St. Lucia's 7 Best Dives
where the unusual is usual
Text and Photography by Bill Harrigan
'I saw something I've never seen before!' is a exclamation frequently heard on dive boats in St. Lucia. The reefs here seem abundantly blessed with special gifts for divers. For instance, at a spot called Rosemond's Trench, I saw a long train of nudibranchs moving steadily along the bottom. Hundreds of them were following each other across the reef, intent on some sort of migration. Delightful mysteries like that make almost any dive in St. Lucia enjoyable but, of course, everyone has their favorites. Here are seven that are consistently on the top of the list.
The Pinnacles: These are four spires perched on the edge of the wall, rising from about 50 feet to within 15 feet of the surface. The base of the pinnacles is a vast slope of Finger Coral that reaches to the point where the wall drops off steeply. The pinnacles themselves are about 20 feet in diameter and separated only by a short swim. Every available space on the pinnacles is packed with encrusting corals or sponges, particularly Deep Water Seafans, Brain Corals and Barrel Sponges. All this growth naturally attracts a large number of fish so divers are surrounded by schools of Brown Chromis, Yellowhead Wrasse and Sergeant Majors.
Lesleen M.: This 168 foot island freighter is an example of a well-executed artificial reef. The vessel is upright on the sand in only 60 feet of water and all interior spaces are readily accessible to divers. This is an excellent dive that gets better every year. The fast-growing White Telesto coral that initially encrusted the wreck has been largely replaced by more interesting corals, such as Deep Water Seafans, several species of black coral and many colorful encrusting sponges. The decks and interior compartments are crowded with fish such as Blackbar Soldierfish and Queen Angelfish. Several Hawksbill Turtles have taken up residence here and almost always come out to see what the divers are doing.
Superman's Flight: This is a super dive, one that provides the sensation of flying more than almost any other dive. It is a drift dive along the base of one of the spectacular Pitons. The current lets you fly past the thick coral along a very steep wall that is actually the extension of the piton underwater. The best scenery is between 20 and 50 feet, although good coral cover extends deeper.
Anse Chastanet Reef: This has become a favorite with underwater photographers because it has so many unusual fish. It is also a complex reef with many diverse habitats, including caves, walls, ridges and sand. Pick a depth between the surface and 80 feet and you'll find good diving. You don't have to cover a lot of ground on this reef; you'll find lots of interesting things just meandering around the coral alleys.
Japanese Wreck: This large motorized barge is a more advanced dive, chiefly because it lies on its side in 105 feet of water. Much of the interior is accessible but some of it is for experienced and properly equipped divers only. After only a year on the bottom, the Japanese Wreck is still somewhat bare of growth but its cranes, masts and gantries stretch out like an elaborate Erector Set and have attracted a lot of small schooling fish. A group of good-sized Barracuda have also made themselves at home, along with a big Green Moray.
Rosemond's Trench: This is a shallow dive with unusual bottom formations and a maximum depth of 25 feet. A series of volcanic rock spurs, covered with sponges and corals, extend from shore. Several exceptionally large Brain Corals have grown on the top of these rock ledges. Volcanic boulders are scattered around the shallows, showing the cracks that developed as they cooled millions of years ago. Near the middle of the site there is a three-way tunnel lined with sponges.
The Wall: Just north of Anse Cochon the coast drops vertically into the water, forming a dive site simply called The Wall. It extends from the surface to 25 feet, then there is a zone of large volcanic boulders covered with a variety of corals. Beginning around 40 feet there is another distinct zone where the bottom slopes less steeply and is covered with Sea Plumes, Barrel Sponges and Brain Corals. From 50 to 70 feet the slope increases again and the growth becomes more typical of deeper water.
For more information about diving in St. Lucia, contact any of the St. Lucia resorts or dive operators listed in the side bar accompanying this article.