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World | USA / Canada | Great Lakes | Diving Lake Huron:

Lake Huron overview


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Great Lakes, USA / Canada dive site map

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Scuba Diving Great Lakes, USA / Canada

Water temperature:

10C (50F) to 24C (75F) depending on depth and month of the year


Dry or semi-dry suit recommended although many people dive in two-piece farmer john 5-7mm suits


5 - 20 metres (15 - 65 feet). Weather (particularly wind) and site dependent

Type of diving:


Marine life:

Large and small mouth bass, sunfish and invasive gobies and zebra mussels abound

When to go:

The season runs from late April to October with the best diving in July and August when the wind is more predictable and the water temps are warmest.

How to get there:

Fly to Detroit (DTW) and then hire a car - around a two-hour drive.

Sanilac Port, Lake Huron, Great Lakes - courtesy of Rick Davies
Sanilac shoreline, Lake Huron, Great Lakes - courtesy of Rick Davies

Lake Huron

Lake Huron is the second largest of America's Great Lakes and the third largest freshwater lake on earth, with a surface area of 23,010 square miles (59,596 km). It contains 850 cubic miles (3,540 km) of water and has 3,827 miles (6,157 km) of shoreline, its eastern portion being in Ontario, Canada and its western portion being in Michigan, USA. While the lake's maximum depth is 750 feet (229m), its average depth is only 195 feet (59m) and a large number of wrecks lie within recreational diving depths.

Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve

Located on Michigan's 'Thumb', on the southwestern portion of Lake Huron, the 163 square mile area designated as the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve has some historically intriguing wrecks and presents some fine diving opportunities for beginners through to seasoned pros. The preserve was established in 1980 to promote the conservation of some fifteen or so wrecks that lie submerged within a 16 mile radius of Port Sanilac. Books on the wrecks and the storms which caused their demise abound in local tourist information centres.

A handful of charter boats run trips out to the Sanilac Shores Wrecks, mostly on weekends from late April through to early October. The lake decreases in depth very gradually from the shore and the closest and shallowest wrecks lie in little over 5m of water, with several of the more popular being in the 12-30m range, whilst the deepest and furthest can involve dives to 40m and upwards. Some of the wrecks can be penetrated whilst others are too small, too broken up or too old for it to be safe. Some are wooden, some steel, some are older (1856), some newer (1975), some are large and some are very small. There is actually a wonderful variety and, as such, trips can be planned for either specific experience levels or to cater for a variety of divers in one trip.

Little or no wind (coming off the land to the west, if at all) would the most favourable conditions, in which case the lake can be like glass. Winds can pick up however and when they swing round to the north and east the waves can kick up surprisingly quickly. Definitely take some sea-sickness medication if you are prone. Visibility is reduced by the wind and although it also varies by wreck as a matter of course, you can generally expect anything between 5-20m vis.

Water temperatures around 20 degrees Celcius are not uncommon on the surface at the height of summer but can get below 10 degrees on the deeper wrecks. July and August are the best months for diving and although a dry suit is recommended you could get away with a 5mm suit and a mug of tea on a very nice day! Remember that despite the relatively cold water temperatures, the air regularly reaches into the high twenties/early thirties Celsius over the summer. Michiganders commonly "layer-up" out of the water and this practice is carried over in to their diving too!

Port Sanilac itself was supposedly named after a Wyandotte Indian Chief and is a small community that was originally settled by lumberjacks and called Bark Shanty. Nowadays it is a quaint seasonal holiday town that boasts a small marina of mainly private yachts. A few accommodation options are available in the town and nearby Lexington, which is worth a visit for the Lake Huron Shipwreck and Maritime Museum. It is also possible to day-trip to Port Sanilac from Detroit and its suburbs, which are a one to two hour drive away.

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