Dominica Diving and Whale Watching

In the last decade our Nature Island, has secured the reputation as one of the top five dive destinations in the world. This major attribute has been recognized by major dive publications worldwide. The diving in Dominica is considered first class and was awarded #1 position in 2006 by Dive Scuba magazine for: Marine life, Healthiest Marine Environment and Small Creatures, and a distinguished #3 position for Dive Site. The overall assessment by divers visiting the island is: the best in the Caribbean. It should come as no surprise: given this is a first-rate dive destination, this relatively unknown speck on the globe, is visited by divers from all over.

The remarkable geological characteristics which make Dominica so unique above sea are carbon copied in the undersea, offering a unique and diverse underwater terrain. Divers can choose from over 40 dive sites, with 90% of the first-class dive sites located in the southern part of the island, in the protected Soufriere and Scottshead Marine Reserve (SSMR).

In the SSMR divers will find marine habitats with coral reefs, rock reefs, steep underwater cliffs, as well as volcanic arches, caves and caverns and pinnacles. Elsewhere, though not found in abundance, there are some artificial habitats created by sunken ships which are interesting wreck dives with diverse marine fauna. Geothermal activity gives way to distinctive diving prospects as well. “Champagne” is a popular snorkel and dive site with excellent visibility in which the highlight feature is the long strings of bubbles rising from thermal vents on the sea bed.

As a result of this variety in seascapes, Dominica offers dive sites suitable for all skill levels, from basic and beginner to the very experienced. For any non-diver this and many sites can still be investigated by snorkeling if inclined to get the feet wet.

The dives are always complemented by a healthy and abundant marine life. The spectacular multi-colored soft and hard coral is populated with a cornucopia of healthy reef fish and enthralling marine critters like the bat fish, seahorses and brightly colored frogfish, flying-guinards, whimsical sea horses, and stingrays. Night diving is an unusual treat as nocturnal creatures, the octopus, eels, lobsters, sea cucumbers, come out to feed. And as an added audible bonus, one may well hear the singing of the Humpback whales, while on their migration route from the colder to warmer waters where they mate and breed.

In the last ten years Dominica has become just as favorable for whale watching as it is for diving. Due to the resident population of Sperm whales (more scientifically referred to as a nursery- mostly adult females and juveniles), and its successful site rate (85%), Dominica has been given the moniker Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean.

The deep underwater crevices on our coastal formation provide protected feeding ground for the deep diving sperm whales. Their respiration, mating and socializing is carried out on the surface and creates the opportune time to view this highly socialized group. In addition to Sperm Whales, Pilot, Pygmy, and False Killer whales, Spinner, Spotted and Bottlenose dolphins are also regular residents of our waters. The chances encounters with some of these incredible social cetaceans on a whale watching excursion are excellent. Tour operators in Dominica have attained an excellent success rate: on average whales or dolphins are seen on 85% of the excursions.

Dominica also boasts of having an Annual Dive Festival, DiveFest which is the Caribbean’s longest running scuba diving festival. It is an educational and recreational event spurring on interest in the dive and marine activities for residents and visitors. It is a week of fun filled activities celebrating diving in Dominica with a packed schedule of events including introductory dive courses for juniors, scavenger hunts (dive), snorkeling excursions, and climaxes in a beach bash. There is the well anticipated canoe race where local fishing rowboats are piloted and powered by local, teams from Dominica companies and individual groups competing for cases of local beer, all done with fun filled camaraderie. A number of dive destinations boast of having similar attractions to that of Dominica, but nonetheless the island has maintained its uniqueness through the conscientious efforts of local groups to protect and maintain the marine habitat. The Government of Dominica is also playing its part to ensure that this beautiful island remains atop of the diving destinations by undertaking a number of initiatives, including the establishment of the Soufriere Scottshead Marine Reserve to protect the marine environment, the implementation of marine park fees, which funds the monitoring and defense of the reserve area.

On the island there are several dive operators that offer dive tours and whale watch excursions and diving certification courses for new and beginner divers.