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
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
- 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