Myrtle Beach Scuba Diving
Peak scuba diving months, like peak charter fishing months, are May and October, when the weather in Myrtle Beach is as delightful above the water as it is below it. Visibility and currents depend on the weather, water depth, distance offshore and tidal stage, and water temperatures in the spring and fall are somewhere between the summertime high in the mid-80s and the wintertime low in the mid-50s. This is prime time for underwater photography, videography, prospecting for shells or sunken treasure, spear-fishing, or solving the mysteries that sleep in the deep.
There are a number of scuba companies to choose from, including Coastal Scuba, Express Water Sports, and Nu Horizons, and you’ll find that taking a side scuba trip during your next beach vacation adds a deeper level of fun.
Both fishing and diving excursion boats launch from this North Myrtle Beach dock, and the facility also has a rope course. The fishing boats go inshore, offshore and Gulf Stream. The diving and the ropes are set up for all ages and skill levels. Go to 1901 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach, or call 843-361-3323. The diving excursions include:
The 18-Fathom is also known as the Ore Freighter, and it sank in 128 feet of water probably in the early 1900s.
Angel’s Ledge is popular with spearfishers due to an abundance of grouper. It’s a live-bottom reef with depths ranging from 40 to 110 feet known for its queen angels.
Barracuda Alley is an artificial reef based on a 140-foot barge, concrete piping and steel A-frames for divers to swim through. It has a dive platform and a thriving population of spadefish and barracudas.
Bill Perry is part of the artificial reef program, built around a submerged tugboat and a military landing craft. Look for grouper, snapper, queen angels and sea turtles.
BP-25 was a 160-foot British Petroleum tanker sunk in 90 feet of water as part of the state’s artificial reef program.
The City of Houston left New York with a load of cargo and sank in a raging storm 55 miles off the South Carolina coast in 90 feet of water. It was a 290-foot passenger/freighter that is now populated by marine life and a trove of artifacts.
The Composite Wreck is 175 feet of ribs sticking out of the sand and artifacts are strewn about, i.e., brass spikes and china. Lionfish have been seen at this 130-foot depth.
The Governor is a 200-foot paddlewheeler in 80 feet of water about 22 miles offshore, most noted for its brass artifacts and Southern stingrays.
The Hebe and St. Cathan are famous in these parts, also known as the Twin Cities Wreck. The Hebe was a Dutch merchant vessel that collided with St. Cathan, a British sub chaser, during blackout conditions in 1942. They lie on the ocean floor about a quarter mile apart in 90 to 110 feet of water. Divers have found artifacts, tropical and game fish, and catch seasonal glimpses of sand tiger sharks.
JELL II was a 180-foot cargo ship once used as a drug runner. The NC Artificial Reef Program sank it in 1993 in 65 feet of water approximately 16 miles offshore. It’s now running coral and sponges.
Pinnacle Reef is the state’s most recent artificial reef.
Pipe Wreck is an unknown paddle wheeler that sank in the 19th century in about 80 feet of water. Name that wreck and you could achieve a certain degree of local fame.
The Raritan ran aground at Frying Pan Shoals in February 1942. The 251-foot steel freighter broke into two pieces in 90 feet of water but the bow and the stern remain intact. They’re covered with coral now and crawling with marine life.
Express Water Sports
Tell your friends it all got started at Drunken Jacks Restaurant, and any story that comes after that will have to be a good one — scuba excursions, parasailing, dolphin watch and sightseeing cruises, banana boat rides, kayaking tours and rentals, paddle board rentals and fishing charters. The 3500-square-foot shop has a huge selection of dive, snorkel and fishing gear, and the facility has an onsite pool. Located at 4042 US 17 Business, Murrells Inlet SC 292576, phone 1-866-566-9338.
Its diving excursions include:
Anchor Wreck is believed to be the remains of the freighter Leif Eriksson, 275 feet in length and 39 feet wide, sunk in 1905. Depth is 90 to 105 feet and visibility is 60 to 100 feet.
Bill Perry is the name given to an extended reef with lots of different structures. The main site is a tugboat, several Navy landing craft, and a shrimp trawler. Divers can swim the landing craft deck and crew quarters, and see grouper and snapper. Depth is 50 to 60 feet and visibility is 30 to 60 feet.
BP-25 and NYC Subway Cars feature a 280-foot Panama tanker grouped with subway cars to create a deep and complex site for grouper and loggerhead sea turtles. Depth is 70 to 90 feet and visibility is 50 to 75 feet.
Bruce Rush Reef was once a 65-foot fishing boat. It still has its old wheelhouse where the captain, sitting at the helm, looked out over the ship – and divers can do the same to get some good photos. Depth is 35 to 45 feet and visibility is 15 to 20 feet.
Captain Dan Reef is a former 75-foot steel shrimp boat near Murrells Inlet, now inhabited by barracuda, spadefish, and flounder. Depth is 35 to 45 feet and visibility is 15 to 20 feet.
Civil War Wreck is thought to be The Governor, with many artifacts likely still available, not far from the City of Richmond. Depth is 70 to 80 feet and visibility is 50 to 65 feet.
Composite Wreck is also called the Rib Wreck due to the exposed ribs of vessels protruding two to three feet off the bottom. The wreck is 200 feet in length, rich with trinkets, and close to the Gulf Stream. Depth is 125 to 130 feet and visibility is 80 to 100 feet.
Elwoods Ledge has what they call a high relief, and allegedly Elwood’s ashes are scattered on the ledge, 10 to 12 feet high, along with megalodon sharks teeth. Depth is 100 feet and visibility is 60 to 80 feet.
Goldfinch Reef is built on a 150-foot Navy yard oiler that lies on its side, allowing for coral growth on the hull. Also onsite is a 120-foot fuel barge, and Express Water Sports has run a line between the two so you won’t miss any grouper, ringtails, grunts, snapper or sea bass. Depth is 55 to 65 feet and visibility is 40 to 60 feet.
Grand Central is part of the Bill Perry reef system, comprised of 44 New York City subway cars submerged in 2008. Blame all that graffiti on the sea turtles. Depth is 55 to 65 feet and visibility is 30 to 60 feet.
Greenville Reef is a collection of miscellaneous boats, including a 105-foot tugboat, an upright 175-foot Navy Yard oiler, a 106-foot fuel barge and a few others. This one sits a little deeper than others, at 65 to 90 feet, suitable for big grouper and scamps, visibility 35 to 80 feet.
The Hebe (also known as the Twin Cities Wreck) was a Dutch freighter that hit the St. Cathan during black-out conditions in World War II. Both fish and artifacts are abundant, and brown and green bottles have been found along with sand tiger sharks. Depth is 75 to 110 feet and visibility is 50 to 90 feet. St. Cathan was a British sub chaser that now lies about a quarter mile from The Hebe at a depth of 80 to 110 feet and visibility 50 to 90 feet.
Inshore Barge is 200 feet long, an older site with barracuda, spadefish, and Spanish mackerel.
Inshore Ledges are reefs made the old-fashioned way, out of limestone rock outcroppings on the ocean floor, attractive to grouper, snapper, amberjack, loggerhead turtles, stingrays, cobia, and scamp. Depth is 65 to 90 feet and visibility is 60 to 100 feet.
Offshore Ledges are limestone and other hard bottom areas inhabited by grouper, snapper, trigger, amberjack and spiny lobster. Depth is 80 to 120 feet and visibility is 60 to 100 feet.
Paradise/Springs Reef/Three-Mile Reef is a conglomeration of 20 Army personnel carriers, spud barges, and concrete reef balls. Flounder live here in the spring and early summer, and you might also find sheepshead and sea turtles. The depth is 25 to 40 feet and visibility is three to 30 feet.
Pawleys Reef is based on a 48-foot tugboat, some spud barges, and other reef material. The depth is 25 to 40 feet and visibility is three to 30 feet.
Pipe Wreck is the remains of a side-wheel steamer, its boilers and shafts still intact. It is near the Hebe and St. Cathan. Depth is 85 to 90 feet and visibility is 60 to 100 feet.
Tugboat/Airplane is a 90-foot tugboat and a Navy A-6 attack plane, where barracuda, spadefish, and dolphins hang out. Depth is 30 to 45 feet and visibility is 15 to 40 feet.
The USS Vermillion was used as a troop transport vessel during World War II. It is 470 feet in length and, due to its size, divers have been known to come back again and again to explore it all. They have even reported seeing lobsters crawling on the decks. Depth is 90 to 140 feet and visibility 50 to 100 feet.
Nu Horizons is wholly dedicated to all things related to diving – education, equipment service and rental, and the boats and staff to take you to all the popular dive sites in Myrtle Beach. But this dive shop also occasionally heads out to Cozumel, Mexico, and to hot spots in Florida such as Fort Lauderdale and Key Largo. Start your underwater exploration with Nu Horizons at 515 Highway 501, Myrtle Beach 29577, phone 843-839-1932, 1-800-505-2080. Local dives include:
Three-Mile or Paradise Reef, a man-made reef constructed with landing crafts at an easy depth of 25 to 30 feet of water. Visibility is sometimes low but the reef is usually lively.
10-Mile Reef is centered on a 150-foot barge in 45 feet.
11-Mile Tug/Airplane is comprised of a 90-foot tugboat with a swim-through pilot house and engine room, coupled with a Navy A-7 attack plane, in about 45-foot depth.
The 18-Fathom Site is also known as the Ore Freighter, a wreck that probably sank in the early 1900s. The depth is 128 feet, for advanced divers only.
Barracuda Alley is a man-made reef that starts with a 150-foot barge and expands to a platoon of 20 personnel carriers. It has a maximum depth of 63 feet and a diving platform, making it suitable for divers at all skill levels.
Bill Perry is part of the state’s artificial reef program, mainly consisting of a tugboat and a military landing craft. It is 21 miles offshore in 65 feet of water, crawling with grouper, snapper and queen angels.
BP-25 is a 160-foot British Petroleum tank sunk as part of the state’s artificial reefs program in 90 feet of water.
City of Houston left New York with a cargo of Christmas goods aboard. All 290 feet of the passenger/freighter went down during a fierce storm in 90 feet of water, about 55 miles off the coast. It’s deep and it’s a long trip, best for advanced divers.
City of Richmond was being towed to the Bahamas to be transformed into a casino when it went down in a hurricane 15 miles off Georgetown’s shore. It sank in 65 feet of water with goods on board.
Composite Wreck is 175 feet long with numerous ribs sticking out of the sand at 135 feet depth – leaving artifacts such as brass spikes and china to the advanced divers.
Copper Pot is a 19th-century side wheel steamer 200 feet in length. At 19 miles offshore, the boiler, shaft and hull are still intact beneath 80 feet of water.
The Governor is a 200-foot Civil War paddle wheeler 22 miles offshore, brimming with brass artifacts and Southern stingrays at a depth of 80 feet.
Greenville Reef consists of a submarine nose cone, a 140-foot barge, a 175-foot ship (YOG-78), and a 160-foot fuel barge submerged at a depth of 75-85 feet.
Georgetown Reef has two barges, a 90-foot ship and a 55-foot landing craft resting together at about 35 to 40 feet beneath the waves.
Hebe and St. Cathan, also known as the Twin Cities Wreck, combine for a full day of diving. The Hebe was a Dutch merchant ship that collided with the St. Cathan during World War II blackout conditions in 1942. Visibility is great in their 90-110 feet of water and the pickings have been interesting – artifacts, tropical and game fish, and sand tiger sharks.
Live Bottom Ledge is a natural reef ranging in depth from 40 to 110 feet and teeming with queen angels and grouper.
Pipe Wreck is the name given to a paddle wheeler that sank in about 80 feet of water during the 1800s. Historians are still looking for clues to identify this vessel.
Raritan is a 251-foot steel freighter that ran aground on Frying Pan Shoals in 1942. It broke in half in 90 feet of water.
Sherman was a 200-foot blockade runner about 120 years ago. Now it’s sunken treasure about six miles offshore at a depth of about 52 feet, where it has been known to yield up belt buckles, bottles, buttons, and fossils.
Table Top is a natural reef 17 miles offshore at a depth of 55 feet. It runs 100 yards on a four-foot ledge, a good choice for spearfishing.
Vermillion is a 140-foot US Navy attack cargo ship submerged at 110 feet.
Will Goldfinch Reef is a 175-foot ship coupled with a 120-foot fuel barge, lying at a depth of 60 feet.
Wayne Upchurch Reef is four Army APCs at 60 feet.