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Scuba Diving Caribbean, Carribean, Carribbean
    Best Diving in the Caribbean, Top Ten Dives in the Caribbean!

Diving 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 Caribbean:

Sting 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 Atoll, Belize-- 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, Turks & 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 shark.
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.

Salt 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.

Columbus 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.
The Duane, 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 grunts abound.
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, Cozumel-- Sponge 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.
Victory Reef, 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.

Choosing 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 (see below)

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 dives are:

1) West Caicos Island- Turks and Caicos accessed from Providenciales
2) Columbus Passage, Grand Turk & Salt Cay- Turks and Caicos
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 End)
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, Belize
Parquera, Puerto Rico (Black Wall)
12) Turneffe Atoll, Belize
13) Andros Island, Bahamas, ( Hole in the Wall)
14) San Salvador, Bahamas, (Great Cut)
15) Cozumel, Mexico- (Columbia Reef)
16) Roatan, Honduras- (Barbareta Wall)
17) Belize- Half Moon Caye Wall
18) Dominca- Scott's Head Pinnacles

Choosing 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.

Carribean 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

For "most colorful and abundant" corals and sponges the top spots are:

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

Dive 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.

1) 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 humpbacks)

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.

Scuba Turks Caicos

© 2003 Caicos Adventures