This post was last updated on October 15th, 2013
In an effort to combine our last two posts about scuba diving and local travel, we decided it might be beneficial to write a post about local scuba diving. It’s true. You can actually scuba dive in Central North Carolina, and there are quite a few reasons why you should.
1. It’s a lot cheaper. Rates can be as low as $15 a day (not including equipment), and you don’t have to worry about gas and accommodation prices that accompany a weekend trip to the coast.
2. It’s quicker. There are many dive quarries in the Piedmont that allow even the over-committed workaholic a chance to get in the water.
3. It’s a chance to dive in fresh water. That means you can see freshwater aquatic life, and you don’t have those leftover salt particles all over your body. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about lugging around quite so much weight. If you’re not familiar with scuba, every diver must wear extra weight to counterbalance the positive buoyancy from the scuba diver’s body, wetsuit, and equipment. This weight is more in saltwater, and less in freshwater. It can be really nice to make the trek to the water without lugging quite so many extra pounds.
4. It’s a great way to practice your diving skills. Because of the proximity of quarry diving, it is a great opportunity to get in the water and practice skills such as underwater navigation or neutral buoyancy. The better your skills, the more enjoyable your dive. So the next time you actually do take that trip to the Caribbean, you can be ready to dive without wasting time reviewing basic concepts.
That said, most of the local diving in North Carolina is quarry diving, and there are some valid reasons why people don’t like to dive in quarries. For one thing, they can be pretty cold. During the winter months the water temperature can get down to 50°F. But they do get up to tolerable conditions in the late spring, and in the summer the temperature is often in the 70’s. Another reason why people stay clear of the quarries is because of lack of aquatic life. If you go to a quarry with a picture of the Great Barrier Reef in your mind, then you will be disappointed. However, there is still a lot to see! Some local quarries have compensated for the lack of aquatic life by sinking objects such as school buses and airplane remains, and the Blue Stone quarry has created an underwater cave.
So where exactly are these rock quarries we speak of?
In Wake Forest, you’ll find Fantasy Lake Scuba Park. A day pass is $15, and a night dive can be added on for only $5. It has been called a ‘scuba diving mecca’ by the News and Observer, and hiking and camping is also available on-site. Depths go as deep as 80 feet, and you can explore a sunken school bus and rock crusher.
In Thomasville, you’ll find the Blue Stone Dive Resort. A day pass is $20, and a night dive is $10. There is an abundance of freshwater fish, as well as a simulated underwater cave. Depths go to 80 feet. Blue Stone is closed for the winter but re-opens April 30th.
The Piedmont Diving Rescue Association provides safe and affordable scuba diving inland, and owns the American Quarry (Granite), the James M Robertson Quarry (Blanch), and the Lake Norman Quarry (Mooresville). An annual $45 membership will give you unlimited access to all three dive spots. Members are provided a key to the quarry gates, and facilities stay open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There are underwater ‘attractions’ and plenty of freshwater aquatic life.
Perhaps all this information about local diving really does sound appealing. But there is still one problem–you don’t have anyone to dive with. Luckily there is an easy solution. A quick Google search will provide you with a local dive shop that more than likely has a dive club, and plenty of eager divers who are looking for scuba buddies. If you are in the Durham/Chapel Hill area, I would highly recommend Water World. They put on our awesome dive trip to Florida, and they have plenty of information about local diving.
Of course, despite the plethora of local scuba diving spots and the advantages they offer, the North Carolina coast is an incredible place to dive. Nicknamed the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’, the hundreds of wreck sites make the Carolina Coast one of the best places to dive in the Western Hemisphere. Say tuned for more information about diving off the coast, but in the meantime go ahead and get to some quarries!
This blog post is also being used for PADI marketing purposes.