Best Wall Diving in the Caribbean
That feeling of flying off the edge of a cliff, the dark blue ocean opening up under you, can only mean one thing in the scuba world: wall diving. In the Caribbean in particular, wall diving offers a combination of the most dramatic vertical wall terrains, colorful coral and sponge composites, and flourishing habitats of both small tropical reef fish and larger pelagic fish. Though the majority of the Caribbean diving sites have evolved around more shallow reefs and banks, if you select your site carefully you can be rewarded with an amazing wall dive experience. Though it was hard to narrow down our list, here are some of our favorites:
Half Moon Caye Wall, Lighthouse Reef, Belize – Half Moon Wall is an exceptional dive site now included in the newly erected Half Moon Caye National Monument on Lighthouse. With almost no current and typical 100ft+ visibility, this is a site you can enjoy for days on end. Large and small marine life abounds on the Half Moon Wall reefs. If you want to see garden eels, conch, rays, flounder, star-eye hermit crabs and tilefish, check out the sand flats behind the reefs rimming the wall. Rays and a variety of reef fish forage in this area regularly, too. On the reef, groupers and yellowtail snappers hide out beneath the coral hanging over the reef canyons, while arrow crabs, redbanded coral shrimp and juvenile spotted drums hide in the lavish stands of staghorn coral. Razorfish and toadfish are another common sight on the reef, adjacent to the sloping sand flat. Large pelagics frequent the reef wall. Spotted eagle rays and turtles are most common, but occasionally sharks and large black groupers visit the area.
Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman– Along the western half of Little Cayman’s 10-mile-long north shore, Bloody Bay is protected not only from fishing and anchoring, but from the prevailing winds. Surface conditions are typically calm with little or no current. At its shallowest point in Bloody Bay, the wall drop-off begins at a depth of 18 feet and descends to the great beyond. As vertical as the side of a skyscraper, the only breaks in its facade are narrow, irregular cuts running toward shore. High visibility and great sunlight filtering make for great photo shoots here. Underwater visibility averages 100 feet or more. Sharks, turtles and several types of rays are commonly found here. Plenty of smaller fish call the site home as well: horse-eye jacks, parrotfish, triggerfish and many other small tropicals.
West Wall, Grand Cayman – Grand Cayman’s West Wall offers amazing canyon-ways and swim-throughs along with the best consistency and overall variety for both novice and beginner wall divers. The wall is riddled with tunnels, crevices and passageways and features intricate swim throughs, chutes, caverns and topography. Divers frequently see spotted eagle rays turtles and (occasionally) sharks. Black coral can be found near depths of 100ft, usually under outcrop pings or inside tunnels. Large orange elephant ear sponges adorn many walls near depths of 70-130 feet.
Green Outhouse Wall, Roatan- Honduras– A lovely canyon dive with a fascinating maze-like interior wall covered in brain coral, sea fans and gorgonians. A 30ft deep trench beneath the mooring line twists and turns through the reef crest, carving dynamic swim thrus under towering coral heads. Schools of blue tangs and sergeant majors scour this maze for algae while resident lobsters and king crabs watch from the shadows. Plenty of angel fish, big scrawled filefish, durgeons, whitespotted filefish, smooth trunkfish, barracuda and stingrays cruise throughout the site. Close inspection of the rocky floor will reveal camouflaged peacock flounders and diminutive lettuce sea slugs in various brilliant colors and forms oozing their way from stone to stone. Occasionally, even a sea turtle or spotted eagle ray appears in the vicinity.
Salt River East, St. Croix – A yawning abyss separates Salt River East wall from the West wall. The East wall is notable for its narrow passageways that cleave the reef to the wall, providing excellent shelter for all manner of sea life. The East Wall is unfailingly the “fishiest” dive on the North Shore of St. Croix. While horse eye jacks, hogfish, and snappers swim off the wall, the sponge and coral-encrusted slope is covered with schools of black bar soldier fish and striped grunts at 60 ft. Large angel fish, parrot fish and groupers are featured throughout the dive, with the occasional spotted eagle ray or black tip reef shark lurking off the wall. Conch, lobster and crab are also found crawling around in the nooks and crannies.
Scott’s Head Pinnacle, Dominca – Crossing a flat area of coral encrusted rock formations leads to the pinnacle itself. At a depth of only 35 feet, a picturesque swim-through bisects the pinnacle, bringing you to the other side – a steep wall on the inside of the volcanic crater that falls off to more than 120 feet. The swim-through is usually full of blackbar soldierfish, grunts, gnarly rocks and lobster. The wall is dominated by deepwater sea fans, giant barrel sponges and a variety of other colorful smaller sponge types. Turn around, and out in the blue you can see masses of black jack, bar jacks, rainbow runners, tuna, yellowtail snapper and cero, all pursuing schools of baitfish who dart back and forth in a futile attempt to escape their hunters.
Santa Rosa Wall, Cozumel– Currents surrounding the south-western part of Cozumel bring nutrients to feed the many inhabitants of the underwater reef on top of this wall, keeping it healthy and colorful. Once over the edge of the abyss, this spot turns into a comfortable entertaining drift dive. Sponge covered coral heads, gorgonians, azure vase sponges, orange elephant ear sponges, elkhorn coral, pillar coral and sea fans are crammed so close together on the wall it is sometimes hard to see the rock behind it all. Add to the fun some novice level (but no less breathtaking!) swim-throughs, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic dive. If that is not enough, occasionally divers come face to face with a local 20 pound grouper.