in the Caribbean offers the Scuba Enthusiast a combination
of the most
dramatic vertical wall terrains, colorful coral and sponge
composites, and flourishing habitats of both small tropical
reef fish and larger pelagic fish! In addition, the
top ten Caribbean dives possess some of the most optimal scuba
diving conditions in the World: visibility's of greater than
100 feet and average "in the water" temperatures
of 83 degrees.
The top ten dive sites in the Caribbean are depicted
below (actually we have listed 15 of the best caribbean diving
locations, for either their "famous" or "spectacular"
diving, Note- "famous" does not necessarily imply
spectecular or great diving! These top Caribbean dives are
listed in no particular order at all. Where you choose to
do your diving will depend on what type of venue or characteristics
you desire. Each dive site has been briefly defined with regard
to its unique attributes. Here are the top 10 dive spots in
Ray City, Grand
Cayman Island-- domesticated feedings of friendly
stingrays in sheltered bay. You can hand feed the rays, as
they vacuum food up from your hands. More famous then spectacular.
The Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef
famous for it's Great Blue Hole at 1,000 feet in diameter
is the largest in the world, descending down 440 feet into
blackness. Guided dives with deco stops. Your will see stalactites
hanging from the indented caverns along the wall. Not many
fish, but worth doing once just to say you've done it.
Half Moon Caye Wall, Lighthouse
Reef, Belize-- totally different then the nearby
"The Blue Hole". The reef and wall configuration
is dressed with corals and sponges of every color. Lavish
staghorn coral at 20 feet. Sand chutes expose colonies of
garden eels that seem to move in slow motion. Good blend of
small tropicals and some larger pelagics such as eagle
rays, sea turtles, and groupers.
West Caicos Walls,
& Caicos-- many
miles of 6000 foot vertical wall drop-offs for some of the
best wall diving in the World. Because of the thermal-forms
created from cooler ocean waters intersecting with the Caicos
Bank... a complete spectrum of corals, sponges, small tropical
fish, mid-sized groupers, barracudas, and many larger
pelagics... keep one eye in the blue for constant visuals
of reef shark, eagle ray, plus occasional hammerhead and manta.
Also, sea turtles, nurse shark, stingray and more reef
Walker's Cay, Nassua
Bahamas-- domesticated feeding of reef sharks.
Organized dive whereby group kneels on sandy bottom while
dive-master wearing protections chums carribean reef shark.
Bloody Bay Wall, Little
Caymen-- clear visibility and great sunlight filtering
combine for photographer's delight. Wall starting at 18 feet
with coral and sponges of all types, colors, and sizes. Plenty
of smaller reef fish: horse-eye jacks, triggerfhfish and small
tropicals, and larger grouper.
RMS Rhone wreck, British
Virgin Islands-- The wreck of the Royal Mail
Steamer R.M.S.Rhone, is lying in The British Virgin Islands.
It sank in a hurricane 1867. Today, the wreck is one of the
most famous wreck and divesites in the Carribean and is declared
as Underwater national park.
Pier or Carl's Hill
Annex, Bonaire-- both a photographer's haven for
sponges and corals, and many small creatures such as seahorses
and frogfish. Famous for its shore diving, walk-in right off
beach to reefs of coral and immediate drop-offs. Because of
the concentration of small tropical reef fish, just about
anywhere in Bonaire you will feel like you are in an aquarium.
Not famous for larger ocean fish (pelagics).
Green Outhouse Wall, Roatan-
Honduras-- canyon with lots of brain coral, sea
fans and gorgonians. Plenty of angel fish, big
scrawled filefish, schools of tangs, durgeons, barracuda and
stingrays cruising throughout your dive. A good blend of colorful
sponge and coral, small to midsize tropical fish. Occasionally
a sea turtle or spotted eagle ray appears in the vicinity.
Passage, Grand Turk
or Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos-- Dramatic walls
mark the interface between the islands' shallow reefs
and the abyssal depths of the Columbus Passage. Great year
round diving for corals, sponges, small tropicals, and larger
pelagics. Most famous as the primary migratory path of humpback whales
going to Dominican breeding grounds during winter months.
Key Largo, Florida--The Duane is a 327 foot Coast
Guard cutter intentionally sunk as an artificial reef in 1987.
The wreck sits in 120 feet of water and there is usually a
current prevalent. The ships railings are encrusted with bright
red and orange corals and sponges. Schools of barracudas and
French Cay, Turks
and Caicos-- small inhabited reef island with
6000 foot vertical wall drop-offs all around. Dramatic combination
of reef and wall diving, with many reverse angle undercuts
in the wall. Eagle rays by the pod, sometimes in groups of
4 to 5. Schools of friendly reef shark plus sea turtles, nurse
shark, moray eel. Occasional manta, hammerhead and humpback
whales in winter.
Santa Rosa Wall,
covered coral heads, gorgonians, azure vase sponges, orange
elephant ear sponges. Some swim-throughs in the coral formations.
Occasionally you may come face to face with a 20 to 30 pound
grouper. Most dives are drift dives.
South Bimini, Bahamas-- Between encounters with
giant loggerhead turtles and coral-laced canyons, this is
a remarkable dive site. You'll have an opportunity to swim
with Caribbean reef sharks and even big game fish that come
into the area with the nearby Gulf Stream.
Cow and Calf Rocks, U.S. Virgin Islands--
One of the most popular shallow dives, you can swim through
amazing natural arches and ledges that are attached to the
reef. The reef is rocky and some ledges might contain a sleeping
nurse shark or two.
the Best Venue for Your Interests? It depends on your preference?
1) vertical wall drop-offs, canyons, unique terrain, Top Wall
Dives (see below)
2) colorful and abundant corals and sponges (see below)
3) smaller tropical reef fish (see below)
4) larger fish: turtles, sharks, eagle rays- The Big Pelagics
Scuba Diving in the Carribean: Where to dive if you like
vertical wall formations, canyons, and pinnacles? The
Best Wall Diving?
This is a generalization, and must be taken in context. The
majority of the Carribean diving sites have evolved around
more shallow reefs and banks. However, if you select your
island (Carribean diving location) carefully, you can be rewarded
with the most drastic vertical walls found anywhere in the
diving world. The most famous wall drop-offs, or best wall
Caicos Island- Turks and Caicos accessed from Providenciales
2) Columbus Passage, Grand Turk & Salt Cay- Turks and
3) Caymen Brac, Cayman Islands
4) South Wall- Turks and Caicos accessed from Providenciales
5) Little Cayman Island, Cayman Islands
6) Grand Caymen Island, Cayman Islands (East End & North
7) Sandbore Channel- Turks and Caicos accessed from Providenciales
8) French Cay- Turks
and Caicos accessed from Providenciales
9) Cozumel, Mexico (Santa Rosa Wall)
10) Blue Hole & Lighthouse Atoll,
Rico (Black Wall)
13) Andros Island, Bahamas, ( Hole in
Mexico- (Columbia Reef)
16) Roatan, Honduras- (Barbareta Wall)
17) Belize- Half Moon Caye Wall
18) Dominca- Scott's Head Pinnacles
where to dive caribbean walls from these 7 locations can be
a difficult decision. The Turks
and Caicos Island dive sites are said to be the best general
location for the fact that it has the most unique geological
land & ocean formation. These islands are an ocean plateau
set 6000 feet straight above the ocean floor.
This plateau has created a large 3000 square mile bank or
shelf that runs out to its surrounding edge- a world-class
reef (perhaps a close third to Australia's barrier reef, and
Honduras' outer reef). At this place where the shallow turquoise
waters of the Caicos bank intersect with the outer coral reefs,
the ocean terrain drops drastically from a 45-foot depth to
6000 feet. This wall drop-off is drastic, sometimes beyond
vertical with many walls having inverted cut profiles.
See "Caicos Bank" diagram to left. See "Satellite
Picture" below for validation.
Diving: Where to dive for the best and most colorful Coral
& Sponges Galore?
Water Conditions of the carribbean are advantageous for coral
and sponge growth. Conditions run the whole gambit, and thus
coral species run the full spectrum. The most dramatic corals
and sponges found can be classified as either "the most
colorful" or "the most gigantic". The following
species are omni-prevalant: gorgonians, elkhorn, pillar, sea
fans. Every color (especially sponge family) can be found:
orange, reds, glassy, whites, purples. The best locations
for finding either "the most gigantic" or the "most
colorful" corals are the sheltered areas that are protected
from currents, tides, and surface-air effects. The epitome
of this is on a vertical wall that has and inverse or negatively
pitched angle to it- an undercut in the wall. At these locations
the corals are protected from the adverse effects of currents
and tides. They are able to thrive without interference. So,
where do you dive in the caribbean for the best coral formations?
Basically, every island has its showcase, you will find great
corals and sponges everywhere. But, one carribean diving site
that is renowned for its "very gigantic"
corals and sponges located under a very sheltered, negatively
angled undercut wall is at French
Cay, in the Turks & Caicos Islands
colorful and abundant" corals and sponges the top
1) Santa Rosa Wall, Cozumel
2) Bloody Bay Wall, Little Caymen
3) Salt Pier or Carl's Hill Annex, Bonaire
4) Green Outhouse Wall, Roatan, Honduras
5) Lighthouse Reef, Belize
Caribbean: Where to dive for the best chance of seeing smaller
tropical fish? Again, virtually all the Carribbean dive
sites above involve reefs with corals and sponges. Where there
are reefs- there are tropical fish. But for the largest school
concentrations of parrots, triggers, jacks, and other reef
fish head to Bonaire.
2) Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman
Best Diving for Larger Animals:
Where to dive for the best chance of seeing larger pelagics?
We are saying, "where do you see reef shark, sea turtles,
eagle rays, stingrays, nurse shark, jew fish, manta, dolphin,
humpbacks"? Here are the results:
1) West Caicos Island,
Turks and Caicos (including some humpbacks)
2) French Cay, Turks
and Caicos (including some humpbacks)
3) Victory Reef, Bahamas (excludes humpbacks)
4) Lighthouse Reef, Belize (excludes humpbacks)
5) Grand Turk or Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos (especially for
Satellite map showing 6000 foot vertical drop-offs surrounding
the Caicos Bank- Turks and Caicos Islands. This intersection
of deep blue ocean and shallow reef-bank is renowned for vertical
walls, large fish, corals and sponges, and the whole spectrum
of tropical reef fish.