Scuba diving at Lake Jocassee


SALEM, SC (WSPA) – When you think of scuba diving you probably think of the deep blue sea, but it’s the clean, clear water of Lake Jocassee that attracts divers from all over.

When you admire the stunning blues and gorgeous greens of the area, you understand why many here call Jocassee “a gem”.

“It’s the most beautiful lake in South Carolina, you know, hands down,” Bill Routh explained.

Routh has a dive shop in the area and uses the lake to educate others on the ins and outs of scuba diving and the many unique characteristics of Jocassee.

“It’s just, you know, a clear mountain lake fed by clear mountain streams,” he said.

The water, Routh said, is of the highest quality in terms of sediment and visibility for scuba diving.

Divers love to explore and Jocassee is a treasure to their eyes.

Every day, Routh has a team of diving students going for it.

Some are ready for their first open water dive.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” said Matt Davison.

Davison moved to the area from Florida, a diver’s paradise, but it was Jocassee who sparked his interest.

“There is a lot of history on this lake. You know how ‘Deliverance’ is filmed in this area. Going down there, you know, there’s a cemetery over there and all that, ”he said.

Matt may be new, but he’s right.

There is a cemetery under the water and that’s not all.

“From 100 feet and above, there are still forests at the bottom of this lake,” Routh explained.

Looking like a scene from a fantasy novel, Routh said the scenery 300 feet below the surface is a sight to behold.

“It’s like walking in the woods on a moonlit winter night that you can look up and see the canopy of trees,” he described.

Not everyone can get this far, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to see in the shallower parts for divers like Brandon Charlton.

“There was an old wharf over there. Some large metal rods. Something that looks like a big metal fan called lollipops. I saw a lot of cool things there, ”Charlton said.

Routh has been added to the Charlton Tourist Attractions List.

“A cemetery, a girls’ summer camp, a hotel is at the bottom of the lake,” Routh said.

It’s like a playground for some divers, but Routh said it’s not for everyone.

“It’s also a danger. You have to be very careful and aware of the fishing line and other tangled things, ”he warned.

A buddy system and hand signals help keep divers safe and free to swim and experience what is described as a feeling of weightlessness.

“As you go down it becomes very comfortable. You breathe. You relax and it’s like you’re floating in space, ”Davison said.

Routh said you should be warned that these waters can keep you submerged for days.

“It’s very addicting,” he said.

Routh said scuba diving in Jocassee has become so popular during the summer months that if you don’t get there early you are out of luck as the parking spaces at Devil’s State Park Fork fill up quickly.

Routh owns the Jocassee Dive Shop on Dive Buddy Lane in Salem, where he trains divers from the age of 10.

He added that all everyone needs is 2-3 days of diving lessons to become a certified diver.

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