Green Moray Eel enjoying the view at RMS Rhone wreck site
Are you tired of “dived-out” reefs, poorly trained divemasters and islands with more fast food joints than dive boats? Has feeding the stingrays lost its appeal? Have you ever wondered about the quality of air in your short-filled tank? Sick of crowded live aboards where you pay big money only to get few comforts and amenities?
Would you prefer reefs with magnitudes of colour that don’t show years of diver abuse and wear and tear? Don’t you appreciate having an instructor lead your dive? For a change, wouldn’t it be fun to be able to sail your own yacht and have the dive boat pull up along side, pick you up and take you to your choice of dive sites? Wouldn’t it be great to have Caribbean diving like it used to be? How would you like to see a few 10+ pound lobsters, wild sea turtles, stingrays, multitudes of fish and a 310-foot wreck all on one dive? Then welcome to “Nature’s Little Secrets” – The British Virgin Islands.
The British Virgin Islands are sixty miles east of Puerto Rico and twenty miles northeast of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The highest point in the British Virgin Islands is Sage Mountain, near the rain forest in Tortola, 1800 feet above sea level.
Scuba divers and snorkelers will enjoy clear waters with abundant marine life. Other activities include sailing, windsurfing, shopping, and beach combing the long, sandy beaches. A special attraction on Virgin Gorda is the Baths, a collection of giant boulders that form sea pools for swimming and snorkelling. The most famous dive site is the Wreck of the RMS Rhone, considered a world class underwater destination and one of the best Wreck dives in the world.
The British Virgin Islands are best known for perfect sailing conditions, and they also have more than 100 dive sites for underwater explorations. While the BVI may not have walls or drift diving, they do have sites full of stunning coral gardens, canyons, tunnels, caverns, grottoes, and wrecks teeming with underwater life of every size and kind. They also have dive operators who like to pamper and satisfy their guests, from newly certified to advanced.
Most of the 60 islands and cays in the BVI line the 18-mile long Sir Frances Drake Channel. Many sites are in the 15′ to 50′ range, with others having 60′ to 80′ depths. Two of the deeper, easily accessible dives are the Wreck of the RMS Rhone at 80′ and Ginger Island’s Ginger Steps at 85′. Most dives are moored and current is almost nonexistent, providing a haven for underwater photographers. Needless to say, there are plenty of great sites to bedazzle new divers as well as the advanced or expert.
The British Virgin Islands are extremely conservation-minded and the extensive system of moorings at the most popular dive sites is maintained by the National Parks Trust and Ministry of Natural Resources which are dedicated to the preservation of reef areas and marine life.
Tortola is reached by commuter air service from San Juan or St. Thomas, and by ferry from St. Thomas or St. John, US Virgin Islands. Europeans often jet to Antigua or St. Maarten, and then take a commuter flight to Tortola.
Connections to Virgin Gorda are via flight from San Juan or St. Thomas, or ferry from Tortola or St. Thomas. Peter Island has ferry services from Beef Island Airport and the ferry dock near Road Town.
The BVI have several dive operations scattered around the many islands and cays. All provide personalized service, guided dives, and have scuba gear for rent. Most all are affiliated with PADI, NAUI, and SSI. The members of the BVI Scuba Organization are Blue Water Divers, Yacht Braveheart, Cuan Law, Dive BVI, Rainbow Visions Photography, Sail Caribbean Divers, Sunchaser Scuba, We B Divin, Paradise Watersports, and JVD Watersports.