Dive Site: Lake Phoenix, Virginia

Once a thriving quarry, this Virginia lake has become a booming dive instruction area.

Formerly known as Lake Rawlings in Virginia, this spot was reborn as Lake Phoenix after management changed hands. If you’ve been before, expect a few changes, not all related to diving. The current manager, Robert Grose, is much savvier with social media and technology in general. You can fill out release forms online. Those who follow the Lake Phoenix Facebook page will get frequent updates on the changes.

The shop is fully stocked with all the rental gear you could need, and offers numerous courses for those who want the training. Vendors like Dive Rite come to the lake multiple times a year to let divers try their latest gear, such as sidemounts, rebreathers and drysuits.

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The lake itself is full of unique underwater features. Ever swim through a Blackhawk helicopter? You can do it at Lake Phoenix. While the water is only around 60 feet deep, there’s plenty to see. Underwater there are boats, a plane and a bus. There are even basketball hoops and bowling balls to use in place of a basketball. Hang bars let divers practice safety stops or tank staging. Swim-through channels and large hoops aid buoyancy practice. New underwater features are in the works, as well as the placement of a boat in the lake so divers can practice boat entry and exits. The large docks feature rinse buckets for masks, as well as benches to sit on.

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All in all, Lake Phoenix is a fantastic place for dive training and practice. It’s also a great spot to just blow some bubbles for fun in between dive trips. There’s plenty of camping space available, cabins, bathhouses with coin-operated showers, and tons of parking. Non-diving swimmers are welcome throughout the week or after noon on Sundays. If you’re close to Virginia and looking for a nearby place to get wet, have some fun, practice your skills, or try some new gear, head to Lake Phoenix for all of the above and more.


Depth – Maximum 62 feet (19m)

Water Temp – Varies from 70 to 85 F (21 to 29 C) in the summer and 45 to 55 F (7 to 12 C) in the winter. There’s a stiff thermocline year-round and the water at depth is always quite cold.

Visibility – Varies depending on number of divers

Location – Rawlings, VA

Dive Types – Freshwater, Shore, Wreck, Night