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The Best Scuba Road Trip Across the Northeastern US

Splash sites from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast.
By Melissa Smith | Authored On February 20, 2021
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The Best Scuba Road Trip Across the Northeastern US

Lake Erie shore

Lake Erie, the southernmost Great Lake, has diveable wrecks as shallow as 10 feet and as deep as 200 feet. M. Frank

This Northeastern road trip stretches from Pennsylvania to Maine and hits five of the best dives in the region. Many operators close for winter, so it’s best to make this trip over summer. Still, you’ll want to pack a drysuit or 7-mil wetsuit, as water temperatures only reach the mid-70s, and most of the diving is deep.

Day 1: Lake Erie, Pennsylvania

Kick off your trip with a dip in Lake Erie. This Great Lake has one of the world’s largest concentrations of shipwrecks, with diveable wrecks in 10 to 200 feet of water. To reach the best wrecks, rent a charter and tanks through local operator Diver’s World, which partners with Lake Erie Adventure Charters to take divers to sites like the Indiana and SK Martin.

After your dive, hit the road for a three-hour drive to Bellefonte, a quaint town about halfway between Erie and Dutch Springs.

Where to Eat: Shoreline Bar & Grille in Erie, The Governors' Pub & Restaurant in Bellefonte
Where to Stay: Our Fair Lady in Bellefonte

Day 2: Dutch Springs, Pennsylvania

The next morning, you’ll drive for just under three hours to reach Dutch Springs in Bethlehem, PA. This 100-foot-deep, 50-acre spring-fed lake is filled with sunken boats, buses, trucks, airplanes, and plenty of freshwater fish for divers to see. Tank rentals are available onsite, so you can dive at your leisure and rinse off with a warm-water shower before getting in the car again.

Stop for a cheesesteak on your way out of Pennsylvania, then venture an hour and a half east into New York City.

Where to Eat: Newburg Deli in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Katz's Delicatessen in New York City
Where to Stay: The Knickerbocker in New York City

Day 3: New York City, New York

While passing through the Big Apple, rent gear from Manhattan’s Pan Aqua Diving and check out a popular local site: Beach 8th Street off Far Rockaway. Diving at slack tide, you can encounter hordes of crustaceans, sea bass, parrotfish, jellies, and more. Afterward, return your tanks, grab a signature slice of New York-style pizza and journey on to Montauk, New York, two and a half hours from NYC at the tip of Long Island.

Where to Eat: Joe’s Pizza in New York City, Sel Rrose in Montauk
Where to Stay: Gurney’s Montauk

Day 4: Montauk, New York

Wake up bright and early, grab breakfast on the go, and meet the Eastern Long Island Wreck Diving Club — the Hampton Dive Center’s club —for a full day of adventure with the Sea Turtle Charter. In the summer, the Gulf Stream brings warm water up Montauk’s coast, along with schools of blue, mako, and thresher sharks. The Sea Turtle Charter offers shark-and-wreck trips that include cage diving and shipwreck exploration, neither of which should be missed.

Once you return to shore, have a relaxing night in at your hotel or check out a Long Island favorite for dinner and post-dive drinks.

Where to Eat: Hampton Coffee Company and TT’s Montauk
Where to Stay: Gurney’s Montauk

Day 5: Fort Wetherill State Park, Rhode Island

Start the day with a four-hour drive (including ferry ride) to Giant Stride Dive Shop in Warwick, Rhode Island. From there, it’s a 40-minute drive down to Jamestown’s Fort Wetherill State Park. The park’s sheltered cove is a hotspot for shore diving you can even see Caribbean fish that have migrated north in the fall.

Take some time to explore, then drive an hour and a half to Boston, returning your tanks on the way up.

Where to Eat: Kitchen Little in Mystic, Connecticut; Giacomo's Ristorante (and a cannoli at Mike's Pastry) in Boston
Where to Stay: Battery Wharf Hotel in Boston

Day 6: On the Road

It’s only a three-hour drive from the Bay State to New Harbor, Maine, which gives you plenty of time to wander around Boston before getting back on the highway. Walk part of the Freedom, tour Fenway Park, visit a museum — whatever you’re in the mood for. On your drive up, stop at Johnson’s Sporting Goods in Brunswick, Maine, to pick up tanks for your final dive of the trip.

Where to Eat: The Friendly Toast Restaurant in Boston, Shaw's Fish & Lobster Wharf in New Harbor
Where to Stay: The Bradley Inn in New Harbor

Day 7: Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve, Maine

At high tide, descend into the cove at Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve in New Harbor. The rocky site bottoms out around 100 feet right offshore, with sloping walls covered in bright anemones, sea urchins, and crustaceans.

When the tide changes and you're back ashore, poke around the tide pools. Then, head down to Portland, return your tanks on the way, and cap your trip off with a night of fresh local seafood in the ocean breeze.

Where to Eat: The Cupboard Café in New Harbor, Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland
Where to Stay: Portland Harbor Hotel in Portland

This guide is one in a running series of great scuba diving road trip itineraries. Keep the adventure rolling with more drive-and-dive road trip ideas!