Barbados is a Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles that’s renowned for its superb beaches. While it’s the sandy beaches that attract most visitors, there’s plenty of things to do here besides sunbathing. It’s the perfect destination for those looking for perfect weather, lush landscape, bustling nightlife, outdoor sports, and overall just having a very good time. Barbados is one of the few islands in the Caribbean that can truly provide year-round scuba diving, an activity that attracts both novice and experienced divers.
Unlike its neighboring volcanic islands, Barbados is a coral limestone island. The island is encircled by about 90 kilometers of coral reefs, all protected by the government. The state also has two marine parks on the west coast, and they are considered some of the best marine sanctuaries in the whole Caribbean. Both Carlisle Bay Marine Park in St. Michael and the smaller Folkestone Marine Park in St James feature inshore reef that’s perfect for snorkeling and diving.
Wreck divers will also thoroughly enjoy diving in Barbados. About 200 wrecks now lie on the bottom of the sea, many lost during storms or after running aground because of the shallow reefs. Some ships have been sunk as artificial reefs over the years. Many of the interesting wrecks can be found in the Carlisle Bay Marine Park, but the most famous of all – the SS Stavronikita is located in the Folkestone Marine Park.
Barbados is a year-round diving destination, with about 3,000 hours of annual sunshine. If you want to avoid the wet season, visit outside the June-October period. Regardless, diving conditions are good throughout the year.
Water temperature in Barbados warms above 20° C/68° F and peaks during the month of September when it reaches up to 29° C/85° F. The lowest water temperatures are typically recorded in January-March.
While Barbados is not the top destination to go in the Caribbean for the very best visibility, divers will enjoy good visibility of 18-25 meters (60-80 feet). During the summer months, visibility can reach up to 30 meters (100 feet).
SS Stavronikita. The famous wreck of the island, this Greek freighter was sunk on purpose in the early 1970s and now lies on the bottom of the Folkestone Underwater Park, encrusted in coral and sponges. It sits in 36 meters/120 feet of water at its deepest, which is why it is available to advanced divers and above. Nonetheless, Open Water divers can still explore the part that sits closer to the surface but will not be able to enjoy it at its fullness. Blue tangs, chromies, sergeant majors, and sea turtles visit the wreck regularly.
Friar’s Craig. Another shipwreck, but this one is found in shallow water (only 16 meters / 55 feet) and can be experienced by all divers. It is broken up in three pieces, but still worth it, nonetheless. Having been in the water since 1985, it too is covered with coral and has lots of marine life, including barracudas, stingrays, angelfish, and snappers.
Cement Plant Pier. For those with an interest in diving piers, Barbados does not fail to provide. These remnants of an abandoned cement factory are located on the north coast and are accessible by shore or boat. The piers are covered with coral growth and sponges and provide home to an array of sea creatures.
Pamir. The sister-ship of the Friar’s Craig. It sits upright on the west coast, where it remains intact in 15 meters (50 feet) of water. It’s perfect for beginners! The shipwreck has wide openings that allow for penetration. Pamir is covered with growth of all kinds and provides shelter to a number of species of tropical fish.