Diving in Texas

Diving Texas

Texas Diving Resources

The aquatic world of Texas is beautiful in its richness. We’ve got streams, ponds, and the Gulf of Mexico to swim in. Water is more than 6,000 square miles in this state’s land. Interestingly, the natural single lake in Texas is Caddo Lake in East Texas. Any other lake in this state is artificial. Texas boasts a variety of water parks with aquatic experiences and on-site air fill stations.

Diving in Texas FAQ

Q: Do I need a wetsuit?  What kind?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. If you are diving in a Texas spring-fed water system the water will be 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round which most people find chilly. Skin-diving or wearing a 3 mm wetsuit is appropriate in water above 80 degrees. Waters from 70-80 usually require a 3 mm or 5 mm wetsuit. Almost all divers will wear a thick wetsuit (5-7 mm) or even a drysuit for water below 65 degrees. You will want to also consider whether you are usually hot or cold when others feel comfortable. A hood and gloves can supplement a wetsuit when you need additional warmth.

Q: Do I need to tow a dive flag?

The state of Texas does not officially require you to tow a dive flag. However, if a diver does not have a dive flag they have no legal protection from boaters. Some dive sites in Texas do specifically require a flag (check with management at the site.) In protected waters like a buoyed area, it is not needed. If you are diving in open water and especially if you intend to surface in open water you should tow a dive flag.

Q: Do I need to bring my certification card?

Yes, you should bring your C-card any time you go diving. If you are a DAN member you should also bring your DAN card.

Q: How can I get more information?
Try calling a local dive shop near the site you would like to learn about.  There are also many local dive clubs in Texas, you could contact or join a club.  Another way to find more information about a dive site is to ask on an online Texas scuba forum.

Q: Online Texas Scuba Forums?
Texas Swamp Divers on Scubaboard
Scubatoys forum

Q: Where are Texas’s recompression chambers?
Here is a list of the multiple chambers in Texas:

Austin: St David’s Medical Center
Brownwood:   Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine Center
College Station: College Station Medical Center
Conroe: Conroe Regional Medical Center
Dallas: Baylor University Medical Center
Dallas: Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
El Paso: Las Palmas Medical Center
Houston: Memorial Herman Medical Center
San Antonio: Nix Medical Center
San Antonio: Southwest Texas Methodist Hospital
San Antonio: Brooks City Base, Davis Hyperbaric Laboratory
The Woodlands: Conroe Regional Medical Center
Webster: Southcoast Hyperbarics
Click here for a complete list of chambers in Texas

Water Temperatures

Spring-fed waters such as the Comal River, Guadalupe River, and Balmorhea are usually 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round in Texas. Lake water temperatures vary dramatically according to season. From June through October, the surface water temperatures can be in the mid-80’s to even 90 degrees. In the winter, our lakes can drop to the 40’s and 50’s. Just because it is a warm day outside does not mean the water is also warm; the waters usually stay cold until June, although we frequently have hot weather long before that. Water temps are generally warm from June to November.

Texas lakes develop seasonal thermoclines. A thermocline is an area underwater in which the water temperature changes. The change can be theatrical. Warmer water forms a layer at the surface, and cooler water will stratify at depth. If you enter a thermocline, you will immediately notice the water is lower in temperature than the water you were just in. To warm up, only ascend a few feet until you exit the cooler water section. A body of water can have more than one thermocline.

Here is a link for water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/wgof.html

Water Visibility

The water visibility varies widely in Texas. The Spring season is the time for the best water clarity for Texas lakes. Good visibility in a Texas lake can be ten feet in some lakes and forty feet in others. Spring-fed lakes and rivers are usually reasonably clear year-round. The Gulf of Mexico generally has poor visibility closer to shore, which improves the farther you get from the coast.

Hazards

Probably the most overlooked hazard of diving in Texas is lost fishing lines. Texans love to fish, and that means lots of fishing lines left underwater. Divers can become entangled in this line and should be very wary of it. The line can be practically invisible and cannot be broken with the hands when it is new. Divers should always carry a dive knife and shears with them to cut any line they may become entangled in.

Unlike the ocean, which has a wide variety of creatures, freshwater does not usually have many potentially dangerous aquatic life. Some Texas lakes are home to alligators and water snakes. Usually, these creatures are not aggressive unless provoked, but it’s probably best to give them a wide berth. Ocean creatures like sharks and morays are generally only dangerous to divers who harass and feed them.

Wrecks are a dangerous allure for many divers because of entanglement, injury, and overhead environments. Divers are often a tangle of loose wires, cables, and sharp edges. Entering a wreck can lead to disorientation and the dangers of an overhead environment.

Fresh Water Marine Life

Underwater creatures you will find in Texas lakes and rivers include bass, carp, sunfish, and catfish. Of course, each location will have something a little different. Balmorhea State Park in West Texas and Spring Lake in Central Texas have endangered species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Salt Water Marine Life

The Flower Gardens Reef in the Gulf of Mexico is home to many coral species and reef-dwelling fish. Some divers may be lucky to encounter a migrating whale shark or hammerheads. Moray eels live in the coral heads. Rays and turtles are sometimes seen, as are dolphins.

List of Dive Sites in Texas

288 Lake

Athens Scuba Park

Aransas Pass Jetties

Aquarena Center, Spring Lake

Balmorhea State Park

Blue Lagoon

Brandy Branch Resevoir

Broken Bow Lake

Canyon Lake
Comal Park
Holiday Lodge
North Park
Overlook Park

Chalk Bluff Park

Clear Springs Scuba Park

Comal River

Daingerfield State Park

Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary
East Bank
Stetson Bank
West Bank

Frio River
Garner State Park

Inks Lake

Lake Allen Henry

Lake Amistad
Black Brush Point
Box Canyon boat ramp
Diablo East Marina/ aka Scuba Cove
Governor’s Landing
Peninsula past Air Force marina
Spur 454

Lake Murray
Marietta Landing

Lake Ray Roberts

Lake Sam Rayburn

Lake Travis
Barstow’s Windy Point
Bob Wentz Park
Hippy Hollow Park
The Oasis Wall
Old Scuba Park (aka Wreck Alley)
Mansfield Dam
Sometimes Islands
Starnes Island
Tom Hughes Park

Lake Texoma
Eisenhower State Park

Lake Whitney
King Creek Rock
Lake Whitney State Park
The cliffs on Little Rocky Creek
Lofers Bend Park
The Scuba Park
Soldier’s Bend Park
Walling Bend

Mammoth Lake

Medina Lake
Joe’s Place

The Oasis
(closed)

Offshore Oil Rigs
All over Texas coastline

Possum Kingdom
Hell’s Gate
Governor’s Cove
Scenic Point Cove
Scuba Point  (closed)
The wall at mile marker 12

SS John Worthington

San Marcos River

Seven and One Half-Fathom Reef

Stillhouse Hollow Lake

Smith Lake

Squaw Creek
(closed)

TPWD Artificial Reefs Program
Freeport Liberty Ships
George Vancouver Liberty Ship
Matagora Island Liberty Ships
Mustang Island Liberty Ships
Port Mansfield Liberty Ships
The Texas Clipper

Toledo Bend Resevoir

Twin Lakes

Tyler State Park

Valhalla Missile Silo

Texas Scuba Parks:

(these sites are designed for scuba divers)

288 Lake
Athens Scuba Park
Blue Lagoon
Clear Springs Scuba Park
Lake Amistad Diablo Cove
Lake Whitney Scuba Park
Mammoth Lake
Twin Lakes
Windy Point Park

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