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Diving in Barbados

On colorful Barbados, the West Indies delight scuba divers. Turtle nesting grounds and barracuda on the hunt should not be passed up in these clear, tropical waters.

Diving in Barbados

Quick facts

On this colorful island, British sensibility clashes with West Indian passion in a very fashionable way. Situated about 160 kilometres/100 miles due east of St. Vincent and outside the main arc of the Windward Islands, unique Barbados has snared – literally and figuratively – wayward ships for centuries. With a portfolio of about 200 wrecks, it’s no wonder that Barbados is a dive destination that captures the interest of divers looking for something different. The Pamir, Friars Crag and the Stavronikita are the wrecks that should be at the top of your priority list, and some like the Pamir are at depths perfect for the newbie diver. If you simply wanted to overload your log with wreck after wreck then the Bay of Carlisle is where you want to be. There are four wrecks in the bay, and all are accessible to the beginner. Perusing the reefs of Bell Buoy, Maycocks Bay and Shark Bank is the ideal easy morning schedule for fish lovers and budding biologists. The well-preserved coral environments attract sea turtles, parrotfish, rays and eels of many varieties, and time under the water is only depth dependent as the tepid sea rarely requires divers to wear wetsuits. For prowling hunters of the sea, the site of Barracuda Junction delivers every time. The colorful corals and unusually shaped sponges draw a range of fish species along with the predators looking for easy prey.

Recommended training

The PADI Wreck Diver course is an obvious choice for diving in Barbados. AWARE – Fish Identification and Digital Underwater Photographer courses will also help you identify and capture images of the marine life.

When to go

With 3000 hours of annual sunshine and consistent northeast trade winds, the air temperature is a pleasant 23-29°C/75-85°F year-round. Nearly every day is a good diving day in Barbados. However, June through October is hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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* SS Stavronikita – The most famous wreck on the island, this purposely-sunk Greek freighter, now part of the Folkestone Underwater Park, hosts a rainbow of huge tube and rope sponges. The Stavronikita lies in 36 metres/120ft of water with the stern at 30 metres/100ft and the bow at 21 metres/70ft. * Carlisle Bay Marine Park – This shallow, calm bay is home to a cluster of numerous wrecks. You’ll see the Berwyn (a World War I French tug boat that went down in 1919), the Eilon (sunk in 1996), Ce-Trek (a cement boat sunk in 1986), the Bajan Queen (party boat sunk in 2002) and the Cornwallis (a freighter sunk during World War II and relocated to the marine park). * Pamir – Another purpose-sunk wreck, the 50-metre/165-foot Pamir has wide openings for divers to peer into and sits in around 18 metres/60 feet of water. Sitting upright in a sheltered spot, this wreck provides fish, fauna, and fun in one experience. This is a good dive for beginners and a good warm up dive for the Stavronikita. * Barracuda Junction – This site usually delivers on its name and you can expect to see barracudas prowling the reef which has an array of colorful corals and sponges and is usually teeming with reef fish. * Maycocks Bay – This reef runs perpendicular to shore in large fingers that are separated by wide alleys of white sand. See lots of reef fish and outstanding coral and barrel sponge formations. * Cement Factory Pier – Explore the underwater remnants and structure of this old pier that are now home to a variety of marine life. Explore while surrounded by huge schools of fish and find lobsters and other critters hiding in holes.

What to see

The shark-like barracuda is not the only fish marveled at off the reefs and wrecks off Barbados. In the crevices of the wrecks lurk lobster, eels and lionfish, and peeping out of the sand like blades of grass but retreating quickly into their holes are the garden eels. The hawksbill, leatherback and green turtles all use the island’s beaches as nesting grounds. Stingrays, moray eels and nurse sharks can sometimes be seen. Keep your eyes open for brilliantly colored parrotfish, reef squid, Bermuda chub, grouper and tube sponges, too.

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Topside, Barbados is civilized and well-structured, but maintains the relaxed Caribbean vibe. Outside of the Atlantic hurricane belt, Barbados was one of the few islands visited by both the Spanish and Portuguese during the era of colonization, but it was left unclaimed until British settlers arrived in 1627. The island remained a colony until 1966, when Barbados was declared an independent state within the British Commonwealth. The sugar cane dominated economy has been replaced in recent years by an influx of tourism. The capital of Bridgetown has a diverse ethnic culture made up of Carib Indians, Europeans and African descendants. But, English is spoken across the whole island. The island has been noted to have an exceptional literacy rate of almost 100%, adding to the advancement of the economy both locally and with international trade partners.

Other attractions

There’s much to do on this Caribbean island. Increase the island pace with a day at the horse races at the Garrison Savannah racetrack, or party the night away at the harbor restaurants where the carnival costumes and calypso bands keep visitors enthralled until the early hours of the morning. Entertain your taste buds at the Mount Gay rum distillery in Bridgetown. Or explore Harrison’s Cave, and hike the old Bridgetown train tracks.

Getting there

Grantley Adams International Airport is the largest airport in the Eastern Caribbean, and daily flights arrive from the USA, Canada, Europe, Brazil and other Caribbean islands. Cruising is also an ever-popular option, and Barbados is usually included on southern Caribbean itineraries.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

BBD

Currency

+1246

Calling code

115 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

BGI

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
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