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A Beginners guide to Scuba Diving in Barbados

A Beginners guide to Scuba Diving in Barbados

Our Girls that Scuba contributor Jennifer has just come back from a dive trip in Barbados and as an Open Water diver she completed her most challenging and beautiful dives yet. From diving with sea turtles, learning about lionfish hunting to navigating through shipwrecks, there are some truly incredible experiences on the coral island of Barbados for beginner and advanced divers alike. 

Where is Barbados?

Barbados is the eastern most island in the Caribbean and is one of the few non-volcanic islands in the area. Known as a “coral island” it was formed by upward moving coral instead of volcanic lava flow like many of its neighbours. The 85% coral limestone island composition filters underground water, causing Barbados to have some of the best naturally filtered drinking water. Temperatures stay close to about 80 degrees F and it is outside the hurricane belt making it an ideal scuba diving destination year-round. 

What can I see when diving in Barbados?

Due to its eastern location and shallow reefs, Barbados has caused hundreds of ships to sink, resulting in about 200 ship wrecks. There are many beautiful wrecks to see including five in Carlisle Bay Marine Park, of which ‘Berwyn’ one of the most popular; a World War I tug boat dating back to 1919. (sits 7-10 feet below the water’s surface. However, SS Stavronikita is the most famous wreck on the island, hosting a rainbow of huge tube and rope sponges and lying at 36 metres/120ft with the stern at 30 metres/100ft and the bow at 21 metres/70ft.

For non-wreck dives Barracuda Junction lives up to it’s name and you can expect to see schools of barracudas swimming around the reef.

Some beautiful creatures you can also to see in Barbados include Hawksbill turtles, sea horses, frog fish, parrotfish, tube sponges, moral eels and nurse sharks.

Exploring the wrecks
Exploring the wrecks

What kind of certification do I need to dive in Barbados?

Most wrecks and reefs are accessible to beginners with Open Water certifications, with some wrecks like the famous Stavronikita over 100 feet down requiring an Advanced Water or/and wreck certification. The more dangerous eastern coast on the Atlantic side also requires an Advanced certification and a good number of dives (exact number depends on your dive centres advice). I have my Open Water certificate and didn’t feel like I missed out (apart from the Stavronikita ) all the dive sites were amazing!

scuba diving in Barbados
Casual drone shot of one of the wrecks in Barbados

Snorkelling and Lionfish Hunting

The Island’s crystal-clear waters are ideal for snorkelling, visibility is between 40 and 70 feet allowing you to see a variety of tropical fish, turtles, stingrays and even some shallow ship wrecks in Carlisle Bay. 

While in Barbados, you might even witness Divemasters lionfish spear hunting first-hand underwater. Lionfish are not native to the Caribbean and are an invasive species who have reduced the number of small fish and baby fish by 80% within only 5 weeks of a new territory. Lionfish are hunted to control the population and for food to curb the impact of them destroying the ecosystems and reefs in which they live. 

Other Things to do in Barbados

  • One of the best above water adventures is Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Tour. Climbing and crawling through the caverns on this tour is the best way to see them and get muddy and have fun all at the same time. 
  • Barbados is known as the birthplace of rum so you must try the local rum punch. Tour Mount Gay to learn more about the history of the spirit at the oldest running rum distillery. 
  • For the freshest fish head to Oistins fish market on Friday and don’t forget to order a side of the macaroni pie! 
  • For even more things to do check out my ultimate guide to Barbados

How to get to Barbados

There are numerous flights to Barbados through Sir Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI). You can fly direct from New York to Barbados in about 5 hours. The island is small so a bus from the airport to the capital, Bridgetown, is about 8 miles and costs $2.

Jennifer O’Brien

About the Author
Jennifer O’Brien founded The Travel Women, a community for women by women to empower women to travel outside their comfort zone. She is new to scuba diving but loving every dive she takes and cannot wait for her next dive! She is a professional photographer and videographer who loves capturing moving images and drone shots while she travels.