If you like to know what to expect at a dive site before you descend, the Ocean Maps app might be right for you.

Are you a diver who wants to learn as much as you can about a dive site before descending? When it comes to wrecks, advance information can make for a safer and more interesting dive. Details can also help you determine which sites to visit when you have limited time but lots of options. While reading divers’ personal accounts of other divers is useful, being able to virtually explore a site from your mobile device adds a whole new element. Enter Ocean Maps.

Ocean Maps has specific apps for multiple locations, but here we’ll review their newest entry for Florida. Like most apps, there’s a free version and a paid version with more features.

Ocean Maps Free Version

The free version of the app offers a lot of information about 30-plus dive sites in southern Florida. You’ll find information like the site coordinates, its location on the map, accessibility, marine life, difficulty level, general details and its history, if applicable. The app also gives you full access for two sites so you can see what you would get for all sites if you pay the subscription fee.

Ocean Maps Paid Version

In addition to the information in the free version, the paid version lets you take a virtual tour in either 2D or 3D. There are two modes available. In one you can view the site like a 2D- or 3D-model (your choice) by rotating and zooming in and out. View it with or without water and with or without the depth color-coding. You can select points of interest or marine-life hotspots. You’ll see more information about them and the optimal dive route around the site.

Second is the Dive mode. While the controls take a little getting used to, once you figure it, out you can virtually “swim” around the dive site. You can go up and down in depth, forward and backward, and turn. The hotspots are accessible in this mode as well.

All in all, the app is very informative and easy to use. The free version gives you quite a bit in and of itself. But for $3 per month, for the paid version isn’t much to spend to virtually dive all the current and future sites. Discover sites you didn’t know existed and virtually dive before you dive for real — sounds great to me.

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