Barbados Wreck Diving
Barbados is by far the best wreck diving destination in the Caribbean.
Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados, is among the oldest cities in the Caribbean. Historically, Barbados was an essential port of call in the British Mercantile system of the North Atlantic and was known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of British colonialism.
With a long sea-faring history, Barbadians – or Bajans as they are affectionately known – have the sea in their blood. These days, Barbados remains a major port of call for cruise liners filled with tourists worldwide.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Barbados has two well-known ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ – Stede Bonnet and Samuel Hall Lord. While the ships of Bonnet and Lord have long since disappeared, with over eight favorite wreck sites, the avid diver has plenty to see, explore and inspire the imagination.
Wreck dives range from shallow beginner attacks to more extreme deep ones on Barbados’s west and south coasts.
For beginner to intermediate divers, Carlisle Bay is the perfect location to start. Soon to become an official marine park, this shallow bay opens up to 6 wrecks, the oldest of which is the Berwin, a 45 ft French tugboat that went down in 1919, lying at 25 ft.
Carlisle Bay is protected from the strong currents and surges that typify the north and eastern waters and is located on the southwest coast. This bay is an ideal location for aspiring underwater photographers wishing to capture the mystery of these sunken vessels and the artificial reef life they support.
With various vessels made of wood, cement, or steel, each of the individual wrecks hosts a unique array of sea life and coral formations.
Friars Craig and the Pamir – two 170 ft freighters – are sister ships. Both excellent dive sites, the vessels were intentionally sunk for diving purposes in 1985.
Located on the west coast, the Pamir remains intact at 40 to 50 ft depth. Host to a colony of black coral and sea fans, you can find schools of sergeant majors, white frogfish, squid, and large pelagic fish.
Unlike its twin, Friars Craig lies in fragments across the shallow ocean floor about 1 mile off Barbados’ southern coast. Hit by the impact of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the site experienced massive coral damage.
Nevertheless, Mother Nature has returned the site to a glorious haven for hawks, turtles, and countless tropical fish. You will surely see some squirrelfishes, peacock flounders, crabs, lobster, and the occasional stingray.
The most challenging wreck dive is the SS Stavronikita. With the rudder lying at 140 ft and the top of the mast only 18 ft from the surface, the Stav is one of Barbados’ most famous dive sites.
This almost entirely intact wreck can be found about a mile off Fitts Village on the west coast.
A Greek freighter, the Stav, was purposefully sunk by the Barbados Government in November 1978. After being gutted by fire, all doors, loose fittings, and bent metal were removed from the vessel, allowing divers to access the site.
Due to its immense size and bulk, the avid wreck diver must devote several dive trips to experience the entire vessel.
The Stav is encrusted with gorgonians which branch out along its hull and deck in a scenic vista.
Large fish species such as barracuda and amberjacks are frequent visitors to the site. Upon your permission, don’t forget to look up. The mast rising towards the surface is indeed a magnificent sight.
Barbados Tour Operators
To come to Barbados and not take a tour of the island would be a mistake. There are so many natural, man-made, and historical wonders on our small island that it would be a shame to miss them all. Please view our list of recommended tour operators in Barbados.
View photos of scuba diving in Barbados within our Totally Barbados Adobe Portfolio.