Divers interested in diving off the Tampa Bay coast into the warm, calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico there are three international airports. The largest and probably the least expensive especially for international or transcontinental flights is Tampa International Airport (TPA) in the western part of the city of Tampa. This is a great place to rent a car and head towards the many barrier islands and resorts that line the coast. Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport are also great options to consider when checking for flights. There are also over a dozen regional and municipals airports for private planes arriving into the Tampa Bay area.
There are many dive shops in the Tampa Bay area. Jim's Dive Shop is a great shop in St. Petersburg as well as Aquatic Obsessions that both are friendly shops that offer scuba classes, excursions and help to organize local divers and dive clubs.
In Tampa there is the dive shop Adventures Under the Sea that offer some scuba instruction online and of course offer open water certification in person. The shop offers dives in the gulf and at some inland freshwater locations. South of the bay in the town of Bradenton there is the dive shop Blue Water Explorers. This scuba shack, as they call themselves, specializes in offshore gulf dives and spearfishing. It is one of the biggest charters of the area and offers charters to over a 100 different dives.
The Clearwater area north of the bay offers many dive shops some of the few that are top rated include Tanks A Lot Dive Charters, 2 Shea Charters and Dive Clearwater. All three of these shops offer scuba charters. Dive Clearwater offers charters to the many wreck dives off the coast and also specializes in spearfishing.
Further north from Clearwater up the coast is the town of Tarpon Springs. There are a lot of offshore dives directly off Tarpon and the marine traffic is reduced. A highly recommended scuba diving shop in Tarpon is Narcosis Scuba. This shop offers boat excursion to the many wrecks and ledges and gets you away - a bit - from the more crowded tourist towns of the barrier islands and Tampa itself.
Great local shop. dean is super helpful and certified my 14 year old in the sound. he is patient and knowledgeable. the shop is fully stocked and really cute. I've been diving for 25 years and I wanted my daughter in good hands and she was.