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Best Diving in Antigua

Are you planning a sailing holiday in Antigua and considering what activities to enjoy upon arrival? If you’re a fan of scuba diving and snorkelling, then you’ve chosen the right destination – Antigua boasts a plethora of renowned dive sites.

Whether you relish exploring a mysterious shipwreck, transformed into a vibrant home for aquatic flora and schools of fish, or prefer visiting majestic coral reefs not far off the coasts, Antigua has it all.

In this blog, we’ll be delving deep into some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in Antigua. From the Jettias Wreck to Prickly Pear Island, there are options here suitable for people of every skill level.

How good is the snorkelling in Antigua?

Snorkelling in Antigua is always a delightful experience. There is no peak season for snorkelling and diving here – the waters remain calm, warm and inviting throughout the year, and the abundant sunshine ensures excellent visibility underwater. 

The Caribbean has adopted strict measures to preserve the coral reefs, so Antigua is a fantastic place to go snorkelling if you care deeply about sustainable tourism. No matter which reef you visit, you can guarantee it will be thriving with diverse marine ecosystems. 

The locals are extremely accommodating and hospitable here, so there are plenty of places to rent snorkelling equipment or take lessons if diving is new to you (feel free to read our Beginner’s Guide to Scuba Diving first). For all these reasons combined, the snorkelling in Antigua is fantastic.

When to Dive or Snorkel in Antigua

Antigua’s waters are warm all year round, and the trade winds are steady – which is why it’s one of the Best Places to Sail in the Caribbean – but the best time to dive or snorkel in Antigua is December-April. Although this is the most popular season for tourists (meaning there will be more competition for the best dive sites), this is the best time of year to spot whales and reef sharks. 

For more information on the general conditions in Antigua, visit our Antigua Travel Information & Planning Guide.

1Jettias Wreck

The Jettias Wreck is the final resting place of a French steam-powered freighter that sank in 1817. The wreckage has splintered into the bow, boiler, ship engine and stern, a testament to centuries underwater (and the severity of the initial damage).

This is one of the oldest and most visited wrecks in the Caribbean, and offers some of the best diving in Antigua. Laying only 80ft under the water, this is a perfect opportunity for new scuba divers to experience the majesty of wreck diving. Make sure to keep your eyes out for trumpetfish, grunts, blue tangs and Spanish hogfish.

The Jettias Wreck is near Dickenson Bay, so after a dive session you could retreat to one of the many beach bars to drink rum and watch the sunset over the waves.

2 – Mary Kay Reef

Dive into the lush underwater world of the Mary Kay Reef, a snorkeller’s paradise and a scuba diver’s dream.

The Mary Kay Reef is a sprawling field of marine life, one of the best places to snorkel in Antigua. It is composed of a spur-and-groove structure, long fingers of colourful coral reefs with sandy channels in between – this is a fascinating sight for anyone new to diving and provides a lot of insight into  how these biodiverse structures are formed.

Expect to see many soft coral heads and a variety of aquatic plants growing from the seabed. There are a few small ledges and undercuts to explore, which will be teeming with hidden reef fishes. You may spot a few reef sharks while you’re here, as well as lobsters and barracudas (although these are even rarer).

3 – Kay Point Reef

With a max depth of 60ft, Kay Point Reef offers some of the best diving in Antigua for snorkellers and scuba divers alike – particularly avid divers can even get certified here and leave with extra confidence in their abilities. It is an easy, yet exciting, place to dive.

The way the aquatic plants billow with the current is mesmerising as you swim down. This reef is somewhat circular in shape, a rocky landscape with ledges all around and craggy fissures that make great hiding places for reef fish. Admire the sea fans and barrel sponges that mark every surface, and keep an eye out for bashful black tip and nurse sharks. 

Kay Point Reef is based in Southern Antigua. After wrapping up your scuba diving session here, moor in Falmouth Harbour and eat lunch in one of the portside restaurants, or explore historical monuments like Fort Charles. Read our Antigua sailing itinerary for more inspiration on things to do in Antigua.

4 – Rambo’s Reef

Rambo’s Reef is a very exciting dive site, as it offers a much deeper dive than the others on this list and is only appropriate for advanced scuba divers. Make your way down a 100ft ledge and plunge into the dark indigo depths below. 

On the way back to the shore, appreciate the long and sloping valley, where visibility is far improved and you’ll be able to see the colours of the surrounding marine life with technicolour clarity. Here you may see turtles, lobsters, stingrays, and a shark or two passing by. While it is not suitable for everyone, Rambo’s Reef boasts some of the best scuba diving in Antigua.

5 – Prickly Pear Island

Prickly Pear Island is unique; undoubtedly, one of the best places to snorkel in Antigua for an experience like no other. Based on the northern coast of Antigua, you will have to sail over or take a water taxi from Hodge’s Bay (which is free for people staying there) to reach this little island.

This site has the atmosphere of a deserted island – you’re surrounded by open, blue expanses, and a calming quiet – yet, there is an open bar and tropical buffet for you to tuck into before your dive. Delve into the crystal-clear, shallow waters and swim out the reef about 20 yards away. Here, you will be greeted by flurries of busy reef fish.

Explore Antigua with Sunsail

With Sunsail, snorkelling and diving in reefs and wrecks across Antigua is no longer a distant dream. We offer yacht charters in many destinations, taking you sailing across breathtaking landscapes in the most tranquil and scenic corners of the world.

Experience the wonders of Antigua unfold before you on a bareboat, flotilla or skippered charter – the control is entirely in your hands to sculpt your perfect holiday.

Ready to dive into your next adventure? Start planning your Antigua sailing charter today.

Contributor

hannah

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