EXCLUSIVE: Know Caribbean countries offering exceptional diving experience

The Caribbean offers both the beginner and advanced diver some memorable and magical experiences. Several countries offer experience in the marine life which combined with a range of diving habitats

EXCLUSIVE: Know Caribbean countries offering exceptional diving experience
EXCLUSIVE: Know Caribbean countries offering exceptional diving experience

Caribbean: The Caribbean offers both the beginner and advanced diver some memorable and magical experiences. Several countries offer experience in the marine life which combined with a range of diving habitats. 

The variety of marine life, combined with a range of diving habitats, including wrecks, walls, drop-offs, pinnacles, coral gardens, reefs and passages teeming with life, afford the diver a lifetime of diving experiences. 

Combine all this with a laid-back vibe, barefoot beach resorts and superb scuba facilities and you can understand why divers return year after year. Breathing underwater, experiencing weightlessness, riding undersea currents… everything about scuba diving is exhilarating – not to mention the incredible marine life and seascapes awaiting the

underwater adventurer.

One moment you’re peering inside a huge barrel sponge filled with tiny blue damselfish flickering like electric sparks; the next you’re transfixed by a vast shoal of surgeonfish streaming overhead like silver smoke. Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea – they can’t fail to be captivated by their sheer abundance of creatures.

READ HERE: Countries offering exceptional Diving experience

BARBADOS

Dive operator: Barbados Blue Water Sports

Top dive site: Carlisle Bay Marine Park The number one dive site in Barbados has a number of interesting shipwrecks that can be found in the bay, which benefits from protection from unregulated fishing practices.

Seven shipwrecks can be explored, including those from both world wars and the more recently scuttled MV Trident with her big bow guns. Regular sightings include turtles, stingrays, cels, snappers, groupers, barracudas and thousands of smaller reef fish.

Carlisle Bay is one of the only places on the island where unregulated fishing (fish pots, hand lines, rods, spear fishing) is not allowed. Due to its protection ‘the Bay’ has become a Global Pilot Project that shows what is possible if we simply remove fishing pressure from a coral reef ecosystem.

Carlisle Bay is only 1km from the capital, Bridgetown, yet has the highest abundance and diversity levels of the island. Imagine what’s possible when the protected parks are expanded..

Also recommended:

When sunk in 1978, the Stavronikita was the largest shipwreck in the region. She is also a deep dive recommended for advanced divers, and remains one of the most photographed wrecks in Barbados. She’s getting old, but many think this only adds to Stav’s character.

A good spot for barracudas.

The Trident Coral Nursery Monument is located close to the Hilton Drop-off and serves two purposes. Firstly, it celebrates the Broken Trident on our flag, as we were also on the way to becoming a republic when the monument was built.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Trident Monument is now an active part of the PADI coral reef first aid course – over 400 corals have been planted’ during the last few years.

ANTIGUA and BARBUDA

Dive operator: Dive Carib divecarib.com

Top dive site: Sunken Rock A breathtaking rock pinnacle, Sunken Rock is the only known wall dive in Antigua, with a vertical drop-off on the outside of the rock from 2m to 24m. Situated close to Indian Creek, it takes around 30 minutes to travel to the site.

The seascape at Sunken Rock is impressive, and the dive experience is often enhanced by the presence of Caribbean reef sharks. Rainbow parrotfish, dog snappers and occasionally dolphins are also seen.

Also recommended:

The Pillars of Hercules: Spotted eagle rays, turtles, historic anchors and a coral nursery.

Red Rock: Beautiful coral reef, southern stingrays, nurse sharks and enormous lobsters. Nanton Point: Numerous Caribbean reef sharks.

LEFT: Diver’s view of Sunken Rock in Antigua

ABOVE: Jamaica’s Montego Bay Marine Park promises divers unforgettable views of the intricate coral reef ecosystem.

JAMAICA

Dive operator: Dressel Divers dresse/divers.com

Top dive site: Airport Wall Located in the middle of Montego Bay Marine Park, this amazing wall dive drops off into the blue, starting at 10m and plummeting beyond 300m. Look among the corals and sponges and they’ll find a myriad of marine life. Some of the most abundant species of tropical fish on this coral reef are angelfish, butterflyfish, moray eels, file fish, goat fish, gobies, groupers and grunts. Turtles are also often seen.

Also recommended:

Devil’s Wall: A sheer cliff off the coast of Jamaica descending to a depth of over 2100m, with a reef at the edge and a totally stunning landscape.

Colosseum Reef: The diversity of marine life at this reef is astounding. Travellers may be lucky to spot several huge stingrays and turtles, as well as barracudas and some tiny but super cute jewel damselfish.

In the Caribbean region, 100 million people benefit from coral reefs including 41 million people who are likely highly dependent on reefs for their food or livelihood.

SINT MAARTEN

Dive operator: Dive Sint Maarten 

Top dive site: HMS Proselyte This 32-gun frigate, was the former Dutch vessel Jason, built in 1770. Her crew mutinied and turned her over to the British in 1796. She then served the Royal Navy until she was wrecked in 1801 on Man of War Shoal near Philipsburg.

She lies on her starboard side in approximately 15m of water, just beyond the mouth of Great Bay. Numerous cannons, ballast bars, barrel hoops and anchors are scattered around the wreck on the ocean floor, all heavily encrusted with coral.

Also recommended:

Carib Cargo: An old inter-island trader that sits upright in 21m of water, this wreck is home to schooling jacks and snappers, turtles, lobsters, sharks, stingrays – and a very curious bottle-nosed dolphin during the winter months.

Fu Sheng: One of the deeper dive sites on the western side of Sint Maarten, this old Taiwanese trader ship lies upside down right on the drop-off at a depth of around 30m.

ST VINCENT and THE GRENADINES

Dive operator: Dive Antilles

Top dive site: Bat Cave

A perfect all-round site suitable for beginners through to advanced divers. To begin the dive, you snorkel into the cave where you will see bats flying overhead. They then descend, diving through the cave onto a dramatic wall.

There are also swim-throughs which show the volcanic nature of St Vincent. They can expect to find large schooling fish, a range of cels and critters such as seahorses and frogfish hiding in the reef.

Also recommended:

  • Kingstown Wrecks: Three intact wrecks from 15m to 45m in size, encrusted in coral and marine life.
  • Petit Byahaut: Sloping wall and turtle grass – the perfect muck and wall dive in one.
  • The Pinnacle: Rich in marine life and soft corals. 

TURKS and CAICOS

Dive operator: ZuBlu Diving zubludiving.com

Top dive site: Grand Turk Wall Renowned for some of the Caribbean’s best diving, the Turks and Caicos Islands boast pristine coral reefs, water temperatures ranging from 23 to 29 degrees C and visibility up to 60m.

The real magnet for divers, however, is the Columbus Passage – a 2500m-deep channel frequented by migrating humpback whales, spotted eagle rays, manta rays, dolphins and turtles. Festooned with sponges and sea fans, the sheer walls of this 35km-wide channel provide exhilarating wall diving opportunities.

The famous Grand Turk Wall runs along the entire leeward side of the island, dropping quickly into thousands of metres of deep blue Caribbean Sea.

Also recommended:

  • Salt Cay: For an easy and accessible wreck dive at 12-18m, just off the coast of Salt Cay, you will find HMS Endymion, an 18th-century British warship. The area is also home to beautiful coral gardens, arches and ledges.
  • Amphitheatre: Highlights include vast fields of black coral, huge elephant car sponges and spectacular schools of fish.

THE BLUES

The Bahamas and Dominica are superb dive destinations, offering everything from whales and sharks to mysterious blue holes.

BAHAMA BLUES

Diving is one of the major highlights of the Bahamas, with everything from shallow reefs for novices, to drop-offs, wrecks, blue holes and shark diving for the more experienced. You can learn to dive at centres on several islands, while liveaboards operate to the idyllic Exuma Cays.

DOMINICA GIANTS

No fewer than 22 cetacean species are found in the waters around Dominica, earning it the title of Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean. But even if they are not lucky enough to glimpse one of the resident sperm whales, Dominica’s spectacular underwater landscapes promise world-class diving.

From bubbling volcanic vents to precipitous drop-offs lying close offshore, divers can discover a wealth of unusual marine life, including seahorses, frogfish and flying gurnards.