Known for its sandy beaches and palm-fringed shores, the Caribbean is bursting with marine life and hosts a surprisingly varied number of underwater environments to explore. Looking for the best places to scuba dive in the Caribbean? Here are our top picks.
Affectionately known as The Strav, the SS Stavronikita is one of the Carribbean’s most impressive wrecks to deep dive. At 111 meters long (365 ft), she started life as a Greek freighter shipping coal between Ireland and Barbados, but after she caught fire during a crossing in 1976, she was decommissioned by the Barbadian government and deliberately sunk to form an artificial reef.
Teeming with vibrant corals and abundant marine life, the Strav’s forward mast (18 m/59 ft depth) is one of the site’s highlights and is a great place for a compression stop if you’ve made it down to the propeller, which sits at about 38 m (120 ft).
Home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef, Andros boasts underwater formations including blue holes and caves, as well as wrecks and pelagic-filled currents. Its undulating wall, which sits at around 27 m (88 ft), is perhaps most notable for scuba divers because of its accessible depth and distinctive underwater architecture.
Most dives sites are accessed by speed boat, so consider packing essential post-dive items like sun cream and a towel in a lightweight tote that won’t take up too much space onboard.
Famed as having the world’s best shore diving, Bonaire is surrounded by a National Marine Park, which means that there’s an abundance of flora and fauna beneath the waterline. Thanks to the fact that there are literally hundreds of dive sites on this Carribbean island, Bonaire is the ideal place for both beginner and advanced divers to further their dive experience; you’ll find everything from sandy shallows to drift, wall, and wreck dives.
If you happen to be on Bonaire after a full moon make sure you schedule a night dive. Why? You’ll find a rather unusual sight awaits you; thousands of tiny ostracods (mini crustaceans) light up the water with a bioluminescent affect that indicates they’re on the lookout for a mate!
A little further off the beaten path, but well worth a visit nonetheless, the Carribbean island of Carriacou (Grenada) offers a particularly picturesque drift dive at Sisters Rocks. Here two pinnacles rise up from the seabed forming a haven for all kinds of marine life, including turtles, sharks, and eagle rays.
There are a number of sites to explore nearby but circling both pinnacles and navigating the coral rich seabed is the preferred choice if dive conditions are right.
Don’t forget that if you’re traveling overseas to dive in the Caribbean, and you’re taking your own kit, you’ll need to make provisions for the additional weight. A durable, lightweight duffel is ideal for carrying your gear overland, but be mindful that if you’re going to check it on a flight you’ll need to pack items like regulators and cameras into a protective hard case.
Pack a lot of swimwear. If the humidity is high it’s likely your suit won't dry overnight, and there’s nothing worse than putting on wet swimsuits.
Take a waterproof bag to store wet clothes post-dive. A zip-lock compression sack is a great option as it will allow you to pack wet items alongside dry when traveling.
Rethink your toiletries, especially if your trip involves a liveaboard. Body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, and sun cream will all end up in the ocean, so choose products made with natural, organic ingredients.
Always pack layers. Even if you’re diving in tropical temperatures it’s likely that at the end of a multi-dive day, when the sun starts to set, you’ll start to feel a little chilly if you’re just wearing a t-shirt.
By: Charli Moore on November 4, 2019
Charli Moore is an adventure enthusiast who has been location independent since 2011. A freelance writer she blogs about her adventurous travels at Wanderlusters, and has a penchant for adrenaline highs and crunchy peanut butter. Follow her on Instagram to feed your wanderlust.