17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives

Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific, Photo Credit: Sheri Bauer

Aquarium diving has plenty of benefits and attractions; from the opportunity to dive with unlimited visibility and zero current to the absolute guarantee of marine life sightings. My interest in aquarium diving was sparked by a lay day before a cruise dive, as well as an desire to explore Winter diving options.

Perception versus Reality

On the left is the Dive Quiescence Practice Tank. If this is what you think of when you hear “dive in an aquarium,” you are going to be amazed at what’s available. Keep reading!

Then on the right; what it’s really like – some aquariums offer cage dives, some offer diving freely with sharks. This is the cage dive at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo courtesy of Long Island Aquarium.

The List

Indoor diving options across the US and Hawaii; here’s a list of all the aquariums that allow scuba diving in their tanks and exhibits. I guarantee it is the most thorough list you can find anywhere.

Click the map below for direct links to each location, then keep reading for some fun specifics on each “dive site.”

17 Locations; Click Those Diver Pins!

For much of the information, I contacted the aquariums directly. So, not only is the information even more extensive than what is presented on their sites; it’s also up-to-date. My sources were the aquarium websites, emails and phone calls to the facilities, reviews on scuba discussion boards, and other online resources.

International Aquarium Diving options will be covered fully in another article, as will a list of aquariums offering opportunities to serve as a dive volunteer. Subscribe to receive notifications of new articles!

For those who want to jump straight to the statistics and start dreaming about diving no matter the weather; here they are. A more thorough description of each aquarium’s scuba diving experience follows.

One location is included because formerly they were well-known for their diving option. Although they do not currently offer diving, they are listed here in order for anyone wondering why they are not on this list to have the most up-to-date information.

Instant Quickie Facts – More Details Below

Size in Gallons
Adventure Aquarium NJ$18545 min45 min550,000
Aquarium Encounters Florida Keys$13030 min90 min200,000
74-79 ° F
Aquarium of the Pacific CA$2992.5 hr2.5 hrs350,000
zebra shark75° F
28 ft
Downtown Aquarium Denver CO$100 – $18520-45 minvaries400,000400 pound grouper
Epcot The Living Seas FL$17940 min3 hrs5.7 million6,000 creatures
Florida Aquarium FL$16030 min1 hr 15 min500,000turtles
 72-76° F
Georgia Aquarium GA$33530 min2.5 hrs10 millionwhale shark
Great Lakes Aquarium MN1 hr1 hr45,000cold water52° F
Long Island Aquarium NY$17520 min2-2 1/2 hrs120,000shark cage dive68° F
10 ft
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium NV$650/1
45 min1.3 millionshark cage dive74-78° F
Maui Ocean Center
Aquarium of Hawaii HI
$19940 min2 hrs750,00020 sharks, five species
Monterey Bay Aquarium CA$9590 min2.3 milliondry suit dive
National Aquarium MD$19530-45 min1 hr 30-45 min335,000sharks rays76°F
North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island NC$19530-45 min2 hrs285,00010 foot shark, ship replica
Oregon Coast Aquarium OR$2491 hr (2 30-min dives)3 hrs800,00010′ shark sturgeon48°F
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium WA$7520 min1 hr225,000cage shark74° F
10 ft
SEA LiFE at Mall of America Minnesota Aquarium MN$19530 min1 hr1.3 millionsnorkel only74° F

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Adventure Aquarium

Adventure Aquarium
Camden, New Jersey

  • Name: Shark & Ray In-Water Encounter
  • Type of Encounter: Snorkeling
  • Location: Shark Realm
  • Length: One hour and 45 minutes, 45 minutes in the water.
  • Marine Life: Sharks and rays. Sandbar and sand tiger sharks. Stingrays. Says this is the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast. Over 20 sharks and 200 animals.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 550,000 gallon
  • Requirement: Under 18 must be accompanied by paid participating parental figure. 12 and up, proof of age required. Snorkeling only, so no certification required.
  • Fees: $185, free parking for one car. General admission included. Plus 6.625% NJ sales tax and online fees.
  • Number of Divers: Up to six. Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..
  • Ages: 12 and up, under 18 accompanied by an adult.
  • Equipment: Souvenir snorkel and mask and t-shirt are included. All gear except bathing suits, towels, water shoes and toiletries will be provided.
  • Photography: No tripods or monopods.
  • Additional: Feeding will occur.
  • Views and Spectators: It looks like you can see into the Ocean Realm quite easily; it’s viewable from multiple floor-to-ceiling windows and a 40-foot (12 m) shark tunnel, suspended directly through the center of the 550,000-US-gallon (2,100,000 l) tank. The Adventure Aquarium contains Shark Bridge, a V-Shaped suspension bridge above a 550,000 gallon shark tank. As of 2016, this was the longest V-shaped suspension bridge in the world at the length of 81 feet.
  • Snorkeling: Yes – with sharks and rays for an hour and 45 minutes. Staffers brief on swimming with, interacting with, and feeding the creatures. All participants receive a souvenir mask and snorkel as well as a commemorative t-shirt.
  • Check In: Info comes in email after purchase.
  • Refunds: I received the following by email from Brian Withers at the aquarium: Due to the limited availability we do not allow refunds, we do allow guests to reschedule up to 2 times from the original booking.
  • Guides: How exciting is this: Brian says, “One of our biologists from our husbandry team accompanies each group. If the group has more than 4 participants we will add a 2nd biologist.” So cool!
  • Conservation Efforts: Fins for the Future committee for conservation and stewardship of species and habitats. Animal adoptions available.
  • Address: 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103 PH: 844-474-FISH (3474)
  • Parking: Secure and monitored parking is conveniently located adjacent to the aquarium. Members and General Admission guests pay at exit of the parking lot. Mastercard and Visa are accepted for payment. Cash and major credit cards are accepted. Members – $5.00, General Admission guests – $10.00. Note: When using GPS systems, please use address: 1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Thursdays 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Florida Keys Aquarium Scuba Dive

Aquarium Encounters Florida Keys
Marathon, Florida

  • Name: Coral Reef Regulator Encounter
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive, Compressed Surface Air from hookah system or Snorkel
  • Location: Coral Reef Tank
  • Length: Roughly 90 minutes with a total of 30 minutes in the tank.
  • Marine Life: Sharks, sting rays, and other marine life. You move around the tank; surface or dive depending on certification and experience chosen. Fee the tropical fish, hand feed the playful cownose rays, hand feed sharks through a glass wall.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 74-77° in the tanks. 10 feet deep in the Coral Reef tank, 70 foot visibility, 200,000 gallons. Lagoon is 20 feet deep. 68-85° in the lagoon.
  • Requirement: Participants do not need to be certified to participate in the coral reef regulator encounter. If a participant is not certified, they will stay at the surface using a regulator.  If a participant would like to go to the bottom of the tank, they must either be certified or purchase an Aquarium Encounters Dive Course. Certified participants who would like to dive to the bottom of the tank, must have a dive buddy.
  • Fees: $130 for diving, $95 for snorkeling Coral Reef Encounters: Coral Reef Snorkel $95 for 60 minutes, Surface Regulator using a hookah system $130 for 90 minutes, Certified Dive on the hookah system for certified divers $130 for 90 minutes, Non-Certified Dive on the hookah system for non-certified divers $230 for 90 minutes. Check the link above for exactly when which encounters are available.
  • Number of Divers: Maximum of 8 participants per Coral Reef Regulator session. Daily on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • Ages: Participants must be over the age of 5 in our Coral Reef Regulator Encounter and must be at least 8 to dive below the surface of the tank. Any age is welcome to participate in our Coral Reef Snorkel Encounter. No matter if you’re diving or at the surface you still get the opportunity to feed all the animals—including the sharks! Children under 5 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian in the tank. A parent/guardian must be available on deck (dry) if their 5-12yr old is participating in a snorkel encounter. A parent/guardian must be in the FKAE facility if their 12-16yr old is participating in a snorkel encounter. Any child between the ages of 5-12 participating in a Regulator Encounter must be accompanied in the water by a parent/guardian. A parent/guardian must be available on deck (dry) if their 12-18yr old is participating in a Coral Reef Regulator Encounter.
  • Equipment: Wetsuit, mask, fins, regulator/snorkel included. If you have a prescription mask, you must bring it in an hour before your scheduled time so they can sanitize it. Please call Guest Services at 305-407-3262 to arrange this prior to your visit. Bring your swimsuit. If you are going to Scuba dive in their lagoon, bring your own equipment. They provide only wetsuit, mask, snorkel and fins for this.
  • Photography: Receive a souvenir photo. No personal cameras except in the lagoon if the instructor allows. There are five different photo/video packages available.
  • Additional: Private changing rooms with hot showers. You watch an educational video, shower, change, feed fish, get in the water first on a platform, explore the tank, then post Q&A with the dive instructor, shower. There is a water fountain for refilling water bottles. No lockers. Encounters are covered by tiki hut. Lagoon is subject to cancellation or postponement depending on lightening storms.
  • Views and Spectators: Family members will be able to view your encounter with general admission passes in the aquarium.
  • Snorkeling: Yes! See above.
  • Check In: You should arrive 15 minutes before your encounter to fill out necessary waivers. Staff will direct you upon arrival at guest services.
  • Refunds: All cancellations handled over the phone at (305) 407-3262, reservations must be rescheduled 72 hours before the scheduled encounter reservation, contingent on availability. Cancellations for a refund must be 30 days in advance. No refunds or rescheduling within 72 hours. Late arrivals may be cancelled. Reschedules or refunds available when weather conditions dictate staff must cancel encounters.
  • Guides: Dive Instructors in the water with you at Coral Reef or Stingray Cove, and present but not in the water at Lagoon Snorkel. Marine biologist with you in the water in the Stingray Encounter.
  • Conservations Efforts: Education, participation in conservation initiatives, partners with Reef Relief, as well as a non-profit organization, Reach, and their great hammerhead study.
  • Address: 11710 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 407-3262. They are two hours from Miami, or one hour driving from Key West. They are just south of Vaca Cut Bridge at Mile Marker 53 in Marathon, right across from Captain Hooks Marina and Dive Center.
  • Webcam: Two webcams.
  • Parking: Up the Keys is a tour service that shuttles people from Key West “Up the Keys” to various locations, including Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.  Check out their itineraries, packages and pricing here.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. seven days a week. Rain or shine – bring a hat and your reef-safe sunscreen.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific, Photo Credit: Sheri Bauer
, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific, Photo Credit: Sheri Bauer

Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach, California

  • Name: Dive Immersion
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Tropical Reef Habitat
  • Length: Two and a half hours
  • Marine Life: Over 1,000 fish from cleaner wrasse to zebra shark. The exhibit recreates the famous Blue Corner off the coast of Palau.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 350,000 gallon tank, 75° F, 28 feet deep.
  • Requirement: Open Water Certification and a picture ID. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance by calling 562-590-3100, ext. 0. Walk-ins only if space available.
  • Fees: $299, daily from 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Includes admission to the Aquarium.
  • Number of Divers: Four participants
  • Ages: 15 and up, ages 15-17 require a supervising adult on the dive.
  • Equipment: All equipment is provided, divers may bring their own mask and booties.
  • Photography: Ok to use your own camera.
  • Additional: Souvenir towel and memory card. Behind-the-scenes tour, certificate of completion, use of an underwater camera.
  • Views and Spectators: Will be able to see you from the general admission area.
  • Snorkeling: No snorkeling. Visit aquariumofpacific.org/visit for other behind-the-scenes experiences.
  • Check In: At the Information Desk, just inside the main doors, 15 minutes in advance.
  • Refunds: Cancellation fees apply.
  • Guides: Dive Masters, according to Amanda on the very handy chat feature, and members of the Aquarium’s team of dive safety officers.
  • Conservation Efforts: Aquarium conservation efforts include programs to breed endangered species, rehabilitate and release injured sea turtles, and grow corals to restore reefs in the wild. Conservation and ocean monitoring efforts, both by the Aquarium and outside researchers, are sometimes assisted by the Aquarium’s team of certified Scientific Divers. For more information, visit aquariumofpacific.org/conservation.
  • Address: The Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802. Also, the website has a live chat feature. (562) 590-3100
  • Webcam: Aquarium Webcams – they have seven!
  • Parking: Aquarium of the Pacific. $8 flat rate for Aquarium guests—scan your parking ticket at the Aquarium to receive this rate, or pre-pay at any ticket window/information desk. You may also pay cash or credit card at the pay stations next to the elevators or credit card only at the exit gate.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Downtown Aquarium

Downtown Aquarium Denver
Denver, Colorado

  • Name: Several Programs: Swim With the Fish, Shark Cage Experience, Dive With the Fish, Dive With the Sharks,
    Several Classes: Open Water Dives, Try Scuba Diving, Scuba Review, Eco Diver Specialty, and Underwater Proposals and Weddings.
  • Type of Encounter: Dive or Snorkel or SSI Certifications
  • Location: Downtown Aquarium
  • Length: Varies by program; from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Marine Life: Sharks, eels, grouper, rays, hundreds of fish. A 400+ pound grouper.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth Over one million gallons salt and fresh water, 400,000 gallon in the shark cage dive. Another is 200,000 gallons.
  • Requirement: Certified diver, bring your card.
  • Fees: $100 for the shark cage 20 minute experience. $185 to dive the Ship Wreck shark exhibit Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. $185 to dive in the Under the Sea exhibit with fish 40-45 minutes. Aquarium admission is included. $320 for the Eco Diver Specialty course. Reservations at www.a1scuba.com.
  • Number of Divers: They can arrange individual and private aquarium dives. They can accommodate disabilities call 303-789-2450.
  • Ages: Minimum 10 years for divers, 8 years for surface supplied air shark cage experience. They have children through XXXL adult size equipment. 10 years and younger must be accompanied by a guardian.
  • Equipment: Wetsuit 3mm (5mm in shark dive), gloves, hood, mask, fins, regulator, BCD, gauges included. Only your own mask is allowed due to cross contamination. Bring your own bathing suit, and towel. You need water resistant footwear for the wet deck area. You can bring a lock for the locker room. No exposed jewelry or outside food or drinks.
  • Photography: You may bring your own “small” waterproof camera for a $15 fee payable upon arrival. Contact them for use of professional photo or video equipment and devices such as strobes.
  • Additional: Courses offered are Open Water Training Dives, Try Scuba, Scuba Review, Swim With The Fish, Dive With The Fish, Dive With The Sharks, Ecology and other Specialty Courses through SSI. Experiences include a t-shirt, restaurant coupon, use of gear, and you can schedule private dives for individuals and groups. Separate fee for parking. Behind-the-scenes tour, locker rooms.
  • Views and Spectators: Yes – dry spectators are mentioned. They can take photos of you from the exhibit chain with admission purchase.
  • Snorkeling: Yes
  • Check In: The Dive Lounge, second set of doors south of the main entrance. Two hours of learning and general information about the animals.
  • Refunds: Rescheduling less than 48 hours in advance are subject to transfer fees. Cancelling less than 48 hours before the starting date will result in a forfeit of your fee.
  • Guides: A-1 Scuba & Travel Aquatics 303-789-2450 Meet Your Guides
  • Conservation Efforts: Implied support of WildAid’s Shark Conservation Program and awareness of the Great Garbage Patch. Participation in HSA – Handicapped Scuba Association as instructors and dive buddies as well as WAVES Wounded American Veterans Experience Scuba.
  • Address: 700 Water St, Denver, CO 80211, (303) 561-4450
  • Webcam: There are webcams near the aquarium, but not in it.
  • Parking: Parking lot is staffed from 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Exhibit discount and free parking after 6:00 p.m. with Aquarium Restaurant receipt.
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Epcot

Epcot The Living Seas
Caribbean Coral Reef
Disney World’s Future World
Orlando, Florida

  • Name: Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive, Snorkeling also available.
  • Location: Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion at the Caribbean Coral Reef
  • Length: Three hours, 40 minutes of it underwater at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Marine Life: Caribbean Reef with over 6,000 creatures including sea turtles, angelfish, striped zebrafish, dolphins, spotted eagle rays and sharks including black-tip reef sharks. The Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium is one of the biggest man made ocean environments in the world, housing over 4,000 animals and 60 different species.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 5.7-million-gallon saltwater aquarium, tank walls are 8 inches thick.
  • Requirement: Scuba certified – show C-card or verification from certifying agency.
  • Fees: $179 Call for Reservations (407) WDW-TOUR (407) 939-8687
  • Number of Divers:
  • Ages: 10 and older. 10-12 must be accompanied by a paying adult 18 years of age or older.
  • Equipment: All diving equipment is provided. You can bring your mask and a swimsuit. No jewelry other than a watch.
  • Photography: No cameras, video equipment, cell phones may be used backstage. Photography is allowed in non-backstage areas.
  • Additional: You can purchase a souvenir video. A tour of the massive backstage infrastructure that filters and maintains the man-made ocean is included.
  • Views and Spectators : 56 giant windows – friends who paid admission to Epcot can watch you dive. They can see you best from the upstairs viewpoint in the tunnel of the Living Seas Pavilion, an hour after the tour begins.
  • Snorkeling: Available at Epcot Seas Adventures – Aqua Tour for $145 for eight years or older or Epcot Seas Adventures – Dolphins in Depth wading encounter for $199, also located at The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion
  • Check In: Main Entrance of Epcot 15 minutes before the start. To the far right, near the Guest Relations window.
  • Refunds: No-show or cancel within two days of your reservation will result in forfeiture of entire fee of tour.
  • Guides:
  • Conservation Efforts: Disney offers several youth programs.
  • Address: 1520 Avenue of the Stars, Orlando, FL 32836, (407) 939-3463, (407) 939-5277
  • Webcam: No
  • Parking: Non-resort guests can pay one fee for a parking pass that’s good all day for all four parks – Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Preferred parking is $40 per day, and is located close to theme park entrances. Standard parking is $20 per day.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium
Tampa, Florida

  • Name: Dive With the Sharks
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Coral Reef
  • Length: An hour and 15 minutes, with 30 minutes in the water.
  • Marine Life: Hundreds of reef fishes, sea turtles, moray eels, sand sharks, a green sea turtle, and much more.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 500,000 gallons. Water temperature is 72-76° F. Depth is approximately 22 feet.
  • Requirement: Advance registration. Proof of Scuba certification.
  • Fees: $160 and Aquarium admission is included. 9:00 a.m. on select days.
  • Number of Divers: Two maximum. Book early according to Kimber in guest relations; she told me dates book quickly.
  • Ages: 15 and up.
  • Equipment: Bring swimsuit and towel – the rest is provided including wetsuit. You can bring a personal mask. Guests have access to showers and change rooms with lockers.
  • Photography: All guests will receive footage of their swim or dive taken by an Aquarium divemaster on a USB stick. Guests are welcome to bring a personal small action camera to take photos and videos, however it must remain tethered to the body (wrist strap, head mount etc.). Flash and strobe lights are prohibited.
  • Additional: Guests over 6’6”, or 400 lbs., please contact the aquarium at education@flaquarium.org or 813-273-4015 for accommodations.
  • Views and Spectators: Must purchase general admission tickets, and should go with you to your check-in.
  • Snorkeling: $110 at 1:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on select days. General admission and camera footage included.
  • Check In: Aquarium’s business entrance lobby at 9:00 a.m. at the front of the Aquarium behind the manta ray statue.
  • Refunds: To receive a full refund, less a $5 cancellation fee per registrant, cancellations must be made 3 days before the date of your program. All cancellations must be requested by email. Cancellations made 2 days or less before the start date of the program will not be refunded. No shows will not be refunded or rescheduled. Requests to reschedule may be accommodated. Requests must be made at least 24 hours before your program, and are subject to availability. All programs are subject to cancellation due to severe weather conditions, or other safety concerns. If the aquarium cancels a program due to weather, participants may opt to reschedule, or receive a full refunded.
  • Guides: Aquarium dive master.
  • Conservation Efforts: Working to protect and restore animal species and their habitats, especially sea turtles, sharks, coral, and birds. They participate in beach and river cleanups, use natural products, vote for pro-marine conservation legislation, eat only sustainable seafood, discourage single use plastics, and encourage conservation work. Read more on their website about Apollo Beach, researching and preserving coral, sharks, and sea turtles, red tide clean up and mitigation, and sustainable seafood education. They also offer educational opportunities through camps, field trips, and programs.
  • Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602, (813) 273-4000
  • Webcam: No
  • Parking: The Aquarium parking lot is adjacent to the Aquarium and is located at the corner of Channelside Drive and York Street. Parking is $6.
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta, Georgia

  • Name: Journey with Gentle Giants
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Ocean Voyager Exhibit
  • Length: Two and a half hours, 30 minutes of diving
  • Marine Life: Whale sharks, 100,000 creatures; thousands of fish including whale sharks, zebra sharks, sawfish, leopard whiprays, bowmouth guitarfish, humphead wrasses, pompano and several species of rays. They say it’s the only place in the world where you are guaranteed to dive with whale sharks.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 10 million gallons is listed in one place on the site, 6.3 million gallons in another.
  • Requirement: Must be 12 and older and open water certified. They have wetsuits and equipment to accommodate weights between 45 to 320 pounds. Proof of certification and photo identification.
  • Fees: $335.95 plus tax daily at 3:00 p.m. and additionally at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Does not include general admission. Includes equipment, certificate of participation, t-shirt and souvenir photo.
  • Number of Divers: There’s a limit of seven children under 18 with a participating adult, so at least eight.
  • Ages: 12 and older, maximum of seven children 15-17 per adult and each child 12-14 must be accompanied by an adult; all ages under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must have the program liability waiver and animal interactive program guidelines signed and dated prior to participating in the program. Guests under the age of 18 must have the program liability waiver and animal interactive program guidelines signed and dated by their parent or court appointed legal guardian.
  • Equipment: They supply everything. Personal masks are permitted, and will be required to be disinfected. Bring a swimsuit.
  • Photography: You can purchase a dvd of your dive. No cameras in the water.
  • Additional: No feeding the animals. Water temperature is 77°. Dive platform and locker room meet ADA regulations; make sure to notify reservations. Changing rooms with showers and lockers provided.
  • Views and Spectators: Can see you at the tunnel and big window. They must purchase general admission tickets, and will be escorted around the dry side during the event for the best opportunity to see the participants.
  • Snorkeling: Available in the Ocean Voyager exhibit, daily at 4:30 p.m. swim with whale sharks, manta rays and more. You get 30 minutes in the water, a staff diver with you for questions and safety, they supply everything and give you a souvenir photo, certificate of participation, and exclusive t-shirt for $235.95 plus tax. This is daily at 4:30 p.m. Flotation device, snorkel, mask, gloves, booties, wetsuit provided. Personal masks are permitted.
  • Check In: At the Animal Interactions desk next to the Ocean Voyager 30 minutes prior to your experience.
  • Refunds: Cancellations and no-shows will not be refunded or rescheduled. Arrive with time to park, enter, and check into the program. The Aquarium can cancel or reschedule without notice due to the nature of caring for animals. Change of date is free of charge 14 days or more in advance. $50 charge for changes less than 14 days in advance. 404-581-4000
  • Guides: Three dive masters in the water at all times. Dive team members are CPR, first aid and emergency oxygen trained. Both the dive and swim programs are a guided tour; they are not a free swim.
  • Conservation Efforts: A portion of the proceeds from this program support the Aquarium’s research and conservation efforts. An introduction to conservation and whale shark research programs.
  • Address: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, (404) 581-4000
  • Webcam: Ocean Voyager Webcam and four other webcams.
  • Parking: Parking is $15 when bought in the parking deck. Please note that the entrance to the Aquarium is a short walk outdoors underneath a covered walkway. Please dress appropriately. Georgia Aquarium parking passes are valid ONLY for the Georgia Aquarium parking deck, located at 357 Luckie Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30313.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Great Lakes Aquarium

Great Lakes Aquarium
Duluth, Minnesota

  • Name: Dive-N-Feed Experience
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Isle Royale Exhibit
  • Length: About an hour.
  • From Jorie at GLA, “The second way (other than volunteering) for divers to get in a couple of our exhibits is by paid admission. We realize that not everyone has the time to dedicate to a volunteer gig but still want to come in and dive. Our “Dive and Feed” program gets a pair of divers in for a cost where they are able to get in to our Lake Superior exhibit with a facility Divemaster for about an hour long dive. While in the exhibit, they do get to feed the fish as well as bring small camera or GoPro’s in and film/photograph their experience. Along with the dive, we do give them a full behind the scenes tour and get in on any other feeding programs that might be going on while they are with us.”
  • Marine Life: Lake Superior native fish of colder, deeper water such as coaster brook trout, lake trout, lake sturgeon, burbot, long nose suckers, and walleye, steelhead, kamloops, brown. Also, Siscowet lake trout, burbot, Atlantic salmon, coho salmon, sturgeon, longnose suckers, and American eels. They have over 100 Great Lake species in all. Also introduced species such as Kamloops and Steelhead rainbow trout, brown trout, and salmon.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 45,000 gallons or 85,000 depending on the source – kept at 52°, two story tank divided into three sections.
  • Requirement: Certified diver.
  • Fees: Most days at 11:00 a.m., Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m.
  • Number of Divers: Two
  • Ages: They love divers – certified divers.
  • Equipment: Cold – bring your dive gear.
  • Photography: You can bring a small camera or GoPro.
  • Additional: In the past, this was available by special request, with plenty of advance notice. Volunteer opportunities. In the summer, there is a boat dive and exploration of the largest island in the largest lake in the world – Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Dive shipwrecks from 25 to 150 feet deep. Learn who lives in Lake Superior in front of the Aquarium’s largest habitat. Sometimes, this program includes volunteer SCUBA divers feeding fish at the bottom of our largest aquarium. Please call ahead or ask at the ticketing desk to determine whether or not there will be divers on the day of your visit. 218-740-3474.
  • Volunteer Program: Jorie at GLA says they love their divers, and there are two programs for divers in the area. “We have a volunteer team of somewhere in the area of 140 people that do various stations around the aquarium teaching guests about everything from animals that they might be seeing in the exhibits all the way to what Great Lakes Shipping looks like and the different ships that we see around our ports. On top of that, for those that are dive certified we do have a volunteer dive team that helps our aquarists and animal care staff in the daily feeding and cleaning of our 3 largest exhibits. Being right on Lake Superior and known for our freshwater, these three exhibits offer a couple different looks at what fish are beneath the surface of not only Lake Superior but also Minnesota inland lakes and my personal favorite which are a few species that used to be around Superior but aren’t any more,” writes Jorie Strunk.
  • Views and Spectators: Other guests can watch.
  • Snorkeling: No.
  • Check In: Call ahead for information.
  • Refunds: Well, they were snowed in the other day…
  • Guides: A facility Divemaster
  • Conservation Efforts: Sustainability efforts focusing on water, energy, cleaning supplies, and recycling solid waste such as packaging and beverage containers at the aquarium.
  • Address: 353 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802, Phone: 218-740-3474 (FISH) Fax: 218-740-2020 Email: info@glaquarium.org, Please contact Jorie Strunk with questions at jstrunk@glaquarium.org or 218-740-2051.  
  • Webcam: Harbor Cam
  • Parking: is $5 and includes a $5 off coupon for a gift shop $25 purchase. 
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Open everyday except Dec. 25. They were closed due to snow on December 1, 2019 – so call ahead in Winter!

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Long Island Aquarium

Long Island Aquarium
Riverhead, New York

  • Name: Shark Dive
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive, Cage Dive
  • Location: Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit
  • Length: Shark tank dive with underwater communication abilities; The actual dive is 20 minutes.  There is a tour of the shark habitat prior to the dive, plus a safety training session, so the entire experience is about 2  to 2-1/2 hours.
  • Marine Life: Sharks: sand tiger, nurse, moray eels, grouper, Wobbegong sharks and tropical fish including crevalle jacks plus a southern stingray. Also lost city underwater features.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 120,000 gallons, 68°, 10 feet deep.
  • Requirement: Certification not required. Guest must complete a liability waiver and potentially a medical clearance waiver.
  • Fees: $175 Tuesdays through Fridays, 11:00 a.m. Must also purchase an aquarium admission.
  • Number of Divers: Up to 10 divers per day, but two divers plus their shark dive instructor go into the cage per session.
  • Ages: 12 or older, 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Equipment: Full face mask, cage dive. All equipment including wetsuit included.
  • Photography: Take their GoPro into the cage with you and keep the SD card for $25.
  • Additional: Souvenir beach towel and a photograph of you diving emailed to you. Educational program about sharks, lesson and safety briefing, and the dive. Included are a souvenir beach towel, a souvenir shark tooth from the Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit, and a photograph of your dive emailed. Also, they offer shark dive weddings!
  • Views and Spectators: Guests can watch from above the tank or in our cave-like tunnel with an underwater view.
  • Snorkeling: $34.95 plus general admission. July 1 through Labor Day.
  • Check In: Check in is at 11 am.  We start with a review of the paperwork, then the tour, safety briefing, suit up then we start the dives.
  • Refunds: 72-hour cancellation, within 72 hours, no refund – Aquarium credit only. Reservations required by calling 631.208.9200, ext. 426. Must be reserved 48 hours in advance.  You may call or book online https://www.longislandaquarium.com/shark-dive/
  • Guides: Trained shark dive instructor and educator who is also the cage tender who communicates with those in the cage.
  • Conservation Efforts: Dozens of Education Programs, volunteering, and high school and college internships.
  • Address: 431 E Main St, Riverhead, NY 11901, (631) 208-9200 Ext. 426
  • Webcam: Penguin Cam
  • Parking: The Long Island Aquarium does not have a dedicated parking lot, but the facility is part of the Riverhead Parking District, which allows our guest to use free, municipal 3-hour parking lots throughout the town. There are multiple handicap parking spaces within these lots around Main Street.
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay Hotel Shark Reef Aquarium
Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Name: Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive, Chain Mail Suit
  • Location: Mandalay Bay Shipwreck Exhibit
  • Length: One tank of air or 45 minutes, whichever is less.
  • Marine Life: Seven species of sharks. Sandtiger Sharks (~7-9 feet), Sandbar Sharks (~6- 8 feet), Gray Reef Sharks (~ 4-5 feet), Galapagos Shark (~ 5-6 feet), Nurse Sharks (~7-9 feet), White Tip Reef Sharks (~4-5 feet), Zebra Sharks (~ 5- 6 feet). There are also two species of rays: Southern Stingrays, Green Sawfish and various species of bony fish. More than 2,000 animals including giant rays, green sea turtles, piranha and a Komodo dragon.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 1.3 million gallons, 74-78° temperatures, maximum depth is 22 feet.
  • Requirement: Certified divers must present card and must be overnight guests of Mandalay Bay, Delano Las Vegas, or annual pass holders. Open water certification will be validated with the issuer.
  • Fees: $650 for one or $1,000 for two. 877-305-3136 must book at least 14 days in advance. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
  • Number of Divers: It looks like it’s limited to two divers.
  • Ages: At least 18 years old with valid ID.
  • Equipment: To ensure the health and safety of their animals and to avoid potential contamination from other sources all equipment is provided by Shark Reef Aquarium. Additionally this equipment is checked by a certified dive equipment technician on a regular basis. All divers may bring their own mask, however it will be dipped in a chlorine bath prior to the dive. All dive equipment, locker rooms, showers, shampoo/body wash, towels, snack, bottle of water are provided. Bring a swimsuit.
  • Photography: A professional video of your dive is part of the package. You cannot bring your own camera – they say this frees you to enjoy the exhibit and animals without the distraction of taking pictures. So true! So true! You can watch it again through a camera lens later!
  • Additional: You get to wear a chainmail suit! This is so you dive without concern for your safety, thus minimizing impact on the shark’s behavior. Interestingly, there is a reminder to wait 12 hours prior to flying after your last dive. I suppose no one drives to Vegas, everyone flies to get there! They recommend you visit the aquarium in the evening hours, avoid the crowds and see the animals behave differently than during the day.
  • Views and Spectators: You can bring up to four guests to view the experience, and they will be included in the guided tour of the aquarium and behind- the-scenes areas. They will then be escorted to the public viewing area of the Shipwreck. The diver will enter the water about 45 minutes after the tour.
  • Snorkeling: No.
  • Check In: At this price, they might wait for you – just a little bit.
  • Refunds: Cancellation or date changes must be requested more than 72 hours in advance. There is a cancellation or change fee of $75 per diver. Late cancellations and no-shows will not be refunded or rescheduled.
  • Guides: Certified instructor-level divers.
  • Conservation Efforts: Shark Reef Aquarium is committed to natural resource conservation and has implemented many initiatives to reduce our impact including; converting exhibit lighting to LED, installing variable frequency drive motors on our pumps, recycling exhibit water, sorting trash to divert for recycling and buying sustainable seafood. They offer educational programs for school groups of all ages, with daily one-hour tours and classroom sessions.
  • Address: 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, (702) 632-7777
  • Webcam: Coming soon; virtual tour available. (Link didn’t work for me.)
  • Parking: Please park in the Mandalay Bay Self-Parking Garage when visiting Shark Reef, accessible via Frank Sinatra Drive.
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Maui Ocean Center Aquarium of Hawaii

Maui Ocean Center
Aquarium of Hawaii
Wailuku, Hawaii

  • Name: Shark Dive Maui®
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: The Open Ocean Exhibit
  • Length: Two hours, about 40 minutes underwater.
  • Marine Life: 20 sharks in five species including sandbar, blacktip reef, whitetip reef, grey reef, stingrays, thousands of fish, and maybe a tiger shark.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 750,000 gallons.
  • Requirement: Proof of Scuba certification, and a wetsuit. Reservations are required at least 24 business hours in advance. When you book, you are required to book two or more people.
  • Fees: $199 includes weights and tank, $242.50 includes regulator and BCD, $259.50 includes complete gear rental: mask, fins, and wetsuit (men’s and women’s small to x-large available). Open three days a week except holidays. All prices are plus tax. Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3:00 p.m.
  • Number of Divers: Maximum of six
  • Ages: Must be 12 or older.
  • Equipment: They provide weight belts and tanks. Bring the rest.
  • Photography: I have emailed to ask about this, and received back the most awesome email beginning with “aloha” and ending with “mahalo,” and this information is coming when the public relations coordinator returns. I’ve been working on this article for an entire month, so I anticipate hearing back from them soon.
  • Additional: You can keep any shark teeth you find. Includes Aquarium admission for diver and a guest plus 20% off additional viewing guests, and a Shark Dive Maui® t-shirt per diver.
  • Views and Spectators: The diver’s friends and family can also watch the entire adventure from the exhibit’s viewing area and a 54-foot-long acrylic walk-through tunnel.
  • Snorkeling: No, but they do offer a behind-the-scenes tour guided by a marine naturalist that includes feeding sea turtles at 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m every Monday, and every Tuesday through Friday.
  • Check In: At 2:45 p.m.
  • Refunds: Please email fgs@mauioceancenter.com or call (808) 270-7000 (M-F, 9am-5pm) in the event that your plans change. Cancellation Policy: 24-hour notice prior to the activity date for full refund.
  • Guides: See note in “photography” above.
  • Conservation Efforts: Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute – and its efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and release threatened and endangered Hawaiian sea turtles, maintain a repository for rare and endemic Hawaiian corals and to provide educational opportunities in marine sciences and conservation at all levels. Donations to MOCMI are tax deductible. To learn more visit: http://mocmarineinstitute.org/
  • Address: 192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793, (808) 270-7000
  • Webcam: There is an indoor and an outdoor webcam!
  • Parking: Free parking is available at the front lot overlooking Maalaea Harbor.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day, 365 days a year.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Monterey, California

  • Name: Underwater Explorers
  • Type of Encounter: Surface Scuba Diving
  • Location: Great Tide Pool
  • Length: 90 minutes
  • Marine Life: The animals of the tide pool.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: Not a tank, but an actual tide pool in the ocean. 2.3 million gallons.
  • Requirement: Must be a child.
  • Fees: $95 plus admission or $119 plus admission gives you a t-shirt.
  • Number of Divers: Small groups of one staff member for every three students and no more than 12 participants per program.
  • Ages: 8-13, June 15-September 2, adult chaperones must purchase tickets and be present, and cannot enter the water.
  • Equipment: All equipment including dry suit, regulator, air tank and mask. No bathing suit or towel required.
  • Photography: It looks like parents with cameras can easily photograph from the observation deck.
  • Additional: Introductory open water dive program is offered outside its walls for children 8-13. It is a 90-minute program, held in the Great Tide Pool. Children are taught basic scuba skills, experience a dive briefing covering the site and sea life. They are guided through a shallow lagoon by professional aquarium staff. They receive a dive log and photo.
  • Views and Spectators: From the wildlife viewing station and observation deck around the Great Tide Pool, you can see the entire pool.
  • Snorkeling: Surface scuba diving
  • Check In: To be announced when yearly program begins.
  • Refunds: 72 hours notice for a refund. If they have to cancel, they will try to reschedule.
  • Guides: Dive staff
  • Conservation Efforts: Huge conservation efforts with priorities, publications, a team and partners, and even a conservation blog. Their Teen Programs are impressive.
  • Address: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940, (813) 648-4800
  • Webcam: They host about ten webcams!
  • Parking: Parking is available in the Downtown East Garage at 340 Tyler Street in Monterey for a flat fee of $7 for the entire day. There’s a trolley pick-up point located just across from the garage on Tyler Street, and more in downtown Monterey.
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: National Aquarium

National Aquarium
Baltimore, Maryland

  • Name: Guest Diver Program
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit
  • Length: One hour orientation and preparation, 30-45 minute dive. One hour in the classroom learning about the role divers can play in reef conservation, the aquarium and the animals.
  • Marine Life: Atlantic coral reef; rays, sharks, and over 80 species of over 800 fish.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 335,000 gallon replica of a regional coral reef, 13 feet deep, 76°.
  • Requirement: Open Water Certified, at least 18 years old.
  • Fees: $195 book with the Atlantic Edge Dive Center by phone at 301-519-9283 or online at atlanticedge.com. Aquarium admission is not included with the program, and you cannot store your dive gear prior to your scheduled check-in time. Two start times; 2:45 p.m. or 3:45 p.m. on Saturdays. Usually sells out at least a month in advance.
  • Number of Divers: Maximum of six.
  • Ages: 18 and over.
  • Equipment: Bring wetsuit, mask, snorkel, booties, fins. Lockers are provided.
  • Photography: A Magic Memories photographer can be available with advance notice and an additional fee. Contact tours@aqua.org. Outside professional photography is not permitted in the building. Guests on a general admission ticket can take photos of you during your dive.
  • Additional: The Aquarium does not have its own parking, but there are two parking partners close. Tickets from Parkway Lockwood Place and the LAZ Inner Harbor Garage can be validated for a discount, and there are early bird discounts before 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. Behind-the-scenes tour is included. Additionally, a couple times a year, any diver who already has dove the Aquarium is eligible to participate in a photo dive with the option to receive the PADI Aquarium Photographer Diver Distinctive Specialty Aquarium Diver Distinctive Speciality for $40 that counts toward Master Scuba Diver.
  • Views and Spectators: Can watch if they purchase a ticket to the Aquarium and if your tour is during regular operating hours.
  • Snorkeling: No, but they have plenty of other tours and experiences.
  • Check In: Arrive at least 15 minutes before start of your tour. Check in at the Staff Entrance, just around the corner from the main entrance, across from the USS Torsk submarine.
  • Refunds: Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable. If the aquarium cancels due to animal health or inclement weather, you can reschedule or receive a full refund.
  • Volunteering: Opportunities available to assist with maintenance and animal care. One year commitment required, list of positions ranges from exhibit guides to marine mammal assistant. Must be 18, out of high school, and able to attend orientation, training sessions, and team meetings and purchase first uniform shirt and a Volunteer Resource Manual and undergo a standard National Aquarium background check.
  • Guides: Local dive shop experienced staff from the Atlantic Edge Dive Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
  • Conservation Efforts: Their conservation efforts are numerous. You can read about all their efforts, including ocean health, animal rescue, conservation initiatives, and so much more.
  • Address: 501 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202, (410) 576-3800
  • Webcam: Three webcams; Blacktip Reef, Jellies, and Pacific Coral Reef
  • Parking: Although the Aquarium does not operate its own parking facility, they have two official parking partners nearby. Tickets pulled from both Parkway Lockwood Place & the LAZ Inner Harbor Garage, can be validated for a discount to Aquarium guests. Aquarium members receive an even bigger discount.
  • Hours: Hours change seasonally at the National Aquarium. To find the most up-to-date hours, visit aqua.org.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: North Carolina Aquarium

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Manteo, North Carolina

  • Name: Dive With the Sharks / Aquarium Swim With Sharks
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Graveyard of the Atlantic Exhibit at the Roanoke Island Location
  • Length: Two hours, 30-45 minutes of diving.
  • Marine Life: Dive with sand tigers, sandbar, nurse sharks, other reef fish, and a replica of the USS Monitor ship. Sharks up to ten feet long, the largest collection of sharks in North Carolina.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 285,000-gallon
  • Requirement: Open Water Certification to 60 feet is required, and your driver’s license.
  • Fees: $195, and for an additional $20, a dive professional will video your experience underwater (includes USB of images).
  • Number of Divers: Maximum of four divers.
  • Ages: 15 and up.
  • Equipment: Bring a towel and bathing suit. If you bring your own mask, it cannot have a neoprene strap on it.
  • Photography: You can have photos and video taken of yourself. If you purchase a dive professional video of your experience, a USB with the downloaded images will be available later in the day or the following day.  The USB can also be mailed to you if desired.
  • Additional: I read they have two dives each weekday, one dive on Saturday and Sunday, but looking at their booking system, I see only one 2:00 p.m. dive every day. They say if you would like to arrange a private or group session, you can call 252-475-2320 or send an email to guest.diver@ncaquariums.com.
  • Views and Spectators: Great view from the Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit viewing area.
  • Snorkeling: They offer lots and lots of other indoor and outdoor experiences, but I did not find any snorkeling. They offer several wonderful indoor activities, such as participating in otter snack time, serving as an aquarist for a day, feeding the rays, and even a tour of the quarantine building. Outdoors, they offer sup paddleboarding, crabbing, fishing, and kayaking. Private groups can sleep overnight in front of the shark tank.
  • Check In: Call (252) 475-2320 for more information. Staff will meet participants at the Visitor Services area in the lobby. Closed toe shoes are required for most experiences. If you have not arrived ten minutes after your scheduled program or activity time, your space may be reassigned to people waiting on stand-by.
  • Refunds: If you need to cancel your reservation, you must notify them at least 24 hours prior to your scheduled program or activity in order to receive a refund.
  • Guides: Dive professionals.
  • Conservation Efforts: Outreach programs, teen volunteers, free programs, camps, teaching mini-grants, and the North Carolina Aquarium Society for partnerships and funding for their four sites.
  • Address: 374 Airport Rd, Manteo, NC 27954, (252) 475-2300 and (252) 475-2320
  • Webcam: No.
  • Parking: From the map, it looks like parking is available on site.
  • Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Oregon Coast Aquarium

Oregon Coast Aquarium
Newport, Oregon

  • Name: Guest Dive Program / Dive the Aquarium
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive
  • Location: Passages of the Deep Shore Dive. One dive in Halibut Flats, one dive in the Open Sea Exhibit.
  • Length: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Two 30-minute dives.
  • Marine Life: Broadnose sevengill sharks, bat rays, sturgeon, halibut, and rockfish.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 800,000 gallon Open Sea exhibit, 26 feet deep (7.9m) 250,000 gallon Halibut Flats exhibit, 26 feet deep. Exhibits average 48°F.
  • Requirement: Certified Open Water diver
  • Fees: $249
  • Number of Divers: By booking.  Groups of one to eight divers.
  • Ages: 10 and up, under 18 must be accompanied by adult, the adult does not have to dive but must be present.
  • Equipment: Tank and weights provided.  Divers must provide or separately rent all other cold water gear: 7mm wetsuit or dry suit, hood, boots, gloves, BCD, regulator.
  • Photography: Cameras are allowed, but NO lights/strobes.
  • Additional: Guests are guided on a naturalist tour of the underwater tunnels prior to diving. Guests will hand-feed the sturgeon. Hot showers are available between and after dives. Reservations and additional program Information: Contact them by email at dive@aquarium.org or call Eugene Skin Divers Supply at 541-342-2351. Register online: Eugene Skin Divers website. Includes aquarium entry pass – use or give to someone else. Includes behind-the-scenes tour of Passages of the Deep which includes the Open SeaHalibut Flats, and Orford Reef exhibits. Feed for the fish in the Halibut Flats is included. This is a “shore diving” type of location with no access to private changing facilities or locker rooms. You will need to dress and change accordingly. There is a fresh water shower on the dive deck, and they can provide access to a restroom as required.
  • Views and Spectators: Family members paying general admission can watch divers from the underwater tunnel. 
  • Snorkeling: No.
  • Check In: Reservations only. Guests must book the program two weeks in advance. 9:00 a.m. Do not go to the main admissions area. When you arrive at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, park in the staff parking lot adjacent to the corner of Ferry Slip Road and 29th Street in South Beach. Look for the Guest Diver sign and wait for your dive guides to escort you and your gear to check-in.
  • Refunds/Cancellations: They will provide a date change with no penalty if made more than 14 days in advance. Program no-shows or cancellations made with less than 14 days notification cannot be refunded but may be rescheduled at their discretion. To change your reservation, contact them at dive@aquarium.org or call Eugene Skin Divers Supply at 541-342-2351.
  • Guides: Professionally trained Aquarium Dive Guides will assist you throughout your experience.
  • Conservation Efforts: The Oregon Coast Aquarium participates in underwater research and conservation.  Their dive team surveys Oregon’s five no-take marine reserves in partnership with ODFW.  Their husbandry staff rehabilitate and release stranded sea turtles and shorebirds. They are a nonprofit organization.
  • Address: 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365, (541) 867-3474
  • Webcam: Aquari-Cams for Otter, Seabird, and Shark
  • Parking: Free car and RV parking is available on site; parking spots are a brief walk from the entrance.
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Tacoma, Washington

  • Name: Eye to Eye Shark Dives
  • Type of Encounter: Scuba Dive; Cage
  • Location: South Pacific Aquarium’s Outer Reef Habitat
  • Length: 60 minutes, about 20 minutes in the water – this is a Cage Dive, cage is 12 feet long, 4 feet wide, 9 feet deep and goes down 9 to 10 feet deep.
  • Marine Life: The sandbar tiger sharks, nurse sharks, wobbegongs. Hovering nurse sharks. Gliding sand tiger and sandbar sharks. Black tip reef sharks and silvery crevalle jack. 15 sharks, five species.
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 225,000 gallon tank at 74°
  • Requirement: Cage for non-certified and for certified divers – surface-supplied air is used. Maximum weight 275 pounds.
  • Fees: $75 plus tax. Friday through Monday four times a day. Weekdays discounted 20% currently.
  • Number of Divers: Four per dive
  • Ages: 8 and up. Minors need to be accompanied by an adult, who will require Zoo admission. No experience necessary. In fact, one of the girls in marketing, Rosemary, was able to do the dive upon hire with the aquarium. She is not a diver, and had gone through the open water sessions, but she said she got panicky and claustrophobic then. So, when this opportunity arose, she says she warned the dive staff that she might pull out at any moment. However, she says they were great, very reassuring and calming, gave her options for head above water or under, and helped her breathe. She said she loved it, and didn’t panic at all. “The sharks are just so beautiful, and the whole experience very peaceful.”
  • Equipment: All gear is supplied – you wear a dry suit, so no swimsuit needed. Whoop Whoop! Souvenir towel. Wear: Comfortable clothing. The drysuit will go right over these, and we have any extra layers you might need. It’s unlikely you’ll get damp but bring a change of clothes just in case. You can bring a prescription mask. You can wear contact lenses, but not glasses because the mask won’t sea. They have some prescription masks for loaning. They have lockers. If your clothes get wet, they will dry them. They have fleece pants and shirts for extra layers while diving, or to wear while your clothes dry.
  • Photography: No personal cameras. For safety reasons, divers aren’t allowed to bring cameras on their dive. Our trained diver will take video of your dive and you may purchase a copy before you leave.
  • Additional: A sturdy cage is suspended in the South Pacific Aquarium. You will stand underwater in the cage. For Questions contact admissions@pdza.org
  • Views and Spectators: Friends and family can photograph divers from the South Pacific Aquarium viewing window. There’s a spot in the South Pacific Aquarium for them to watch through a viewing window. All visitors not participating in the dive must be members or pay admission to the Zoo. May accompany their children if they also purchase a dive. Parents who don’t dive must pay Zoo admission. They may accompany their children through the safety briefing then watch through the South Pacific Aquarium viewing window. Here’s a firsthand account from A Parent’s Review.
  • Snorkeling: This sort of is snorkeling.
  • Check In: After you make your reservations online, your ticket for entrance to the Zoo and the Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive will be emailed to you. With that ticket, you can bypass the line at the Zoo’s main gate and scan your barcode through the turnstiles for entry. Meet outside the entrance of the Stingray Cove exhibit 15 minutes before your scheduled dive time. There’s an Eye-to-Eye banner at the meeting spot, where you’ll be greeted by dive staff.
  • Refunds: All purchased dives are non-refundable, non-transferable and reserved for a specific date and time. Changes to the date or time of a dive will be considered only if received seven days before the confirmed dive date and if there is room available. A 20% rescheduling fee per participant will be charged for each dive session change.
  • Guides: Trained diver
  • Conservation Efforts: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium practices and promotes effective conservation on behalf of the world’s wildlife. They offer educational opportunities, participate in conservation initiatives.
  • Address: 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407, (253) 404-3800
  • Webcam: No.
  • Parking: From I-5 North or South, take exit 132 (Highway 16 West). Exit at 6th Avenue (exit #3), continue to the second stoplight and turn right on to Pearl Street/WA 163. Follow Pearl Street into Point Defiance Park. Directional signs will lead you to the Zoo parking lots.
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday through Monday.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
Photo credit: SEA LiFE at Mall of America Minnesota Aquarium

SEA LiFE at Mall of America Minnesota Aquarium
Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Name: Formerly Underwater Adventures, now Snorkel with the Fish
  • Type of Encounter: Snorkeling only
  • Location: Rainbow Reef in the Mall of America – They are on this list because they used to have two dives, and you might wonder why I did not include them or if they are still available. They no longer offer those two dives; The Atlantis saltwater dive and Sturgeon Lake. Or, Fisherman’s Hollow and Snark Cove. Instead, they offer only snorkeling now.
  • Length: Hour-long program with a half hour of snorkeling, 20 minutes educational briefing and tour, 10 minute shower. Offered at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.
  • Marine Life: The dive experience was: Dive a saltwater tank of sand tigers, nurse sharks, huge bowmouth guitarfish, large sawfish, wobbegongs/Woebegone sharks, white tips, saw teeth, nurse sharks, black tip reef sharks, white tip sharks, sand tigers, guitar fish, rays, turtles, zebra sharks, and more. In the freshwater lake, you’ll see turtles and fish like alligator gar, walleye, sturgeon, muskie, carp, sunfish, pike and bass and also have great visibility. 300 foot underground tunnel called “Atlantis.”
  • Tank Size, Temperature, Depth: 1.3 million gallons, 74°
  • Requirement: Certified diver. (no longer offered)
  • Fees: $195 (no longer offered)
  • Number of Divers: Minimum two snorkeling participants, maximum four per time slot. Group pricing for eight to 24 participants.
  • Ages: Nine and older.
  • Equipment: Snorkel gear – mask, fins, snorkel and wetsuit in sizes youth/child to Adult 3XL. Bring a swimsuit, towel, sandals for walking up on deck, hair-tie, and plastic bag for your wet suit and towel. There is a reminder that you can’t wear glasses underneath the snorkel mask. (This was the dive information: Bring all your dive gear. They supply tanks and weights. Must bring a hood because the large sturgeon suck at you to try to find food. You will be given worms and other fish feed to keep them around and extra weight to keep you at the bottom. BCD, regulator, mask, wetsuit, booties and fins not included. They provide tanks weight, weight belts, gloves only.)
  • Photography:
  • Additional: Souvenir t-shirt, snacks, refreshments and aquarium admission included. Behind-the-scenes tour of the food prep areas, quarantine tanks, and filtration equipment also included. You can overnight under the sharks in the tunnel for an additional fee. You can keep shark teeth you find.
  • Views and Spectators: People walking through the tunnel can see you swim overhead. I read you can find shark teeth and show them to the spectators! And keep them!
  • Snorkeling: Yes, $110 plus tax, Saturdays and Sundays, hour and a half experience with a half hour in the water. Surface snorkel, nine and older, in the Rainbow Reef Exhibit. Sharks. Book now by contacting  sales@sealifeus.comfill out their online request form or call 952-853-0612 – includes 20 minute education briefing and tour, 30 minute snorkel, 10 minute shower, souvenir photo, and general admission. Reserve at least two weeks in advance. Limited availability. Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m., 11:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. Other dates available for groups of eight or more. Bring swimsuit, towel, sandals, hair tie, plastic bag for wet suit and towel. You cannot wear glasses underneath the snorkel mask, they advise.
  • Check In: I have emailed for more information on this.
  • Refunds: Non refundable, reservations not guaranteed until paid.
  • Guides: I have emailed to find out about this.
  • Conservation Efforts: Under Conservation, they present their “Breed – Rescue – Protect” efforts toward seahorse breeding of nine species, housing a rescued turtle, and promoting sustainable seafood sources.
  • Address: SEA LIFE is located on the East side, Level 1 of Mall of America. SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Mall of America, 120 East Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425, (952) 883-0202
  • Webcam: No.
  • Parking: Free parking near the East Entrance, Level 1.
  • Hours: Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 8:00 p.m., Sunday to 6:00 p.m. Sales office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives
22 Reasons to dive in an aquarium – my next article and vlog for you!

Additional Thoughts and Considerations

When you are considering diving at an aquarium, in all cases, don’t forget to ask for student, military, or senior citizen discounts if you are eligible.

Remember, most aquariums will not allow you to bring much more than your prescription dive mask – after sanitization – and maybe a dive computer. Some do not offer shower facilities. If they do, bring a towel.

Most of the dives are going to be about 20 feet deep. Consult your dive tables. Some divers suggest no dives less than 20 feet and 20 minutes should “count.” I believe the additional practice at buoyancy and fin control make them a worthy dive. They might not count for certification, but, they are yet another time to practice gearing up, going through your safety checks, and diving in a new environment. Check with DAN about flying the next day.

The prices in this article are the non-member prices; in some cases, the fees for members to dive are slightly lower.

Many aquariums will allow you to hold a marriage proposal, prom proposal – “promposal,” gender reveal; all sorts of events. Some even allow underwater marriages with the bride and groom submerged and the wedding party watching from the “dry side.”

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives

You Can’t Bring Toxic Sunscreen

But you can bring reef-safe Sunscreen and Mask Defog that’s safe for water, marine life, and for humans! Stream2Sea have the only reef-safe sunscreen tested on fish. Plus, it comes in biodegradable sugar cane resin containers, so it’s a double win for us and the environment.

No matter where you plan to dive, whatever you put on your body will eventually find its way into a waterway, river, lake, stream, or ocean.

Here’s an easy way to do your part in saving our oceans. Do your research! Then order reef-safe mask defog, sunscreen and hair products at Stream2Sea.com, use my code “KimW” for 10% off. AD: affiliate links used.

, 17 Aquariums for Scuba Diving in the US // The Most Comprehensive List of Aquarium Dives

What to Read Next

Where to Dive When You Can’t Get to the Ocean // Keeping Scuba Skills Fresh

Scuba Diving in Aquariums // 24 Reasons to Dive an Aquarium

What to Watch

My video on reasons to scuba dive in an aquarium!

Updated December 20, 2019


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