Diving and Snorkeling in Dominica

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Diving and Snorkeling

Not only is Dominica considered one of the top 10 dive destinations in the world by Skin Diver and Rodale's Scuba Diving magazines, but it has won many other awards for its underwater sites. They are truly memorable. The west coast of the island has awesome sites, but the best are those in the southwest—within and around Soufrière/Scotts Head Marine Reserve. This bay is a submerged volcanic crater. The Dominica Watersports Association has worked along with the Fisheries Division for years to establish this reserve and has set stringent regulations to prevent the degradation of the ecosystem. Within ½ mile (¾ km) of the shore there are vertical drops from 800 feet to more than 1,500 feet, with visibility frequently extending to 100 feet. Shoals of boga fish, Creole wrasse, and blue cromis are common, and you might even see a spotted moray eel or a honeycomb cowfish. Crinoids (rare elsewhere) are also abundant here, as are giant barrel sponges. There is a $2 fee per person to dive, snorkel, or kayak in the reserve. Other noteworthy dive sites include Salisbury Falls, Nose Reef, Brain Coral Garden, and—even farther north—Cabrits Drop-Off and Toucari Reef. The conditions for underwater photography, particularly macrophotography, are unparalleled. Rates start at about $55 for a single-tank dive and about $90 for a two-tank dive or from about $75 for a resort course with one open-water dive. All scuba-diving operators also offer snorkeling. Equipment rents for $10 to $25 a day; trips with gear range from $15 to $35. A 10% tax is not included.

Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center. The Anchorage Dive & Whale Watch Center has two dive boats that can take you out day or night. It also offers PADI instruction (all skill levels), snorkeling and whale-watching trips, and shore diving. It has many of the same trips as Dive Dominica. Anchorage Hotel, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2638; 888/790–5264 in U.S. www.anchoragehotel.dm.

Cabrits Dive Center. Cabrits Dive Center is the only PADI five-star dive center in Dominica. Nitrox courses are also available for $250. Since Cabrits is the sole operator on the northwest coast, its dive boats have the pristine reefs almost to themselves, unlike other operations, whose underwater territories may overlap. Picard Estate, Portsmouth. 767/445–3010. www.cabritsdive.com.

Dive Dominica. Dive Dominica, one of the island's dive pioneers, conducts PADI courses as well as Nitrox certification courses. With four boats, it offers diving, snorkeling, and whale-watching trips and packages, including accommodation at the Castle Comfort Lodge. Its trips are similar to Anchorage's. Castle Comfort Lodge, Castle Comfort. 767/448–2188; 646/502–6800 in U.S. www.divedominica.com.

Fort Young Dive Centre. Fort Young Dive Centre conducts snorkeling, diving, and whale-watching trips that depart from the hotel's private dock. Fort Young Hotel, Victoria St., Roseau. 767/448–5000 Ext. 333. www.fortyounghotel.com/activities/diving.

Irie Safari. Irie Safari takes snorkelers to Champagne and the nearby tall grasses, where turtles like to hang out. Soufrière/Scotts Head Marine Reserve, Soufrière. 767/440–5085.

Nature Island Dive. Nature Island Dive is run by an enthusiastic crew who offer diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and mountain biking as well as resort and full PADI courses. Some of the island's best dive sites are right outside its door. Dive prices are $84 for a two-tank dive and US$100 for a two-tank dive with BC vest and regulator. Soufrière. 767/449–8181. www.natureislanddive.com.

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