Texas scuba diving is not the first thing that comes to mind when you mention the lone star state. In fact, most divers would never imagine any decent diving in the state and buoy!! Would they be mistaken! Texas is vast! The size of France, and some with a huge coast on the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that it is home to some unique and amazing diving experiences.
While you will not find tropical coral reefs in Texas, there is still some great fresh water and saltwater diving on offer and some unique experiences that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else outside of Texas.
The Texas Clipper
The first thing that comes to mind when you dive the Texas Clipper is that she is huge. This 473ft/144m former troop carrier and attack ship cuts a hulking figure and makes her one of the highlights of a Texas scuba diving trip.
The Texas Clipper was finally sunk in 2007 as an artificial reef 17 nautical miles northeast of South Padre Island, Texas. The ship lies on her port side on the bottom at 134ft/40m, while the top of a wreck rises up all the way to 65ft/19.5m which gives you an indication of the sheer size of this wreck. You can dive the wreck year-round, although the best visibility can be found from March through October.
The sheer size of the Texas Clipper takes your breath away, especially when you swim past the huge propellers. Aside from its sheer size, the wreck has been colonized by a range of wildlife over the years. There are many mollusks, lobsters, and critters on the wreck, and thousands of pinfish, and spadefish, amongst others, can be seen around the wreck.
Due to the wreck’s depth, it is most suited for experienced or advanced divers, and since most of the time will be spent below 65ft/19.5m, it can make for a great nitrox dive.
Blue Lagoon in Huntsville
It will come as no surprise that the Blue Lagoon just outside of Huntsville gets its name from its stunning turquoise blue waters and sandy shore that would be more at home on a tropical island than half an hour north of Houston.
The site is a former limestone quarry that was flooded to create an idyllic dive site. The site is a great experience above and below the water. A visit for a dive or two and barbecue is one of the most fun Texas scuba diving days you can have. The dive site is very shallow, with a maximum depth of around 30ft/9m. making it ideal for beginners, experienced divers who have not dived for a while and want to brush off some cobwebs, and photographers wanting to experiment and play around with their equipment before a big trip.
Several platforms around the site make the dives more interesting since there is not much marine life to see.
Athens Scuba Park near Athens
Another purpose-built scuba diving facility is one of the stars of the Texas scuba diving scene. The Athens Scuba Park is about 75 miles north of Dallas and offers a lot, including 35 wrecks, to name a few. The lake measures seven acres and was created as a scuba park in 1987. Like many lakes, the Athens scuba park is not deep, with a maximum depth of around 35ft/10.5m. The park stands out with its fantastic visibility, which ranges from 30ft/9m to 80ft/24m.
The visibility is mainly due to the lake’s bed being made entirely of white clay. This prevents algae from forming and creates outstanding visibility at the site. Slipping under the surface, there are lots to explore and experience. Over the years, multiple items have been sunk, including numerous aircraft, a huge houseboat, and some greyhound buses.
The star of the show at the Athens scuba park is an 18m/60ft long Beechcraft Hawker 125-600 aircraft. The plane is a joy to explore and is even used by local firefighters and police to practice disaster rescue situations.
You can even brush up or experience cave diving due to the existence of an extensive cavern that runs along with one of the site’s walls. The site is regularly used at night to practice technical diving and penetration in a dark environment. If you are planning a Texas scuba diving trip, then Athens scuba park is definitely worth the experience.
The Waterways of Central Texas
The waterways of central Texas make for exciting and varied diving. There are multiple locations, each with its unique and interesting offering.
The San Marcos River and Spring Lake
The San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake are great places to dive if you want to experience some truly unique Texas wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife have designated both locations as critical habitats.
Diving these areas, you have the chance of encountering several endangered species and a host of other species. You can encounter alligator turtles, Spotted gar, yellow-bellied sliders, San Marcos salamander, San Marcos gambusia, and the Texas blind salamander when diving the San Marcos Springs and Spring Lake.
The Comal River
The Comal river provides some excellent Texas scuba diving opportunities. With outstanding wildlife and a complex ecosystem, in virtually crystal-clear waters. Drift diving in the river is a great experience with lots to see, including crawfish and a host of other small fish.
The Comal river holds two accolades at 2.5miles/4km; it is one of the shortest rivers around, and due to the flow of water, it is the best drift dive in Texas. The river is very shallow, with a maximum depth of 15ft/5m. the river is located at Hinman Island Drive, New Braunfels.
Although some adventurous divers have taken the plunge, the river has a tube chute that should not be attempted in scuba gear. The Comal River is a hidden gem in the Texas scuba diving scene with great life and excellent conditions.
Texas Scuba Diving Unique Experience Valhalla Missile Silo
One of the more unique and exciting Texas scuba diving experiences is the Valhalla Missile Silo. Located in Abilene, the Cold War relic is a fascinating indoor dive and tour. The silo was formerly part of a 12-silo complex that housed Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic missiles at the height of the cold war.
The site is divided into two parts, a two-story sile which was the command-and-control center of the silo. Touring this part of the renovated missile silo gives you an exciting look into the history and how close the world was to nuclear annihilation for a long time.
The second part of the silo is where the missile and fuel were housed and measures an enormous 180ft/54m from base to blast gate doors. This portion is mostly empty and flooded with water up to 130ft/39.5m. the bottom is littered with bits of equipment that were not removed when the silo was decommissioned, including a small shack on the wall with gauges inside it.
While some lights are mounted above the water, you will need dive lights to reach the bottom and fully explore this fascinating dive site. While there is no marine life or other items that typically interest divers, ding and exploring a nuclear missile silo is an experience that is unique to Texas scuba diving and is almost impossible to recreate anywhere.
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Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend that you use a Suunto Dive Computer when scuba diving or freediving at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading dive computer designer and manufacturer providing diving instruments for recreational, technical, and freediving. You can find out more at Suunto.com.