Our Local Reefs Area 29, one of the deeper dive sites at 80′ to 90′, is a destination chosen for its good visibility, hunting opportunities, and sightseeing features. When inshore sites are subject to less than acceptable visibility, the boat captains usually resort to “Old Reliable ‘Area 29. At this low- profile site the ledge is broken up so that as divers drift North they come into a series of “aquariums” that are home to prolific fish and marine critter life. Sightseers can marvel at the variety of tropical fish that inhabit these mini-environments. Palm Beach’s classic big blue Angelfish along with their queen, French, and gray cousins are all here. Tomtates and other grunts of several species inhabit these arenas in large numbers. Squirrel fish hide in their little nooks as goatfish stir up the sand to find their next meal, Loggerhead turtles use the ledge to duck under for a nap while the little Hawksbills munch on the sponges. Hunters favor Area 29 for its game fish In season, it is common to see the prized gag and black Groupers all over this dive site.
Southern Rays hunting for: a meal in the sand attracts the coveted cobia. Lobsters can be found to
the East of the main ledge line in the little blowouts and under the coral heads. Although a deeper dive, with its consistent good visibility; sightseeing attractions, and hunting opportunities, Area 29 is “Old Reliable” as it rarely disappoints. One of our favorite Local Reefs.
Our Local Reef Aera 51, named for its mystery (or maybe because it is 51 minutes from the dock) “Area 51″ It is a high- ledge dive site known for its shark activity. Soon after descending divers are frequently greeted by two or three reef sharks curious to see who has dropped by for a visit. They usually come from the cast, take a quick look, and swim off, so divers have to be attentive at the beginning of the dive not to miss them. Gigantic loggerhead turtles may be napping under the ledge at almost ninety feet, or gently resting on top of the ledge at seventy-five feet. Hawksbill turtles are usually eating between the cracks and crevices just off the ledge. Huge green moray eels may be in a crevice on the bottom, or free-swimming along the ledge through the maze created by the enormous pieces that have broken off the ledge. Look for southern rays in the sand and a resident goliath grouper just under the ledge where there is a sandy spot on top of the ledge. Large schools of Atlantic spadefish frequent Area 51 as do small groups of six or seven large barracuda, cruising against the current together. Bar jacks, amber jacks, and often schools of horse-eye jacks are encountered here hunting for their next meal. Never knowing what Mother Nature has in store for us on this dive makes Area 51 always a mystery adventure.
Often described as one of Jupiter’s prettiest Local Reefs, Bluffs is a series of cul-de-sacs along a high ledge. The cul-de-sacs are little aquariums that at their 65′ depth still show a great deal of color from the corals and sponges. Mixed into all this color are many tropical fish, some in large schools difficult to see through. In the 65′ to 70′ on top of the ledge, the features of Bluffs can be enjoyed by the novice and experienced drift diver alike- Along the main ledge there is a resident Goliath Grouper surrounded by an entourage of Glassy Sweepers. Large Green Morays are common here as are Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Green Turtles which may be napping under the ledge or enjoying maybe even searching for a meal on top of the ledge. Even though the ledge mesmerizes, don’t forget to look to the West once in a while for the huge Southern Rays that bury themselves in the sand. Recently, a little Reef Shark has taken up residence here and is often sighted by the diver who is attentively looking and lucky enough to be in the right spot. Being one of the easier dives, in terms of navigation and depth. and having so much marine life to offer, Bluffs is an often- requested site, for good reason.
A high-profile ledge dive site, “Bonnie’s” is easy to navigate and has spectacular terrain that is ideal habitat for large numbers of fish and marine critters. At 80’ at the bottom of the ledge there are several places where Goliath Groupers are year-round residents. Loggerhead turtles often choose the deep ledge for a hiding place, hoping to not be disturbed from their nap. Snook reside in one of the deep crevices of this site, only slowly swimming away if a diver approaches too closely. Green Morays, often 5’ to 6’ feet long, cruise the crevices of this ledge looking for the next spot from which to hunt. On top of the ledge “Bonnie’s” has a large population of Butter Hamlets that have the most gorgeous translucent blue lines on their faces. Their Blue Hamlet cousins protect their territories all along the site. Large schools of Tomtates inhabit the “bays” formed into the ledge often obscuring the ledge because of their large numbers. All the usual suspects that can be seen on this site are Angelfish, Grunts, Goatfish, Wrasses, Snapper, and Jacks. Diving ‘Bonnie’s’ ledge at 75’ – 80’ at the bottomof the ledge, or diving it at 60’ – 65’ along the top, ‘Bonnie’s’ is a dive site that will leave divers smiling and ready to come back as soon as they can.
One of our shallower Local Reefs at between 58′ and 75′, Captain Kurl’s gives one the impression of drifting over a series of aquariums. The ledge forms a series of cul-de-sacs, each one with myriad fish and critters. Goliath groupers may be seen at the deep part of the ledge while green morays generally stay closer to the top. Loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles can be found both on top of the ledge or napping at the bottom. Nurse sharks, some of them huge, nestle under the ledge. An occasional reef shark prefers to cruise the top into the current. Blue, queen, gray, and French Angelfish, along with their rock beauty cousins give the top of the reef their vibrant colors. Reef, four-eye, and Spotfin Butterfly fishes (usually in pairs) populate the reef for its entirety. As a second dive in a two-tank trip, Captain Kurl’s leaves the diver with a renewed awe in the miracles of marine life.
“Captain Mike’s” dive site is one of the most spectacular Local Reefs the Jupiter Dive Center has to offer. It is a high ledge averaging between fifteen and twenty feet in height from the sand, Divers start the dive on top of the ledge at about 75′ over a fish-filled aquarium. As the current carries divers north to a bend in the ledge, they are often met by curious reef sharks. Around the bend and on to the north cruising along the ledge divers may encounter spotted eagle rays flying South, enormous Southern rays hiding in the sand, or, in January and February, Lemon Sharks on top of the ledge for their annual visit. A little further north along the ledge, after a sandy patch about 150′ long, a point juts out to the west indicating the deep home of “Tug” (or “Tuggle”) the GOLIATH Goliath Grouper. This enormous animal is always there, but approach slowly and keep some distance because it is shy and will move away from divers. In late summer, up to ten more Goliath Groupers can be seen at this spot as the Goliath Groupers aggregate to spawn. On along the ledge Loggerhead, green, and Hawksbill turtles are common. The little Hawksbills will let you get quite close for a really good look as they munch away on sponges. Large green Morays Eels are residents usually found below the ledge in the crevices, frequently free-swimming. Toward the end of the dive nitrox divers with longer bottom times will be treated to the second reef shark neighborhood of the dive site. There are usually four to six reef sharks here who want to see who is passing through. With an amazing abundance of marine life, “Captain Mike’s” is a world-class dive site.
“Julie’s” is often chosen as a second dive on a two-tank trip because it is relatively shallow at 65′ to 75′ and because it has “something for everybody”. For sightseers the Western side of Julie’s has a gorgeous low-profile ledge that is inhabited by myriad tropical fish. In the “nooks and crannies” of this ledge dwell the blue, queen, French, and gray angelfish along with their rock beauty cousins of all sizes. Look for the tiny juveniles here in their spectacular colors. Four-eye, spotfin, reef, and banded butterfly fish are here, usually in pairs. French, blue stripe, and Spanish Grunts swim in schools around the little cul-de-sacs. Green and Spotted Moray Eels make the crevices their home. Loggerhead and hawksbill turtles along with nurse sharks and an occasional Goliath Grouper can be found usually under the ledge. The lobster hunters will favor the eastern side of Julie’s where Porkfish readily point out the little blowouts in which lobster try to hide. The low- profile, sandy “broken bottom” is ideal habitat for the “bugs” that draw so many divers to the water. With sightseeing on the west side and lobster hunting on the east, Julie’s is the dive site with “something for everybody.
The dive site’s name makes very clear what divers are very likely to encounter on this relatively shallow Local Reefs. Usually chosen as a second dive of a two-tank trip, Loggerhead offers a different terrain from the sites with a prominent ledge. There is a lower-profile ledge, but mixed in with it are areas where there are coral heads that form their own mini-eco systems. Some of these places are sandy and offer the opportunity to see large southern rays, Yellowhead Jawfish “dancing” above their holes (if a diver is very lucky one might see one of the males with eggs in its mouth – a photographer’ s dream), mantis shrimp, or other sand critters. Beyond a sandy spot one returns to the ledge where Hawksbill, green, and, of course, Loggerhead Turtles may be napping or chomping down a meal. The little Hawksbill Turtles are quite “diver tolerant” and will allow close observation. As divers drift north on this relaxing dive, taking in all the feature the Loggerhead has to offer, they can easily remember the magic that brought them into this wonderful sport.
Named for a scarred Green Moray Eel who could proudly say “you should see the other guy” “Scarface” is a high-ledge dive site that is a little shallower than Captain Mike’s or Area 51. At 65′ on top of the ledge and 80′ at the sand, “Scarface” is a great site for novice to experienced drift divers. For the new-comers, the top of the ledge has a series of bowls that are home to many species of tropical fish. Sixty (60) different species are the norm here. Five(5) species of angel fishes, three (3) species of butterfly fishes, three (3) species of hamlets, several species of Wrasses, five or six (5-6) species of Grunts, Yellowhead Jawfishes, barracuda, southern rays, Atlantic Spadefish, Yellowtail Snapper, Blennies, Gobies and many more all call “Scarface” home. Experienced divers enjoy poking around under the ledges for the napping Loggerhead Turtles, Nurse Sharks, or “Scarface’s” Green Moray Eel offspring (often five to six feet long) who may be guarding a hole or free-swimming in search of a meal. With the gorgeous, easy to navigate ledge, and so many fish and other marine critters, “Scarface” is drift-diving crowd-pleaser.
Spadefish Point is a partial high-ledge dive site that has a series of cul-de-sacs carved into the top of the ledge. As divers drift north they have several choices of depths. Along the bottom of the ledge at around 80′ one might encounter napping loggerhead turtles, a nurse shark, or a Goliath Grouper. Choosing to cruise the top edge of the ledge between 65′ and 75′, a diver can look down along the ledge and look to the East on top of the edge are the chances of seeing the green Morays that live in the crevices of the ledge and the green, Hawksbill, and Loggerhead Turtles that are most often found on top of the ledge. About half-way through this dive in one of the cul-de-sacs is a gorgeous arch usually protected by a school of Porkfish, The arch stands away from the secondary shallow ledge and offers a terrific opportunity for photographers. The other cul-de-sacs (mostly in the 60′ to 70′ range) are home to many tropical fish. Angelfish, Hamlets, Wrasses, Grunts, Blennies, and Gobles make these “aquariums” home. As an easy dive to navigate and dive at no deeper than 75′ if a diver chooses, “Spadefish Point” has much to offer both the novice and the experienced diver.
“The dive site that never disappoints” Tunnels is a spectacular site because it always has big animals. Soon after the drop as divers approach the first “tunnel” Reef Sharks are the greeters to see who the visitors are. Spear fishermen are warned that this is no place to shoot a fish unless one is prepared to deal with half a dozen ‘friends” looking for a free meal. For the sightseer, this greeting is quick as a wink, you should be looking to the East as you approach the ledge. Sharing the first tunnel area are usually three to five (3-5) goliath groupers who, being quite shy, slowly moving West over the sand as the divers approach. The slower we go, the more likely we are to get a close look at these behemoth fish. Moving North along the ledge divers almost always encounter schools of Atlantic Spadefish. One of the most diver-tolerant fish, a diver can slowly swim through the school of Atlantic Spadefish and catch the magic of their human-like faces. Be sure to look occasionally to the West into the sand away from the ledge for ENORMOUS Southern Rays buried in the sand with only their eyes showing. Several Cobia may give a ray’s position away as they wait patiently for the ray tostir up a tasty meal. Loggerhead, green, and Hawksbill Turtles may be on topof the ledge or napping underneath. Twenty-five minutes into the dive under a substantial ledge, several Goliath Groupers (especially in late summer) will be looking the curious diver right in the face as the diver peers into the cave-like darkness. Bring a light for this one. Finally, if there is a moderate current, the nitrox divers will reach the Donut Hole section of the Tunnels; this place ALWAYS has something spectacular – Reef sharks live here. A diver might find them napping in the Hole or cruising to the east of the Hole. Goliath Groupers like to hide under the small ledge. Nurse sharks know this spot well. Loggerhead turtles find refuge here, sometimes right next to a nurse shark or a reef shark. Gag groupers and black groupers hunt in this area. The Donut Hole is a phenomenal end to this unparalleled dive.
The “Zion” dive site is a series of three wrecks that are home to some fantastic big animals. As divers approach the Zion, a small freighter listing to its port side with its bow broken off by a hurricane, the resident goliath groupers slowly try to find an out-of-the-way corner in which to hide. The wreck, being wide open, allows divers to get a good up-close look at the goliaths even as they try to hide. In late summer, when goliath groupers aggregate; there may be as many as six or seven of these giant fish on the Zion alone. Just to the east of the Zion is a pile of concrete beams. In January and February these beams become the spectator area (at 80+’) to view the lemon sharks. There may be as many as’ two dozen of these large, impressive sharks circling out into the sand and returning again for another go-around. They make the reef sharks appear very small. Drifting north from the Zion, divers come across the Miss Jenny, an upside-down barge that is also home to goliath groupers as well as gag groupers and black groupers. On a 340 degree course from the Miss Jenny (a course clearly marked by rebar stuck in the ground every thirty feet or so) is the Esso Bonaire, the largest of the three wrecks. She sits upright in 90′ of water with her deck being at about 75′. Her holds are wide open and easily investigated. The cabin area at the stem is safely penetrated as long as the diver does not go into the lower areas. Goliath groupers of enormous size can be seen here peeking out of the darkness at the bubble-blowers. Occasionally, Spotted Eagle Ray and Cobia visit the wrecks presenting the divers with an encore after the Goliath Groupers. Drifting away from the wrecks on the ascent, divers can only be amazed at the incredible spectacle they have just experienced, all here in Southern Florida.