Diving: DIVE SITES - Region 2
A detailed guide to dive sites in the Lower Caribbean region of Tobago
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The Maverick is an old Trinidad-Tobago car ferry. It was previously named the Scarlet Ibis before it was cleaned up, hazardous waste removed. It was then purposely sunk in 1997, off Mount Irvine, to form an artificial reef and dive site in what is otherwise a rather featureless sandy plain. The top deck is at 60ft (18m) and the bottom at 100ft (33m). The hatches have been removed and the rear hold is completely open. Spectacular coral growth now adorns the railings and anchor chains and there are always lots of schooling fish swirling around the upper deck, often accompanied by a large barracuda.
This reef is so-called after a 19th century warship that ran aground at the spot. There is some dispute about the origin of the wreck, but it often reported as being Dutch. However, one established marine historian who investigated the site some years ago is of the opinion that it is actually French and the reef has also become known under the alternative name of French Wreck Reef. The cannon of the warship and a small ballast pile are still visible. Located just inside Mount Irvine Bay, its consists of a gentle slope, rising from 50ft (16m) to a crest at 13ft (4m). It is home to schooling reef fish and the swirling forms of silversides, anchovies and herrings. The shallow crest of Dutchman’s is ideal for photography with its nurseries of juvenile fish, octopus and seahorses. A little further out into the bay is Rainbow Reef, so named from the schools of rainbow runner seen here. There is also a large fisherman's type anchor possibly 17th century wedged upright as if to stop a ship running aground."
The Extension starts where the Mount Irvine Wall ends, but flattens out and gets deeper as it curves away to the west. This is one of the few places where Black Coral can be found, but PLEASE do not touch. The rubble along the bottom is a good place to see batfish, yellowheaded jawfish and tarpon can regularly be seen feeding. A small school of Atlantic spadefish are also resident on the reef.
A coral encrusted rock outcrop that separates Mount Irvine and Stone Haven bays. Those divers who seek smaller marine species like fire clams, nudibranch, seahorses and brittlestars will love this dive. If your attention is focused on all the macro species, remind yourself to look over your shoulder from time to time as eagle rays and turtle are common sightings too. Like Dutchman’s it is shallow, at around 47ft (14m), and often thought of as a convenient second dive to follow the “Maverick”. However both are wonderful dive sites in their own right and should not be missed.
Located east of Fort James, and named after the sand dollars that cover the seabed, this is a good, medium-grade, fringing reef dive with depths of 6-20m. Occasionally currents sweeping down the Caribbean coast can enhance the level of this dive.
This fringing reef starts from the headland on the western (left) side of Arnos Vale Bay and heads south, towards Plymouth. It is better than nearby Dollar Reef and a similar medium-grade dive in 6-20m of water.
One of Tobago’s hidden gems. A stunningly beautiful dive site with intricate rock and coral formations, navigable cracks and scattered bombies or “sunks”. Arnos Vale is locally known as the nursery due to the vast amount of juvenile reef fish that inhabit the area. Location and bottom composition mean that when swells come down the Caribbean coast, visibility here is almost nil and hence pointless to dive. So ask your dive centre; when it’s good, it’s fantastic! It also makes a very nice night dive.
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