral Reef State Park is home to over 650 fish species and features over 40 living coral species. Such underwater variety makes for a truly inspiring and for some people - even life changing experience. The Keys also have a number of artificial reefs and underwater wrecks. There is a 64m (210 feet) shipwreck, which is currently the largest one in the Lower Keys. A great diving location with many of its secrets still to be revealed. 

2 - Biscayne Maritime Heritage Trail - This underwater heritage trail offers full-day exploring opportunities to both groups and single divers. If you don’t have much experience in the diving life yet, this is the perfect place to start. When visiting the Biscayne Heritage Trail you will be given a detailed map that shows 6 different and fascinating wrecks. You can spend your day exploring them. 

3 - Half Moon Preserve - This is another great option for exploring wrecks, and in this case a top racing yacht that was the first German ship to be captured during World War I. A historic site that makes for a great underwater adventure. 

4 - John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park - One of the most fascinating maritime sites is located in this subaquatic shrine. Namely, the “Christ of the deep”. A 9-foot-tall statue resembling the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio. Of course, this undersea wonder is covered in colourful corals, making your heart skip a beat at the sight of it. 

5 - Alligator Reef Estates - If you want to admire incredibly large amounts of the unique and fascinating yellowtail snapper, creating magical light reflections, then this is the place for you. The colourful show can go even further than that. Imagine the endless dance of the yellowtail snapper swimming together with grunts, damselfish, and goatfish, all covered in light, playing and hiding in crevices. The sight of all these fish together make for a truly precious light show.

Lion fish credit: KGrif

These locations are especially popular among world travellers, keen on exploring the best diving and snorkelling locations in the world. Depending on your country of origin you might be required to apply for a visa or travel authorisation to enter the United States. The easiest and most convenient way to get a US travel authorisation is to make an ESTA registration

ESTA is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation under the Visa Waiver Program. 38 countries worldwide are part of the program. Those who hold a valid ESTA are authorised to travel and remain in the US for 3 consecutive months. The exact time needed to properly explore and enjoy the mesmerising dive opportunities the US has to offer.

After the application is complete, you can easily check your ESTA status.

The overall validity period of the electronic travel authorisation is 2 consecutive years, with a 90-day remain period per visit.


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Diving in Florida: top five dive sites
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