Scuba Diving St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis, like no other islands in the Caribbean, seem to embody a kind of lush tropical paradise usually associated with the South Pacific, plus offer some of the prettiest diving in the Caribbean.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation situated between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. It’s known for cloud-shrouded mountains and beaches. Many of its former sugar plantations are now inns or atmospheric ruins. The larger of the 2 islands, Saint Kitts, is dominated by the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano, home to a crater lake, green vervet monkeys and rainforest crisscrossed with hiking trails.
The smaller island of Nevis lies about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called “The Narrows.”
These idyllic sister islands offer visitors an authentic island experience. Both have luxuriant mountain rain forests; uncrowded beaches; historic ruins; towering, long-dormant volcanoes and charming Georgian capitals in Basseterre (St. Kitts) and Charlestown (Nevis).
St Kitts is the larger and feels that way, from bustling Basseterre and mighty Brimstone Hill Fortress to the party strip and resorts of Frigate Bay.
Nevis is a neater package, anchored by a single volcanic mountain buttressed by a handful of beaches and a tiny capital, Charlestown. St. Kitts is 23 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest. Nevis is approximately 7 miles in diameter.
On both islands, you’ll find less development and more cordial and courteous islanders than on more touristy islands.
Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and white sandy beaches combine to make St. Kitts and Nevis one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean.
SCUBA DIVING ST. KITTS & NEVIS
St. Kitts and its sister island Nevis, offer some of the prettiest diving in the Caribbean. Here you’ll be treated to a wide array of diving in virtually pristine conditions throughout the islands. With most dive sites a short boat ride, St Kitts diving offers clear waters, great visibility, and lots of diving diversity. Here, you can experience shallow reefs, spectacular walls, deeper wrecks and drift diving — and it’s possible to get in several different types of dive all in one day.
The islands offer a wealth of relatively new, untouched dive sites. More than 400 ships sank there between 1493 and 1825, but only a dozen or so have been identified to date. The western (Caribbean) side of the islands is well protected and visibility off the shores is usually in the 60 – 100 foot range. There are opportunities for divers of all levels of experience, and most dive locations are within an easy boat trip from the shore.
Diving is diverse, with ledges, mini-walls, white holes teeming with fish, caves and drift diving in some area. Most reefs on the Atlantic side and offshore on the Caribbean side are pristine, with monster-sized sea fans and sponges growing over piles of lava rocks. Regularly visited reef and wreck sites are on the sheltered Caribbean side of the islands and in the cut (“The Narrows”) between Nevis and St. Kitts, but trips to the Atlantic where the mysterious white holes lie and large pelagic are encountered may be arranged when seas are calm.
Nevis provides a world of possibilities with dozens of reefs, wrecks and volcanic vents to explore just minutes offshore. Nevis dive sites are more vulnerable to swells when the winds are high, even on its Caribbean side, but currents are usually light and sites are spectacular. On night dives, in particular, operators can almost guarantee you will see sleeping turtles.
St. Kitts offers exceptional diving for the novice as well as the veteran diver. There are wrecks, reefs, walls and caves which provide excellent underwater exploration, but also create unique aggregation sites for game fish. In St. Kitts the water is deepest close to shore, so you won’t have to go far. St. Kitts offers the most dive sites, with wrecks and alternate sheltered areas on the Caribbean side when the seas are rough on the Atlantic side or in The Narrows.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
MV River Taw – At 144 feet long and 70 feet wide, this wreck can’t be missed . . . literally. It’s only 50 feet deep and offers excellent conditions and lots of corals and reef fish.
The Vents – The Vents offer black corals, wire coral and hot water vent holes at depths of 35 to 110 feet.
Brimstone Shallows – Starting at about 45 feet and reaching over 100 feet, this site offers a wall, schools of reef fish and the occasional reef shark.
MV Talata – Sunk in 1985, the wreck sits in about 70 feet of water. Its hull has become home to a vast array of reef fish.
Coconut Tree – One of the largest reef areas off St. Kitts, Coconut Tree starts at about 40 feet deep and plummets to over 200 feet.
Tug Boat – In only 20 feet, with parts still above water, Tug Boat is a fun dive with lots of fish and great visibility.
Nags Head – For more experienced divers due to strong currents where the Caribbean and Atlantic meet. The reef sits at about 80 feet and offers amazing sea life.
Brassball Wreck – This is a great dive for new or novice divers and is a popular snorkeling area as well.
Monkey Shoals – This is a large atoll of coral that sits between St. Kitts and Nevis. There are several dive sites within the atoll area which is about one square mile.
Coral Gardens – Close to Monkey Shoals, you’ll see a drop off with large formations of soft and hard corals and the possibility of seeing larger fish.
DIVE SEASON: Year around.
VISIBILITY: Averages within a range of 60 to 100 feet (18-30m) throughout the year.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Average water temperatures of 80F (30C) in the summer to 75F (24C) in the winter.
WEATHER TEMPERATURE: Temperature is around 80F (26C) year around. Hurricane season is July through November
SKILL LEVEL: Dives are readily available for all skill levels of divers.
MARINE LIFE: Schools of snappers, angelfish chubs, jacks, barracuda, southern stingrays, eagle rays and turtles.
CLIMATE: Trade winds and tropical monsoons. Summer temperatures average highs of 88F – 31C with lows of 79F – 26C. Winter temperatures average highs of 82F – 28C and lows of 73F – 23C. October is the wettest and February is the driest.
ELECTRICITY: Voltage is 230-volt AC (60 cycles), so you’ll need an adapter and a transformer for U.S.-made appliances. However, most hotels on the islands have outlets that will accept North American appliances. Check with your hotel to see if it has converted its voltage and outlet.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Eastern Caribbean dollar. US dollars are widely accepted. Exchange rate: 1 US$ = $2.70 EC. American Express and Visa credit cards are widely accepted.
GRATUITIES: Most hotels and restaurants add a service charge of 10% to cover tipping. If not, tip 10% to 15%.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Cable & Wireless (Lime) and Digicel are major telephone service providers in St. Kitts & Nevis. SIM cards can be purchased. Internet service is widely available. Check with your hotel.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport (with at least six months before expiration) and return or onward tickets are required for all visitors to St.Kitts/Nevis. Visas are not required by most nationalities for stays of less than six months.
CUSTOMS: Visitors may bring into the country duty free:
Wearing apparel, jewelry, toilet requisites and any portable article reasonably expected to be carried by him for his own private and personal use, and in the case of a passenger (18) eighteen years old and over;
– Wines or spirits not exceeding 1.5 litres in all and
– Tobacco, not exceeding 250 grams or
– Cigars, not exceeding 50, in number, or
– Cigarettes, not exceeding 200, in number
DEPARTURE TAX: There is a departure tax of $60 XCD (about $22 USD) payable in cash, or by credit card – Visa or MasterCard – at the airport.
HOW TO GET TO St. KITTS: St. Kitts is easily reached from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and rest of Europe. A wide range of international scheduled airlines and charter carriers serve the island regularly. A second weekly flight has just been added by British Airways from London-Gatwick Airport.
HOW TO GET TO NEVIS: If you’re flying from North America, fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico and connect with any airline that services Nevis. Seaborne flies direct to Nevis daily while Tradewind Aviation flies direct from Puerto Rico to Nevis Thursday to Monday.
Cape Air, which is based in New England and is one of the largest independent regional airlines in the US, flies directly to Nevis daily from San Juan, Puerto Rico arriving in the afternoon.
Travellers from North America or the UK can choose to fly to St Kitts and then connect to Nevis (via ferry). Another option is to fly to Antigua and then catch a charter plane to Nevis.
From St Maarten visitors can reach Nevis on WINAIR flights daily and from the US Virgin Islands on demand via Air Sunshine or on Coastal Air on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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