Drive & Dive: Planning A Different Kind of Road Trip

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Road trips: they just make you think of freedom. You think of piling in the car as a kid and heading out on the road for a family getaway, about to experience something completely new, and if you’re lucky, miss a little school too. Or as a teen when you have your first car – which is the definition of freedom – and you head off with friends for an epic, ridiculous adventure. When you get older though, somehow this form of travel begins to be less and less utilized, as flying is much quicker and often a lot more practical. But where is the fun in practicality? I decided that 2017 might be the year to bring back the road trip into my life.

Why Hit the Road?

I was recently speaking to a friend who went on a road trip this past summer. Being the settled-down family man type, he wanted to provide some comfort and eventually found a way to have a holiday on wheels by renting an RV from a site called Campanda. This meant that he could pack everyone into the spacious vehicle and hit the road in style. It was the easier option than packing them in a car and hopping from camping ground to camping ground. Plus, it had ample room to pack his diving gear. The kids got to see a nice stretch of the country while he got a little diving in, and no one was eaten alive by mosquitos. The account made me a little nostalgic for this classic way to travel and I decided that it might be time to head home to the good old USA and plan a fantastic diving road trip.

My Desired Route

I first considered a West Coast trip beginning at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, and heading to Monterey, California, moving up the coastline from there towards Victoria and Vancouver, both in Canada. However, I am feeling in the moment a little more intrigued by the East Coast, starting in Chicago, moving to New Hampshire, down through the Carolinas, and on over to the Florida Keys; that is, unless something more alluring comes up.

  • Illinois: Chicago, Illinois to be precise. The Windy City offers a nice driving route along Lake Michigan and the opportunity to dive the Straits of Mackinac, which houses a 204-foot (or 62-meter) sunken car ferry, resting at a depth of 82 feet (25 meters).
  • New Hampshire: A bit of a long stretch from Chicago, but you can drive along the US/Canada border over to Maine in order to dive Duck Island and the Isles of Shoals in general which stretch between New Hampshire and Maine. The drawing factor being seals, along with other impressive marine life, like starfish and scallops.
  • North and South Carolina: An even longer stretch yet, turn the route southwards and drive along the coast down towards the Carolinas. North Carolina promises sunken vessels like U-boats, freighter, tankers, and the like, as well as sand tiger sharks. South Carolina, in Myrtle Beach, has the same draws, along with barracuda, amberjack, and grouper fish
  • Florida Keys: Continue driving southbound along the coast to Florida and through to the gorgeous Florida Keys, where I already had the opportunity to dive the Molasses Reef – an experience so enjoyable that it’s calling me back. Driving the stretch from Miami to the Keys over the bridges makes the on-land part particularly exciting, and then the underwater part is rich with marine life and many wrecks to discover, like the USS Spiegel Grove or the USCGC Duane. And of course the Keys are also home to impressive coral reefs, along with more barracudas, goliath grouper, and bull sharks.
  • Southern Florida: If already in Florida, it makes sense not to pass up this opportunity to dive the Sea Emperor off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. This flipped barge is teeming with an incredible amount of marine life, from nurse sharks, to large southern rays, and even lobster. Also, not far away are the coves formed in a section of the outer reef called Crab Cove, with the occasional whale shark siting.

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