Diving and Snorkeling

Novices and advanced divers alike will be impressed by the marine life in the waters around St. Vincent—brilliant sponges, huge deepwater coral trees, and shallow reefs teeming with colorful fish. Many sites in the Grenadines are still virtually unexplored. It can't be emphasized enough, however, that the coral reef is extremely fragile; you must only look and never touch.

Most dive shops offer three-hour beginner "resort" courses, full certification courses, and day and night excursions to reefs, walls, and wrecks throughout the Grenadines. A single-tank dive costs $75; a two-tank dive, $135; a 10-dive package, $650. A half-day snorkel trip on a dive boat will cost $16 to $20. All prices include equipment.

St. Vincent, "the critter capital of the Caribbean," is ringed by one long, almost continuous reef. The best dive spots are in the small bays along the western coast between Kingstown and Layou; many are within 20 yards of shore and only 20 to 30 feet down. Anchor Reef has excellent visibility for viewing a deep-black coral garden, schools of squid, sea horses, and maybe a small octopus. Critter Corner, just 600 feet off Indian Bay Beach, is St. Vincent's hallmark "muck" dive site—a wealth of marine life lurks in and among the sand, silt, sea grass, and boulders. The Forest, although a shallow dive, is still dramatic with soft corals in pastel colors and schools of small fish. New Guinea Reef slopes to 90 feet and can't be matched for its quantity of corals and sponges. A day-trip to the pristine waters surrounding the Tobago Cays, in the southern Grenadines, provides a spectacular diving or snorkeling experience.

Dive Fantasea. Earl Halbich takes guests on dive and snorkeling trips along the St. Vincent coast and to the Tobago Cays on his custom-built 42-foot snorkel/dive boat, Get Wet. Paradise Beach Hotel, Windward Hwy., Villa Beach, St. Vincent, VC0274. 784/457–4477; www.fantaseatours.com.

Dive St. Vincent. Two PADI-certified dive masters offer beginner and certification courses for ages eight and up, advanced water excursions along the St. Vincent coast and to the southern Grenadines for diving connoisseurs, and an introductory scuba course for novices. Young Island Dock, Villa Beach, St. Vincent. 784/457–4714; www.divestvincent.com.

Indigo Dive. Indigo specializes in tailor-made dive experiences that match your experience level. PADI dive instructors offer a broad range of courses, from introductory through dive master. Blue Lagoon Marina, Windward Hwy., Ratho Mill, St. Vincent, VC0274. 784/493–9494; www.indigodive.com.

Around the Web