Fascinating shipwrecks and diving locations situated just off the Wrightsville Beach shore make for unbeatable underwater sightseeing. Among the beautiful reef structures, you’ll find historic tugboats and dredges that have morphed into habitats for local marine life, as well as large stretches of ledges revealing prehistoric fossils. Take a deep dive beneath the surface and swim with vibrant schools of fish, marvel at the nautical structures of the past and uncover hidden treasures from the age of the Megalodon on your next vacation.

Test the Waters

Dip your toes in with Aquatic Safaris, the oldest dive shop in the area, and kick off your SCUBA journey with the Alexander Ramsey dive, a favorite among beginners. The 400-foot-long vessel, also referred to as the Liberty Ship, was sunk in 1974 as part of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s artificial reef program. Its presence underwater, along with the Stone and Pocahontas tugboats, helps support marine life and offset coral reef depletion while providing plenty of nooks and crannies for divers to explore. The strategic positioning of these shipwrecks makes it easy for divers navigate the wreckage during day and night time dives.

Not far from the Alexander Ramsey and the Stone and Pocahontas, lies the Dredge Wreck, the site of a steam-powered barge that sank in 1931 for unknown reasons. Despite the name of the ship being discovered in 2005 as Playa, not much is known about this wreck, where marine life like sea turtles, barracuda and Spanish mackerel can now be found. This mysterious wreck is beginner friendly and one of the most colorful off the North Carolina coast. 

Dive In

Two of the most popular wrecks in Wrightsville Beach, best suited for experienced divers, are the Hyde and Markham, two ships purposefully sunk for the artificial reef program that now rest 18 miles from Masonboro Inlet. The Hyde is a 215-foot ocean-going-hopper dredge that sank upright in 1988. The Markham is a 320-feet U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge that was intentionally positioned on its side at a 90-degree angle to allow ship traffic to pass through. Within the same reef, the Schoolhouse, formerly known as the Alton Lennon, was a 150-foot barge used as an oceanic laboratory. These must-see sites are a favorite among divers, especially in summer when sand tiger sharks settle into the wreckage along with schools of bait fish, amber jack and mackerels. Book WB Diving’s three-in-one dive to explore the Hyde, Markham and Schoolhouse.

Adventure into Deeper Waters

Swim back in time with a visit to the historic John D. Gill vessel. The Gill was sunk in 1942 during World War II by German U-Boat U-158 and now rests in two pieces. Divers often find brass artifacts among the wreckage.

After colliding with a tanker during World War II that same year, the Cassimir dive site is rich in history with only the midship, columns and stern remaining. The stern is positioned on its side, making it the wreck’s most vertical relief. Normania was overtaken by rough seas in 1924 and is one of the oldest dive sites in Wrightsville Beach. Over time, mother nature has turned the ship into an underwater oasis home to exceptional marine life. Both of these sites are best suited for advanced divers due to the depth of water and the surrounding currents. Book WB Diving’s Cassimir and Normania two-tank-dive or three-tank-dive for the perfect combination charter to explore the sister shipwrecks.

Journey into the Past

You can’t leave Wrightsville Beach without a souvenir, and there’s no better token to remember your beach trip than shark teeth. The waters off our coast are one of the few places in the world where high concentrations of the giant, pre-historic teeth can be found. Join WB Diving on a custom fossil dive to special ledges known for their concentration of Megalodon teeth and other unique finds. To make the journey to the ledges, an Advanced Certification (or equivalent deep diving experience) and Nitrox certification are required. Make sure to pack accordingly too as you’ll need to bring your own wreck reel, safety sausage and catch bag for the teeth you’ll be taking home.

History and aquatic life come together in Wrightsville Beach to create unforgettable diving adventures for divers of every experience level. Don’t miss out on the breathtaking adventures that await beneath the surface.