The opportunities for warm water diving in the Northern United States might be limited. That doesn’t mean there are no places to seek warm water. It just means that you have to be a little more resourceful, a little more careful, a little more adventurous. We all would love to jet off to the world’s most exotic, most beautiful, most diverse SCUBA destinations. We all would love to dive in Bonaire, the Cayman Islands, Indonesia, Roatan, Bermuda, Hawaii, or any number of tropical locales. However, not all of us have the material means to pull off such a trip. With the economy still in shambles and the job market not so great for a good portion of the population, the popularity of ‘staycations’ has risen to an all-time high. Because of budgetary concerns, your family may have made such a decision. Maybe you’ve chosen to stay in the states this summer. No tropical vacations for you. But does that mean you have to abandon your warm water diving dreams? Sure, there are plenty of cold water SCUBA locations in the cold northern states. There are just times when we want to experience what it’s like to dive where the water feels like a bathtub. While options up here in the states are limited, the opportunity for warm water diving exists north of 23° latitude. Here are a few.
Less than 50 miles west of Salt Lake City, surrounded by a sagebrush desert, lies Bonneville Seabase, a series of interconnected subterranean hot springs teeming with tropical fish from all around the world. The water is so warm and inviting, the Bonneville Seabase can be enjoyed even in the dead of a Utah winter. Because of that, Bonneville Seabase is open all year to divers and snorkelers. Lucky holidaymakers from all over the country have skied Utah’s world-class mountains by day and dove the Seabase that same night.
The Crater at Homestead Resort
Also located in Utah, Homestead is the only locale in the country that boasts Nordic skiing and SCUBA on the same property. The crater is capped by a large lava dome, which had been drilled open so the warm water inside could be accessed, where over a century ago it became a wellness retreat. Now it’s one of Utah’s most popular recreation sites, and for good reason. The gin clear pool is 85 feet across and 65 feet deep. The chemical content of the water prevents living organisms, and the spring’s high flow rate exchanges the pool’s water every two days, resulting in unlimited visibility.
Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Most divers have never heard of Lake Ouachita, but maybe that will change now. Only a five hour drive from Dallas, the lake is 40 miles long and features at least 30 distinct dive sites. The lake’s many uninhabited islands offer plenty of room for exploration, and the surface water temperatures can reach 95 degrees in the summer. Now that’s warm water diving!
Belmont Hot Springs
What’s with Utah and hot spring SCUBA diving? They are the second driest state in the union, yet they can brag about some of the best diving of all states. With Belmont, that makes three of the country’s top warm water dive sites (excluding Florida and Hawaii of course). Belmont Hot Springs is 90 minutes north of Salt Lake City, and receives its warmth from the geothermally active Mallad River. The main diving pond is more than 2 acres with a max depth of 35 feet. Aquarium fish can be seen along the banks of the pond, which bubbling up at a stable 125 F. As a result, another diving pond is being constructed to allow further cooling for more comfortable warm-weather diving.
You might be asking why we, a diving dry suit manufacturer, would be advocating diving in a place where a dry suit is not required. Good question. The truth is we know if you dive once, you will dive again. And again. And again. And…
Sources: dtmag.com | scubadiving.com