General Notes for Scuba Diving in the Caribbean
Below are some popular dive sites as well as contact information for dive companies.
- Virgin Islands
The most popular choice. Many sites but many divers.
- St. Martin Antigua
More exposed, but some nice sites including Saba & Anguilla.
Spectacular diving in a more remote location. Local dive shops used for all dives.
Dive sites are more spread out than some areas. Tobago Cays are popular.
Many dive sites covering a large area.
First-class diving on the second largest barrier reef in the world – over 350 miles long.
The British Virgin Islands
PAINTED WALLS: Long canyons, a cave, a sponge encrusted tunnel, numerous barracuda, rock beauties, angelfish and a variety of pelagic fish make Painted Walls an exciting and picturesque dive. Depths vary from 28 to 50 feet.
THE RHONE: Just about everyone in diving has heard of the classic wreck, the RMS Rhone and even those who have not visited the British Virgin Islands have seen the Rhone in Columbia Pictures treasure diving epic ‘The Deep’. An ocean steamer 310 feet in length, this magnificent vessel sank off Salt Island during an extremely violent hurricane in 1867. After 117 years of silent slumber in 20 to 80 feet of water, this great ship remains remarkably intact with much of her decking, rigging, steam engine and propeller still visible. Gilded with colorful sponges and flourishing corals, the Rhone is perhaps the most impressive shipwreck in the entire Caribbean.
RHONE REEF: Two coral-encrusted caves are located in less than 25 feet of water at Rhone Reef, Salt Island. A variety of hard and soft corals, fish, turtles and the occasional shark can be found here. Due to its proximity to the Rhone it is a protected area.
GREAT HARBOR: Directly across the channel from Road Town Harbor lies a large protected bay on the north side of Peter Island. At the center of this bayis a shallow coral reef less than 20 yards offshore, beginning in eight feet of water. Loaded with colorful sponges and a marvelous array of small marine life, this reef slopes gently to approximately 18 feet and then drops vertically to a depth of 40 feet.
INDIANS: The Indians are four large rock formations that rise from the ocean floor to a height of about 90 feet. Deepest depth is 50 feet on the westward side. The Indians have just about everything for the snorkeler as well as the scuba diver. Brain, finger, star and elkhorn corals are abundant as well as gorgonians and sea fans.
CAVES: The caves at Normal Island can provide many hours of fun for snorkelers. There is a large variety of subject for the underwater photographer such as schools of Dward Herring. These fish are food for many pelicans in the area. The reef in front of shallow caves slopes downward to a depth of 40 feet.
ANGELFISH REEF: One of the best sightseeing dives is a sloping reef located off the western point of Norman Island. Depths here range from 10 to 90 feet. The highlight of the dive for some is a visit to the bottom of the channel where a large colony of angelfish reside. There is plenty of fish action at this particular site because of the swift-flowing currents in the nearby channels and close proximity to the open sea.
COOPER ISLAND: The southeastern shore of Cooper Island called Markoe Point is a sheer rock wall that plunges some 70 feet to the ocean floor. Nurse sharks are frequently encountered lying on sandy floors at the base of small canyons formed by the rugged walls of the island.
SCRUB ISLAND: The south side of Scrub Island is a splendid reef with depths up to 60 feet.
LITTLE CAMANOE: The northeastern tip of Little Camanoe offers 30-foot reef dives. The coral overhands in this area are exceptionally good. At times there are ground seas, therefore caution is advised.
SEA DOG ROCK: Plenty of pelagic fish. Depth of 80 feet usually in a current. This site is recommended for experienced divers only.
GEROGE DOG: The rocky point in the anchorage at George Dog is an easy 25 to 30-foot dive for less experienced divers.
INVISIBLES: East of Necker Island this spectacular site has soaring peaks from 70 feet to 4 feet below the surface. Flashing schools of fish, sleeping nurse sharks and multiple forms of sea life make this an exciting dive for experienced and less experienced alike.
VISIBLES: This site is an underwater pinnacle southwest of Cockroach Island. Caves, canyons with depths to 70 feet, and a resident 8-foot nurse shark highlight this site. This is also a spawning ground for many species of jacks, snappers and groupers.
CHIMNEY: This site on the west bay of Great Dog is a winding canyon leading to an underwater arch. There are many coral heads with an unbelievable variety of small sea creatures making this an excellent site for the underwater photographer.
JOE’S CAVE: Cathedral effect cave with schooling glassy eyed sweepers located on West Dog Island. Clouds of silversides overshadow a variety of eels, pelagic fish and other species with an occasional school of tarpon.
VAN RYAN’s ROCK: Located off Collison Point, Virgin Gorda this site offers huge lobsters, turtles, and many varieties of fish among brilliant corals and swaying sea fans.
GINGER ISLAND: Mushroom coral heads 15-20 feet high with great visibility mark this site that graduates to depths of 70-90 feet ending in a high sand patch. Opportunities usually exist to pet stingrays and play with huge jewfish.
SOUTHSIDE OF GREAT DOG ISLAND: This reef runs east and west 100 yards offshore. Each dive presents new and different coral, butterflyfish and other marine life.
ANEGADA REEF: This site is a graveyard of 300 documented shipwrecks dating from the 1600’s to the present day.
THE CHIKUZEN: This 245-foot ship was sunk in 1981 and provides a fantastic home for all varieties of fish including big rays and horse-eye jacks. Diving depth is less than 80 feet and this site is located north of Camanoe Island by about five miles. Summer only.
US Virgin Islands
CARTENSER SENIOR: Near Buck Island, this site is a spectacular dive on the coral-encrusted intact hull of a World War I cargo ship in 50 feet of water. Tours can be easily arranged for this wreck near St. Thomas.
COW AND CALF: Two rocks between Christmas Cove and Jersey Bay 5 feet below the surface. The lee side of the western rock provides intricate arches, ledges and caves. Angelfish and beautiful coral abound.
CHRISTMAS COVE: Good beginner’s dive on the northwest side of Fish Cay in 450 feet of water where you can swim among the coral heads with plenty of fish to see.
DOG ROCK: This site for advanced divers because of the potentially rough seas is located on the northwest side of Dog Island at 40 to 50-foot depths. There are rocks and coral ledges as well as caves to explore.
COKI BEACH: A good place to snorkel off the beach. Coral ledges are close to the Coral World Underwater Tower.
LITTLE SAINT JAMES: A 40-foot dive on the lee side has some deep ledges which serve as shelter to various schools of fish.
TWIN BARGES: Located off Limetree Beach lies two wrecks sunk during the 1940’s. Although visibility is limited outside the wrecks, the clarity improves inside the chambers of the ships.
CARVEL ROCK: Off the northern side of this rock near St. John in depths to 90 feet big schools of pelagic fish pass the colorful sponge-encrusted caves.
THATCH CAY: At the Tunnels to depths of 40 feet, divers explore eight different arches and tunnels.
SCOTCH BANK: Off St. Croix this popular dive spot is a favorite for spotting stingrays and manta rays.
LONG REEF: This 6-mile long reef provides dives at depths from 30 to 50 feet revealing many colonies of pillar and elkhorn colonies.
SALT RIVER: This area has two distinct walls; the East Wall plunges from depths of 50 to 100 feet with many caves and caverns, and the West Wall which peaks at 30 feet and tumbles to 125 feet. The colors of the sponges grasping the crevices and pillars are awesome.
BUCK ISLAND: Off St. Croix, this is a national monument with abundant tropical fish and a jungle of huge staghorn and elkhorn coral. An absolute must for anyone visiting St. Croix.
FREDERIKSTED PIER: Thirty-foot deep pilings offer splendid diving either day or night. The pilings provide a home for bright sponges and algae as well as sea horses, crabs and octopus.
CANE BAY, DAVIS BAY & SALT RIVER: All these sites have walls of coral from 20 feet to depths of over 1000 feet. Several anchors have been discovered along the wall. One of the most photographed anchors is nestled in the sand at 60 feet on the Northstar wall.