Best Places to Scuba Dive in South Carolina

Last Updated: February 24, 2023

Are you planning a diving trip to South Carolina but wondering if the Palmetto State has good diving spots?

South Carolina is home to many artificial reefs off the coast of beaches or lakes. Top spots include Charleston Tug, Comanche Wreck, USS Vermilion, Barracuda Alley, and Lake Murray.

So now you know that South Carolina has great places to dive, but what site is the right one for you? This article is here to tell you about the best spots to go scuba diving in SC.

So grab your scuba gear, and let’s dive in!

Scuba Diving in South Carolina – Top 5 Spots

wreck diving in south carolina

If you’re looking for adventure or hoping to test your diving skills, you’ll find the perfect spot in this state.

1. Charleston Tug – North Myrtle Beach

You’ll find this artificial reef along the coast of North Myrtle Beach. The Charleston Tug is a 130-foot boat sitting upright, with the top under 30 feet of water and the bottom of the boat at 62 feet.

The Charleston Tug was sunk in 2019, making it one of the more recent artificial reefs off the coast of South Carolina.

This is one of the more popular coastal dives, giving you plenty of visibility while remaining close to shore. On a typical day diving at this site, you’ll find Barracudas, Black Sea Bass, Spade Fish, Gobies, and more.

WATCH VIDEO: Charleston Tug Wreck Dive

2. Comanche Wreck – Charleston

The USCGC Comanche was a Coast Guard cutter launched on September 16th, 1934. The ship ended its service in 1947.

Five years after being donated to the Patriots Point Museum in 1984, Hurricane Hugo badly damaged the Comanche. After debating what to do with the ship, the state sunk it and made it an artificial reef off the coast of Charleston.

It features a total length of 143 feet that is now home to a wide variety of marine life. You’ll find sharks, lobsters, and many tropical fish swimming in and around the sunken ship. It’s also a great place to spearfish for Flounder and Black Sea Bass.

The max depth of this dive site is around 120 feet.

WATCH VIDEO: Comanche Wreck

3. USS Vermilion – Georgetown

The USS Vermilion is one of the biggest draws for divers to Georgetown.

The WWII boat once transported soldiers across the ocean but has now become a permanent part of South Carolina’s artificial reef program. The most common marine animals spotted while exploring this site are lobsters and stingrays.

This boat, with a total length of 470 feet, is too large to explore fully in one dive, making it a great two-day diving trip.


4. Barracuda Alley – Myrtle Beach

Built in 2001, this artificial reef is located only 10 miles off the coast. The total length of this site is around 550 feet, featuring a depth of 63 feet, making it great for divers of any skill level.

The 150-foot barge of this artificial reef features concrete pipes and A-frames for divers to swim through and a dive platform perfect for training. The barge also rests near 20 armored personnel carriers for you to explore.

Besides seeing a lot of barracudas at this reef, you’ll likely see amberjacks and spadefish.

WATCH VIDEO: Barracuda Alley

5. Lake Murray

lake murray sc

Sometimes fondly referred to as Lake “Murky,” Lake Murray is rich with underwater adventures. In the lake, you can find the wreckage of many boats, a submerged bridge, railroad tracks and even home foundations.

Lake Murray has a lot to see underwater, and its calm waters are great for beginner divers working on their skills and certifications. However, the average visibility is under 5 feet, and the area tends to get silted.

Recommended Read: Best Spots to Dive in North Carolina

Diving Conditions and Best Time to Dive

The best season to dive in South Carolina is between May and October. The weather is warm during this time on land and underwater.

Wherever you dive, the visibility conditions make or break it. There’s nothing worse than getting all geared up for a dive, only to get to the reef and be unable to see much distance.

The ideal time to dive at any location is usually around high tide on a sunny day. When the tide is higher, visibility is at its peak because it brings clear water from offshore. Light entering through clear water equals the perfect amount of visibility.

Wind and big waves will affect your visibility negatively. A smooth water surface will let light in clearly, but if it is windy, the surface becomes choppy and scatters the light around. Waves stir up sediment as they get closer to shore, worsening the visibility.

The best time to dive is an hour or two before high tide when the water is smooth, and the sun is bright. The waves tend to be worse when there’s a full or new moon, moving more water quicker and more extremely

Does South Carolina Have Good Scuba Diving?

Absolutely. The state of South Carolina is famous for its subtropical beaches and islands. While visiting, you’ll be able to find many great ocean dive sites.

But on top of great ocean scuba spots, SC is also home to various lakes and rivers for divers to explore. The state emphasizes creating artificial reefs for underwater life.

South Carolina also currently allows you to collect artifacts or fossils from sunken sites for recreation, making it an exciting place to go scuba diving.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a variety of marine life or want to take home a souvenir, South Carolina has plenty of diving opportunities.

Be sure to dive on a sunny day when the weather is warm, and there is no wind if you want peak visibility.

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