Delicate and divine, the myriad shapes and colours of coral create a sight like no other. Fortunately, the Eastern Caribbean offers plenty of these other-worldly forms to explore and Diamond Rock in Martinique is a great place to start.
Although the rock rises above sea level, below the water eagle rays and turtles roam, and a rich macro life hides amongst enormous sponges and coral fingers that sprawl above the seabed.
Towering cliffs and sudden drops are enhanced by fascinating sea life and dramatic light shifts from above. A prime example of such a site is the world-famous Eye of the Needle, situated off Saba’s west coast.
Formed by volcanic activity, the slender tower rises up spectacularly from the seabed, cloaked in resplendent coral and crowned with a huge barrel sponge. Reef sharks patrol the area as needlefish circle in their thousands.
Lying three miles off shore, just outside the narrows between St Kitts and Nevis, is the mesmerising atoll reef known as Monkey Shoals. Made up of majestic strands of soft and hard coral, the site is suitable for dives between 40 and 100 feet, ideal for both novice divers and experts.
Superb visibility and light currents enable divers to see angelfish, turtles, yellow-tailed snappers, lobsters and the occasional nurse shark darting about.
Lesleen M, a 50-metre freighter, was purposefully sunk in 1985 off the coast of St Lucia to provide an artificial coral reef. Thirty years later, the vessel is already covered in hard and soft corals, sponges and hydroids.
Juvenile reef fish, turtles, barracuda, eels and octopus all frequent the wreck and, lying at 12 to 18 metres, it makes a fantastic introduction to wreck diving, with access to both her engine room and hold.
One of the best deep water dive sites in the Caribbean is located in the lesser-explored northwest waters of Tobago. Five rocky pinnacles, known as the Sisters, rise up from a depth of 35 metres, two miles from the shore.
Due to the unpredictable weather patterns and large swells, this dive is recommended for experienced divers only, who are not averse to coming into contact with large pelagic fish. Hammerhead sharks, as well as manta rays and turtles, regularly roam around the reef-encrusted rocks at the base of the pinnacles.
RMS Rhone, a 19th century Royal Mail steam, forms one of the most celebrated dive sites in the British Virgin Islands. Hit by a hurricane in 1867, she sank close to the shore of Salt Island and lies at a depth of between 9 and 24 metres.
Much of the wreck is still intact and parts of the rigging, steam engine and propeller remain accessible to divers. It also forms part of a national marine park, hosting a fringing reef habitat and sea grass beds. Offering a perfect two-tank dive for experienced divers, the wreck can also be explored by snorkellers.
The tiny island of Sint Eustatius offers plenty of incredible diving opportunities that are rarely visited by tourists. In particular, the Barracuda reef is bursting with impressive colours, and masses of crustaceans and lobster.
The site consists of a large sloping basalt plate with vertical walls full of cracks, where marine life thrives and eels take cover.
Rising 60 feet above the water’s surface, the four pinnacles that make up the Indians are so called due to their resemblance to the feathers on an Indian’s headdress.
Situated close to Norman Island of the British Virgin Islands, the site has something to suit everyone from beautiful coral and multiple species of reef fish to a small sunlit cave and even a tunnel to swim through. The Indians are suitable for novice and experienced divers alike as well as snorkelers.
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