Dive and Snorkel in Barbados
Barbados attracts scuba divers from all over the world, but you don’t have to go there with a full Open Water dive licence. While one of those is necessary to hire scuba gear and get tanks filled with air, almost any confident swimmer can try diving on a guided excursion with an instructor close by, and snorkelling is an excellent and easy option for families and people who just want a flavor of the underwater world.
The warm waters of the Caribbean are famous for brightly colored corals, hundreds of different kinds of fish, and fascinating wreck diving. Many of the dives sites are shallow and gentle- perfect for beginners. In good conditions water is crystal clear and divers can see 50ft or more underwater.
The reefs around Barbados are some of the healthiest and most attractive in the Caribbean, and there are dozens of wrecks in shallow waters where scuba divers can explore them in detail. Carlisle Bay Marine Park has no less than 6 wrecks, all of which can be visited on a single dive. They range from World War I tug boats to full sized modern freighters, and in other places divers might encounter old cannon, antique bottles, and other archaeological remains from past centuries.
There are dozens of places to dive. Some are out to sea and can only be reached by boat but others are beach dives and it’s possible to walk right in. Carlisle Bay is an excellent place to go if you want to see rarer, shyer marine animals like seahorses. Asta Reef and Castle Bank are among the many Barbados dive sites where large barracuda, stingrays, sharks, and bigger fish are often spotted, and just off Sandy Beach there is a dive site where sea turtles and eagle rays congregate. Sharp-eyed scuba divers and snorkelers can sometimes bag their own lobsters on the reefs.
Angel fish, parrot fish, horse-eyes, and snapper are common, and the reefs and wrecks teem with smaller tropical fish in every color of the rainbow. Most of them aren’t particularly bothered by a human presence and keep going about their business even with divers passing close by or snorkelers swimming above, so you’re free to watch and photograph as you please. Underwater cameras are available for hire or you can bring your own. Some fish will even come up close to divers, hoping to be fed.
Barbados is just as beautiful below the water as it is above, so next time you come and visit the pure white sandy beaches and lush tropical rainforest, take a day or two and explore the underwater side.
Jess Spate is a keen scuba diver and snorkeller. She works for Appalachian Outdoors when on dry land.