Black Jack Hole, Kelleston Drain, Bookends and St. Giles are some
of the varied and beautiful dives off the North-eastern coast of Speyside.
Conflicting currents create a playground for mantas, barracuda, and
tarpon. These dives are mainly for advanced divers.
mainly a volcanic island so there are many large rocks, cliffs and
overhangs, as well as gently sloping coral reefs. On this part of
the island there are many unspoiled reefs offering a diversity of
marine life. It is not uncommon on our dives to see Manta Rays, Lobsters,
large Midnight Blue and Green Parrotfish, Jewfish, groupers and many
Snappers. The reef is teeming with tropical reef fish, all very pretty
and many growing to large sizes. The fish and marine life are naturally
well fed, since the islands location is close enough to the South
American mainland to supply all the life with tremendous amounts of
nutrients and plankton; this comes to us via the Guyana Currents that
travel up the South American mainland, meet with the Orinoco River
outflow, and then pass our islands on their east coasts.
4 - Rocky Mountain Low
This is another section of the St.Giles Islands group, of which Melville Island is the largest. Located on the west and south-west shores of the St Giles, the visibility at the site can often be reduced by the massive amounts of plankton in the passing tidal stream. However, the conditions produce a variety of colourful marine life, including large brain corals and tons of invertebrates. Large numbers of parrotfish and wrasse forage under dead corals and along the algal beds that cover the rocky ledges. Juvenile spotted drums are common, constantly in motion, swimming in circles and darting in and out of cover. Between Rocky Mountain Low and the main shoreline is a group of rocks that barely break the surface of the water called Few Man. Conditions mean that is seldom possible to visit this dive.
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5 – Washaroo
Also known as Washing Machine, Washaroo takes its name after the local name for a midnight parrotfish, a very large and beautiful fish often seen around the rocky ridges and boulders of this particular dive. You will see the distinctive teeth marks of the parrotfish on the coral, where the fish have used their beaked mouths to scrape away the living polyps. The dive runs along the north coast of the St. Giles Islands but is not as steep as Marble Island and London Bridge; instead it has huge boulders and mini-walls along the way. There are ample overhangs, crevices and holes to explore often occupied by lobsters, morays, crabs and spotted drums. The normal depth for this dive is 60-70ft (18-20m).
6 - South St Giles
This site, which is also known as St.Giles Drift, comprises of massive rocky boulders and countless coral domes. The dive is typically performed as a drift dive. A fairly steep slope, dotted with small coral heads, leads to a sandy seabed at 15m, which is dotted with small area of coral-encrusted boulders, healthy hard corals and sea plumes. The seabed is home to large schools of snapper and grunts, flounders and stingrays. The strong currents at this end of the island make packs of rainbow runners and large crevalle jack a common sight.
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7 – Sleeper
The exposed location of this site, next to Black Rocks just north of Little Tobago Island, means that more often than not, conditions are too rough to dive. One side of the rock has an easy, gentle slope cut with fissures and cracks, while the other side is more vertical with walls encrusted in hydroids, tunicates, small cup coral and iridescent green solitary disc and plate coral. The rock attracts extensive invertebrate life, turtles, pelagics and schooling fish.
8 - Sail Rock
This dive is suitable for the more experienced diver. When the current is running in the right direction and not too fast, this dive can be very rewarding. Boulder brain and star corals dominate the area, of far greater size than normal as they are fed by the nutrient-rich current. Divers will only spend a little time around Sail Rock itself as it is quite small. After 10-15 minutes the dive will connect to one of several underwater rock formations and continue in whatever way the current takes you. This is a dive that requires a dive computer, because of the unpredictable route and depth.
9 - Batteaux Bay: Located off the Blue Waters Inn and facing Little Tobago, Batteaux Reef is also known as Aquarium and consists of a rocky ridge that extends from the shoreline to the Weather Rocks, which can just be seen protruding above the waves. Surge makes it difficult to dive around the ridge, but when conditions are right, it is well worth a visit. The rocky slope drops to 21m and although sparse in coral growth, there are lots of sponges. The bay is at the confluence of two different nutrient-laden currents, which encourages the fish to breed more often and explains the vast quantities of fish fry in the water all year round. Batteaux Bay was the home to the dozen or more Atlantic Mantas (Manta birostris) that used to take up residence there every winter. Their visits are less frequent now, but you still stand a chance, particularly during the early months of the year.
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10 – Roundtable
The MV RoundTable, an 80-foot (24m) redundant rig supply boat, was sunk in December 2003 at the bottom of a sloping reef off the headland between Batteaux Bay (Blue Waters Inn) and Speyside’s main Tyrell Bay. The wreck sits in 100 feet (30m) of water, with the deck at 60 feet (18m). It is early days, but the rich waters around Speyside do encourage extremely rapid growth and you can guarantee that it won’t be long before this wreck also becomes a very popular dive spot.
11 - Japanese Gardens
Another one of the great Speyside dives. The dive starts at one end of Goat Island and you swim over a reef filled with corals and sponges of all types, this start area is swarming with reef fish of all types, as you get to the point the current picks up, get close to the divemaster as they lead you through a rock passage at around 45 feet that ends with you being dumped over a beautifully landscaped area resembling that of a Japanese garden. A dive for everyone, beginners should be under the wing of the divemaster at the point where the currents are, the rest of the dive is very easy.
12 - Angel Reef
A beautiful, and very easy dive for all. The advanced divers may want to go deep and the novices stay shallow, there's something for everyone here. The dive starts at a point just in front of the house on Goat island and there is sometimes a gentle current here.
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13 – Cathedral
Sheltered by Little Tobago, the Cathedral, which is also known as Flying Manta, enjoys calm seas and mild currents. Lots of lush coral and reef fish abound on a gently sloppy reef with fairly consistent mild currents. The start of the reef at 6m is an area of coral rubble dotted with small scrubby sea fans, but things improve as you descend. Lower down the corals and sponges are in good condition. The area is known as the manta’s favourite spot on their occasional visits, but the current is actually often too severe. The northern end of this reef is also known as the Flying Manta Reef.
14 – Alps
Fairly stiff currents make this dive, which is also known as Grand Canyon, one of the most advanced dives in the area. The name comes from the dramatic large mountain-like formations. The reef is covered with large barrel sponges, strawberry vase sponges and tube sponges alongside many different types of coral, including pencil coral, star coral and much larger boulder star coral. The dive is just the other side of Bookends and ends at Tarpon Bowl, a shallow dish-like formation where, as the name suggests, tarpon and sharks hang out on occasion. The area is known for the large number of queen angelfish and for the patrolling tarpon, jacks, tangs, parrotfish and triggerfish that feed on the millions of small fish along the reef wall. The currents are strong and unpredictable and you shouldn’t be surprised if your bubbles go down before they start to rise.
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15 - TDE’s Special
This short knife-edge ridge of coral-covered volcanic rock rises from the depths and barely breaks the surface south of Little Tobago. Sea surges create an area of breaking white water around this lonely group of rocks and explain why the site should only be dived when conditions are perfect. The conditions mean that the rock has little sponge or coral growth, but are covered in tunicates, hydroids and bryozoans and great for small spotted lobsters, shrimp, large anemones and hermit and arrow crab. The name of the site comes from the large shoals of fish, such as big-eye snapper, not normally seen in schools. Other regular visitors include blue head wrasse, rainbow runners, green morays and African pompanos.
16 - Kelleston Drain / Little Tobago Drift
This is considered one of the favorite dives on the island, it offers one of our best chances of seeing the Manta Rays, it starts as a flat reef in as little as 15 feet to 60 feet and slopes gently down, we pass by one of the largest measured brain corals in the world on this dive. The divesite rating is usually easy, occasionally there is a strong current, so at times it will be rated for experienced divers. A very beautiful dive.
17 - Blackjack hole -Little Tobago Island
Just two minutes separates the above dive and this one, but they are both different; the reef drops away more sharply here although the dive starts in just 15 feet of water; many schools of fish abound in this area, it is a very easy dive, which ends roughly where Kelliston Drain starts. There is also a good chance of seeing the manta rays on this dive.
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18 – Picker
Located on the eastern wall of Little Tobago, this site is strictly for the intermediate to advanced diver because of the rough surface conditions. It can only be visited when conditions are perfect. The nearly vertical wall drops to below 40m and a rocky bottom with lots of hard corals. There is always a multitude of fish, including pelagics, nurse sharks, barracuda, black and crevalle jacks, tarpon, mackerel, moray eels, lobsters and occasional manta rays.
19 - Bookends
This is an outcropping of rocks which from a distance resemble two bookends without the books in-between, a beautiful dive, with a gently sloping coral reef. Usually there are only slight currents which will carry the divers along at an easy pace. Depending on where one starts this dive it can be rated a little more difficult than the preceding two, but only as far as the entry goes. At the start of the dive one is very likely to see the 3-5 foot tarpons swimming around close to the surface. Further down the reef there are many schools of snapper and the usual abundance of reef fish and life.
20 - Shark Bank
This site is also for the more advanced diver, usually done as a deep dive, this rock/reef is also exposed, ands tends to be a bit rough on the surface, the sides of the rocks are covered with coral and drop away sharply. Much reef life exists here, including an occasional shark of course.
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21 - Spiny Bay
This shallow reef, which is also known as Spiny Colony, has it all... great corals, schooling fish (look for a large school of southern sennet lurking over the sand), big fish including tarpon, barracuda and possibly even mantas, and a very predictable current. The coral growth is sparse on the rocky ridges that extend from the trailing cactus-covered cliffs above Spiny Bay, but the ridges are covered with small sponges, hydroids and tunicates. The sandy seabed at 12m is dotted with coral heads and a good variety of sea life, including peacock flounders, spotted drums, goatfish and snake eels. Great caution is necessary because dive conditions are prone to oceanic surges and currents which are likely to push you towards the cliffs.
22 - Lucifer’s Bay
Massive boulders tumble down the steeply sloping wall of this site, from 15m to the seabed at 21m. Coral growth is sparse because of the surge, but the site is rich in fish life. Peacock flounders love the undulating sandy plain of the bottom and stingrays are common, as other sand-loving creatures. Beware of sea urchins which can easily penetrate a neoprene wetsuit. The site is seldom dived because of its distance from Speyside, but is well worth a visit.
23 - Inner Space
Located about 30-minutes from Speyside, this site is only recommended for advanced divers as the entry and exit is generally rough due to exposure to prevailing winds and high wave action. It can be very tempting to follow the sand dunes between the reef areas and wander off into the deep blue where you meet submarine peaks rising from the sandy seabed at 45m, to around 22m. These peaks are covered with coral and sponge growth, including azure vase sponges, yellow tube sponges and antler. This site is best only attempted with a computer.
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