Diving Milwaukee

Prins Willem V, Lake Michigan

Learn about our favorite dive sites…

Listed below are some of our favorite dive sites. They include Lake Michigan shipwrecks off from Milwaukee, our favorite training facility in Illinois, and some of our favorite lakes in Wisconsin.

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Lake Michigan

With countless shipwrecks at modest depth and above average visibility, Lake Michigan diving is both breathtaking and challenging. Although many of the shipwrecks date back to the 1800’s, most wrecks are in excellent condition because they have been preserved by the cool freshwater. For this reason, Lake Michigan offers some of the best diving in the Midwest and some of the most spectacular wreck dives in the world.

For descriptions of our favorite wreck dives on Lake Michigan, see our Dive Lake Michigan web page. Our Lake Michigan Wreck Diving is a good place to find out about upcoming dives.

Temperatures: The recreational dive season on Lake Michigan starts in May and ends in early November, though it is possible to dive Lake Michigan year round. Temperatures above the thermocline rise to between 60º-70º F during the summer and early fall. At depth, temperatures can be as high as 68º F. More commonly, temperatures at depth range from 50º to 60º F. During the colder months, water temperatures can drop to nearly 32º F and temperatures below 150 feet are consistently 38º to 40º F year round. A 7mm wetsuit is generally sufficient protection for most divers in late June through the end of October. During the colder months, a dry suit and redundant air supply are required.

Visibility: Visibility can vary dramatically from day to day. At times visibility can exceed 100 feet, but generally divers will find visibility at about 35 to 40 feet. Following storms, visibility can drop to as little as 5 feet on near-shore dives. As in other places, visibility tends to be better during the colder months or at depths below 80 feet.

Special considerations: Currents may be present and conditions can change quite quickly. Boaters should be sure to check with the National Weather Service before going out. Surface conditions can be found on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) and on National Data Buoy Center (NDBC).

Please note that under US federal law, it is illegal to remove artifacts from any wreck older than 50 years. If you are going to take anything, take pictures and leave the remaining artifacts for others to see.

Pearl Lake, South Beloit, Illinois

Pearl Lake is located 10 minutes south of the Wisconsin-Illinois border just outside of South Beloit, Illinois. Pearl Lake was a former rock quarry. The lake boasts numerous underwater attractions such as several boats, an airplane, a submarine, concrete culverts, an underwater buoyancy course, and a bus. Because of these attractions and the numerous underwater training platforms, Pearl Lake is considered one of the best dive training facilities in the Midwest. Other on-site facilities include a restaurant, showers, beach, and campground. At the time of this writing, the entrance fee to Pearl Lake was $20 dollars per day for divers and $10 for non-divers. Pearl Lake allows night diving, but all divers should make arrangements for a night dive in advance.

Directions: Map to Pearl Lake
Maximum depth: 85 feet
Average dive depth: 20-40 feet
Special considerations: Once you have arrived at Pearl Lake, head toward the main building. To the left of the entrance is a flight of stairs leading down to the dive shop where you will need to pay your entrance fee. All divers are given a card at check-in that must be returned before they leave. Entry fees can be paid with cash, credit card, or personal check. Air fills are available at the dive shop.

Devils Lake, Baraboo, Wisconsin

Devils Lake is not only well-known for above-water activities like camping, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking, it is also great for underwater activities such as underwater photography, night diving, and marine life observation. Below the surface of Devils Lake divers will encounter large boulders, fallen trees, and many species of fish such as bass, walleye, bluegills, carp, croppies, and crawfish. Facilities include a campground and numerous picnic areas.

Directions: Map to Devil’s Lake
Maximum depth: 45 feet
Temperatures: Range from the mid 70s during the summer to the low 30s in winter. A 7mm wetsuit is generally sufficient protection for most divers from May through October.
Special considerations: Entries into Devils Lake can be quite difficult given the rocks along the shore. Divers should exercise caution when entering and exiting the water. The best diving is found along the northwest shoreline. The State of Wisconsin operates the park, and an annual or daily entry permit is required for all vehicles.

For directions to other great diving site, please visit out Maps Page.