Trip Report: West Palm Beach
By Ed Zayas
Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced amazing scuba diving in many locations throughout the world, including Okinawa, Hawaii, Bahamas, Cozumel, the Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico. But in all honesty, Florida has provided me with some of the most beautiful seascapes and encounters with marine life I have ever seen. In the past two years, I have made over 100 dives off West Palm Beach, Jupiter and Stuart, Florida. Every one of these dives gave me opportunities to observe marine life in its habitat like nowhere else in the world. They allow for wreck exploration and diving with all sorts of amazing creatures, including goliath groupers, turtles, moray eels, and sharks.
Allow me to share one of my amazing diving adventures
Tiny slivers of purple and gold pierced the sky on Florida’s east coast, announcing the arrival of another magnificent morning in this beautiful place Floridians call home. The Captain and his crew were already busy at the dock loading scuba tanks and supplies onto the boat and making final preparations before passengers began arriving. Almost an hour before departure, crew members were already stationed at the marina’s drop-off point to help divers bring their scuba gear down to the boat. The Captain could be heard on the radio talking to other captains about current speed and wave height. Once everyone on the boat manifest had checked in at the dock and boarded our vessel, the required roll call and safety briefings began. After a timely departure from the dock, we made our way out of the Palm Beach inlet and headed south along the coastline.
Just another day in South Florida
Ocean conditions were perfect for diving – zero to one-foot swells and top to bottom visibility. At the bottom we experienced a half knot current during our dives. Because some of our passengers had been certified as Open Water divers, we travelled to a natural shallow reef 45 to 60 feet deep east of Maralago named Bath and Tennis Hooks.
As the Captain yelled out the customary 10-minute warning, the pace onboard the boat accelerated – everyone began checking their gear and making final preparation for our dive. A few minutes later, the engines throttled back and we started staging in two lines facing the rear boat platform to begin our entry. Soon, the Captain placed the boat in neutral and called out “dive, dive, dive!” Our dive guides were first to enter the water so the rest of us could follow them for amazing guided tours of the reef.
Viz for days
On this particular day, the water was so clear you could see the coral and sand below the boat. I began to feel anxious in anticipation of my entry into the water and descent to the bottom. But as soon as I dropped off the boat, I could feel the cool water surround my body and felt overcome with a deep sense of peace and calm.
Just 20 feet into my descent, I could already see thousands of colorful fish swimming at the bottom. The beauty of our planet’s aquatic world is hard to describe. Fortunately, I brought my camera to capture some awesome photos of my dives that day.
No two dives the same
My dives, even when on the same reef have never been the same – there is always something new to discover whether it’s a shark swimming by, or an interesting coral formation I never noticed before. For me, every dive has been a unique adventure into this amazing place in our planet that only a lucky few are able to experience.
As a resident of the beautiful state of Florida, I am very lucky to enjoy the beauty of our reefs and natural springs. At the same time, I acknowledge and gladly accept the call to be a good steward of all our natural resources. Yes, I am fortunate to be able to explore so many beautiful sites right off our coast.
Although I will continue to travel and explore other dive sites throughout the world, I will always cherish this small portion of our world’s oceans and hold my scuba buddies, and those individuals who work so hard in the scuba diving industry, very dear and close to my heart.
Stories to share and compare
This beautiful day at sea came to an end with the sharing of so many wonderful stories amongst fellow divers both on the boat and online through social media. As we approached the Palm Beach inlet on our way back to port, I glanced back at the ocean and bid farewell to all the daily problems I had just left behind under the sea. Thank you, Mother Earth, for removing their heavy weight and for allowing me to dwell for a few minutes in the depth of your heart.
No, there is no need to leave America’s shoreline to experience amazing beauty under the sea. If you scuba dive and would like to experience this very unique and special part or our planet, then just come visit Florida’s coast.