- Published on Friday, 01 February 2013 10:03
- Written by editor
Barbados has a long history of being, “the place to go” when it comes to the Caribbean. Landlubbers know it as the exotic place to party with celebrities and hang out on pristine beaches…but for divers, Barbados holds another allure…it is the dive destination that whispers of mystery and adventure.
Barbados is located on the south eastern point of the Caribbean Islands. A coral atoll, Barbados sports 166 miles of land mass and, on the western side of the island, hundreds of places to dive. The locals are accommodating to divers and there are a number of dive shops and dive industry based businesses that cater to the needs of divers in general.
Dive shops like Barbados Blue, a full service dive shop located in a local Hilton Hotel and Atlantis Submarines, which specifically operates out of Barbados, offer divers both local and from afar, the chance to explore the blue waters surrounding Barbados. The Bajan dive sites vary from inner fringe reefs, with depths from 30 to 60 ft. to the outer bank reefs that hit depths of 40 to 150+ ft. According to Dive High Tide Watersports Co-Owner and Director of Operations, Gavin Smith, Barbados has so much to offer divers that they will continue to come back again and again. “The barrier reefs are located 1/2 - 2 miles from shore and have large coral heads that are home for thousands of beautiful fish,” Smith says. “Barbados lacks some of the larger marine animals however; our area is famous for the Hawksbill turtles and the elusive frog fish. Whether you are a diver or a snorkeler, Barbados offers something for everyone.”
The diving in Barbados is as diverse as its sea life. Sea Horses, Frog Fish, Giant Sand Eels and many other marine creatures are hanging out just waiting for divers to discover them. From reefs to local wrecks, divers will discover a bevy of dive sites to explore.
Carlisle Bay has over 200 reported wrecks in the area although only five are specifically for diving, the others long gone and buried somewhere under the white sands of the Bay. Then there is the wreck of the Stavronikita, which is located on the West Coast of Barbados just off Fitts Village,and is one of the most popular wreck dives in the Caribbean. But these aren’t the only choices for divers…there is also….
Maycock’s Reef is located on the north coast of Barbados and offers divers a chance to see rays, barracuda, parrot fish, large schools of Bermuda Chub, and coral formations that will hold you in awe. Pillar, staghorn, finger and pencil coral abound and, as with most reefs in Barbados, this area runs parallel to shore. The reef system has three main fingers of reef running to shore at approximately 60-100 ft.
Cement Factory Pier
Cement Factory Pier sports seahorses, rare sea urchins, frogfish, octopus, scorpion fish, spotted cleaner shrimp, lobsters, sea anemone, flounder, and occasionally batfish, rays and turtles. Divers have a lot to explore at this spot but do have to be mindful of dock works who toss stuff into the water. There are reportedly tons of sea urchins in the area.
Bright Ledge is one of the northernmost reefs. Barracuda and bar jacks hang out here along with the occasional school of Atlantic spadefish. Turtle swim through a large variety of coral and sponges that are enormously bright and colorful. This area sports narrow passages at the top then drops off steeply on both sides.
And then there are the wrecks…The Pamir is a 165 ft. cargo ship and is located on the northern most point on the west coast. Upright in a sheltered spot close to shore, the Pamir, sunk in 1985, is intact. The wreck sits perpendicular to the shore with its bow facing to the shore at approximately 50 ft. The deck is approximately 25 ft. This wreck provides fish, fauna, sergeant majors, eels, redlip blennies, and frogfish. The little reef off the bow is home to smaller fish, lobsters, garden eels and rays.
Merlin’s has different coral formations than the other fringe dives. There are a lot of small tropical fish and sea cucumbers here as well as arrow crabs, lobsters, brittle stars, golden spotted eels along with the less unusual tropical fish. Southern Stingrays and Spotted Eagle rays are here too.
One of the most popular of the dive sites on the west coast is Dottins. According to Smith this dive site offers diving for all levels of diving. The depth range from less than 40 ft. on top of the reef to over 100 ft. on both the inside and outside drop offs. Divers will find turtles, Bar Jacks, Yellowtails and Barracuda. The shallow depths on this site make it always light on the reef. Yellow tail snappers and filefish frequent this reef as well as micro fans, arrow crabs, flamingo tongue snails, hermit crabs and various types of worms, especially fan worms.
Jolly Roger Barge
The Jolly Roger Barge is a former party cruise barge. This is a great site to snorkel and there is lots of wildlife including green moray eel, scorpion fish, sea cucumbers. To the south are a second barge and a large anchor. East of the wreck is a small reef that is home to scorpion fish, sea cucumbers, eels, rays, turtles, crabs, lobsters, etc. This site is great for beginners.
Off Fitt’s Village, the “Stav” as it is commonly known, starts at 20 ft. Sargent Majors as well as small worms, arrow crabs, scarlet striped cleaner shrimp, Pederson cleaner shrimp hang out here. The mast is a favorite to groupers and snappers as well as two large French angelfish and occasionally large barracudas and snappers. This dive site is great for photography. Down for over 25 years, this wreck has become a hive of activity. Sea whips, soft and hard corals, sponges and gorgonians cover her masts and upper cabins.
Carlisle Bay has a number of wrecks. Divers often come to Barbados just to dive the Bay. Here is a sampling…
Berwyn- 25 -70 ft. long World War French Tug boat damaged by German U-boat and scuttled by her crew in 1919.
Ce-Trek - 45 ft. a derelict boat used to haul cement sunk in January 1986 and has attracted lots of marine life.
Marion Wolf -30 ft. wooden fishing boat and the only wreck not intentionally sunk. Went down at its mooring during Hurricane Janet in 1955, All that’s left is the keel.
Ellon –110 ft. freighter sunk June, 1996. The ship was a former drug boat, and has been tied up for 6 years. The wreck is easily accessible for penetration.
Bajan Queen - She was Barbados’ first tug boat “Pelican” when the Bridgetown Harbor was being constructed in the 1960’s. One decade later, as more modern tugboats were purchased; the Bajan Queen was converted into a “Party Boat” which holds many memories for thousands of Barbadians. She was sunk in 2002.
These are just some of the hundreds of dive sites that Barbados has to offer. So whether you are a single diver or a family of divers and snorkelers, Barbados may well be the perfect dive destination.
If you are interested in plunging to Barbados, check out our friends at Franko's Maps for more valuable information!
|Book Barbados Now!
|Barbados Dive Operators Association
|The Dive Shop
|Eco Dive Barbados
|Hightide Water Sports
|Oceansports Technical Diving Ltd.
|Reefers and Wreckers
|Rogers Scuba Shak
|Scotch and Soda
|West Side Scuba Center