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Scuba Diving in the British Virgin Islands Hot

Dive area / region : British Virgin Islands - See the map Scuba Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Best diving season : January  •  February  •  March  •  April  •  May  •  June  •  October  •  November  •  December
Recommended number of days to stay : 5 to 7 days
Number of dive sites : 16 to 20 Dive Sites
Water temperature and wetsuit advice : 21-25C : Thin Wetsuit
Average visibility : 30 meters plus
Average dives depth : 20 Meters
Type of currents : Strong currents - drift diving
Months when these currents are present : N/A
General surface conditions : Very variable conditions
Wreck types : Recent world ships  •  Airplane
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Worth it
Type of marine life : Anemone  •  Barracuda  •  Jacks  •  Lobster  •  Moray Eels  •  Plants  •  Reef Fish  •  Shark - Hammerhead  •  Shark - Lemon shark  •  Shark - Reef shark  •  Shrimps  •  Sponge  •  Turtles
Presence of caves / caverns : Yes - Semiclosed


Suit: 3mm wetsuit
Type of diving: Reefs, pinnacles, wrecks

The British Virgin Islands are a collection of over fifty islands, of which only sixteen are inhabited. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Dutch settlers arrived at the islands in 1648 and by 1672 the British seized control of them. They are still a British colony and have a population of around 19,000. The official language of the islands is English and the currency is the US dollar.
Group of islands and cays strung along Sir Francis Drake Channel between Puerto Rico and St. Kitts, the BVIs have an unspoiled setting. Tortola is the largest island, and its capital, Road Town, hosts governmental offices, banks, shops, a ferry service and an international cruise-ship dock. It’s also the main location for charter boats. The north shore of Tortola is peppered with coves and isolated beaches like Brewer’s Bay and Smuggler’s Cove. The more populous Cane Garden Bay offers many restaurants and bars. The hilly roadways make for a four-wheel-drive challenge but provide spectacular views.
Mountainous Virgin Gorda, with secluded beaches and natural attractions, is the site of the Baths, where enormous granite boulders dominate the beach, creating numerous tide pools and great snorkeling. Jost Van Dyke thrives on its waterside reputation for festivity and provides excellent protected anchorages for yachters. Out to the northeast, day trippers visit Anegada and 18-mile-long Horseshoe Reef – one of the world’s longest – to spend the day bird-watching and snorkeling.

Norman Island, supposedly the Treasure Island of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story, has no inhabitants other than a couple of restaurants. Here, the Caves is a famous snorkeling spot; the Indians and Marina Cay are also popular. Necker Island is privately owned by Sir Richard Branson, and largely undeveloped Peter Island hosts a resort that welcomes all for lunch and beaching.
Guana Island is an officially designated wildlife sanctuary for species like the masked booby.

The British Virgin Islands are home to some of the most spectacular and untouched diving that I have seen in the Caribbean. There is diving for every single type of diver. There are approximately 200 shipwrecks, some unmarked and unexplored (for those of you that love to be one of the first few to view a wreck they are around just wander the coasts of the islands with side scan sonar) and some of the best reef diving to be found in the Caribbean.
The most famous and possibly spectacular wreck in the BVI is that of the HMS Rhone (this was the wreck featured in the movie The Deep). The Rhone is a Royal Mail Steamer which sunk during the hurricane of 1867 with 125 persons on board. At 100 meters long and 10 meters wide, the wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer lies in two main parts in waters between 10 and 30 meters deep. Much of it is still intact and visible, including decking, parts of the rigging, the steam engine, and propeller. There is also a porthole that still contains the original glass and should be rubbed for good luck.
The site is popular with groups that are split between divers and snorkelers as the stern sits in shallow enough water to snorkel as well as being a superb dive. This is easily one of the best night dives in the Caribbean. On any given night there are approximately 3-5 giant sleeping green turtles that tuck themselves in underneath parts of the stern as well as half a dozen Moray eels and dozens of lobster and crab migrating across the sea floor. The bow section of the wreck still affords a swim through which can be described as nothing less than breath taking.
A less frequently visited shipwreck is just around the corner, the wreck of the Fearless sits in 30 msw less than a mile from where the Rhone met its end. The Fearless is supposedly the sister ship to the famous Calypso and was intentionally sunk as an aftificial reef in the 1986. The ship is approximately 30m in length and is largely intact. The marine life has started to encrusted virtually every surface. This wreck is home to a large turtle, several large spotted eels, and swarms of snapper. It is also close enough to the Francis Drake Channel that we have spotted reef sharks on multiple dives. This is one of the most photogenic wrecks in the region and its easy to spend an entire memory stick on the dive.

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