Long Islanders are all about the water. If we aren’t saltwater fishing, we’re sailing, surfing or sunbathing. We love to be either on the water, near the water or in the water. If you are the adventurous type and have an interest in marine wildlife, snorkeling or scuba diving off Montauk and nearby Block Island may be just what you’re looking for.
If you’re interested in seeing what Long Island waters have to offer, scuba diving is the way to go. Diving season begins in June and, weather permitting, can continue until October. Other popular activities include freestyle diving, spear fishing and shark tank diving. You do not need to be certified to free dive or shark tank dive, but you will need your certification to scuba dive. Two area dive shops that offer certifications are Hampton Dive Center and School of Fish.
Sea Turtle Charters is the only dive boat located in Montauk. Its captain, Chuck Wade, has a wealth of experience and can promise you the time of your life. His services run the gamut, from scuba diving to freestyle diving to shark cage diving. Shark cage diving usually spans about an 8– to 10–hour day, because you need to go offshore where the sharks are—generally about 20 miles out. Children are welcome, provided they are accompanied by an adult. The cost is about $250, while freestyle diving costs around $100 and is usually a 5–hour trip.
Spear fishing is not a new sport, but it is experiencing a revival among Long Islanders. Many experienced divers recommend purchasing long fins, due to the propulsion they produce. Knowing how to snorkel can give you a head start in this sport, and being able to hold your breath is important as well.
The Sea Turtle carries a maximum of six divers at a time. For between $100 and $150, you will be taken to one of the most fascinating dive sites east of Block Island. After a 2-hour run, you will arrive at a spot where a German submarine lies at the bottom of the Atlantic, filled with a tremendous amount of history. Not only will you get to experience the wreck, you can also take home any lobsters or fish you catch. If you are a novice diver, you may want to start in the shallow waters around Block Island. There are glacier erratics the size of a bus stacked on top of one another, creating homes for a variety of sea life. The soft coral presents divers with anemones and plant life in vibrant colors, including brilliant reds and pastel oranges. Scuba gear can be rented for about $100 a day.
You can also scuba dive right off the beach. Fort Pond Bay, the home of Rough Riders Pier, was the very first Navy submarine hangar dock used during WWII. You may find a wide range of interesting objects there—but if you do decide to dive outside of a charter boat, just make sure you are familiar with the Department of Environmental Conservation’s rules, and remember to never dive alone.
When the waters are calm, you might want to take a snorkeling expedition to Block Island. The sandy bottom and glacial-created landscape provide a wonderful backdrop to some beautiful sea life, including sand sharks, lobsters and conger eels. What’s great about snorkeling is the limited amount of gear required. All you need is a mask, snorkel and flippers—so get out there—the waters are still warm!
Sea Turtle Dive Charters, Montauk. 631-335-6323, seaturtlecharters.com.