The sun sets as Florida Keys Dive Center heads out for a night dive. CONTRIBUTED

Divers heading out on the Upper Keys waters experienced some windy days last week, but it ended with amazingly calm conditions. It was so calm that we were able to do two night dives.  

Our dive shop had the pleasure of taking out a group of firefighters from Myrtle Beach, North Carolina, as well as a private night dive with a couple from Michigan. Both nights gave us some spectacular sunsets and the diving was loaded with nighttime critters. The thought of dipping below the surface at night might sound crazy to some. But the mystery is its allure. 

North Carolina firefighters enjoy a dive off the Florida Keys shore. CONTRIBUTED

Although you’ve been scuba diving at a site many times before, at night you drop into a whole new world and watch it come to life under the glow of your dive light. The scene changes as day creatures retire and nocturnal creatures emerge.  Some of our favorite common nighttime critters include octopuses, eels, lobsters out hunting and turtles — lots and lots of turtles. I’ve had to convince many divers who had some anxiety about diving at night to at least try it.  

After the dive was over and they were heading back in, you could hear them stating how incredible it was or why were they ever worried, or my favorite, “That was so incredible, I don’t know if I’ll dive in the day again.” One of the amazing things about scuba diving is that there are many specialty dives you can do. Whether you like to drift dive, wreck dive, spearfish or night dive, the sport offers you so many options. If night diving is one of those you’d like to try, contact your local dive shop and set one up. Be prepared for amazing sunsets, incredible creature interaction and a festive boat ride back.

Eric Billips is is the owner, captain and instructor at Islamorada Dive Center and Floridia Keys Dive Center. He specializes in scuba, rebreather, spearfishing and captaining in the Florida Keys