Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVEIN.com’s Complete Guide to:
The Best Diving In Dominica In 2023
Dominica, part of the Lesser Antilles, creates the eastern boundary near the southern end of the Caribbean. It is, in fact, the youngest of this chain of islands, so it’s still volcanically active and still forming. Due to this unique characteristic, Dominica is dubbed “the nature island of the Caribbean”. Topside, there are bubbling hot springs, magical waterfalls and rich rainforests full of amazing animals, endemic to the island.
Beneath the blue, Dominica has some of the best diving in the Caribbean! Home to lobsters, jacks, tunas, turtles, octopi and critters such as frogfish, cleaner shrimp and seahorses, just to get started. The marine topography mirrors the island, with large sea mounds, steep walls and even hydrothermal vents! This allows for huge gorgorian fans, barrels and other soft sponges!
In some dive sites, the sandy bottoms are even warm to the touch! Many of the sites are just off shore or just a 10-minutes boat ride, accessing dive spots is super easy! Many start shallow and can be enjoyed by new divers and snorkelers alike.
Being on the fringes of the Caribbean, Dominica is part of a migratory route, and 2 out of 3 of all whale species will pass through here during the year.
To discover all that the Nature Isle has to offer, Dominica is the perfect petit island package!
Nearly all of the diving around the island takes place inside the three marine parks:
- The Cabrits to the north.
- The Salisbury to the west.
- Soufriere Scotts Head Marine Reserve, located in the south west corner.
Top Diving Sites of Dominica
Just like the action movie, this site has the thrills and adventure to go with it! Placed up on the most northerly point of Dominica, you can expect strong currents rushing through. Experienced intermediate and upwards diving experience required.
What you will see:The meeting of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean brings in turbulent waters and big schools of jacks, tuna and barracuda. The dive starts at 30ft/10m (max reaching 120ft/40m), drifting over to Capucin Point in the Atlantic. During the second half of the dive, you will journey through some arches, with – if you’re lucky – some rays showing you the way home.
What to know and how to go with the flow? Learn how to drift dive
Probably the best dive of North Dominica, Toucari Caves isn’t so much a cave, but a small system of caverns, arches and swim throughs. So watch your fins! Situated just off shore and ranging from 10-80ft/m in depth, it can be enjoyed by all.
What you will see:Like Aladdin’s cave, the ceilings of these intricate rock formations are encrusted with dazzling colourful corals and thousands of soldierfish whilst shrimp eyes shine like gold coins in your dive light. Keep your arms in to avoid some accidental scrapes. Often spotted in the open are grazing turtles and barracuda hoping to snag some rogue reef fish.
Most of the diving around Toucari Bay is in the southern end, on the boundary with Douglas Bay. This is a wall dive, with the sandy bottom on the Toucari side reaching about 30ft/10m. Due to its shallow depths it’s perfect for those eager to learn scuba diving!
What you will see:From extraordinary corals to colorful marine life, Toucari Bay has everything a diver would want. Dive this site for octopus, rays, trumpet fish, parrotfish, and more. And just like Toucari Caves, there are a few tunnels to fool around in.
5 Finger Rock
Upon approaching the site, one “finger” sticks out like an iceberg, a little teaser of what lies beneath the waves. Below you will see (surprise, surprise!) 5 peaks, representing the 5 fingers. Veteran divers will know that an undulating topography normally makes for great diving, and the 5 finger rock is no different.
What you will see:This site starts at 5m and reaches 30m in the sandy palm of the site. Due to moderate depths and currents, intermediate level is recommended for diving here. Eagle rays are a common sighting here, weaving between the peaks. Like much of the island, large barrel sponges are common landmarks, with many Caribbean reef fish, moray eels, soldierfish and wrasse as their colourful residents.
Easily accessible from shore and depths of 10-25m, this site is an easy going dive for all to enjoy. A unique feature here is that there is a 5m long corridor that opens up into the main dive area.
What you will see:Here in Rina’s Hole you will run into populations of moray eels, giant anemones, and huge sea fans. This magnificent dive site also offers divers lush schools of soldierfish, stingrays, and maybe even some nurse sharks
Need the 101 on boat diving? Or maybe you’ve never done a shore entry? Let us tell you how
Just a little south of Rina’s Hole is the deeper Whale Shark reef, ranging from 50-130ft. Unfortunately you won’t be seeing any whale sharks though.
What you will see:Scattered around the reef are large barrel sponges and many tube sponges. Whaleshark reef has an abundance of macro life, so remember your camera! Hidden amongst the colourful coral scenes are all kinds of mini crustaceans such as cleaner shrimps, anemone crabs, and banded boxer shrimps.
What makes Champagne Reef extra special is that it has thousands of bubbles escaping from underwater fissures. Showcasing the island’s unique volcanic character, this shallow site is undeniably the most famous site on the island. I mean, who doesn’t want a warm jacuzzi on their safety stop!
What you will see:Easily accessible from shores for both divers and snorkelers, often spotted are turtles, seahorses, squid and giant lobsters if you come back at night.
Starting off at about 30ft/10m, Point Guignard is a slowly sloping wall, hitting a depth of approximately 80ft/25m. The dive itself is relatively easy and calm, to be enjoyed by all levels. However there are some tight swim-throughs, caves and a cool archway, reserved for more experienced divers with better buoyancy.
What you will see:This is a good site to spot schooling reef fish, stingrays and moray eels. Turtles are a common sighting during the nesting season of April-September approx. Peek inside the many barrel sponges to find hiding crustaceans and frogfish. And if you’re eagle-eyed enough, see seahorses on the georgian fans.
Danglebens Pinnacle is in fact a series of 5 pinnacles, in various shapes and sizes. This undulating landscape has a quirky appearance with sandy bottoms separating the pinnacles. Located close to shore, the site ranges from 30-130ft/10-40m. Generally there is a mild current channeling through the pinnacles, not making it suitable for beginner divers.
What you will see:All five pinnacles are covered in barrel sponges, table and brain corals. There are plenty of angel and butterflyfish, cute boxfish, trumpetfish and colourful anthias. Hiding in nooks and crannies are big morays and even reef sharks. And be sure to look up and see schools of jacks, snappers and barracudas passing by, and even the odd turtle.
Its impressive topography and abundance of macro life is what makes this one of the top sites around Dominica. Descend onto a shallow shelf at 25ft/8m, and witness the terrestrial cliffside drop straight down beyond 1600ft/500m! It’s no wonder the other name for this site in “L’abym/The Abyss”. There is rarely any current here, so this sensation can be enjoyed by all.
What you will see:Besides its breathtaking views, this site is famous for its macro variety. Eager guides will show you tiny seahorses, critter sized crustaceans and numerous nudibranchs- perfect for the photographers amongst you!
Located just 300ft/100m off shore from the church of Soufriere Bay lies its Pinnacles. Enjoy a fizzy swim through the submerged hot springs and arrive at the three main peaks of Soufriere Pinnacles. The raised edges and pinnacles are about 30ft/10m deep and are in fact the edge of a volcano.
What you will see:A dip in the wall locally named “The Fish Bowl” is home to pufferfish, sergeant majors, lionfish and many Caribbean reef fish. Passing along the sandy bottom of 100ft/30m are stingrays and flounders. For the most part, the site is low in current. But if it does pick up, you can easily drift over to La Sorciere.
Scotts Head Drop Off
Continue southwards along Dominica’s western coastline and we are now in the heart Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve (SSMR), a UNESCO World Heritage site. The bay from Scott’s Head up to Soufriere is an extinct volcanic crater. This accounts for the various depths of steep walls and vast corals and fish life.
What you will see:Its nutrient rich wall supports a rainbow of colourful coral, such as barrels, anemones, tube, fans and whips. Living amongst them you can find lionfish, eels, seahorses, scorpionfish and even lobsters! Despite its vast depths of 40-200ft/12-60m, it is sheltered in the bay and relatively current free.
Looking at a map on Dominica, it’s easy to see that Scott’s Head Bay is indeed a collapsed volcano. Crater’s Edge is situated on its western brim.
What you will see:Due to its depths, this site promises larger fish, who like to hang in the blue, adjacent to the Edge. You may get to see jacks, snappers, tuna and rainbow runners. Up in the shallow bowl there is impressive coral full of smaller reef fish, hiding from their predators. Don’t be alarmed if you think you’re being stalked by a barracuda- he’s just using you as a cover for his next meal!
Scotts Head Pinnacle
Continue the ridge from Crater’s Edge and you will arrive at Scott’s Head Pinnacle. Boasting insane visibility and fish galore, it’s a must-do dive on Dominica!
What will you see:Most dives will start gliding through “Swiss Cheese”, a tunnel surrounded by hundreds of soldierfish. This underwater veil opens up to a plateau, with the main pinnacle before you. Cut through the pinnacle, and remember a torch to seek out hiding lobsters. Then emerge onto a steep slope plunging more than 120ft/35m! The average depth of the dive is 30ft/10m and so easily done by all levels. If experienced enough, you can descend along the wall to see swaying sea fans and gorgeous gorgonians.
Just downwind from the Village and you reach The Suburbs. Underwater, they are connected by a big rock drop off, not making it suitable for beginners.
What you will see:Just like in Finding Nemo, expect to see a large barracuda pass by or hopefully a massive stingray and some turtles. Clinging to the slope there is impressive coral life including huge barrel sponges and wide sea fans. This drop off is unpredictable, and whales/dolphins have been known to make an appearance passing through!
Similar to Point Break with its open location, this site (and The Suburbs) require training and experience since mild-strong currents are a common occurrence.
What you will see:The main feature of the Village are three pinnacles, each slightly shallower than the one before. Here you can find large corals such as gorgorians, sea fans and soft sponges. As you drift through the site, perhaps over to the Suburbs, be sure to mind your depth! As to be expected on an open water dive, schooling fish such as jacks and barracudas, are common.
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**All sites have permanent moorings. All divers coming to Dominica are expected to pay a small fee which helps fund the maintenance and upkeep of moorings and the parks.
Dominica is also well known as the Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean. Up to two thirds of all whale species migrate past the crystal blue waters surrounding Dominica. Whale sightings are pretty much a sure thing since there is a local population of sperm whales, residing all year round. The best time to see them is November – March, when they are closest to shore. Also found living in Dominica’s Caribbean seas are spotted and spinner dolphins. They love to show off their acrobatic talents as divers watch with astonishment.