Why the OBX Offers Some of the Best Wreck Diving Around


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Wreck diving on the Outer Banks is a bucket-list-worthy experience. Who wouldn't want to explore the Ghost Fleet of the Atlantic right in the offshore waters of the infamous Graveyard of the Atlantic? While wreck diving takes a bit more training, skill and experience than reef diving—it is absolutely worth it. You're literally diving into history and embarking upon an underwater adventure like no other.

Ready to learn more reasons why the OBX has some of the best wreck diving around? Come on, let's explore!

North Carolina has been named the #1 Wreck Diving Destination in North America.

Already known as a premier vacation and recreation destination, the Outer Banks of North Carolina has been mentioned more than once as one of the best places to scuba dive and wreck dive in the entire country, as well on the continent. Divers are drawn the OBX coastline for the variety and sheer number of places to dive both offshore and in. The nearby Gulf Stream waters are warm and inviting for a myriad of marine life found along the North Carolina shoreline.

It’s easy to see why the North Carolina Coast was rated the #1 wreck diving destination in North America by the readers of Scuba Diving Magazine.

The coastal Carolina waters have been know as some of the most treacherous since way back.

The deceptively quiet but tumultuous waters off of Cape Hatteras have been known for their treachery for more than a few centuries. The colliding forces of two powerful ocean currents meet here: the northbound warmer waters of the Gulf Stream and the southbound colder arctic waters of the Labrador Current. The upheaval beneath the surface of the meeting of these two great ocean forces can be powerful enough to fold large portions of the ocean upon itself, creating "seas" of gulf or arctic waters adrift in the temperate mid-Atlantic.

The marine life, debris and sand pulled by the currents are dumped at the point of impact, maintaining a no man's land of shifting sand bars and deadly currents known as the dreaded Diamond Shoals of the Outer Banks. Couple that with unpredictable weather, heavy fog, hurricanes and wind shifts, and the danger level escalates exponentially.

It's no wonder that for hundreds of years ships got caught up in the currents, turned up by the waves, and smashed by the shoals. Mariners called it "The Graveyard of the Atlantic," a title that remains until this day, as evidenced by the score of shipwrecks that runs from Currituck on the Virginia border to Wilmington, North Carolina.

You can read more about The Graveyard of the Atlantic and the history of the Ghost Fleet here.

There is no other location where you can find such a large number and variety of shipwrecks all in one place.

No one is exactly sure of just how many shipwrecks lie beneath the mysterious waters coast of North Carolina. In the famed book entitled Graveyard of the Atlantic, local author David Stick documents 600 substantiated wrecks ranging from the Spanish fleets of the 1500s until our current day and age. Since the book's publication, more and more are found every year. But don't ask how many there could be all together, as estimates vary from a few thousand to tens of thousands.

We'll stay with what we know and what has been documented, and let your imagination consider the rest. Check out this Graveyard of the Atlantic map and see the locations of many famous members of the Ghost Fleet of the Atlantic.

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Many of the Outer Banks wreck sites are easily accessible, well preserved, and teeming with marine life.

As already mentioned, there are so many dive sites in so many differing areas, you're sure to find something for every interest and dive ability. Wreck diving takes a little more experience and advanced certification, but the rewards are limitless. It's like stepping (or swimming) into a time capsule filled with history and a backstory worth exploring.

The exquisite marine life and unique ecosystem are an added bonus during your OBX wreck diving adventure. Are you ready to dive in?

The local OBX dive centers are ready to lead you on to your next wreck diving adventure.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina and its sprawling coastline is a fabulous location for diving wrecks and for experiencing up close and personal encounters with the many tiger sand sharks, sea turtles and other fascinating aquatic life that call this area home.

The peak diving season for North Carolina is May to October. You can be sure that there are professional, experienced dive instructors and knowledgable guides to lead you on to your next Outer Banks wreck diving adventure.

Local Outer Banks Dive Centers:

Interested in some of the best wreck dives to be found on the OBX and along our coastline? Read scubadiving.com's feature on the Top 10 Wreck Dives in North Carolina.

Also check out Élan Vacations previous blog post entitled 10 Things You Need to Know About Diving on the OBX.


Isn't it time you started planning your next Outer Banks wreck dive? Or perhaps you first? Happy diving!