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Best diving sites in Antigua

Antigua is known for its 365 beaches. You can visit one for each day of the year. However, the diving scene in Antigua needs to be more appreciated. Thousands of tourists and locals visit Antigua and Barbuda to see its pristine sands and turquoise water.

These bright northern Caribbean island twins offer an array of reefs, from the outlying islands that adorn Antigua’s north coast to the barrier reef that flows along the south coast to the sister island of Barbuda.

if you are looking for places to stay we recommend you staying at one of the best sandals resorts: Sandals Grande Antigua.

The dive operators are relaxed about the diving industry because Antigua’s diving scenes lack international recognition. As a result, people who visit the island can see precisely what they came for because the dive operators will not rush them.

Antigua should be at the top of your diving bucket list. Antigua has many reef sharks, and humpback and pilot whales frequently visit. Additionally, Antigua has blooming colors of soft and hard corals and fantastic dive spots.

Let us discuss Antigua’s history before we go in to describe the best dive spots in Antigua.

Best diving sites in Antigua
View or English Harbour, Antigua, from Shirley Heights

Antigua’s history

Antigua is an independent country in the Lesser Antilles. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Antigua is one-half of the island nation Antigua and Barbuda. These two are separated by an archipelago of smaller islands by 25 miles.

Christopher Columbus praised Santa Maria de la Antigua, the island’s patron saint, when he first discovered it in 1493, giving Antigua its name. In 1932, Antigua became a colony of England, while Barbuda did the same in 1678. Finally, in 1981, Antigua and Barbuda achieved complete independence from the United Kingdom.

Almost 95% of the population resides in Antigua. Moreover, this is where aircraft enter the country. Antigua offers several well-run all-inclusive resorts and lovely beaches.

Antigua is safe to visit, with no problems day or night. The island hosts its Carnival in August to commemorate the abolition of slavery. In addition, however, there is a celebration of the ocean’s natural splendor that surrounds this idyllic archipelago every other day.

Now let us discuss some of the best diving spots you must try when you visit Antigua.

Antigua’s diving sites

Captains Anchor

If you are a beginner or intermediate diver, we recommend Captains Anchor. Captain Anchor is a great dive location because it is right next to one of the bays where green and hawksbill turtles are frequently observed. As the name implies, there is a famous anchor at 60 feet. The anchor came from a ship that ran around in the 19th century as it approached the land.

Giant Moray eels are frequently seen beneath this enormous anchor, while reef sharks are commonly seen cruising above the reef.

What to expect:

The reef features a lot of sand channels and medium ridges that create minor overhangs and barriers for a lot of sea life to hide behind. It is not unusual to see a turtle fast asleep in one of these crevices during the peak of the turtle mating season.

This diving spot is excellent for those who enjoy taking macro photos because it offers the added sight of pipefish lurking in the sandy canals.


The chimney is an excellent dive spot for intermediate to advanced divers. This dive location is situated on the barrier reef known as Cades Reef and bottoms out at 85 feet (26m).

The barrier reef gradually tapers out into the deep water until it reaches a point where the slope abruptly drops off. On the finest days, you can see up to 30 meters (or 100 feet) into the deep blue. Following this ridge up to a small cave known as “the chimney,” this dive location continues along it.

What to expect:

You can expect to see several giant pufferfish and balloon fish lurking among the soft corals on the reef beneath you. In addition, you may spot nurse sharks hiding behind ledges and overhangs if you venture over to sandy plateaus just before the wall lowers.

In the open ocean, it is to see some reef sharks swim up to the ledge and observe you from a distance with curiosity, followed by beautiful pelagic fish traveling in large schools, including all sorts of Jacks.

You can peer up into the chimney once you get there from the cave’s entrance or from above the reef. Additional cave-dwelling fish, including the Glass Eye snapper and Soldier Fish, as well as some huge lionfish, will likely be hiding out there.

fishes in antigua while snorkeling
Colorful tropical fish underwater in Antigua, the Caribbean

Coral Gardens

This excellent dive site is a great place for beginning divers and is right behind the stunning Cades Reef. It is a beautiful location, as the name would imply, with garden-like elements like coral boulders scattered across sandy sections and a lovely high-rising wall that rises 10 meters straight to the surface.

What to expect:

Make sure to glance up as you go down the wall to watch the fidgety triggerfish circling near the water’s surface at the top of the reef. Next, if you let your eyes follow the sides of the wall, you will see several tiny cuts and cracks in the reef. This is where numerous Reef Lobsters and Coral Crabs hideout.

These coral boulders or the surrounding reef are home to many nurse sharks looking for shade and a place to rest. If you gaze out into the sandy blue, you might also see a Southern Stingray. The stingrays are either lying calmly on the beach or searching for lovely little shellfish.


This is a relatively new dive location. It is loved for the variety of reef fish swimming around in its impressive schools, as the name would imply. This dive location follows a sand channel and a little branching reef to your left, bottoming out at a modest 33 feet (10 meters), providing the diver with a clear ocean view in all directions.

What to expect:

You can expect to see vivid colors and Southern Stingrays munching on the turtle grass patches or the sandy bottom at this dive spot. In addition, you can see schools of Reef fish of many different species, including Blue and Brown Chromis, Sergeant Majors, and Creole Wrasse, as well as several different kinds of stunning Damsel Fish.

Remember to search among the reef’s crevices for your spotted lobsters, Red and White Banded Shrimp, and Moray Eels species.

Snapper Ledge

If you are an expert diver, you will love Snapper Ledge. A spectacular wall surrounds you as the reef rises from the sand at 79 feet (24 meters), creating a fantastic stadium-like layout. A few Caribbean Reef lobsters may be gathered under some overhangs at the start of the dive, and enormous Yellow Tail and Mahogany Snappers are frequently present in large schools around you.

What to expect:

Be sure to gaze down at the vibrant sponges and hard corals as you walk around the stadium’s walls. However, looking into the deeper areas would be best because Reef Sharks frequently patrol these depths. Once you have explored one side of the wall, swim to the opposite side because reef sharks and nurse sharks often pass through the sandy channel.

Another frequent sighting at this dive site is the resident nurse shark, George, who was subsequently discovered to be a female. George is interesting and frequently engages with divers and photographers.

Shark Bay

As it follows the shallower, sloping edge behind Cades Reef, this dive location, which is 40 feet (12 meters) deep, is suitable for beginning to intermediate divers. The dove location got its name from the abundance of reef and nurse sharks, which used to cluster there. But through time, they have discovered safety in other places.

What to expect:

On this dive, you can drift along stunning spreading reefs and observe both expansive lengths of reef and beach. Due to its depth, it is frequent to see some Caribbean Reef Octopus among the typical reef suspects, such as Trumpet Fish and Goatfish (be sure to search for their cleaned shells and miniature-built gardens).

Here is an excellent place to observe some Spotted Eagle Rays hunting for conch and shellfish for lunch, or if you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of a few of them playing together.

Solomon’s Trail

This dive site is a few miles farther from land than the typical Cades Reef dive and is for experienced divers seeking excitement. This dive site is 57 feet (17 meters) deep, may be experienced from various angles, and, to the uninitiated, appears to be a brand-new site each time.

What to expect:

This dive site attracts a lot of pelagic fish because of its location, and schools of barracuda frequently swim in the direction of the prevailing currents. Visitors include Rainbow Runners, Tunas, Mackerels, Horse Eye Jacks, Almanco Jacks, Bar Jacks, and Amber Jacks.

Christmas tree worm
Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) on Star Coral (Montastraea annularis), Antigua, West Indies. This worm can be found throughout the tropics. Star coral morphs can be either small and knobbly or large and columnar, it also occurs in different colours.

Pillars of Hercules

The name “Pillars of Hercules” refers to the magnificent granite wall surrounding this dive location, which is close to the mouth of Antigua’s famous English Harbour. The sandstone, carved by the wind and waves, has evolved to resemble columns now supporting the cliff face. This dive site is well-liked by novice divers, snorkelers, and free divers due to its proximity to the beach and relatively modest depth of 33 feet (10 meters).

What to expect:

You can locate a dive site beneath these Pillars where brilliant soft corals distinguish in shades of yellow, red, and green, as well as a variety of colorful reef fish that inhabit them. Follow your dive instructor as they lead you through the soft corals and tabletops. If you demonstrate that you have adequate buoyancy, your guides will let you swim through a small opening so you can see the Christmas tree worms and feather dusters that decorate the partial cave’s roof.

Sunken Rock

Sunken Rock is a must-see for experienced divers traveling to Antigua. Unfortunately, because it is located on the southern corner of the island, heading toward the eastern coast, where strong winds from the Atlantic sometimes blow, this spectacular dive location is only accessible on days when the weather permits.

What to expect:

This is a stunning dive location with depths up to 98 feet (30 meters) on days when the weather allows since it is a pinnacle that rises straight from the water’s surface to those depths.

If you circle this pinnacle, you will undoubtedly see giant lobsters moving through the reef and perhaps even some unexpected pelagic fish. There are groups of large Yellow-tailed snappers all around you. Watch out for some Rockhounds and Nassau Groupers.

diving in antigua
Colorful tropical fish underwater in Antigua, the Caribbean

Stingray City

A little sandy lagoon called Stingray City can be found on Antigua’s northern shore. It is encircled by a few patch reefs and has the purest turquoise water you have ever seen. The Giant Southern Stingrays swim to this lagoon when they hear boats approaching, where people are welcome to enter the water and interact with them.

What to expect:

Stingray City is excellent for snorkelers and young children because the water can be as little as 3 feet. These stingrays will swim between your legs and into your arms if you choose since they are pretty interactive.

Palmetto Point (Barbuda)

Barbuda, Antigua’s twin island, is not to be forgotten, which is situated off the south coast of the coastline and is where Palmetto Point is.

What to expect:

This dive location is appropriate for intermediate to experienced scuba divers and free divers because of its relatively moderate depths. In addition, several hard corals, including Brain corals, Starlet corals, and even staghorn coral colonies, can be found on this site in select protected regions.

With several Southern Stingrays and Spotted Eagle Rays passing by, you might also spot some Queen conch or Tritons trumpet in the sandy parts.

Palaster Reef (Barbuda)

The Palaster Reef is a lengthy barrier reef that runs beside the lovely white sand beach of the bay known locally as the “Highlands” on the eastern coast of Barbuda. This is a haven for marine life, from extremely shallow places to depths of 10 meters (30 feet).

What to expect:

You can expect to see a ton of Caribbean Reef Lobsters, schools of Bermuda chubs, and parrotfish here. Green turtles are another species that frequently enter the reef and enjoy the warm, shallow, and pristine blue waters.

You might glimpse a Tiger Shark or Bull Shark darting through the sandy canals if lucky. The sandy canals start as a barrier reef in the shallows before fading into depths of 50 feet (15m).

In conclusion

Antigua has beautiful dive spots with magnificent corals blooming with schools of fish. Visiting this northern Caribbean Island any time of the year is safe.
There is a dive spot for everyone here, so even if you are a beginner at diving or an expert diver, you will surely enjoy your time here.

Since Antigua is yet to be famous for its diving spots, the dive guides and operators are relaxed. Therefore, you can take your time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take plenty of pictures.
Furthermore, you can bring your whole family here. There is something for everyone. Moreover, your children will enjoy playing with the friendly stingrays at stingray city.

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