During a powerful storm in 1940, a sugar barge named The Regina sunk off the shoreline of Bradenton Beach. It’s in about 20 feet of water just 150 feet or so from the sand. Now, an underwater Archaeological Preserve, the wreckage extends over 200 feet and is marked with a buoy.
The location is at 7th Street, just north of the intersections of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road. So, if traveling Cortez Road from Bradenton, go over the bridge to the island. At the traffic light where Cortez Road dead-ends, turn right and go about two short blocks. Now, look out over the Gulf and you should be able to see the buoy. Gulf Drive Cafe is there too, right on the water practically overlooking the wreckage.
Remember, the best diving conditions include several days in a row of calm water, slack tide and full sun.
Manatee County has also created eight near-shore and five off-shore artificial reefs in the Gulf as well as Tampa and Sarasota Bays. For coordinates, click HERE.
Divers may find lobster, stone crab and all kinds of colorful reef fish such as trigger fish, damsel fish (including beau gregories), angel fish, and tangs. A closer inspection may reveal large sport fish like goliath grouper and snapper as well as a slew of invertebrates ranging from barnacles to sea urchins clinging to reef walls.
Caution is a must… as there are strong tidal currents and sometimes poor visibility.
Seven mile reefs typically have the best clarity.