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November 29, 2021

Snorkeling & Diving in Barbados

Barbados is perfect for both snorkeling and scuba diving, with a visibility between 40 and 80 feet, turquoise crystal-clear waters and plenty of shipwrecks and marine life to see. Visibility can even reach to 95 feet on the west coast.

You can swim with the friendly hawksbill and leatherback turtles which are a common attraction. They are everywhere and are well fed by the many daily catamaran and snorkeling tours. This is not good at all for the ecosystem but it is what it is currently. Even so there is an extremely healthy population because they are endangered and hence protected. In addition, you will see the occasional stingray or mantaray, barracudas and many other smaller tropical fish. It's generally pretty safe here to both snorkel and dive and I have not heard of an incident of someone being bitten by a bigger fish or turtle. Any of the bigger fish are usually on the east coast where it's not safe to swim anyway. Most of the dangers lie in the occasional jelly fish and stepping on a lionfish or a sea urchin.

Snorkeling

There are several spots with easily accessible snorkeling in Barbados. For this reason, you may want to bring your own equipment. It will be a perfect fit and you'll be able to go anytime you want. If however, you prefer not to do so there are places to rent equipment starting at around USD $15 for 3 hours. Here are the best locations on the island and some of the pictures I took (which aren't the best):

Carlise Bay Marine Park

<p style="color:white">Carlise Bay is a natural harbor on the southwest of Barbados near Bridgetown, around 16mins drive from St. Lawrence Gap. It’s one of the most popular places to go snorkeling as there are six shipwrecks less than 200 meters from the beach. The Barge, Cornwallis, the Berwind/1919 (often spelled Berwyn), Bajan Queen/2002, Ce Trek/1986 and Elion/1996. There are many other wrecks out there but for most of the others you will require scuba gear. Barbados has one of the highest number of shipwrecks in the Caribbean. </p> <p style="color: white">Every day right after leaving port around 9:30am most sea tours and catamaran will make their first stop here so if you want to see where the wrecks are just look where they are going, or you can just book a cruise and join them, and they will take you directly there. I highly recommend spending a day on a catamaran cruise. The food is usually great, and you get to see the island from a different perspective. </p> <p style="color:white">Of course there will be plenty of turtles especially when the boats are feeding them. You will also likely see all of the other fish mentioned above and if you're lucky you may also see octopus, mackerel, moray eel, frog fish and sea horses. </p> <p style="color:white">Usually it's comfortable to have a base while you're snorkeling. If you want to spend a day at Carlise Bay, you may want to pay USD $30 at boatyard which gives you use of a beach chair, umbrella, trampoline, water slides, water toys and also provides a free boat tour out to the wrecks. Plus, you get back a good chunk of that money at the bar and restaurant. Of course, you're also welcome to just layout a towel on this or any beach in Barbados. </p>

Dover Beach

<p style="color:white">Of course, this is right out in front of Shoreshire so you're already home. The reef is a bit far out so you should definitely be a competent swimmer to go there but, that said, my eight-year-old has been out there under supervision and enjoyed himself looking at the fish. I do recommend that you maybe carry a visible flotation aid since, although the Jet skis are supposed to be further out sometimes people don't listen and so you'll want them to see that you are there. </p> <p style="color:white">You will very likely be seeing turtles here as well. </p>

Folkestone Marine Park

<p style="color:white">This is the home of the Stavronikita shipwreck but although it's only half mile from shore it's also in 120ft of water so it's more for expert scuba divers and not for snorkeling. </p> <p style="color:white">About one-third mile offshore there is, however, an inshore reef, considered one of the best on island, which teams with fish and coral. </p>

Worthing Beach

<p style="color:white">It's quite calm here and the water depth, all the way to the reef, which is right offshore, ranges from two to six or seven feet getting deeper and more lively the more west you go.</p> <p style="color:white">In my things to do blog I mention that, on Sundays, this is the place to be as there is live music at Crystal Waters, well, and you can go snorkelling. </p>

Diving

For diving, Barbados is a beautiful but largely unheralded dive destination. The healthy coral reefs, variety of dive sites and competent, mainly locally owned, dive shops are often pleasant surprises for those who end up diving here.

Carlisle Bay, again, is always a good place to start. It’s a sandy bay with patch reefs, interspersed among the 6 sunken ships with their host of fish, friendly turtles and other critters. Set between 25 to 45ft, it can accommodate both beginner and advanced divers. The Bay divides the west and south coasts on the leeward side of the island, where dive sites are dotted all along the bank-barrier reefs.

The west coast is characterized by prevailing calm, tranquil seas and here dives often start of the top of the reef in 40-60ft of water with walls that drop off down to 80-120ft typically.

The south coast is a bit more turbulent and often drift dives are done here, on the patch and barrier reefs. Patch reefs are found in around 40ft of water, while the bank reefs (separated by a sand channel) are around 50ft and again with walls that drop off into the deep. The hard and soft (gorgonian) corals support an explosion of life - ranging from the rare frogfish to the sharks, our supreme predators. More commonly sighted are schools of horse eye jacks, barracudas, rainbow runners and typical reef fish.

Wreck diving is also a “thing” in Barbados, with the largest, the Stavronikita on the west and the smaller Pamir. Along with the six in Carlisle Bay and a few on the south, this option is also open for divers.

Finally, the east - the inward side of the island is often too rough for diving, but if you find a dive shop going during the summer months, you’ll spot a sea scape unlike the others seen on the leeward side - tunnels and underwater rock formations, larger predators and stronger currents make it an advanced and exciting dive trip.

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I grew up in Barbados and now reside in Boston primarily working as a software developer. I'm also a licensed real estate professional so I know what it takes to be a trusted responsive short term rental host. Hopefully i've hired the best on premise staff who have thought of everything, but I myself am always only a phone call away. Being a local (we go back frequently) I know all the things to do, when to do them and I can get you in contact with the right people to facilitate it. My wife, who is russian, and I love nice restaurants and drinks as well so we can point you to our favorite places to go. You can expect a reasonable and timely response from me should you need any assistance. Enjoy your vacation!

Angelique Brathwaite
+ posts

Marine Biologist and avid diver.

Category: Barbados, Holiday Ideas
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