West of Bradenton on Anna Maria Island, the snorkeling off Bradenton Beach allows the chance to spot the Regina shipwreck. The 1940 wreck of Regina is located about 200 feet offshore in 12 to 20 foot deep waters. The wreck is an old sugar barge, Regina, that is marked by a white buoy, and is one of Florida's Shipwreck Underwater Archaeological Preserves. The wreck is about 250 long oriented north-south parallel to shore. It is mainly sunken into the sandy bottom with some of the stern and bow still visible. Depending upon recent storm activity, more or less could be exposed. While snorkeling the Regina, you may see grouper, spadefish, needlefish, baracuda, jellyfish and occasionally dolphins and manatees.
The best time of year for snorkeling at Bradenton Beach is late April through May when the water is the clearest. The best time of day is during a slack low tide to locate the wreck, but slack high tide is better for the water clarity. The mornings are known for low wind and therefore low surf conditions. There has been recent beach replenishment activities that has reduced water clarity even further. Use of a dive flag is highly recommended due to high boat traffic.
After a long morning of snorkeling, head on over to the Gulf Drive Cafe and Tiki Bar for a cool drink.
To reach the Regina snorkeling dive site from US75, use Exit #220. Head west on SR64 (aka Manatee Avenue) onto Santa Maria Island. In Brandenton Beach, turn on Gulf Drive to 7th Street. The white buoy marking the wreck is located directly offshore from where 7th Street meets the beach. Unfortunately, there is no public parking near 7th Street. You might want to ask the Sea Kat Diver shop at 7th Street if you can park there. Otherwise, you might have a walk from public parking areas back to 7th Street. Snorkeling on the Florida Gulf Coast, such as at Regina Underwater Preserve, is not known for good visibility. Matter of fact, the snorkeling is known for very low water clarity in the range from 1 foot to 7 feet most of the year.
Overall, Regina Underwater Preserve is the 4th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 18 snorkeling dives in Florida Gulf Coast.