Ten good reasons to visit the British Virgin Islands
There is such a variety of dive sites that every day you are able to explore yet another aspect of the BVI's unique topography. From remote offshore pinnacles to lush coral gardens and fascinating shipwrecks; no two dives are alike and each of the over 70 established sites has its own special attractions.
Here is just a sampling of what you can expect. The following are 10 great dives that give you a cross section of the BVI's undersea attractions.
RMS Rhone WreckBefore she sunk during a hurricane, the Rhone had been the pride of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and carried 313 passengers. During the storm she hit Salt Island, was broken in two and promptly sank. Today, her two halves are well preserved on a sandy bottom and her steel wreckage has become home to a myriad species of fish and encrusting coals. The Rhone is now a marine park that is part of the BVI National Park Trust, and is perfect for a two-tank dive. The bow section, which lies in about 80 feet of water, reveals the coral encrusted cargo hold and other interior chambers. Outside is the ship's foremast, complete with crow's nest and bowprit lying in the sand. The stern section contains the ship's once power engine, her prop shaft and enormous propeller.
Blonde Rock Blonde Rock is a BVI favorite. This plateau-like pinnacle lies between Dead Chest and Salt Island which rises from a depth of 60 feet to mere 15 feet below the surface. Its rock ledges, tunnels, caves and overhangs are home to crabs, lobsters, beautiful fan corals and hordes of reef fish. A very neat tunnel and a beautiful rainbow arch make Blonde Rock a special diving experience.
Painted Walls Painted Walls is a shallow dive off the southern point of Dead Chest. Here divers delight at the kaleidoscope of colors created by encrusting corals and sponges on the walls of four long gullies. The depth ranges from 20 to 30 feet.
Santa Monica Rock This dive site lies about one mile south of Normal Island and is a pinnacle that reaches from about 10 to 100 feet. Because it is on the outer edge of the island chain, it is a good place to see larger open ocean fish like spotted eagle rays.
The Indians Not far from Peter and Norman Islands, four large, jagged stone pinnacles protrude from the surface after rising 50 feet from the ocean floor near Pelican Rock. These tooth-like formations yield a series of canyons and grottos which feature both soft and hard corals.
Alice In Wonderland Experienced divers looking for a deep dive, will enjoy this one at South Bay on Ginger Island. The wall here slopes gently downward from 15 to 100 feet. Huge mushroom-shaped corals give the site its name. It is perhaps BVI's best coral dive, with fairytail seascapes of huge coral, narrow twisting channels and beautiful cascading drapery coral.
Brewers Bay Pinnacle This dive offers spectacular diving when conditions are right. Lying about 200 yards off the west point of the bay, this towering rock rises from 90 to 20 feet and abounds with fish life.
Marie L. & Pat Wrecks
These twin wrecks, resting against one another on a white sand bottom at 80 feet, make for an intresting dive. From a lush coral reef at 35' you gently decend to 55' which then drops down a wall to the sand bottom. Emerging from the misty haze of these azure waters, the rusted hulls of these derelicts mysteriously appear. Similarly the thousands of tiny garden eels buried in the surrounding sands disappear upon approach and then silently reappear as you glide past. You are likely see the sand covered outlines and bulging eyes of at least one stingray upon your visit to the Marie L. and Pat.
The Chimneys The Chimneys is in the same area as Great Dog. Within this series of arches and canyons, you will be dazzled by the colorful soft corals and charmed by the variety of fish.
Chikuzen Wreck The wreck of the Chikuzen is one of the BVI's truly great dive sites. Lying a depth of 75 feet, six miles north of Beef Island, the ship was sunk in 1981 deliberately scuttled by her own crew. The full 246 foot length of this once refrigerated vessel is teeming with fish of every description. Resting on her port side, Chikuzen regularly attracts huge schools of barracuda that circle above the starboard rail, as well as amberjack and horse-eye jacks. Jewfish and cobia are also regular visitors.
Each dive operator has their own opinion as to what constitutes BVI's 10 best dive sites. The sites listed here are offered as a sampling, as there are many, many more that rate just as high. Nanes like Rainbow Canyons, Dry Rocks East, The Baths, The Caves, Bronco Billy's, The Flintstones and Twin Towers conjour up visions of even more diving adventures.