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Dive Fest Diaries – Day 2

Caribbean DTA Team



Each year the magical, Caribbean island of Barbados holds a festival to celebrate scuba diving, free diving and marine conservation. This year, Nick and Caroline went along to see what it was all about…

Thursday 5th July: Day 2

Refreshed and ready to go, we awoke to a bright sunny day in Barbados. We were back diving with West Side Scuba Centre and the plan for the day was some more west coast diving in the morning, followed by a night dive. Whilst we were diving, other centres were involved in introducing people to freediving as well as scuba diving, with events going on at different locations around the island, but we were here to dive!

Our diving equipment had been rinsed and dried off by the team at WSSC and so by the time we arrived at The Boatyard, the dive boat was fully loaded and we were ready to go. Our first dive saw us head out to the outer reef and a dive site called Castle. The reef was covered in huge barrel sponges – it was incredible! Everywhere you looked, these purple towers reached out from the reef bed.

We found shrimps hiding within them and lobsters taking cover at their bases. Turtles grazed, undisturbed by the divers drifting past in a light current. All the dive guides here carry spears to hunt any lionfish found on a dive, and there is even a competition during Dive Fest. Our guide caught one of the invasive species during the dive, showing expert skill. We let the current take us along the top of the reef, enjoying the reef-scape, until it was time to ascend back to the boat, which had been following our guide’s SMB.

We headed back to the dock to drop off some divers doing just one dive that day and then headed back out to one of the signature dives of Barbados – Carlisle Bay. Here a host of wrecks have been sunk in shallow water to create an underwater park for divers and snorkelers alike. You can take it slowly and examine each wreck as an individual dive, or you can move a little faster and take in a few. The beauty is, that as the site is so shallow, you have plenty of time underwater. Whilst we have dived here before, we had never ventured inside the Bajan Queen wreck, and so this lady was our dive plan. On our way, we came across the biggest stingray we have even seen, skimming over the reef that skirts the wrecks at Carlisle Bay.

The inside of the Bajan Queen is wonderfully atmospheric. The light penetrates through the gloom in sunbursts where doorways and hatches in the metal structure look up to the surface. Every now and then, you might get a flash of red as a fish swims through a shaft of sunlight. There is plenty of room to swim through the boiler room and into the quarters at each end and we had the place to ourselves – it was wonderful. Outside, schools of fish were hanging out at the propeller of the Bajan Queen, creating an attraction for both the divers and freedivers that visit the site. We still had time, after our exploration on the Bajan Queen, to visit two other wrecks, each one with its own ecosystem and highlights. We could dive this site every day and never get bored.

We had an extended lunch at the Radisson Aquatica, whilst discussing their plan to reduce single-use plastics in the hotel. Already they are using compostable food containers and cups, and provide a re-hydration station where fresh water with tropical fruits tempt guests away from plastic water bottles. It was refreshing to hear such a positive, conservation-minded vibe from a major hotel and to hear how passionate they were about the marine life just a stones thrown from where we were sitting.

Our final dive of the day saw us heading back to Carlisle Bay to dive the wrecks as a night dive. We jumped in as dusk fell, allowing our eyes to adjust to the gloom and the darkness to fall around us while we were on the dive. As expected, just like our daytime dive, there was a huge array of marine life. Nick found a tiny seahorse clinging to a small sponge on the seabed as we swam between wrecks. A turtle cruised past and an octopus displayed as the camera focussed in on it.

To top off the day, we ate dinner at the fabulous Waterfront Café to the sound of a live jazz band. Delicious, cold cocktails and great food by the waterside was, without a doubt, the perfect way to end the day.

Want to join in on all the fun at Dive Fest Barbados 2019 – put the dates in your diary: 3rd to 7th July 2019


Curaçao Dive Site of the Month – Smokeys (Watch Video)

Bryan Horne



New Video Release: Smokeys near Eastpoint Curaçao.

Learn about – a Top 10 Dive Site in Curacao located near Eastpoint and arguably one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean. 

It rivals the finest dive sites in Belize, Bonaire and the Cayman Islands.

Video produced and edited for Dive Curacao, by NaturePicsFilms.

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Top 5 things to do above water on a diving trip to Barbados

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown



Whilst you will want to spend as much time underwater as possible on any diving trip to Barbados, with its amazing wrecks, reefs and marine life… you will have to spend some time on dry land! So here are our top tips on what to do topside on this stunning Caribbean paradise.

1) Go Caving!

Babados offers the perfect instagram cave experiences. Two stand out from the crowd: Harrison’s Cave and Animal Flower Cave.

Harrison’s Cave offers a guided tours on a tram to allow you to safely explore these incredible underground caverns. Located in the central uplands of the island, this crystallized, limestone cave is characterized by flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns.

Animal Flower Cave is named after the anemone’s that can be found in the rock pools that sit within the cavern. This is a perfect spot for a photo or two, with the wild coastline visible through the cavern windows that have been carved out by wave action.

Both these tours are great options for your non-diving day before you fly home.

2) Take in a show

I have to admit that we do not usually get excited about an evening show put on for tourists. But just a few minutes into the show at Harbour Lights and we were dancing along with locals and tourists alike. The show is great fun and is full of talented performers. The buffet dinner included with the event is perfect too, with something for everyone. They had to throw us out!

3) Head to the Beach

Barbados is packed with incredible beaches. Some are setup with entertainment, resturants and bars, others are completely deserted. So it is up to you to find your perfect one. Whether you love to surf, want to relax in the sun, or get into the party spirit – there is a beach for you waiting to be discovered.

4) Learn to cook Bajan Style

If you love your food, and are a whizz in the kitchen, then why not spend an evening with a local chef to show you how to cook some of your favourite Bajan dishes. Award winning Chef Creig Greenidge joined us in our hotel to pass on some of his secrets. An amazing evening saw us chatting about our love of Caribbean cuisine, he guided us through a three course meal, even stopping to help us work out what we could replace hard to find ingredients in the UK with. The food was incredible, but it was also a wonderful experience. Great food and wine too!

5) Rum and Food Pairing Dinner

Barbados is the home of rum. This was a perfect way to round off our trip. Set in the Rum Vault at the Colony Club Hotel, we were treated to a private 5 course meal, each course paired with a rum cocktail. Finished with some fine sipping rums and delicious chocolates. Heaven!

Of course there is so much more than these 5 we have picked. So here are a few more things you should try out: Horses on the beach on Sunday mornings; Friday night is party night at the Fish Fry; Eat out! There are too many amazing restaurants to name here. Have a Mango Chow cocktail. Do a rum distillery tour at Mount Gay or St Nicholas Abbey or try our a local craft beer. Most of all – get out and explore. Barbados has so much to offer.

Next up… we will be back underwater exploring one of our favourite diving areas – Carlisle Bay.

For more information about Barbados click here.

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