The 5 Best Night Diving Locations in America
If you’re scuba certified, there’s a good chance you’ve done some adventure night diving. It’s part of your training process after all. Most of us, though, have simply done it in the daytime, which is fine. There’s so much to experience beneath the waves that it almost seems as if you’d miss something if the sun weren’t shining above you.
We’ve extolled the virtues of night hiking and even night hunting, but there’s much to be said about night diving as well! When the sun goes down, a whole litany of usually unseen and nocturnal marine creatures emerge, coral changes color and bioluminescent organisms appear to shimmer along the surface of the water. It’s truly breathtaking to behold!
In this article, we’re going to take you on a whirlwind journey around the country to show you the five best night diving spots in America! So grab your flippers and dive in because the water’s fine!
5. Frederiksted Pier and Christiansted - St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
If you want to get some of the best night diving, you may have to wade a little closer than you might like to the tourists at the Frederiksted Pier in St. Croix. When it gets just about dusk, you can dive down and see an impressive array of batfish and seahorses.
Take a taxi across the island and you’ll find the small township of Christiansted where the real light show begins with the mating dance of the Ostracod. Male Ostracods secrete a bright, blue substance into the water that looks much like flashing lights. When all of the males secrete in unison, they create a beautiful light show for night diving spectators!
4. USCG Duane - Key Largo, Florida
In 1987, the U.S. Coast Guard sank their 327-foot long cutter ship, the USCG Duane, to create an artificial reef. The deck lies 105-feet below the surface and looks spectacularly eerie at night. A large coating of orange cup corals and sponges come alive in the evening and you can even spot schools of barracuda and bull shark!
3. Five Caves - Makena, Maui, Hawaii
Five Caves is Hawaii makes for an excellent beginners day dive or night dive. The maximum depth is only 40 feet and is accessible by boat or a short surface swim. At night, the lava-tube caves and caverns come alive with whitetip sharks, spotted eagle rays, and frogfish. The caves are also known as “Turtle Town” so you can expect to see our shell-backed friends in large numbers!
2. Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse - York, Maine
This New England lagoon is a perfect spot for night diving if only for its location adjacent to a well-lighted parking lot. Skates, crabs, flounder and lobsters can all be found in the water. After dark, you can view squids and small sharks but the real attraction here is the bioluminescence. Bioluminescence (quite the mouthful) is popularly seen on land via fireflies. But in the ocean, it’s even more magical as invertebrates and small crustaceans turn the water into a shimmering wonderland of color!
1. Manta Bay - Kona, Hawaii
Rounding out our list is our favorite night diving spot in the U.S. by far and unsurprisingly it’s in Hawaii! Night diving off the coast of Kona is probably your best and only chance to catch the nightly migration of pelagic marine life to the ocean’s surface. Pelagic fish live neither close to the bottom of the ocean nor close to shore so it’s pretty special to see them all come up to the surface in one giant mass. Generally, to do this dive, you’ll secure yourself to a boat and then make the 50-foot descent into the water. You’ll see rare forms of jellyfish, zooplankton, bioluminescent ctenophores, and even sea gooseberries.
All of this is incredible but nothing beats the appearance of the giant mantas. At night, there’s a great chance you’ll see up to upwards of 30 of these amazing creatures swimming around you! There’s nothing quite like it in the world.
Night diving can be a fulfilling experience but, just as with day diving, it comes with it’s own kinds of cautions and dangers. Make sure to read up on the dos and don’ts of night diving before you head out and be sure to take some beginners night dives before you jump right into the deep water.