Beauty Below the Surface: Shallow Shipwrecks for Snorkelers
While scuba diving offers plenty of thrill, there’s something to be said about serenely floating at the surface of the water, suspended between two worlds as you take in the breathtaking view beneath you. Luckily, there are still plenty of sites to see if you’re planning to explore equipment-free on your next trip. These shallow-water shipwrecks give you a peek into the past without strapping on a scuba tank.
If you’re looking for freshwater shipwrecks, there’s no better place than Tobermory. Speckled across the sandy bottom are over 20 historic wrecks, allowing opportunities galore to travel back in time with just a mask and snorkel. Although Tobermory is known as the freshwater scuba diving capital of the world, many of the wrecks are close enough to the surface for novice snorkelers to experience up close also.
Carlisle Bay, Barbados
Carlisle Bay, Barbados, 2017 from Drew Christien on Vimeo.
Dotted throughout Carlisle Bay are multiple WWI and WWII shipwrecks that have been transformed into artificial reefs by the flora beneath the surface. Over the past century, coral has nearly swallowed the shipwrecks whole, creating a stunning amalgamation of historic scenery, bright vegetation and colorful
Tons of shipwrecks are settled off the coast of Florida, but most of them require a scuba tank. The Adeline Baker, North America, San Pedro and the City of Washington, however, are all within 25 feet of the surface, so you can get a great view of them even while paddling around above. There are a few other wrecks that are a part of this chain, but they’re too deep for shallow-water snorkeling.
Aruba - Antilla Shipwreck from Scott David Martin on Vimeo.
Off the coast of Aruba rests the SS Antilla, a Hamburg American Line cargo ship spanning 400 feet. While the ocean floor is about 60 feet beneath the surface, the ship is tilted, leaving one-third of it easily accessible to snorkelers. Its topmasts are just 5 feet below, so even first-timers will be able to get close to the wreck to see the vibrant coral that’s taken hold there.
Just offshore in the Grand Cayman Islands is the wreck of a large freighter called the Cali. The history of this wreck is particularly interesting: during the 1940s the ship’s hull sprung a leak, wetting the 30 thousand bags of rice it was carrying. This caused the rice to expand, and the ship sank due to its inability to hold the weight. The Cali is only 15 to 20 feet below the surface, making it an extremely accessible trip for even beginning snorkelers.
The USS Liberty
Bali is most known as a central gathering place for Hindus and the location of the Mother Temple of Besakih. But there’s also plenty worth seeing below the ocean’s surface! The USS Liberty sunk off the coast of Tulamben and remains there today, just 15 feet below sea level. Most unique
In January 1972, an Italian cargo ship crashed into the rocks, leaving the ship wrecked and half-sunk on the beach. Not long after, the wreck was deemed a hazard to swimmers and moved to deeper waters. Today, you can still visit the Elviscot, which sits about 40 feet beneath the surface. Clear turquoise waters allow for plenty of visibility even at this distance!
- Watersports Staff