Top 10 BVI Dive Sites
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has long been known as a second-to-none vacation destination, especially for sailors and boaters of all kinds. This grouping of lush green islands has an abundance of gorgeous beaches, sparkling cyan waters and balmy sun-filled days year-round.
The BVI has recently gained more attention as a dive capital of the world for some of the same reasons that vacationers and sailors visit time and again, as well as another big reason that’s more specific to scuba divers – the large number of amazing can’t-miss dive sites.
Several new dive sites have come onto the scene with efforts to create artificial reefs to benefit marine life and new coral growth. BVI resident Richard Branson organized the sinking of the navy barge Kodiak Queen, and several small planes have also been sent to the deep. Most recently, the famous Willy T floating restaurant and bar that was damaged in Hurricane Irma was sunken in Key Bay on Peter Island to create an exciting new pirate-themed dive site. But don’t worry, Willy T’s is up and running on a new vessel in the same great location, just off The Bight near Norman Island.
Join us for a rundown on the top BVI scuba diving sites that will have you packing your fins for the dive trip of a lifetime.
- Painted Walls with colorful, coral covered walls
Rugged underwater canyons form the Painted Walls, made all the better by the 10 to 45ft depth allowing sunlight to play off the spectacular array of multicolored coral. Located off the southwest end of Dead Chest Island, intermediate to advanced divers will love the wide variety of species found here, including sponges, green turtles and stingrays to name just a few.
- The Aquarium, also known as Fisher’s Rocks
The Aquarium is an aptly-named oasis of small caves, boulders and crevices that provide the perfect underwater oasis, attracting some of the largest varieties of reef fish anywhere in the BVI. Located conveniently between The Baths and Spanish Town, this 35ft beginner-friendly site is one of the most picturesque in all of the BVI.
- The Wreck of the RMS Rhone leading dives since 1975
Commissioned to carry mail and passengers from England to the Caribbean in 1865, the RMS Rhone met with her disastrous fate on the morning of October 29, 1867 after a hurricane slammed her against Black Rock Point off Salt Island. After the onboard boiler exploded, the RMS Rhone came to rest in two pieces with the stern at a depth of 35ft and the bow section at 80ft.
Today the Rhone is considered to be one of the world’s best wreck dives, appearing on nearly every “best Caribbean dive spots” list. Beyond the ghostly history, expect to see huge schools of fish and large barracuda, with nearly every surface of the ship covered in a kaleidoscope of corals.
- Wreck Alley with excellent underwater scenery
As the name implies, this intermediate wreck site provides a big bang for your buck with four wrecks in one; the Marie L, the Pat, the Beata and the Island Seal. Stingrays frequent this area off the coast of Cooper Island, seemingly unphased by groups of divers. And a large colony of garden eels frequently make their rounds among the wrecks.
- The Chimney surrounded by colorful and captivating exotic species
The Chimney is located off the coast of Great Dog island, just to the west of Virgin Gorda. Said to be the favorite dive site of Jacques Cousteau, The Chimney sits at 45ft making it an excellent choice for divers of all experience levels. The canyons and ridges here run parallel to the shore, and lead to a steep-walled corridor culminating at a narrow slot you can swim through which forms the “chimney”. The fish here are spectacular, as are the colorful corals and sponges clinging to the canyon walls.
- The Kodiak Queen one-of-a-kind dive
This former navy fuel barge was one of only five ships to survive the attack on Pearl Harbor, and in 2017 became part of a permanent underwater art installation resting off the shore of Long Bay, Virgin Gorda. An 80-ft long sculpture of a kraken sea monster accompanies the ship, with tentacles wrapped around the hull. Aside from the marine life found here, it’s well worth a visit if only to see the gigantic kraken.
- A captivating site at The Wreck of the Chikuzen
The Rhone may be the BVI’s most popular wreck site, but more advanced divers will also want to explore the Wreck of the Chikuzen. Located 12 miles northwest of Virgin Gorda, this site is less visited due to its comparatively remote location. The massive 246-ft refrigeration vessel is surrounded by miles of sand bottom, making the Chikuzen prime real estate for marine life to congregate. Regular sightings include barracuda, stingrays, eagle rays, reef sharks and a resident 600lb Goliath Grouper.
- Ginger Steps, rich in underwater species
Ginger Steps is a series of huge natural ledges that begin in the shallows on the southwest side of Ginger Island, and gently cascade down to about 90ft. The site is protected from larger currents and swells, which helps underwater visibility. A wide variety of coral formations and marine life call the Ginger Steps home, including angelfish, octopuses, eels, barracuda, dolphins and rays.
- Flourishing coral gardens at Alice’s Wonderland
Found near the Ginger Steps, this popular dive spot boasts a captivating underwater topography of canyons, ridges and valleys along with excellent visibility – sometimes over 100ft. Vivid colors of healthy coral encrust the rocky structures, including some large mushroom-shaped formations that inspired the name of this dive site. Reef sharks, rays, barracuda, amberjack and hawksbill turtles are among the frequent visitors to Alice’s Wonderland.
- The Playground big animal dive
Covering the seafloor between the sandy anchorages of Green Cay and Sandy Spit, the Playground is part of a National Park and is known to be one of the best dives in the BVI. A large formation of pillar coral and an outcropping of huge boulders attract marine life of all kinds including parrotfishes, turtles, eagle rays and reef squids.
Find out more
With so many options for excellent diving, you’ll want to plan an extended trip to the British Virgin Islands to take full advantage. Consider a yacht charter for a convenient, liveaboard dive platform. Dive operators are happy to meet you at the dive site with equipment and guides.
Choose a sail-it-yourself bareboat charter, or hire a skipper to sail the boat for you. If ease and relaxation are on your agenda, an all-inclusive crewed yacht provides a captain and chef to meet your every need while on your sail through paradise.
Learn more about yacht charters in the British Virgin Islands, or one of our many other destinations on our blog. Get in touch with our team today on 855.650.8902 or email [email protected] for more information.