Are you a pirate fanatic? Maybe you’ve spent hours online looking at pictures from the ocean floor. Have you been thinking of visiting a shipwreck water park on your next vacation?
Shipwrecks are fascinating, and they offer a lot to entice us.
The remains of the hull jut out from the sandy bottom in great wooden ribcages, while brightly colored fish flit through the clear, blue water. Is that a glint of gold down there?
Only the truly adventurous ever find out.
With summer offering daily sunshine, it’s almost essential to get out there and enjoy it. Swarthy scallywags can go on their own journey to the bottom of the ocean, or simply on a jaunt to lounge in a pirate-themed waterpark.
Read on to discover how you can have the best boat-themed adventures this summer.
Shipwreck Water Park: Island Adventure in Panama City, Florida
Shipwreck Island Water Park is a great place to spend your vacation. Choose to come here with your family, with a group of friends, or solo to have a great time and soak up some rays.
This is one of the best places to take young children, as there is no charge for parking and anyone under 35 inches gets in free
This is a theme-park style getaway featuring rides, slides, and wild vibes. This adventure is for the young and the young-at-heart, offering up family-friendly and adults-only activities.
Watery Adventures and Rides Await You
Shipwreck Island Water Park has everything you could possibly ask for in a waterpark, including rides and attractions you just can’t find anywhere else.
For the more daring, try the Tree Top Drop, a steep waterslide sure to make your heart leap.
Check out White Knuckle River to be hurled down 660 feet of steep slides in an inner tube as you scream in delight. Careen down the Raging Rapids ride to see what you’re really made of.
If you want a more relaxing experience, float down the lazy river or enjoy being swept around the wave pool. Bring your younger kids to the Tadpole Hole or Skull Island for a shallow-water adventure.
Explore a replica of a 17th-century sailing ship aptly named The Great Shipwreck. For the adult pirates, the park offers alcoholic beverages — have a bit of rum before you ride!
Shipwreck Water Park: The Channel Islands Experience near Oxnard, California
Are you ready to stop playing pirate and take on an actual shipwreck? Head out to the Channel Islands. This marine sanctuary offers real-world shipwrecks and amazing ocean views.
Channel Islands National Park is supposedly home to over 140 shipwrecks, though just 40 have been found. Do you have what it takes to explore the ocean floor and perhaps discover more?
Dive Down to Your Adventure
Scuba diving in Channel Islands National Park is an essential part of discovering the maritime history of the area.
Among the many shipwrecks you’ll find along the Southern California coast, you’ll find the S.S. Cuba. This cargo and passenger ship ran aground in 1923, and its cargo of silver sunk with it. Luckily, the over 100 passengers survived.
Channel Islands shipwrecks are there for a reason: the water can be a dangerous place! That’s why it’s always a good idea to go with a diving tour company, especially if you’re an inexperienced diver.
Go with a reputable dive company like Channel Islands Dive Adventures. They offer you the chance to visit famous wrecks around the islands in a safe manner, ensuring you’ll see every part of the Channel Island wrecks without getting shipwrecked yourself!
Though divers are allowed to visit shipwrecks, these sunken behemoths cannot be touched or altered in any way. In this manner, you keep the shipwrecks alive for the next pirate that comes along.
Other National Park Shipwrecks
Did you know that our National Parks system holds a number of underwater resources you can explore?
Along our coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific, as well as in the Great Lakes, you’ll find a number of sunken ships. These derelicts stand as a testament to the power of the oceans as well as our drive to explore them.
You’ll find Spanish treasure ships, Colonial British freighters, Civil War era craft, and even the U.S.S. Arizona from World War II. While many are under study by archeologists, some are available for divers to explore.
Here are a few of the most popular sites:
1. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Off South Manitou Island, in Lake Michigan, you’ll find the wreck of the Francisco Morazan. This ship has sat there since 1960 and now homes gulls and cormorants. Divers can explore if they prepare properly for a dive with poor visibility.
2. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
In these frequently contested waters of the Atlantic, you’ll find the wreck of the Oriental. This Civil War-era steamship that ran into trouble in 1862. The best part is, you don’t even need to dive to see it. You can often see the smokestack rising above the water if you’re standing in the right spot.
3 Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
You’ll find no fewer than 10 shipwrecks to explore at this national park located in Lake Superior. The deep, frigid water has preserved boats and ships from the early 1800s up to the 1940s.
4. Florida Underwater Archeological Preserve, Florida
One of the oldest shipwrecks you can visit is that of the San Pedro, the remains of which rest below about 20 feet of water off Indian Key in the Florida Keys. Part of a flotilla heading to Spain from Cuba, a 1733 hurricane damaged it too severely to make it home.
5. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska
Much was made of the sinking of the Titanic, but very few know about its Pacific sister, the Princess Sophia. This Canadian steamer sunk about six years after the Titanic, and there were no survivors. At least 353 passengers and crew perished in the icy waters. However, because it sank in the days right before the end of World War I, newspapers neglected the story. You will find dive guides near the park, ready to help you explore this tragic site.
Shipwreck Water Park: What Cuba Has to Offer
Did you know that Cuba is one of the premier destinations in the world for treasure-hunters?
Because many of the waters around this island nation are protected by Cuba National Parks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is little a chance you could strike gold — and you’d have to get in line to do so.
Cuba was once a hub for Spanish ships sailing from the Americas back to Spain laden with treasures of gold and silver. Many of these ships went down with their cargo, and people have been searching for it for years.
Pirate shipwrecks, Spanish shipwrecks, and smaller native vessels can all be found here on the sandy ocean floor.
Explore a Real Cuban Shipwreck
You, too, can begin your diving adventure in Cuba. Visit the famous Cristóbal Colón, a sunken Spanish ship just 15 meters below the water’s surface!
Its depth makes it unique in that anyone can see it through the clear water. You can rent diving equipment from surrounding centers or simply swim out to the wreck yourself with a snorkel.
Visit the San Pasqual, off the coast Cayo Las Brujas, to get a taste of Cuban history. This ship once sank but was floated up again and served as a prison to Che Guevara’s armies during the revolution. It’s abandoned now but is still reachable by boat.
Shipwreck Water Park: Discover the Pirate in You!
By taking trips to these destinations, you’ll educate yourself on the maritime history surrounding North America and the Caribbean. You’ll be entertained by tales of pirates in the past, have fun splashing in the sun, and see some pretty great shipwrecks in the process. What are you waiting for?
Featured Image: CC0, by Bill Kendig, via National Parks Service