Holmes Beach, Florida: Spanish Rocks Reef
Spanish Rocks Reef is excellent shore dive 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, nurse sharks, spotted eagle rays, goliath grouper, and even manatees spotted on occasion. Average depth is from 15 to 20 feet based on tides. Visibility is highly dependent upon prevailing wind direction and strength.
Park in the 33rd Street beach access parking area, and walk roughly 6 houses south on the beach. Take a compass heading and swim west approximately 25 yards past the swim buoy. Check your depth gauge, and continue west until you are in 17 ft of water. There is a sand cut through the reef, so if you do not see reef at 17 feet of depth, swim north. Once on the reef, it is large enough to keep you busy, even with the extended bottom times available at depths less than 25 feet.
The quickest route to the dive is is to take Cortez Road west toward Anna Marie Island. Go north on Gulf Drive North, to the stoplight. Turn left at the stoplight to continue on Gulf Drive, and park in the 33rd Street beach access parking area.