A Barbados beach with words "scuba diving Barbados" written over it.

The Ultimate guide to scuba diving in Barbados

Welcome to Barbados, a small island in the West Indies where you can dive in both the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea during your stay!

A part of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is approximately 20 miles long and 15 miles wide. But don’t let the size fool you. This little island packs in some great scuba diving – with multiple dive sites including shipwrecks and natural and artificial reefs – as well as other fun activities.

Coastal view of Barbados beach.
Despite it’s size, you’ll find plenty to do in and out of the waters of Barbados.

Fix your drink of choice, preferably one with an umbrella, and let’s unwarp this “fun size” tropical island paradise.

Coconut drink with an umbrella in it, sitting on a bar.
I can almost taste…I mean feel the sun!

Getting There And Accommodations

Flying into Barbados your choices are limited to the award winning Grantley Adams International Airport, located close to the South coast of the island.

Barbados airport.
Nothing like landing at an award winning airport! (photo courtesy of Barbados.org)

There is a wide Varity of accommodations to be found on the island, including the luxurious all-inclusive Sandals Barbados. With its 20 gourmet restaurants, 14 bars and 11 pools, you will have no problems finding things to do between your dives. And speaking of diving, dive equipment and dives included here as well!

The sandals resort in Barbados.
The Sandals all-inclusive resort includes your diving. (Photo courtesy of Sandals Resorts)

There are plenty of other all-inclusive locations, villas and hotels to choose from on the island. Looking for something a little more secluded, check out the Little Arches Boutique Hotel. This adults only hotel has 10 unique rooms and makes for a nice romantic getaway.

Little Arches Boutique Hotel in Barbados.
Past the hustle and bustle is the adults only Little Arches Boutique Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Little Arches)

If this is a family vacation, you can’t go wrong with the family owned Coconut Court Beach Hotel. Since 1975 this hotel has been welcoming families to Barbados. They offer many different stay packages, including an all-inclusive package.

Coconut Court Beach hotel in Barbados.
Children are welcome at the Coconut! (Photo courtesy of Coconut Court Beach Hotel)

Scuba Diving Barbados

Scuba diving in Barbados offers a truly unique experience. Divers can dive in both the Atlantic Ocean – on the East coast of the island – and the Caribbean Sea – on the West coast of the island – all in the same day given the small size of the island!

Map of Barbados.
Go to Barbados, where you can dive both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in one day!

No matter what body of water you are in, get ready for some beautiful marine life including colorful hard and soft corals, tropical fish, hawksbill turtles, eagle rays and nurse sharks.

Additionally, the water temperature Year round is between about 78 and 84 degrees, with visibility generally between 60ft to a 100ft. All-around this makes for some great diving!

Public Service announcement – with the warm water temperatures some divers may opt for just a shorty wetsuit. But remember that there are many things in the underwater world that can cause injury. Best to wear a thin full wetsuit to make sure you have an enjoyable safe dive.

Scuba Jay posing in the water with his scuba gear on.
Scuba Jay promotes head to toe protection on dives.

Diving Operations

The majority of the scuba diving shops and dive sites can be found on the West side of the island in the Caribbean Sea. Dive operators are plentiful on Barbados and offer a variety of services including lessons if needed.

Barbados Blue is located right on the Hilton Hotel grounds, a stone’s throw from Pebble’s Beach. In addition to the scuba diving – with access to both the West and South coasts – they offer many other water sport activities from Kayaking to private boat charters and jet skis.

Barbados Blue building.
Right on the Hilton grounds, Barbados Blue offers free non-motorized water activities to hotel guests. (Photo courtesy of Barbados Blue)

Other popular dive operators on the island include Reefers and Wreckers, West Side Scuba Center, Hightide Watersports and Ecodive Barbados. Research the shop and the dive sites that they will take you to and book your adventure!

Diving Sites of Barbados

While the West coast offers the most dive sites and the Caribbean diving in Barbados, the East coast side on the Atlantic Ocean has some choice spots to offer divers as well. Either way, with Barbados scuba diving you can enjoy some wreck diving, a deep or shallow reef dive and even a cement plant pier dive.

Scuba divers underwater by a reef.
Barbados has beautiful reefs for beginner and advanced divers. (Photo courtesy of Sandals Resorts)

Also, make sure to bring along your camera and catch the extremely colorful reef fish, various coral growth, sea turtles and the always possible sightings of the famous Barbados frogfish.

Frogfish underwater in Barbados.
Keep both eyes out for the elusive frogfish! (Photo courtesy of the Florida Museum)

Atlantic Ocean – East Coast

The Atlantic side of Barbados offers some beautiful topography with walls, overhangs and caverns. The main dive sites on this side of the island are primarily on the Southeast portion of the island.

Getting to the Atlantic Ocean side of Barbados and being able to execute your dive can be tricky. The seas can be rough. This is hit or miss diving…with more hits in the summer months.

Martins Bay

This is a small fishing village in the Parish of St. John. From the land you can watch the waves rolling in among the beautiful rock formations that are jutting out of the water just off shore.

Martins Bay in Barbados.
The landscape above Martins Bay is just as intriguing as below. (Photo courtesy of Barbados.org)

The bay – with its inlet and shallow reef helping to break the oncoming waves – offers a little more protection from the rough seas. This is a good spot for snorkeling as well.

while under the water, enjoy the reef and reef fish and see if you can spy any spiny lobsters among the rocks…and feel free to sing Rock Lobster along the way.

Spiny lobsters like above make their homes among the rocks of Martins Bay.
Conset Bay

Conset Bay is another sheltered location on the Southeast side of Barbados good for some easy diving.

Conset bay in Barbados.
South of the jetty is best for diving, snorkeling and swiming.

Like Martin’s Bay, the reef helps to protect the bay from the oncoming waves. This makes for another nice reef dive and one of best dive sites on the East coast.

Aerial view of reefs protecting conset bay, in Barbados.
This aerial view shows how the reef protects Conset Bay.

Between the large coral reef formations is a sandy bottom where sea turtles and nurse sharks have been spotted. The sights of the reef rising up all around is quite stunning and includes coral formations such as elkhorn and branch coral.

Culpepper Islet

Lying close to Ragged Point and the East Point Lighthouse in the Parish of St. Philip is the Culpepper Islet. Too small to be considered an island – at about 75ft by 100ft – this little land mass impressively juts out of the water about 20ft high.

Culpepper Islet in Barbados.
The tiny uninhibited Culpepper Islet is an interesting geological formation above and below the water.

The waters out here can be rough – hence the close-by lighthouse to protect ships. However, on a calm day this location makes for a nice dive site to see an interesting land formation at sea level and below.

Carribean Sea – West Coast

Welcome to the Eastern Caribbean Sea and the main event for Barbados scuba diving. Marine park – check! Wrecks and artificial reefs – check and check! Best diving in Barbados – big check!

There are dozens of dive sites on the Barbados West Coast with numerous attractions for every type of diver. Unless moving to the island (I wouldn’t blame you) you’d need several trips to see them all. Below are some of the best sites to hit.

Carlisle Bay marine park

All the wrecks you could want to dive in one dive trip can be found in the Carlisle Bay Marine Park. This much sought after dive site is located on the Southwest side of the island and includes six shipwrecks.

The waters within the park are between 12ft to 55ft, so all the wrecks are accessible by all level of divers. Snorkelers can also enjoy these calm waters and wrecks below. Among the wrecks are a scattering of anchors and cannons.

Carlisle Bay underwater shipwreck surrounded by fish in Barbados.
The marine park’s six shipwrecks make for nice artificial reefs. (Photo courtesy of Coconut Court Beach Hotel)

Some of the wrecks here were purposely sunk to create an artificial reef and some met their demise in other ways. The wrecks are close by each other on the sandy bottom and can be seen all in one dive given the shallow depths.

Map of Carlisle Bay in Barbados.
Due to the shallow depths, you can hit all six wrecks in one dive. (Photo courtesy of Tranquility Cruises)

The most famous of the wrecks in the park is the Bajan Queen, a 120ft long tugboat lying in 40ft of water. Donated to the Coastal Zone Management Unit, the Queen was sunk in 2002. Her upper deck is just feet from the surface and she is a must see in the park!

Two of the wrecks that were not sunk on purpose include the Berwyn– a 70ft long WWI French tugboat sunk by her own crew in 1919 – and the remnants of the Cornwallis – a Canadian freighter that was sunk in WWII by a German U-boat. The Berwyn is in about 20ft of water and the Cornwallis is in about 15ft of water.

Other shipwrecks in the park include a 29ft long naval landing barge, the 45ft long CE-Trek and the 110ft long Ellion that was once a drug boat…cue the Miami Vice theme.

It’s also common to spot sea turtles within the park, including large green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles…so don’t focus too hard on the wrecks or you might miss the aquatic show.

Turtle underwater in Carlisle bay, Barbados.
Large green sea turtles are commonly seen in the marine park.
SS Stavronikita

Speaking of shipwrecks, you cannot discuss scuba diving in Barbados without discussing its most famous wreck – the SS Stavronikita.

This 365ft long Greek freighter has quite the history – including catching fire and being stranded – before she was finally purposefully sunk in 1978.

Read up on the colorful history and then go dive this beautiful wreck. (Photo courtesy of Wrecksite)

This dive can be deep wreck diving for advanced divers as she lies in 120ft of water. However, all level of divers can enjoy this wreck – if they watch their depth – as the forward mast is just about 29ft from the surface.

Those that make it down to her will not be disappointed as she has become a nice artificial reef with beautiful reef fish and the occasional barracuda.

Cement Pier

The cement pier is a very unique dive and one of the more popular dive sites in Barbados. The remains of this old cement plant lie on top of the pier, making the above water scenery almost as cool as the below water scenery.

Located on the Northeast side of the island, the pier can be reached from both a boat and shore. With its shallow depths of about 30ft, this also makes for a good snorkeling site.

The diverse marine life at the pier is spectacular and includes, lionfish, spiny lobsters, angelfish and on a good day reef octopus and hawksbill turtles.

Maycocks Reef

Also at the Northeastern side of the island is Maycocks reef. The reef is expansive and laid out like fingers over sandy channels.

The beautiful coral here is colorful and includes sea fans, brain coral and elephant ear sponges. Plentiful reef fish and sea turtles make there way in and out of the finger reef formations.

Maycocks reef underwater in Barbados.
You might be able to hide an elephant at Maycocks, but the orange elephant ear sponges stand out.

This can be an advanced dive with a maximum depth on the reef of 130ft. As the shallowest part of the reef is about 50ft, basic divers can enjoy this site too.

Bright ledge

Another spectacular reef – and considered by many to be the best dive site of the island – is Bright Ledge. This reef is located South of Maycocks and like Maycocks can be an advance dive as the depth can get beyond recreational limits with its drop-offs.

Among the beautiful coral you can find barracuda and hawksbill turtles. Night diving in Barbados does not get better than this with the abundant marine life that wakes up and patrols the area.

Bright Ledge Barracuda underwater in Barbados.
School of barracuda can be found on Bright Ledge.
Barracuda junction

If it’s barracuda you want to see, than head over to barracuda junction. This reef and its marine life draw in plenty of the watery predators.

A dive at this site is usually done as a drift dive and can have varying depths of between 60ft to 80ft. Divers watch your depth as there are drop-offs past recreational limits and no one is looking to do a decompression dive.


The Pamir is 165ft freighter that was purposefully sunk in the mid 1980s to create an artificial reef. Another extremely popular wreck good for all level of divers and snorkelers as she lies in water between 30ft to 60ft.

This wreck lies close to shore and is accessible by boat and land. She has done a great job of filling her final role as an artificial reef, attracting all sorts of marine life. And night diving in Barbados does not get much better than on this wreck.

Pamir trumpet fish underwater in Barbados.
Keep an eye out for all sorts of marine life like trumpet fish on the Pamir.

Oh, and don’t forget to save some bottom time to checkout the submarine lying nearby!!

The Boot

Divers of all levels and snorkelers alike can get the best of both worlds with this boot shaped reef that includes a small Coast Guard shipwreck.

This reef is located off of the popular Sandy Beach on the Southeastern side of the island. Maximum depth is about 60ft, so you’ll have plenty of time to see some of sea turtles that this site is known for.

A hawksbill turtle underwater in barbados.
Sea turtles like the hawksbill turtle above populate The Boot.

Other Activities

Of course, Barbados is not just for divers. There are plenty of things to do in Barbados for non-divers as well!


As mentioned above, Barbados is the most Easterly island in the Caribbean Sea. As such, the island gets tremendous swells and surfing has become an extremely popular pastime here.

Someone surfing in barbados waters.
Surfers can enjoy the Barbados’ waves at various sites like “Soup Bowl” shown above.

Like the diving, most of the surfing in Barbados is done on the West coast. However, there are some sites – like the famous Soup Bowl – that are on the East side.

Whatever site you are going to, remember to surf within your skill level and watch out for sea urchins.

Kayaking And Canoe Tours

The Northern West side of Barbados has many coves and cliffs. This makes for a perfect location to explore by kayak or canoe.

Whether you want to check out the coast or go over the shipwrecks in Carlisle Bay, there are multiple operators to suit your needs.

Couple kayaking in barbados.
For a very unique kayaking experience try a clear Kayak! (Photo courtesy of Clear Kayaks Barbados)

Submarine and Glass Bottom Boat Tours

For those who would like to see the Barbados underwater world without getting wet, there are glass bottom boat and submarine tours…yes, you read that right, submarine!!

Outfits like Tranquility Cruises offer glass bottom boat tours with and without beach stops and snorkeling excursions. To get down below the waves for a very cool time you might want to try being a submariner for the day aboard an Atlantis submarine.

Sub tour in Barbados.
Even scuba divers will enjoy a submarine tour. A great family experience without being kidnapped by Capt. Nemo.

Shark’s Hole

On the Southeast side of the island is Shark’s Hole. This small inlet with beach is of note for the way the coral walls rise up on either side of the water’s entrance.

Shark's hole in Barbados.
For a different kind of beach experience try Shark’s Hole.

Just outside of the entrance to the bay is a ridge of coral that acts as a barrier to the waves rolling in. Swimmers would do well to take heed to stay inside of this reef as there can be a strong current and rough water beyond.

Sharks hole aerial view in Barbados.
Stay inside of the reef at Shark’s Hole as it is a big ocean on the other side.

Oh, and you don’t have to worry about sharks. The name appears to be taken from an old fishing tale…and if anyone can tell tales better than divers it’s fishermen.

If visiting here, make sure to stop at the nearby awe-inspiring Cliffs of Awe for some good photos of waves crashing up behind you.

Wrapping Things Up

Barbados is known as the “coral island” and for good reason. But this small island bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean is packed with so much more than just the amazing coral. The fun to be found on the island and in its waters makes this a must see stop of the Caribbean.

As the sun sets on your last day on this tropical island, you won’t be hard-pressed to think of reasons to extend your vacation. Paradise indeed!

Sunset over Barbados waters.
The sun sets on another beautiful day in Barbados, but the memories will last a lifetime.

“How boring would the world be if everywhere and everyone were the same. Safe travels and good adventures.” Scuba Jay

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