St Barts Scuba diving is perfect for both beginners and experienced divers of all levels. With dive spots between roughly 17 and 90 feet in depth, the array of choices is there for all levels of divers. The entire island is naturally set upon a coral plate and along most of the coastline coral reefs flank the beaches offering a spectacular underwater realm to explore during St Barts snorkeling. Canyons, reefs, caves, and several top-notch wrecks pair with nurse sharks, turtles, parrotfish, rays, and other sea creatures affording one of the most distinct and exciting diving and snorkeling scenes in the Caribbean.
Smaller, craggy outcroppings under the surface are due to the St Barts’ status as a volcanic island. Essentially, a type of rock garden forms from these volcanic structures which, over time, become encrusted with vibrant corals which are popular with snorkelers and divers. Exhibiting some excellent visibility conditions, usually around 85 feet, and water temperatures at 85 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface, conditions are welcoming when the weather is good.
St Barts Marine Reserve is an especially popular place for scuba diving. The reserve was established by the island in 1996 exclusively to protect sea life, coral, and island fisheries and to revive an extensive area of damaged coral from a combination of careless anchoring and hurricanes. There are many St Barts snorkeling and diving guides escorting visitors out to several reserve locations.
Guides can be found in the harbor of Gustavia, which is fairly close to the St Barts Marine Reserve. There are several more dive operators working out of both the northeast’s Grand Cul de Sac and St Jean Village. St Barts Marine Reserve protects several different locations, including an area around Colombier Beach, a large area off the south shore, northern-based Forchue Island, and an area near Marigot Bay up the coast from Lorient Beach.
Most of the top St Barts scuba diving spots are close to Gustavia. There are four wrecks to explore; three island fishing boats and one large yacht that sank during one of the 1990s hurricanes. One of the best parts about scuba diving during the winter months is the sounds of singing whales in the area to breed and some dolphin sightings during the summer. Some of the top dive spots around St Barts include Gros Islet on the east at 46 feet maximum (with a kid-friendly diving spot on the opposite side), Pain de Sugre at 79 feet, and the Kayali wreck. Ane Rouge, at 69 feet deep, is noted as one of the best dives illustrating the ocean’s diversity with huge, colorful sponges, Bahama grouper, queen and French angel fish, spotted moray eels, turtles, hogfish and much more.
The best St Barts snorkeling spot is said to be by Flamands Beach by Petit Anse, a setting laden with picturesque villas backed on east-side beaches. This rocky yet calm inlet has tons of coral and fish. Colombier Beach, Lorient Beach, and Forchue Island are also highly noted as excellent snorkeling areas with Petit Anse acclaimed for the many sea turtles and colorful parrotfish.
Many St Barts resorts and operators offer diving courses that include open-water dives and scuba diving reviews for divers a little on the rusty side. There are many multi-diving vacation packages available, one-tank diving excursions for experienced divers, night dives, and other combinations to choose from or arrange with a guide. Open-water PADI certificates can also be earned on St Barts scuba diving trips.