The Graveyard of the Atlantic: Home of Amazing SCUBA Diving Sites

The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted about SCUBA diving and that needs to be fixed! I become a scuba diver in college and loved it so much I kept taking classes and advanced through the ranks to where I am now as a Dive Master. That’s just one certification below an Instructor, but I’m happy where I am. I digress…

Getting certified in eastern North Carolina meant I got to explore some of the best dive sites in the world. Most people don’t realize that NC is home to some of the coolest shipwrecks divers can explore. Certain stretches of shores of North Carolina are known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because there are so many shipwrecks from many different centuries practically begging to be explored. Ohhhh how I have explored them, well as many I could before I moved.

Below are just a few of my favorites that shouldn’t be missed. If you love diving into murky water, seeing tons of ocean life, and taking a step back in time as you swim through wrecks that dot the ocean floor, you’ll really want to bookmark this post for future reference when you plan a trip.

Spar

The Spar is a Coast Guard cutter that was deliberately sunk in 2004 for divers to explore. The wreck is relatively shallow at 100ft so it’s also good for intermediate divers. There’s tons of sea life attached to every surface and the wreck itself is very open, making it perfect for penetration divers. The crowning jewel of this wreck is the semi-resident sand tiger sharks. They mostly swim near the crane and provide a really striking backdrop to the ship and a freaking cool picture if you bring a camera.

Aeolus

This wreck began life as an attack cargo ship and then a cable laying ship for the US Navy. In 1988 it transformed into an artificial reef sitting at 110feet deep. Due to damage from hurricanes the ship is broken into 3 parts and provides lots of multi-level options for divers. There are lots of sand tiger sharks here as well, so if you’re in the mood for sea life, this is a great option.

Caribsea

The Caribsea is a WWII era freighter that was attacked as it was leaving Cuba with a load of manganese. On March 11, 1942 the ship was torpedoed and now lies in 90 feet of water. Not only will you spot sand tiger sharks, but there are spadefish, baitfish, amberjacks, stingray, cobra, and Spanish mackerel.

Indra

The Indra is one of the more popular wrecks as its accessible for beginner divers and seasoned pros. It sits in 40ish feet of water on its deck and 60 feet at its deepest. There is tons of sea life here, but if you’re looking for a reliable place to spot sharks, you’ll need to head somewhere else.

Papoose

This tanker is another casualty of WWII torpedo fire. However, this wreck is more unique in that it sits upside down on the ocean floor. Penetration of this wreck can get complicated, so don’t try it unless you’re a certified wreck diver. If you are, explore all the way to the boiler room! The Papoose sits in 125 feet of water so it’s for intermediate divers only. Luckily, there are tons of sharks swimming around on a daily basis as well as other sea life.

U-352

This is one of the few sites on this list I haven’t gotten to dive and would JUMP at the chance to do so. The U-352 is a German U-boat sunken during WWII. No penetration is allowed as it is a war memorial and grave site. It sits at a depth of 110 feet and spans 218 feet. While the site does have the occasional shark and other amazing creatures to spot, the real gem is the boat itself. It’s a surreal experience to take a dive on a site like this.

Other Sites

These are just a small sampling of the sites available in North Carolina. I’ve always chartered my dives with Olympus Dive Center out of Morehead City, and they run a fun and safe operation. They also head out to a number of different dive sites that shouldn’t be missed including the following:

  • Ashkhabad
  • Atlas
  • Bedfordshire
  • Cassimir
  • Hardee’s
  • Hutton-Ario
  • James J. Francesconi Tug
  • Naeco
  • Normannia
  • Parker
  • Schurz
  • Suloid
  • Titan Tug

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