In Crystal Blue Waters:
Diving in Dominica


In 1876 a traveler and writer by the name of William Gifford Palgrave visited the island of Dominica and put his impressions of the island into these words:

"In the wild grandeur of its towering mountains, some of which rise to 5,000 feet above the level of the sea: in the majesty of its almost impenetrable forests; in the gorgeousness of its vegetation; the abruptness of its precipes, the calm of its lakes, the violence of its torrents, the sublimity of its waterfalls, it stands without a rival, not in the West Indies only, but I should think, throughout the whole island catalog of the Atlantic and Pacific combined."

I wonder how much more impressed he would have been if he had been able to peer beneath the calm and inviting Caribbean Sea? Unfortunately, Jacques Cousteau and the sport of scuba diving were more than half a century away.

Today, Dominica's lush forest and soaring mountains are a perfect backdrop to the spectacular dive sites that sit hidden just offshore. The dramatic topography that Mr. Palgrave raved about continues underwater and gives Dominica some of the Caribbean's most spectacular diving. As you gently slide beneath the sea, the lush green mountains are replaced by underwater pinnacles that rise from the depths, covered in brilliantly coloured corals and cloaked with tropical reef fish.

Modern-day travelers who have dared to stray from the traditional, heavily advertised Caribbean dive destinations and have embarked upon an adventure to Dominica have been treated to an unbelievable dive holiday:

  • Each day uncrowded dive boats pick and choose from an inexhaustible selection of pristine dive sites.
  • Once underwater here, you seldom see other divers and you would be hard pressed to find evidence of reef damage caused by divers.
  • Every dive site is a macro-photographer's fantasy with a rich assortment of colourful sponges, an abundance of crinoids, camouflaged frogfish, arrowcrabs, anemones with cleaner shrimp of every kind hiding inside them, walls covered in black coral, and gorgonians with the occasional seahorse attached.
  • Wide-angle photographers will delight in our swim-throughs full of soldierfish and grunts that part like a curtain with the passage of each diver. Caves full of lobster, dramatic arches of coral-covered granite, schools of sennet, large Southern stingrays, big barracuda, schools of baitfish being pursued by various jacks, and huge barrel sponges make impressive images.
  • All of these dive sites are a stone's throw from the shore and lie within the Scott's Head/Soufriere Marine Reserve, which encompasses just under three miles of coastline. These dive sites vary in their topography as dramatically as the mountains that soar above them.

The individual dive sites here vary in many different ways, from difficulty level to currents and topography. My personal favourites are along the southern coast in the Atlantic Ocean. However, these sites are very susceptible to waves, wind and current, so it is a special treat to dive on these advanced dive sites.



Dominica Down Under Photos and Text by Simon Walsh

Related Links

Soufrière Scott's Head Marine Reserve

Dive Fest

A Guide to Diving & Whale Watching in Dominica

Whale Watch & Dive Operators



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