Diving in Antigua and Barbuda
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Antigua is an unsung diving destination, with plentiful undersea sights to explore, from coral canyons to sea caves. Barbuda alone features roughly 200 wrecks on its treacherous reefs. The most accessible wreck is the 1890s bark Andes, not far out in Deep Bay, off Five Islands Peninsula. Among the favorite sites are Green Island, Cades Reef, and Bird Island (a national park). Memorable sightings include turtles, stingrays, and barracuda darting amid basalt walls, hulking boulders, and stray 17th-century anchors and cannon. One advantage is accessibility in many spots for shore divers and snorkelers. Double-tank dives run about $90.
Dive Antigua. Certification courses and day and night dives are offered at Dive Antigua. Advantages include the central location, knowledgeable crew (the owner, "Big John," spent more than 25 years of his nearly four decades in the industry exploring Antigua underwater), satellite technology sounding the day's best dive sites, free drinks after dives, and exceptionally priced packages. Drawbacks include generally noisy groups and inconsistent maintenance (less safety than hygiene concerns). Rex Halcyon Cove Beach Resort, Dickenson Bay. 268/462-3483. www.diveantigua.com.
Dockyard Divers. Owned by British ex-merchant seaman Captain A.G. "Tony" Fincham, Dockyard Divers is one of the island's most established outfits and offers diving and snorkeling trips, PADI courses, and dive packages with accommodations. They're geared to seasoned divers, but staff work patiently with novices. Tony is a wonderful source of information on the island; ask him about the "Fincham's Follies" musical extravaganza he produces for charity. Nelson's Dockyard, English Harbour. 268/460-1178. www.dockyard-divers.com.
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