Scuba Diving British Virgin Islands
This extraordinary setting provides outstanding underwater visibility, healthy coral and a wide variety of exotic dive sites, with air temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees year-round.
Sailing, diving, fishing and soaking up the sun on perfect beaches is what it’s all about on the 60 idyllic British Virgin Islands.
For the active and adventurous, there is an array of exciting things to do within the islands of BVI. See the spectacular vistas of land and sea from a hike to the top of Sage mountain, or visit one of BVI’s 28 National Parks. Experience the rich and eclectic Caribbean culture thru performance of Heritage Dancers, or the sweet sounds from the fungi and steel drum bands.
SCUBA DIVING IN BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Countless reefs, towering coral pinnacles, underwater caves, lava tunnels, canyons, massive boulders and grottoes are strewn across this vast submerged shelf, creating a choice of dive sites that range from shallows for the novice snorkeller to dramatic sea caverns and extraordinary shipwrecks for the experienced scuba diver.
Although large animals such as Caribbean reef sharks, manta rays, and spotted eagle rays are not uncommon, the British Virgin Islands are known for the incredible diversity of reef fish. Pick up a fish ID book for the Caribbean and you can find almost everything in it here. You will likely see huge Jewish and Cubera snapper, green and spotted morays, various sharks, turtles and rays, all the jacks, pompano, spade fish, permits, tarpon and virtually every reef fish.
All of the waters of the British Virgin Islands are protected under the National Parks Trust who works in association with the BVI Dive Operators to protect the natural abundance of the reefs. Several special areas, such as the wreck of the Rhone, receive extra protection as marine parks. As a result, divers enjoy healthy reefs with an enormous variety of fish. Mooring buoys minimize anchor damage and regulations prohibit damaging or removing any plant or animal, keeping the reefs packed with life. Spear fishing is forbidden and the use of gloves discouraged.
Your options on ways to dive the BVI’s include renown live-boards, Land based operations and almost all of the dive operators offer “rendezvous” diving, which involves picking up guests from a yacht, doing a one or two-tank dive, and then dropping them back at their vessel afterward
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Main Areas – British Virgin Islands or BVI consist of the main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Along with over fifty other smaller islands and cays. Approximately fifteen of the islands are inhabited. .
Tortola – The Largest island Tortola, home to capital Road Town, is a 12 by three mile haven of white sand, lush green mountains, ruins and rum distilleries The Island of Tortola and most of the BVI are mountainous islands, and, though verdant-green when seen from afar, the climate and vegetation are much drier than many Caribbean isles. Tortola is a sailor’s dream port in the Caribbean, but divers have found it to their liking too. For that reason the BVIs are a popular destination for divers and snorkelers.
Virgin Gorda – Underwater caverns beckon from dramatic Virgin Gorda Virgin Gorda, with its series of reefs and aquatic sites, makes diving one of the premier attractions in the Caribbean. Explore coral reefs and sunken ships while diving in Virgin Gorda. Virgin Gorda diving is well known among scuba divers for the area’s colorful coral formations, abundant marine life and wreck diving. The nearly translucent waters make for wonderful visibility and the rock formations provide plenty of nooks and crannies to explore while diving in the BVI and especially Virgin Gorda.
Anegada – Pristine beaches lure visitors to beautiful coral island Anegada “The Drowned Island” – Unlike the other British Virgin Islands, Anegada is a flat atoll. Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands. It is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain.
Jost van Dyke – Island time rules on laid-back Jost Van Dyke, where swim-up bars serve delicious rum concoctions The island of Jost Van Dyke, population 180, has long been known for its picturesque beachfront Caribbean villages and laid back, friendly locals. A barefoot place where crime does not exist, no one asks you for money, and nature flourishes unrestrained, both above and below the water. Discover the Caribbean’s newest dive destination and the island you have long been looking for! There is a dive operator and a couple of resorts on this remote island. Dive sites are untouched and pristine with lots of healthy corals and fish. If you are looking for remote in the Caribbean, Jost Van Dyke fits the bill.
DIVE SEASON: Year RoundDuring the winter, the seas tend to be rougher, but the water is clearer and colder. Full wetsuits (3mm or even 5mm) are common during the winter months. During summer the seas tend to be warmer and calmer, and normally divers will simply use a shorty (typically 3mm or thinner), or even dive in a simple T-shirt or rash guard. Visibility is normally slightly lower during the summer due to the plankton blooms.
VISIBILITY: Visibility varies throughout the islands, ranging from 60’ (18m) to around 100’ (30m).
SKILL LEVELS: Most of the dives are not deep or demanding, though for the experienced there is a selection of challenging dives. There are some deep sites in the BVI but most of the diving is shallower than 80 feet. Surface conditions are normally quite calm. The 8 to 10 inch tidal range normally doesn’t generate swift currents.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Vary from 76F (24C) in January/February to 84F (29C) in August/September.
DIVE ACCESS: Your options to dive include renown live-boards, Land based operations and almost all of the dive operators offer “rendezvous” diving, which involves picking up guests from a yacht, doing a one or two-tank dive, and then dropping them back at their vessel afterward
MARINE LIFE: One of the more pleasant aspects of the British Virgin Islands is the abundance of turtles. Although critically endangered worldwide, there seem to be a plethora in the BVI. Other mega fauna which are popular with divers are sharks (particularly nurse sharks), barracuda, moray eels, eagle rays, southern stingrays, grouper (including Goliath grouper), spiny lobster and tarpon. Marine mammals are not particularly common, although dolphins do pass through regularly, they rarely interact with divers. Similarly, although whales and manatee are sometimes seen from boats, it is almost unheard of for divers to see them.
CLIMATE: The BVI enjoy a tropical climate, moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. The wettest months on average are September to November and the driest months on average are February and March. Hurricanes occasionally hit the islands, with the hurricane season running from June to November. Average high temperatures are seasonally from the high to low 80s, with lows in the lower 70s.
LANGUAGE: Language is English.
ELECTRICITY: Electrical service is 110 volts, the same as in North America.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The BVI currency is the US Dollar.
GRATUITIES: You can tip anyone you’d like from taxi driver’s to the person helping you with luggage at your hotel. 15%-20% tip is customary in almost all cases.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Check with your phone carrier to see if you have service in the BVI. Phone cards can be purchased in many places. Internet service is available at most hotels, but check ahead of time. There are many internet cafes scattered around the islands, as well.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All persons visiting the BVI are required to have a passport. Visas are required from several countries. More information.
CUSTOMS: The rules pertaining to what can and cannot be brought into the BVI are similar to those of other Caribbean nations, except that meat and meat products are prohibited.
DEPARTURE TAX: If departing via air, the departure tax is $20.00 per person. Different rates apply if departing via sea.
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