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Where To Go Scuba Diving in Rhode Island

History awaits scuba divers from the shores of Jamestown.
By Jennifer Idol | Authored On March 29, 2019
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Where To Go Scuba Diving in Rhode Island

COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closings are constantly evolving. There is no guarantee that the dive sites mentioned within this article will be open at your time of travel.

rhode island diving

Divers enter the water from shore at Fort Wetherill State Park.

Jennifer Idol

Escape the summer heat with an ­immersion into New England ­culture, food and exploration. Significant American history was shaped from the shores of Rhode Island, which host artifacts from the Revolutionary War as well as more-recent conflicts such as World War II. The wrecks and forts that remain bring this history to life.

If You Have One Day

Remains of a WWII defense battery and training camp define Fort Wetherill State Park and its coves. Large anti-­submarine nets were strung across the bay to prevent intruder ships from overtaking it during the war. The Gulf Stream brings north to the two protected coves temporary ­tropical life that includes clear-nosed skates and pipefish, and ­tropical fish such as butterflyfish, flounder and trunkfish. Horseshoe crabs are bizarre local inhabitants whose mating ­behavior can be observed when a female crawls underwater with males attached until the female emerges to lay eggs.

If You Have Two Days

Head offshore with a charter to visit the U-853, the last U-boat sunk in U.S. ­waters. This advanced dive ­reaches ­recreational limits at 130 feet. The wreck sits upright and mostly intact, so features such as the torpedo tubes and periscope can be explored. ­Numerous other ­shallower wrecks — from tugs to schooner barges to freighters — rest near Block Island and Watch Hill. ­Weather might require alternative sites such as the Black Point, a steel Collier torpedoed by U-853 the same day as its own sinking. Simpatico Jamestown is a modern American restaurant with a porch worth lounging on post-dive.

If You Have Three Days

Grand views from rocky cliffs at Beavertail State Park are worth visiting even if diving conditions are poor. This adventure is for those able to trek from ­parking lot 2. Though winds churn waters for both Fort Wetherill and Beavertail, this park is exposed and available only during calm weather. Surfers gather on gusty days between these parks. This location also boasts WWII history, and features a lighthouse that helped guide ships delivering goods to the colonies. Enjoy a quick bite at the East Ferry Market and Deli or celebrate dives at the Brick ­Alley Pub and Restaurant.

Need to Know

When to Go: Seas are calmest and warmest during summer, but spring and fall can have the best visibility.

Dive Conditions: Many local divers wear ­wetsuits, but drysuits keep dives comfortable; the temperature reaches the 70s in summer but drops at least 10 to 20 ­degrees lower as winter approaches.

Operators: Dive-equipment rental and ­charters through Canned Air Dive ­Charters are available at Giant Stride Dive Shop in Warwick; rentals available at East Bay Dive Center.