Antigua and Barbuda
Diving - Snorkeling
Snorkelers will be happy to know that underwater sightseeing with mask and fins is popular off some of the best beaches on both Antigua and Barbuda.
Divers will find that both Antigua and Barbuda are almost completely encircled by coral reefs and a significant number of shipwrecks One popular dive is the wreck of the Andes, a 3-masted merchant ship sunk in 1905. It lies in 30 feet of water in (ironically enough) Deep Bay. The steamboat "Jettias" is in just 25 feet off Diamond Bank.
Cades Reef, a 2-1/2 mile
stretch of coral along the leeward coast, justifiably is one of the more popular offshore sites. It's in such good shape, Cades Reef has been
designated an underwater park. Visibility is often 80-100 feet, with
plenty of fish life and staghorn coral and depths varying from 30-45 feet.
The barrier reef that surrounds Antigua
makes for mostly shallow dives; you really have to go out of your way
to find places that go below 60 feet. An exception is the diving below Shirley Heights offers some of the
deepest diving, down to 110 feet. Ocean-going fish species like rays,
grouper, sharks, turtles and schools of spade fish are frequently spotted
Antigua’s southern and eastern coasts along with almost all of Barbuda are bordered by ledges creating ideal conditions for good shallow diving and snorkeling.
Current is non-existent in most places, water temps average roughly 80 F (25 C) and visibility underwater varies from 50 to 140 feet. Most dives occur between 25 to 80 feet with sites from shore as little as 5 minutes or as far away as a 40-minute boat ride.
While Antigua’s southern and eastern coasts generally have consistently easy diving, more experienced divers will want to visit the ledge of Sunken Rock on the south coast.
In many places the most colorful corals and sponges do not grow on traditional coral reefs but on large underwater boulders that provide substitute homes for the marine life.
To me, the most interesting spots were at Waymund Reef and Sandy
Island where I found coral encrusted anchors and cannons from
old ships like the "HMS Waymund."
Barbuda is home to the larger number of sunken shipwrecks, most still unexplored. The importance –and wealth—on these sunken vessels is best illustrated by the fortunes of the Codrington family in Barbuda. Their affluence was based on having the rights to salvage 17th century wrecks piled up around the island.
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