Spanish Rocks Reef
Spanish Rocks Reef is unique in that it is one of the very rare saltwater shore dives on the west coast of Florida. This dive site consists of limestone ledges that vary in height off the bottom from about a foot to about five feet high in certain locations. Life on the ledges are sponges, tunicates, lots of sea weed, and some corals (hard coral, sea fans, gorgonians). Various tropical fish live on an around the ledges with turtles and nurse sharks spotted on occasion. Average depth is from 15 to 20 feet based on tides. Visibility is highly dependant upon prevailing wind direction and strength.
This dive site located off of Bradenton Beach, FL on Anna Maria Island. To get to this location find the beach access point on Gulf Drive North and 33rd Street. 33rd Street is only 50 to 100 feet long and serves as the parking lot for the local beach access. A way to get there from the mainland is to take SR 64 (Manatee Ave.) to Gulf Drive North and then go south about a quarter mile. If you keep going south along gulf drive for about another 1.5 miles you will get to the other Brandenton Beach shore dive site the Wreck of the Regina (aka Sugar Barge). The 33rd St. Gulf Drive N. beach access is marked by a small blue green sign to the west. From the Beach access point find the reef by walking south along the beach six houses and then head out from there due west for a couple hundred yards. You have to go past the sandy bottom area. If the visibility is poor it can be easy to miss. The ledges then heads towards the west away from shore at an angle.
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05/17/2014 Captain Colby (Avg: 2.90 Review) - Just dove Spanish rocks for the 4th time in the past 5 months today. Was supposed to do two tanks but the vis was so terrible we canceled the first dive short and trashed the second. It was a perfect day. Winds were 5mph from the east. Tide was at half and cloud cover was minimal. Now that I think of it, all dives I've done there except once the vis was less than 5 ft. It's a great dive for beginner divers if you can manage to dive it a day where the bottom isn't a cloudy mess. It also makes a good night dive cert location too but diving this location is a hit or miss and my experience more of a miss lately. There are no facilities at the beach access and parking is limited to 10 to 15 spots. So get there early on weekends. Entry and exit can be a stumble for the first 20 yards due to the wave build up hitting shore. Once you get through it it's a easy but lengthy surface swim to the site. The reef is located in the 18 to 20 ft depth. Shallower than that, you're not there yet. Deeper than that you over shot it. It runs parallel to the beach.
08/17/2013 Grey (Avg: 2.10 Review) - Went out and surf was really bad. Large waves about 4ft-5ft. Even a small catamaran was getting bounced around. Hardly any boats in area. Current would pull you really bad to the north way away from the spot unless you swam real hard. Vis was maybe 6'-1ft if that. I stuck my hand out and could barley see it. Decided to end the dive because of conditions.
06/24/2008 Jay and Tara (Avg: 3.87 Review) - The Spanish Rocks are an easy, and enjoyable dive. Park at the beach access beside 33rd, and prepare for a short walk. Well it won't feel so short when carrying your gear. From the beach access go south 6 houses. There is white box framed house. Put your gear directly in front of the house. Typically there is very little current, but what current there is will send you north up the rocks. Swim past the buoy, and drop down 15 feet or so afterwards. Head west, and you will come to the rocks. Your depth will be between 17' and 22' feet. There is another set of rocks another 50 yards out. Viz will anywhere from 3' to 15' feet typically. This is a fun dive, and because of the lack of depth you can stay under for what feels like forever. You will be greeted by several species of fish on the rocks. If you're lucky you may spot a ray or a nurse shark. The water temp was 86F when we dove Spanish Rocks last.
12/27/2007 Diane (Avg: 3.95 Review) - This is a great site for beginners. Plenty of fish and coral in that area. I have seen a nurse shark, which was really cool A really cool place to learn the comfort of being underwater.
12/23/2007 Rick 1 (Avg: 3.85 Review) - When vis is good, this is a beautiful spot to dive. I have seen nurse sharks and sea turtles here. I have dove this spot roughly twenty times.
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Number of reviews for this site: 5