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Diving in Saint Lucia

Featuring a large marine park full of colorful reefs, shipwrecks and coral-covered pinnacles, St. Lucia’s underwater world is like nowhere else in the Caribbean. A multitude of marine life awaits.

Diving in Saint Lucia

Quick facts

Saint Lucia’s underwater seascapes are similar to and just as gorgeous as those found above the water on this tropical island. Divers enjoy pinnacles covered with sponges, corals and gorgonians that make these underwater formations as colorful as a rainbow. Sheer walls, shipwrecks and coral reefs also offer divers interesting environments to explore.

Most of the diving around St. Lucia takes place in the Soufriere Marine Reserve to the island’s south. Here divers will find colorful coral reefs and a variety of tropical fish. Popular dives include Anse Chastanet, Fairy Land and Coral Gardens. Two shallow shipwrecks sunk to make artificial reefs, namely the Lesleen M and Daini Koyomaru, are often reported as favorite sites among dive masters in the area. Keep in mind that a daily fee is required to enter and dive in the Marine Reserve.

There are also a handful of dive sites off the northwest coast of Saint Lucia. These sites tend to be less crowded but offer the same types of tropical fish seen in the reserve. Because the north is subject to stronger currents, larger species including rays are seen in this area more often than in the south.

Owing to the protected nature and relatively shallow depth of the dive sites in St. Lucia, this tropical island is perfect for those just learning how to dive or trying out their skills for the first time. Of course, the island’s walls, pinnacles and shipwrecks offer different and equally as exciting experiences for advanced divers. Dive sites around St. Lucia can be accessed by boat or shore, although many divers report shore dives to be more lively. Divers can expect warm tropical waters which range from 79-85°F (26-29°C) and variable visibility which can be anything from 20 feet (6 meters) to 200 feet (60 meters).

Between the natural beauty of the island and its biodiversity under the water, nature-lovers won’t want to leave this Caribbean paradise.

Recommended training

The PADI Drift Diver course is recommended for the drift dives along walls and pinnacles. The PADI Wreck Diver course is a good idea for visiting the two purpose-sunk wrecks. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will help you get the best shots.

When to go

St. Lucia enjoys trade winds that provide cooling breezes most of the year with average daytime temperature about 27°C/80°F in winter and 30°C/88°F in summer. Rainy season is between June and September, which coincides with the Caribbean’s hurricane season. Diving is great all year.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Anse Chastanet – Located in the marine park, this shallow reef is popular for both diving and snorkeling. With more than 150 different fish species on the reef, this site is a favorite for photographers. Lesleen M – This 50-metre/165-foot freighter was purpose-sunk in 1986 to provide an artificial reef. It’s covered in soft coral and sponges, and is a habitat for many juvenile fish. Resting on sand in 18 metres/60 feet of water, the accessible interior hosts soldierfish, angelfish, lobsters and moray eels, as well as hawksbill turtles. Turtle Reef – Starting at 12 metres/50 feet, this reef drops off quickly into the deep blue. Named more for it’s crescent shape than for it’s attraction of turtles, you are still likely to spy a few hawksbill and green turtles here. With lots of different corals and sponges, this reef also attracts a variety of fish life. Anse La Raye Wall – A spectacular drift dive along a wall, this site is rich in coral and marine life. Look for brightly colored fire coral in the shallow areas and purple vase sponges, barrel sponges, and soft coral down deeper. Watch for rays, from which the site takes its name. Daini Koyomaru – This Japanese dredger was purpose-sunk in 1996. It rests on its side, so it’s 24 metres/80 feet of width acts as a wall to dive along. At 74 metres/244 feet long, this wreck offers lots to see and is habitat for French angelfish, jacks, barracuda, puffer fish and green moray eels. Jalousie – Situated at the base of the Gros Piton, this reef slopes off at about 45 degrees to depth. It has lots of schooling fish, Creole wrasse and jacks along with a great range of different corals, gorgonians and massive barrel sponges.

What to see

St. Lucia offers a wide variety of marine life that is easily accessible to every level of diver with most of the sites within Open Water limits.

Divers will be happy to note that it is possible to see everything from macro to pelagic species in the warm tropical waters. Sea turtles, barracuda, sting rays, and eagle rays are often seen as well as a variety of tropical fish. Flying Gurnard, frogfish and spotted drums are some of the more unusual species on offer. On the smaller side of things, sea horses and feather duster worms are sure to keep macro-lovers entertained.

Your log books will be full and happy after a dive in St. Lucia.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

St. Lucia is home to stunning scenery both above and below the water, but the most recognizable feature of this Caribbean island are its two Pitons. These are twin cone-shaped, volcanic peaks that are surrounded by miles of untouched rainforest. Geographically, St. Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles in the southeast Caribbean Sea. It is located just northeast of the island of St. Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique.

From as early as the 1550s, the Dutch, English and French vied for control of St. Lucia. None succeeded until 1660, when the French signed a treaty with the Caribs. For almost 200 years, the English and French traded the colony, each controlling it 7 times in this period. During this time, it was an important sugar cane producing island and featured prominently in the slave trade. Finally, in 1814, the British secured the island. St. Lucia finally gained independence in 1979 although it remains part of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Today, the population is mostly of African or mixed African-European descent. The official language is English although Saint Lucian Creole French is spoken by a majority of the population. While manufacturing makes up the largest part of the economy, tourism also plays a significant role. In recent years, scuba diving has become an extremely popular excursion and there are now more dive shops than ever to choose from. Whether you visit the island on a cruise ship or come to stay a while, you are sure to easily find a way under the water with one of the many qualified dive masters on the island.

Other attractions

With lush rainforests, volcanic peaks and beautiful beaches, St. Lucia is a nature-lover’s dream. Visitors should take the time to drive through the island’s drive-in volcano, climb to the top of Gros Piton (one of the island’s twin peaks), trek through unspoiled rainforests, take a dip in the hot Sulphur Springs, discover the beautiful Botanical Gardens, and learn about the island’s history at Fort Rodney in Pigeon Island National Park. Whether you choose to spend most of your time topside or under the water, St. Lucia is a magical Caribbean destination that you are sure to remember for years to come.

Getting there

Saint Lucia hosts two airports. George FL Charles Airport (SLU) is near Castries and Hewanorra International (UVF) is close to Vieux Fort. These airports welcome a variety of flights from other Caribbean Islands, North and South America as well as Europe.

It is also possible to arrive in St. Lucia by cruise ship or ferry from surrounding Caribbean islands.

Once on the island, rental car, taxi and local bus will help you to move from one point to another.

UTC-04:00

Time zone

XCD

Currency

+1758

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

G

Plug type

SLU

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.