Caribbean Diving Suggestions?

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kcprofessor

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I am planning a dive trip for late fall early winter and looking for somewhere in Caribbean to go with my wife and another couple. The ladies want nice reefs and easy diving, us guys would like some real shipwrecks and a bit more challenge. We have been to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras numerous times and are seeking something a little off the beaten track without the cattle boat operations. We are looking at Grenada because of the diving variety, but I am wondering if there are other suggestions.
 

drrich2

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Interesting list of desires. Oddly enough, what kept to my mind wouldn't require you to reach the Caribbean; have you been to Key Largo yet? My trip report from Sept. 2013, about your planned time of year to travel. If you like small boats & don't need no-added charge guides, Quiescence might be your op, instead of Rainbow Reef Dive Center. But consider:

1.) Lots of shallow, fishy reef and easy diving.

2.) Option for morning trips to deep wrecks; Spiegel Grove, Duane & Bibb.

3.) Option for road trips to topside diversions; Miami Zoo, Jungle Island, Lion Country Safari, etc...

Not much in the way of sandy beaches, though. Definitely not off the beaten track.

One issue you may face is that when a destination is 'off the beaten track,' there's a reason (maybe more than one). If a place has nice reefs, easy diving and real ship wrecks, a lot of people will want to go there.

Have you been to the British Virgin Islands? I don't know about 'challenging,' but the wreck of the Rhone is often mentioned. About how many wrecks to you need?

Richard.

P.S.: For my own curiosity, why is Grenada off the beaten path? I'm not arguing that it is; I hear about it very sporadically. So, why isn't it a mainstream dive destination like Cozumel, Bonaire & the Caymans?
 

Doc

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The time of year is an obvious concern for Caribbean Storm Tracks. As an experience Caribbean diver, you must have already taken that into account.

Your options become affected and dictated by the weather pattern, as do the room rates.

You say you have been to Roatan. Have you been to both sides West/North and then South? Vast differences (and outside the regular Caribbean Storm Track)

You want "real shipwrecks". I think that would be "non-placed" human screw-up type wrecks. These wrecks, by their very nature, are caused by close-in proximity to land, running aground. This location and event is accompanied by obviously frequent storm-wave action. Actual, real-deal wrecks are very short lived, even most "placed" wrecks are quickly shredded to tatters.

Grenada.

The biggest draw here is the BiancaC wreck, and it still exists as an intact (outside of a 1992 storm damage) wreck because she sank deep at 165fsw and 3mi offshore due to fire. That puts her outside the norm of most actual shipwrecks. The large majority of divers here are from England. The other people on the plane are bird watchers. It is a hump for us North Americans to get to, more cocking around than a direct flight from England.

The best diving on Grenada, nobody does. It is on the far NE coast among the barrier islands. Grenada population and tourist infrastructure is concentrated on the SW tip. The big draw, the cruise ship wreck BiancaC and it's top deck "pool", it is occluded, very deep and has currents. There really is not much to see, but like the Belize Blue Hole, it seems to draw divers like flies to a yellow porch light.

Off the beaten path?

And also out of the hurricane/trop storm potential path?

Tobago. Hard to get to. The North East end is my choice. A lot of British bird watchers, more birders than divers by far. People think they have been in current after their big Cozymall Trip. Mexico current diving was a warm Summer's breeze. Tobago will be the thrill ride you need before dealing with the Galapagos. (No surviving shipwrecks here)

Los Roques VZ (not Margarite) LOTS of real-deal actual SHIPWRECKS that may or may not be visible under swirling sand in shallow waters with current. Hard to get to- Caracas to Gran Roque, charter with an open dory boat operator. Go be Clutch Cargo. Superlative but rustic experience for non-divers, too.

Cattle Boats

How do you define that? Everybody has their own internal picture. Some people reference the DMs attitude, some think only of the actual number of divers- but either of those two "main descriptors" are highly dependent on the guest divers perceptions driven by past experience.

What's a cattle boat, specifically to you?
 

PatW

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Utila is off the beaten track. It has a wide variety of diving: muck dives, sea mounts, a few wrecks, walls, and shallow reefs.

You could do Grand Turk or Salt Cay in the Turks and Caicos. It is mainly wall diving and shallow reefs and is off the beaten track.

Key Largo ticks your boxes well but is not exactly off the beaten track.

Another possibility is Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. They have wall dives, shallow reefs and are off the beaten track.
 

KathyV

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...Another possibility is Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. They have wall dives, shallow reefs and are off the beaten track.

I second the Cayman sister islands, excellent but easy diving, beautiful walls, and off the beaten track.

There is also a nice (intentionally sunk) shipwreck of a Russian Frigate. And if you decide to add-on a few days on Grand Cayman you can dive the Kittiwake, a sunken US sub tender.
 
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drrich2

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The more I think about this, the more I think maybe you guys ought to consider making a 'main' trip to a good reef diving destination, and a side trip for you guys for wrecks. Something like this - a week at a Caribbean destination for the family, then...how about you guys take a 4 day 'long weekend' and hit Morehead, North Carolina in August and do some deep wreck diving? If you don't like 'cattle boats,' see if you can fill in some vacant spaces on a charter with Tortuga Charters. That would let you nail maybe 2 dives/day for a couple of days, hopefully hitting 3 or 4 different wrecks. Some are 'real' wrecks. Sand Tigers sharks, diving in the Atlantic, substantial depths, likely diving EAN 36 & 100+cf tanks, ought to give you that little extra challenge.

Richard.
 
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Bryan Cunningham

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BVI is a good option. Plenty of easy shallow reefs, and great shipwrecks.
Be sure to do the Indians as one of the shallow reef dives. Best two wrecks are The Rhone (2 dives as it is split. One 80ft, second 40ft) The Chickuzen is also an amazing wreck. Lots of big marine life. there are also a number of other less impressive wrecks.
 

Dhboner

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Don't discount the south coast of the Dominican Republic (La Romana/Bayahibe area)...beautiful reefs with very little or no current and a couple of great shipwrecks including a huge old Russian freighter at around 100' depth that has been cleaned out for safe penetration. Lots of very good all-inclusive resorts as well. If you decide to go there look up ScubaFun...they have the best boats I have ever dived from and will never crowd you on a cattle run.
 

robint

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How many dives per DAY do you want to do?

Bonaire has the easy diving the ladies want, but really only a couple of wrecks and not challenging diving. Most challenging thing is getting in and out of water from some of the shore dives AND getting service in a restaurant.

Little Cayman has great diving but don't think they have any wrecks. It might fit your bill though.

Grand Cayman has the easy diving and the wrecks, but might be more crowded and cattle boats.


BEST shipwreck diving on this side of the planet is North Carolina. Real WWII wrecks, sunk in battle with Germans, real submarines. Totally what you sound like you want... but NOT easy diving at all. Boat ride out to reefs is 2 hours of bouncy boat then 2 hour surface interval in bouncy seas. Not for the queasy types, no pretty coral reefs but TONS of Fish and SHARKS. Really great diving in summertime.
 

AdivingBel

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Little Cayman has great diving but don't think they have any wrecks. It might fit your bill though.

If you're looking for wrecks to see the ships, there isn't alot of that on Little Cayman. If you like the swim-throughs and the grand topography other than reef, Little Cayman has that in spades along with the top of the wall easy reefs.
 
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