Anguilla diving is available from only a handful of PADI certified operators because snorkeling is much more popular and accessible on this small island. However, there are many excellent dive sites in Anguilla that are suitable for everyone from beginners to experts. And, you can experience scuba diving in Anguilla even if you are staying on neighboring St. Martin (which has a larger number of dive operators) or have arrived on Caribbean cruises anchoring here only for a day or two.
Probably the best of the beginner dive sites in Anguilla are Sea Fan Reef and Beginners Reef, located in only 7 to 40 or 10 to 60 feet of water off Shoal Bay Beach. Because it is so shallow and protected on three sides by reef formations, the water around Sea Fan is always calm and extremely clear. Here you will find a veritable forest of graceful sea fans and soft coral, and you have a good chance of spotting stingrays and leatherback sea turtles. Beginners Reef features large tarpon and Atlantic Spadefish.
Some of the very best scuba diving in Anguilla is found off of Shoal Bay. This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. It is nearly two miles long, protected along its entire length by reefs and shoals, and also offers some of the island’s most accessible snorkeling. Here are more than ten distinct dive sites—one known for its many angel fish and another for its lobsters; one known for its reef sharks and another for crabs and shrimp. Some sites can be dived right from shore, and some require only a short boat ride.
There is even Anguilla diving off small islands. Sandy Island off Sandy Ground Beach is so small it has only one beach and a popular barbecue and seafood restaurant. Most visitors come for lunch and an afternoon snorkel. Here are three deep dive sites (up to 70 feet) and two shipwrecks. Experienced divers will enjoy the challenging rough seas around Dog Island. located quite a bit further out than Sandy Island. It is a drift dive because of almost constant currents. It reaches more than 70 feet depth and is known for its wide variety of sharks. Along Prickly Pear Cays not far from Dog Island is the Sarah, the largest shipwreck in the area.
Probably the best of all dive sites in Anguilla will be found at the eastern tip of the island. Here is Scrub Island, an uninhabited private island that provides beach access to the public. The Steps dive site is located off this island, and is considered by many to be the number one dive site. As its name implies, you descend by a series of ledges or steps to a depth of about 90 feet.
More Anguilla diving that can be accessed from shore will be found at Meads Bay Beach on the northwestern coast of the island. In fact, the most numerous dive sites are on the northern shores. However, you can find some good scuba diving in Anguilla off the southern coastline, especially at the western tip near Shoal Bay West and Maundays Bay. This is where you will find the highest concentration of luxury hotels and beach resorts as well as the most exclusive and elegant villas.