Outer Banks Diving Locations
Diving Locations in North Carolina
No matter what stretch of the coastline you visit, each unique part of North Carolina offers its own special attractions. Choose a locale or a dive site that intrigues you, and you are on your way to an underwater adventure you will never forget.
Diving in the Outer Banks
The area of the Atlantic Ocean located off Cape Hatteras provides a unique environment for scuba divers to explore. Hatteras Island, a 60-mile long slip of land that is about 2 miles wide at its widest point, projects farther east into the Atlantic Ocean than any other point along the North Carolina coastline. Just offshore from the point where the island turns back towards the west are the fabled Diamond Shoals, and home to many of the shipwrecks that scuba divers can explore in the area.
The powerful Gulf Stream pushes warm and clear waters from the south, where they collide with the waters of the Labrador Current that move down from the North. Both bodies of water contribute to the diversity and abundance of marine life in this area, and many marine species have either their most southern or northern terminus here at the Diamond Shoals. Because of this, scuba adventurers can dive with a wide variety of sea life including giant manta rays, sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and a wide variety of tropical species.
All this sea life congregates on what is really the main attraction to sport divers, the shipwrecks located off Hatteras Island. Due to innumerable hurricanes, two World Wars and navigational blunders, hundreds of ships have sunk to the bottom off Hatteras Island. The shipwrecks you can dive span the centuries, providing a backdrop for exceptional underwater photography, spear fishing or just cruising among the underwater ruins.
There are a wide variety of shipwrecks to visit for a diving adventure, each offering a unique experience. Of course, the depths listed in these brief descriptions are approximate - when visiting these shipwrecks, it is essential to always use your gauges.
- Australia: Texaco Oil company lost a large tanker to the U-332 on March 16, 1942. She is in two sections at a depth of 100' to 110'. For divers who like artifacts and sharks, this wreck is perfect.
- British Splendour: A British Tanker sunk on April 6, 1942. Laying at 100' to the sand, the stern section rises high and is a great penetration dive into the machinery spaces. Visibility is usually very good on this wreck.
- Dixie Arrow: One of the most popular dives, this Tanker is in only 90' of water. She is very easy to dive and navigate around, having high relief and a very defined layout.
- Diamond Shoals Lightship: The Diamond Shoals Lightship, a "lighthouse" that was located 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, was sunk by shellfire from the German U-Boat, U-140, during World War I and lays in 180' of water just off the shoal that she warned mariners away from.
- Empire Gem: Another British Tanker, the Gem, lays at 145' with the bow section upside down. The stern is on the port side though with the decks rising to appx 110'. One dive here, and scuba divers know why she is affectionately called The Gem.
- F. W. Abrams: This Tanker was a victim of "Friendly Fire" when she struck several mines in the Hatteras Minefield. Now she sits 80' deep and is a great dive site.
- Hesperides: The Hesp is less than 1/2 mile from the Northeastern on the Shoals and is also very intact. Swimming between the decks at just 30' is a favorite of many divers.
- Kassandra Louloudis: When she went down, the Loulou was carrying a large mixed cargo of war materials for the Brits. She is in 75' to 80' of water on the outer Diamond Shoals and is a dive favorite.
- Catherine M. Monohan: A four-masted sailing schooner that went down in 1910 in 100' of water.
- Idaho: This steam paddlewheel vessel was recently identified as the Idaho, a ferry that once served the New York City area. She sunk here in 1895 while under tow and now sits in water over 160' deep.
- Keshena: This tug went to the bottom in 1942 after striking a mine. She is at 90' and still yields artifacts.
- Lancing: This large converted Whaler is laying upside down at 160'. A great dive for the experienced diver.
- Liberator: A freighter that caught a torpedo in 1942, she lays at 110' - not too far from the Australia.
- Manuela: Freighter sunk by U-404 on June 24th, 1942. She was loaded with sugar and is at 150' to 165'.
- Nevada: The Nevada is a small wreck site that sits in 72' of water, about five miles East of the Hatteras Inlet and not far offshore from Frisco. She went down in 1868 and all that remains is the cargo, boilers and an unusual single cylinder steam engine.
- Northeastern: This small tanker foundered on the Diamond Shoals in 1904. Today she sits upright and very intact in just 45' of water. A splendid dive with lots of fish and bottom time.
- Proteus: Laying less than 1 mile from the Tarpon, this Luxury Liner went down in 1918 after a collision. She is large wreck with big fish, lots of artifacts, and normally great visibility at 120'.
- Tamaulipas: A German torpedo sent this tanker to the bottom with 10,200 tons of oil on April, 10th, 1942. A long way from the inlet, she rarely gets dived, but is a spectacular site with depths to 160'.
- Tarpon: A World War II U.S. Submarine which sunk while under tow, she is now resting in the sand at 140' with the decks at just 115'. This boat is still very intact and is a very popular dive for the advanced.
- Trawler: A yet to be identified fishing trawler laying on her side at 160'. She apparently went down in the late 1960s or 1970s and is almost fully intact with many of the nets still laying about.
- Tug Wrecks: Just five miles offshore from the Sea Buoy are the wrecks of two tugs and a couple of barges. They were sunk as part of the artificial reef program and offer some great diving in just 65 of water as they are surrounded with sea life and are easy to navigate.
- U-701: The German Submarine U-701 is located 10 miles east of the Diamond Shoals Tower, with the majority of the wreck site covered by the sand. When conditions allow a dive, she is exciting to see due to the history and uniqueness of the wreck.
- Veturia: An old steamer, she lays on the outer Diamond Shoals, sometimes covered by the shifting sands.
- Wetherby: This Steamer stranded on the Southwest point of outer Diamond Shoals in 1883. Today the engine, boilers and pieces of the hull are in 25' to 30' of water when not covered by the shifting shoal.