Caribbean Diving & Snorkelling
Discover special places for Caribbean diving and snorkelling
Caribbean diving in the Caribbean is an amazing experience and with PADI courses available at most destinations you will have the ideal opportunity to learn how to Scuba dive while you are in the Caribbean. Just imagine the thrill of diving alongside turtles, stingrays, and sharks. You’ll find plenty to explore – old and new wrecks, sheer walls, pinnacles, coral reefs and gentle drop offs. You don’t need to miss out if you do not like depths, or if the thought of Caribbean diving is scary, as snorkelling in the Caribbean can be nearly as rewarding as scuba diving.
We are not going to simply make a list of where you can find Caribbean diving PADI schools because there are so many of them. What we are going to list are some special places for diving enthusiasts who do not know the region and want to know where to find the best Caribbean diving spots. These special places for your Caribbean diving adventure will cover where there are exciting wrecks, walls, reefs, sharks and sculptures. There’s a section for snorkelling enthusiasts too covering some special or unusual places to snorkel in the Caribbean.
Caribbean diving – wrecks
Let’s start with GRENADA as it is a Caribbean diving playground with many wrecks – sunk both by nature and deliberately. There are not only walls and reefs to explore but also unusual underwater sculptures (see Unusual Caribbean Diving Sites below). With Grenada’s sister isles, Carriacou (pristine reefs) and Petite Martinique, also offering great diving this region will keep diving enthusiasts more than happy. Advanced divers will enjoy visiting (alongside spotted eagle rays, barracuda and schools of jack) the biggest wreck in the Caribbean, Bianca C, sits in 165ft of water. ARUBA is another Caribbean wreck diving hotspot with 42 diving sites, most within a short distance from shore.
In the British Virgin Islands there’s a wreck of a boat that sank in the late 19th century – the Royal Mail Steamer RMS Rhome, and a cargo ship wreck (Superior Producer, sank 1977) sits upright 100ft below water in CURACAO just outside Willemstad Harbour – it’s the island’s best wreck dive. Sunk deliberately in the waters of Roatan (the Bay Islands of HONDURAS), Mud Hole is a 300ft freighter with a lofty 85ft wheelhouse – the stairs and railings are quite a site. In the BAHAMAS (New Providence Island) there’s a Vulcan Bomber (sunk deliberately for the adventures of 007).
Caribbean wreck diving destinations
Caribbean diving – walls
The Caribbean destinations to head for if you are looking for great wall diving are the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman and Little Cayman), the Turks & Caicos Islands, Belize, Cozumel, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Roatan, St Croix (USVI), and Dominica. In the TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS you’ll find really amazing wall drop-offs – some of the world’s best (6,000ft). Expect tropical fish, groupers, barracudas, reef sharks, nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles and more. Humpback whales pass through the Columbus Passage waters during winter migration months, on the way to their breeding grounds. There is a wall in LITTLE CAYMAN which is home to a plethora of sponges, more in BELIZE – as well as the famous Blue Hole which drops down 440ft. Its diameter is 1,000ft and features stalactites, caverns, and a lot of darkness! CUBA boasts plunging walls, vibrant coral reefs teaming with life, amazing visibility, and great shark, whale and reef diving.
Other Caribbean diving sites worthy of special mention
A paradise for divers is the TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS with awesome walls and wrecks, protected reefs near shore, and an abundance of marine life in impressive pristine dive sites. With a marine park which has been protected for many years, ST EUSTATIUS (aka Statia) offers amazing Caribbean diving – shallow reefs, shipwrecks, sponge and coral cloaked walls and pinnacles, amazing backdrops, pristine marine life and even flying gurnards. BONAIRE, with its marine preserve, has 63 diving sites and KLEIN BONAIRE 26 dive sites – it’s a great island for shore diving and family diving. As well as several wrecks, the BAHAMAS offers some nice dives – a shark dive in Abacos where lots of reef sharks and blacktip sharks turn up to be fed. There are fascinating canyons and unusual marine life on the Andros Wall, two deep blue holes to discover – one in Andros, one in Exuma – and pinnacles to dive in ST LUCIA which are cloaked by sponges and coral.
Unusual Caribbean diving sites
CENOTES (SINK HOLES) – To dive in the unique Mayan cenotes (sink holes) in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, you’ll need to have Open Water Diver accreditation. The Yucatan Peninsula has a vast unique underground river system where the water is incredibly clear. The underground river has caused land corrosion and collapse over millions of years, creating some amazing sink holes. You will see some extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites in these caverns, accessed via the cenotes.
UNDERWATER MUSEUM & SCULPTURE PARKS – The clever creations of Jason deCaires. Cancun (Yucatan Peninsula) and Grenada both have underwater sculpture parks you can dive and snorkel around, it’s a surreal experience… and not to be missed. There are more than 500 life-size sculptures in the YUCATAN PENINSULA waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. The Salon Manchones gallery sits 8 metres below the surface so good for both diving and snorkelling. The other gallery, Salon Nizuc, is only four metres deep so only snorkelling is allowed. In GRENADA there were over 50 life-size Jason deCaires sculptures when it was set up in 2006, since when new status have been added including a cyclist sculpted by Troy Lewis and a ‘Christ of the Deep’ statue.
Stunning Caribbean diving images
Turks and Caicos
Unusual Caribbean snorkelling adventures
UNDERWATER SCULPTURE PARKS – there are surreal underwater museum and sculpture parks in both Cancun and Grenada that you can snorkel around and above. Read more in the Unusual Caribbean Diving Sites above.
SNORKELLING WITH STINGRAYS – getting up front and personal with stingrays, touching, feeding and snorkelling with them – is one of the most popular activities in the Caribbean. The destinations where you will be able to have a stingray ‘experience’ are: Antigua, the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman), the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana), Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, and the Turks & Caicos Islands (Grand Turk). In the Bahamas (Paradise Island) there are also small ‘trained’ Cownose stingrays in a shallow lagoon where small children (children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult) are allowed to feed the stingrays from the lagoon shallows. Adults and older children can wade into waist-high water to feed them with the opportunity of snorkelling with them after feeding.
Stingrays are found in lagoons, around sand bars and shallow reefs, and in the beach shallows – they bury themselves in the sand. While the Southern Stingray is gentle, when you’re near them you must remember that they have razor sharp barbs on their long tails and if you stand on one they will certainly let you know about it. They only use their barbed tails though if they feel threatened in any way, injuries are actually rare.
Some of the best Caribbean snorkelling spots
ARUBA is good for snorkelling – and exciting as there is a wreck (German freighter Antilla) that sits in just 60ft of water so you can see the upper decks below you. Another premier snorkelling destination are the TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS which boasts one of the world’s biggest coral reef systems. GRENADA has several shallow coral gardens, BARBADOS easy snorkel sites, and in ST LUCIA the Anse Chastenet house reef is the place to go snorkelling where there are lots of fish; the reef starts in 5ft of water. If you are going to the ‘nature’ island of the Caribbean, DOMINICA, head for the Champagne Reef which features volcanic vents through which bubbles escape. Search out Baie du Diamant on the French island of MARTINIQUE, a good snorkelling spot with good corals, and popular Cades Reef in ANTIGUA which is busy with fish. Also in Antigua is Fryers Shoal, a really shallow coral reef sitting just 20ft down.
Other good Caribbean snorkelling spots can be found in the Bay Islands, off the HONDURAS north coast and the EXUMAS (the Out Islands of the Bahamas) which has snorkelling spots more like an aquarium, the most amazing turquoise and blue water, and very friendly nurse sharks. Go snorkelling in TOBAGO and you’ll see sponges, sea fans and maybe sightings of hammerhead sharks. In BONAIRE some reefs start just 20ft from the shore where you can see parrotfish and plenty of silversides, there are 17 dedicated snorkelling sites here. ST JOHN (USVI) has several good snorkelling spots, reefs, shallow waters, and rocky out-crops, where you might spot sergeant majors, angelfish and damsel fish, blue tang and parrotfish… possibly sea turtles. A good snorkelling spot to see wreck remnants is in Eleuthera waters in the BAHAMAS – where a barge sank together with its load… a train. There are spectacular giant rounded boulders in the shallows to snorkel around in Virgin Gorda in the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS.
Snorkelling is just as amazing as Caribbean diving
Images on this Caribbean Diving & Snorkelling page are copyright of Grenada Board of Tourism (main & others), Jason deCaires Taylor (sculptures), Tourism Corporation Bonaire, Aruba – fotoseeker.com, Turks & Caicos Tourist Office, Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, Bahamas Tourist Office, www.linda-jackson.co.uk (Exumas)