Diving "The Little Bahamas of the East!"
Summersville lake is located in Nicholas County, West Virginia. It is called "The Little Bahamas of the East!" by "Skin Diver Magazine." It is an oligotrophic lake characterized by steep rocky shorlines with cliffs that go from above the surface to approximately 100 feet below the surface. The lake has 65 miles of shoreline and is 2700 surface foot acres during the normal summers season (May - September). Summersville Lake is the cleanest clearest freshwater lake east of the Mississippi River and is West Virginia’s #1 tourist attraction.
Shore diving is available. However, the bottom is mud, leaves, and small rocks. The best diving starts approximtely one mile from Sarge’s Dive Shop which is located at the Summersville Lake Marina, Inc. complex. One can either bring their own boat or charter with Sarge’s Dive Shop. There are miles of locations to dive with depths that vary from about 15 feet to 100+ feet. The most popular site to dive and to do open water certifications is "Long Point". The depth here varies from 15 feet to 100+ feet. This site offers huge rock bolders, large rock overhangs, several swim-thrus, and sheer vertical drop-offs. Long Point hosts the "Wedge Rock" which is the perfect spot to do open water certification dives and dive training. There are huge natural rock "platforms" at various depths that we use for student underwater skills. Diving Long Point is easy because the cliff runs exactly north and south and the rocks slope to the west. This enables new divers to easily navigate the water without getting lost.
"Bubble’s Cave" is another hot spot. It isn’t really a cave. Bubbles is a natural dome shaped recess in the ceiling of a rock overhang that has trapped air in it each spring when the lake rises to summer pool. Two or three divers can dive to a depth of about 25 ft., move under the open ledge and slowly place there heads inside the dome and talk to each other while being able to see clearly with the natural sunlight. We suggest you use your octopus to inject fresh air into Bubbles before removing your regulator from your mouth to talk. Upon exiiting the Bubbles, the divers can dive a cliff face that is about 20 feet deep and rises to 75 feet above the surface. The cliff face runs for about 200 yards and ends at the Rat’s Nest. We consider this a drift dive. Our charter boat will drop the divers off at Bubbles and pick the divers up at the Rat’s Nest.
Another great dive site is "Copperhead Cove". Copperhead is a sheer vertical drop-off of 75 feet against a sandstone wall which has one large undercut at about 30 feet. You can dive the cliff face at 75 feet for about 100 yards or so. We recommend bringing a good dive light. This is a geat dive that you will bragg about if you dive it when the visibility is good. Heavy rainfall usually causes the visibility here to drop down to about 8 to 10 feet or less at 75 feet. Copperhead Cove usually gets better in July and August.
"The Overlook" is another one of those fantastic dive sites when the visibility is good. It is a drift dive where we put the divers in the water at the beginning of a sandstone rock face and they submerge to a ledge at 50 feet. From there they follow the ledge and rock boulders for about 300 yards. The dive boat follows and picks the divers up at the end of the dive. This dive is fantastic. There are huge rocks, fish, and bottom structure to see. We recommend bringing a good dive light for this dive.
There are other dive locations on the lake such as "The Wall", "Waterfall Cove", "The Dam", and "Buzzards Cove" to name a few. All of the sites are beautiful with visibility that varies with rainfall and temperature. All of the sites in this article require a boat to access. Sarge’s Dive Shop is the only dive shop on Summersville Lake and offers diving, snorkeling, and swimming charters to the best locations. Sarge’s also offers kayak and paddle board rentals.
You can call Sarge’s at 304-872-1782 to make reservations or you can call me at 304-880-0451 for more info.
Mark T. Allen
ERDI / SDI / NAUI
Instructor / Instructor Trainerwww.sarges.net