By the time you have been driven across the island from the airport to the hotel you will already be stunned at the sheer rugged beauty of Dominica. These overwhelming sensations of The Nature Island are just a precursor to your introduction to the best half of Dominica: the underwater world!
The dramatic mountains you have traversed are mirrored in the topography of our underwater dive sites. Cliff faces plunge into the Caribbean Sea and descend straight down 1500 feet (460 meters), pinnacles rise up from the surrounding depths almost to the surface, and volcanic ridges slope off into deep blue water.
These dive sites are covered in thriving healthy coral reefs and schools of midwater fish like chromis, creole wrasse and sergeant majors. Larger pelagics patrol the outer edges of the reefs and barracudas, turtles and sting rays frequently swim right through dive groups causing delightful photographic chaos.
Our reefs are made up of volcanic formations of ledges, crevices and swim throughs. These formations give refuge to a myriad of small critters considered rare in other destinations. Seahorses and frogfish are common and almost guaranteed sightings for divers on a weeklong package. Other rarer critters like batfish, flying gurnards, yellow head jawfish, upside-down jelly fish and flamingo tongue snails can be found if you carefully search the reefs.
Our reputation as the region’s most colorful diving is due to the profusion of sponge life and crinoids. First time divers in Dominica will be amazed at the variety of color, from yellow tube sponges, azure vase sponges, pink vase sponges, green finger sponges, lavender rope sponges to crinoids of every hue.
You might think that Dominica’s multitude of rivers and lush interior would lead to limited visibility, but once again Dominica defies logic. Due to our very deep waters close to shore and heavy sediments from our volcanic sands, our visibility averages over 80 feet (24 meters) year round. After heavy rains the sediments subside within hours and you can be back in the water enjoying good visibility.
Water temperatures vary from a high of 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) from July through December to 76 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) from January through June. The windy season is around April. Our rainy season is in the summer months from July to September. Despite the possibility of tropical storms during these months, the weather is often dominated by flat calm seas, sunny skies and perfect diving conditions!
The reality is that there is no bad time of year for diving in Dominica. Good visibility, warm seas, excellent marine life along with uncrowded dive sites and excellent dive staff ensure that most divers simply cannot wait to come back.
Recently listed as one of the top dive sites worldwide by Scuba Travel in the UK, there are very few who would disagree with this assessment. If truth be told, most dive staff would dive here every day were it not for the sometimes challenging winds and currents. On those days when conditions are perfect, divers are in for a special treat. This pinnacle sits on the edge of the volcanic crater and you can actually swim through the crater wall into the interior. The wall is covered in gorgonians, giant barrel sponges, and whip corals, and it is often patrolled by pelagics like horse-eye jacks, barracudas, turtles, yellow tail snappers and ceros. The problem with Scott’s Head Pinnacle is knowing where to look!. This site is better for intermediate and advanced divers unless there are perfect conditions.
Perhaps Dominica’s best known dive site, Champagne Reef is another reflection of the sheer raw volcanic power simmering just out of sight. In shallow water, just 15 feet (5 meters), volcanic vents spew forth hot water and bubbles creating the effect of diving in champagne. The surrounding reef is well known for critters like seahorses, frogfish, reef squid and lobster and also makes an excellent night dive.
You will usually tour the Champagne Reef first and then enjoy the bubbles during your safety stop. Look out for the resident reef squid and expect to see snorkelers over your head here! A good dive for all skill levels.
This sloping reef in the central part of the West coast is so named for three protruding ledges somewhat reminiscent of a nose. The deepest ledge sits at 120 feet (36 meters) and the shallowest at 40 feet (12 meters), but it is best at about 80 feet (24 meters) on top of the deeper nose. This ridge sticks out into the current and is therefore home to thriving sponges of every color and size. The sheer density of corals and sponges here makes it a favorite place for divers, as well as turtles and pelagics to hang out!
Another unique dive site that is exactly as its name sounds – you swim from pole to pole under the Cabrits Cruise ship jetty! It is a special experience to dive under a large jetty and the poles are covered in all sorts of life, from seahorses to shrimps and crabs in and amongst the sponges. The bottom is also home to batfish, flying gurnards and garden eels. While this is a great second dive, with a maximum 50 ft (15 m), it really comes alive at night. Perfect for all levels of divers.