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Place: St. Kitts
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in the Caribbean: The Best Places to Dive in St Kitts by Justin Burch
Many experienced travelers consider St. Kitts to be a well kept secret, this small tropical island boasts some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Caribbean. With a wealth of virtually untouched dive and snorkel sites, there are unique opportunities for divers and snorkelers of all skill levels.
The western side of the island features placid waters, visibility in the range of 60-100 feet and reefs that are known throughout diving communities as some of the most immaculately preserved in the world. Adding to the allure, most of the finest dive locations are an easy boat trip from the shore.
As a travel tip, it is recommended to enlist a tour guide for your diving and snorkeling adventures. There are several dive operators on St. Kitts, all with the supplies you'll need to snorkel or scuba dive, but don't forget to bring your underwater camera.
Though this article will only scratch the surface of what St. Kitts has to offer, it will bring into focus some of the most ideal dive sites in Caribbean.
Our first stop is Sandy Point Bay, a favorite site of Caribbean snorkelers and scuba divers alike. A unique reef with finger-shaped coral formations, the reef is rumored to rest atop a sunken battleship, as this area of the Caribbean Sea was site of numerous sea battles. Divers still find anchors, plates and bottles dating to the 1700s within the swim-through canyons and undercut shelves.
Black Coral Reef is the place for snorkelers and divers to spot the most elusive of coral at depths of 40-70 feet. Ask your divemaster or tour guide to point out the black coral, as it is rather difficult to recognize underwater. Also for the explorer, Blood Bay Reef and the small caves in its vicinity are home to several varieties of coral, purple sea anemones, yellow sea fans and rust-colored bristle worms.
Coconut Tree Reef is one of the largest reefs in the area and offers a unique challenge for both novice and expert divers, as the reef begins at a depth of 40 feet and plunges below 200 feet. As with most sites surrounding St. Kitts, the reef is in excellent condition and teeming with spotted drums, queen triggerfish and large filefish.
Also off the western coast of St. Kitts, rests the Monkey Reef, an intriguing flat formation of both soft and hard coral. Visibility here is superb and the edge of the reef is home to lobster, passive nurse sharks and lizard fish.
For experienced scuba divers, Nags Head is a dramatic, plunging reef in strong waters where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean. Here, the waves are home to stingrays, sea turtles, squirrel fish, sea urchins and several species of large reef fish.
In the channel that separates St. Kitts and its sister island Nevis, divers and snorkelers can find the Grid Iron undersea shelf that rises within 25 feet of the surface. It contains a multitude of shallow water corals, sea fans, sponges and large numbers of angelfish.
According to records, more than 400 ships sank off the coast of St. Kitts between 1493 and 1825, yet only about a dozen have been identified to date. There is perhaps no finer testament to the fact that there remain plenty of sites to explore and secrets to uncover on St. Kitts.
Among the known ships, The River Taw Wreck, a 144 foot long vessel, sank in the waters surrounding St. Kitts only 10 years ago. Both the ship and the developing coral reef are in pristine condition, resting at a depth of 50 feet. This is another great site to photograph a seemingly endless variety of tropical fish and sea creatures. The Beached Tug Boat and Brassball wrecks offer excellent opportunities for both novice scuba divers and snorkelers. As each wreck lies in only 20-25 feet of water, the underwater visibility at these sights is unmatched. Lastly, the M.V. Talata freighter wreck may be a more technical dive than the aforementioned wrecks, but the opportunity to swim with an unparalleled assortment of reef fish is certainly worth the effort.
This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about travel in Caribbean for the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino.