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A scuba diving adventure in the Caribbean is a colorful and thrill-packed experience under any circumstances. But travelers can kick things up a notch when they choose to dive one of the region’s submerged shipwrecks — which range from comparatively recent sunken crafts to those more than a century old and almost completely reclaimed by the sea.
These wrecks can be found throughout the Caribbean, making it easy for clients to include an extra-special dive on their next Caribbean vacation.
Hermes, Bermuda The 165-foot Hermes was built in 1943 and had a long life of service, from being a Coast Guard tender in World War II to later serving as a freighter that hauled cargo.
When the Hermes broke down at St. George’s Harbour in Bermuda, the abandoned ship was then hauled off to Horseshoe Bay, where it now enjoys a second life as a dive site. The Hermes offers great visibility on a flat sand bottom and primo conditions for photographers, as well as the option for penetration dives (when a scuba diver enters a space from which there is no direct ascent to the safety of breathable air) inside the ship.
Kodiak Queen, British Virgin IslandsThe Kodiak Queen, which lies off the shore of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, dates to 1940, and has the distinction of being a decorated U.S. Navy fuel barge that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 2017, it was intentionally sunk in the British Virgin Islands to become an underwater art installation and marine life habitat, as well as a dive site.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by BVI Blackbook (@bviblackbook) on May 10, 2017 at 4:36am PDT
A post shared by BVI Blackbook (@bviblackbook) on May 10, 2017 at 4:36am PDT
The Kodiak Queen has a whimsical touch: a huge sculpture of the legendary kraken sea monster sitting atop the vessel, as though it successfully dragged the ship down into the deep. The kraken sculpture underwent some damage during Hurricane Irma, but its tentacles still enwrap the Kodiak Queen.
RMS Rhone, British Virgin IslandsWhile there are hundreds of submerged wrecks in the Caribbean, perhaps the one which caused the most heartbreak is the 310-foot RMS Rhone, a U.K. Royal Mail Ship sunk during a hurricane in 1867. The ship went down in the British Virgin Islands off the coast of Salt Island, killing 123 passengers and crew. The coral-encrusted wreck still has recognizable details, such as the ship’s driveshaft.
The RMS Rhone is also famous for being the site of several scenes in the 1977 adventure film “The Deep,” starring Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset.
The USS Kittiwake, Cayman IslandsThe five decks of the submerged 251-foot long USS Kittiwake make for a fascinating dive site. The U.S. Navy submarine rescue ship was scuttled in 2011 at a depth of 62 feet. It lies directly offshore from Grand Cayman’s iconic Seven Mile Beach, making it an easily accessible wreck dive. Clients also have the option to explore The USS Kittiwake via night dives.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by JJ Schwarz (@usetheschwarz22) on Dec 23, 2018 at 8:13am PST
A post shared by JJ Schwarz (@usetheschwarz22) on Dec 23, 2018 at 8:13am PST
The Antilla, ArubaDuring WWII, when Holland was at war with Germany, the German freighter SS Antilla was seized by the Dutch off the waters of Aruba. Instead of surrendering the ship, the German captain scuttled the freighter to keep it from falling into the hands of the Dutch.
At 398 feet long, The Antilla is billed as the largest submerged wreck dive in the Caribbean. The Antilla — old and coral-covered as it is — still presents opportunities for penetration dives.
When considering a wreck dive, advise clients to choose a dive excursion with an experienced guide, especially if they’re considering a penetration dive inside the craft. Penetration dives should be undertaken by experienced divers only. Always follow the dive plan, and if divers do venture inside the wreck, it’s crucial they always have an exit in view.