When people think of wreck diving, they likely picture some long-lost pirate ship in the shallow waters of the Caribbean or a military vessel off the coast of the Carolinas. However, there’s another freshwater destination in the United States that offers some of the best wreck diving on the planet. The Great Lakes area of Michigan has a dozen preserves that play host to shipwrecks available for your diving pleasure. Here are some of the best.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
Thunder Bay represents the first national marine sanctuary and its home to more than 100 shipwrecks available for exploration. What’s great about that many options is that divers of all skill levels can find plenty of wrecks to explore. There are ships sitting in as little as a few inches of water and as deep as 200 feet, and the vessels date back to 1849. Contact an area tour group to set up an epic shipwreck dive at any of the many sites.
Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve
Surrounding the Manitou Islands lies the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve, one of the best places in the state for wreck diving. One such ship is the Francisco Morazan, which sunk in 1960. At 247 feet long, the vessel lies in shallow water only about 100 yards from shore, making it an excellent option for novice divers.
Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve
This one might be the most popular preserve on the list, and quite possibly the most famous underwater preserve in the world. That’s due in large part to the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Gordon Lightfoot song that later popularized it. The Edmund Fitzgerald is just one of 30 wrecks you’ll find within the confines of the preserve. When you’re done diving to your heart’s content, check out the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
Thumb Area Bottomland Preserve
Twenty-two shipwrecks currently call this area home, and more are discovered and added to the list every year. The most popular wreck in the preserve is the Dunderburg, which sank in 1868. You’ll need some additional qualifications, though, as the vessel lies in 155 feet of water.