Scuba Diving in Louisiana and Gulf Coast

Scuba Diving Louisiana RigsScuba diving in Louisiana is alive and well.  I’m often asked… Where the heck do you go scuba diving in Louisiana?  Wow… are you kidding me!  Louisiana is home to some of the best scuba diving in the country.  Think about it… each one of the hundreds of oilfield platforms off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico is a huge vertical structure that extends from the bottom of the sea floor to the surface and beyond.  These structures are literally gardens of some of the finest artificial reefs in the world, all teaming with an abundance of life.  These reefs are home to hundreds of species of fish from entertaining Blennies that live in the barnacles to the larger fish like Amber Jack, Snapper, Grouper, Barracuda and even your occasional grey suited fish… the awesome Shark.  Add in the various crustaceans and some coral, and if you haven’t seen it, you will be completely amazed.  So yes there is diving here, and yes the diving culture here in Louisiana is strong.  Not only is there a large tribe of recreational divers, but Louisiana is home to the largest population of commercial divers in the country, if not the world.  This is a direct result of the oil and gas industry here in Louisiana.  Louisiana is a hidden treasure trove for divers and each platform is a jewel of hidden beauty for this diving culture to enjoy.

If you’re not a scuba diver, you might be asking yourself… How do I get started and learn how to scuba dive?  Scuba lessons in Louisiana are widely available at dive shops like Seal Sports, located just north of New Orleans in Mandeville, and it’s not difficult to obtain your diving certification.  I find that for most people, picking up the phone and taking the first step of inquiring to register for a scuba course is the most difficult step.  During the Scuba Lessons Louisianafirst class session, I often ask… What brought you here… why do you want to learn how to scuba dive?  Overwhelmingly, the answer is… It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I just never have until now.  Many wish they had done it sooner and it is never too late.  Scuba diving is a sport and lifestyle for all ages, genders, shapes and sizes.  You don’t have to be in great shape, although, as with all things in life, it helps.  Being a low impact sport, unlike most sports, I find diving to be suitable for a wide range of people who are looking for other ways to enjoy life and live it to its fullest.  Scuba diving has even become a way for those stuck in a wheel chair to get out of it and be free again to enjoy the most wondrous beauty of life.

Once scuba certified or if you’re already a scuba diver, there is plenty of scuba diving to do.  As mentioned, you can take a short drive to Venice, Fourchon, Grand Isle or Cocodrie just to name a few and you’re a short boat ride to a number of these platforms, I call jewels, to experience the amazing waters off Louisiana.  Our Northshore location here in Louisiana is perfect if you’re a diver because we’re south where it’s warm and we’re centrally located.  To our west, just inside Texas, you can take a two or three day charter to dive the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, one of the most amazing Scuba Diving Flower Gardensplaces on this continent in which to dive.  Salt domes that have pushed up from the ocean floor over thousands of years come within 75’ from the surface making it home to hundreds of species of fish and lots of corals.  It is truly an amazing thing to see and experience.  Surrounded by deep water, you never know what you might see here while scuba diving.  Whale sharks, manta rays & turtles are observed here more frequently than any other place in the Gulf of Mexico.  In fact, the most awesome creature I've ever seen while scuba diving was at the Flower Gardens.  It was a 10’-12’ tiger shark. The shark was simply a thing of beauty that left me in a state of awe for some time.

To the other side of us you have Mississippi that has its share of oil and gas platforms to dive, Alabama that has a number of excellent wreck dives including the most recent addition, the M.V. Yokamu .  The Yokamu was just sunk off the Alabama coast near Orange Beach a few weeks ago for the sole purpose of scuba diving and fishing.

Next is the sunshine state, Florida, only about two and a half hours away and you’re in Pensacola.  Pensacola is home to many wrecks to scuba dive, but the most notable is the U.S.S. Oriskany.  Nicknamed “The Mighty O”, this wreck is a one of only two U.S. aircraft Scuba Diving the Oriskanycarriers in the world in which you can dive.  The other is halfway around the world near the Maldives.  Continue your drive to the east another hour and you’ll find yourself in cave country.  The Florida panhandle is home to over fifty underwater cave systems that are accessible and dive able with the proper training.  This has been probably some the most amazing type of diving I've done.  I never realized such systems existed and their enormity is quite mind blowing.  Here you’ll find miles and miles of underwater caves just waiting to be explored.  About the only thing I could do to top the experience of cave diving here would be to go to outer space.   Unfortunately, that’s not nearly as easy as learning how to scuba dive.  Each one of us can easily obtain the knowledge, skill and equipment to go to our inner space, which is still greatly unexplored.

Now imagine all of the states in the mainland and reflect onScuba Diving Louisiana where you think would be the best state to live to be close to the largest variety of scuba diving.  If Louisiana isn't your first choice like it is mine, than it most certainly should be in the top three.  So, as our state slogan goes… “Sportsman’s Paradise”, I make the argument that it’s also “Divers’ Paradise”.

Rob KohlRob Kohl, Owner Seal Sports

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