Diving in the British Virgin Islands
Duration: Half Day
The British Virgin Islands is one of the Caribbean’s premier diving destinations, boasting crystal clear waters, numerous shipwrecks, one of the largest barrier coral reefs in the world and an abundance of marine life. Whether you are an experienced diver, or you are venturing into the waters for the first time, there are many exciting dive sites to suit every level of experience.
Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, approximately 60 miles east of Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, or BVI, comprise more than 50 Caribbean islands and cays ranging from mountainous volcanic islands to flat coral atolls. This paradise location boasts lush, subtropical vegetation; pristine white sandy beaches and alluring turquoise waters which host a myriad of natural treasures. Over a hundred exciting dive sites can be explored here, which include towering coral pinnacles, fascinating shipwrecks, countless reefs, spectacular granite boulders, dramatic underwater caverns, mystical grottoes and numerous tunnels.
Some of these sites are ranked amongst the best in the world, including the famous Rhone Wreck off Salt Island, which was featured in the 1977 film The Deep. This former British royal mail steamer sank during a hurricane in 1867, but much of it still remains intact today. The wreck is encrusted with colourful corals and sponges, and inhabited by a myriad of marine life, making it a fascinating place to explore.
Other wreck sites include Wreck Alley off Cooper Island, where divers will find three interesting shipwrecks in a row, and Chikuzen, one of Tortola’s best known dive sites. This ship originally operated as a long liner, supporting the Korean fishing fleet operating throughout South America and the Caribbean, but years later it sank near Beef Island after drifting into BVI waters. Hundreds of wrecks also lie scattered of Anegada Island, after hitting the treacherous shallow reefs surrounding the island.
Aside from Rhone Wreck, one of the best and most popular dive sites in the BVI is the Caves and The Indians off Norman Island. This beautiful island is believed to have been the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous 19th century novel Treasure Island. The Indians comprise four spectacular rock formations, which rise over 50 feet above the sea, and they are covered with brightly-coloured coral species.
The famous Caves below Treasure Point are also an exciting dive. If you venture deep inside, the darkness provides a similar experience to a night dive. At every dive site, you will see an abundance of marine creatures, including hundreds of tropical fish species, sea turtles, groupers, barracuda, manta rays, eagle rays, octopus, whale sharks and many, many more.
Wherever you decide to dive during your holiday in the British Virgin Islands, breathtaking discoveries and underwater adventures await you.
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The tourism sector in the British Virgin Islands is continuing to grow, and in 2016 it experienced a significant increase in overnight visitors. Figures released by the government revealed that more than 406,000 visitors stayed overnight in hotels, apartments, and B&Bs by the end of the year. This is the first time that the Caribbean nation has recorded more than 400,000 visitors overnight.
The north-eastern Caribbean's British Virgin Islands (BVI) is hosting its very first month-long celebration of island food this November. The BVI Food Fete's highlights will include the Anegada Lobster Festival, Restaurant Week and a range of street barbecues and parties showcasing local cuisine.
The Great House on Richard Branson's private Necker Island will be opening its doors once again to holidaymakers wanting to experience a truly luxurious Caribbean holiday, after it was badly damaged by a fire in 2011. The nine-bedroom property has been renovated over the past two years and it is scheduled to open again in September, 2013.