On the surface just before heading down for our dive at The Forks in Barbados February 2015

The Forks, Hastings, Barbados

I travelled to Barbados during my time off in February 2015 specifically to discover a new kiteboarding vacation with a little diving on the side.  A friend of mine from Canada had been living there at the time as well, so I thought, why not?  I knew there was scuba diving, but I had no idea really about the country in general when I went there.  I’d like to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.  From the moment I arrived (and I arrived at night on a full moon, which was so romantic!), I was quite aware of the sound of the crashing ocean and surf, the smell of the sea, and the heavenly scent of…grass and all the other flora and fauna that exist there.  During the day, I noticed the quaint and colourful cottages of the Silver Rock Beach community where we were staying close to the hot kiteboarding spot.  And as we ventured out I observed how developed and modern Barbados appeared to me.

Barbados is located close by to Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and The Grenadines in the southern most end of the area of the Caribbean called The Lesser Antilles.  This string of islands forms a wall between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  Barbados is a small island at only 21 miles long, but it is also wide with a vast number of winding roads and traffic making it take quite awhile to travel a short distance.  It was first identified on a Spanish map in 1511 and the Portuguese also stayed briefly on the island; however, the British settled there from 1625 and remained with uninterrupted colonial rule until their independence in 1966.  Barbados’ primary industry was sugar cane, which was managed by African slaves until emancipation 1833, but currently the economy relies on tourism, light manufacturing, and offshore foreign investing.

The scuba diving in Barbados was a ton of fun.  Even though I only did 2 dives with Roger’s Scuba Shack in Hastings, I was able to see such a wide variety of marine life and habitats.  I would highly recommend Roger’s scuba operation and especially Mark who picked me and other divers up from their hotels and provided a super fun and safe trip above and below the water!

Forks Reef (60-140ft)

The topography of this dive site is really cool!  Located just south of the Hilton and the western side of Barbados, it is a ridge running north and south with deep drop offs to the east and west sides and ending in a fork to the north.  The top of the ridge is at around 60ft (18m) and is completely covered with corals and pink barrel sponges.  We got dropped off from the boat and headed north into a tiny current swimming gently through schools of Creole Wrasses and Grey Chromis.  Mark was awesome at finding cool things like Spotted Moray Eels and a barrel sponge completely full of Channel Clinging Crabs with claws bigger than I’d ever seen before!  We turned around at half time and began swimming back along the top of the reef, but on the other side where one of the divers spotted a sweet little Hawksbill Turtle that allowed us to join him on his morning swim along the reef.  After 45 minutes Mark sent up his surface market buoy and we did a mid-water safety stop and the boat picked us up and took us to the second dive.

Carlisle Bay Marine Park Shipwrecks (15-55ft)

The calm waters of Carlisle Bay originally was a host to merchant ships, but now is a host to local sailors, snorkelling and scuba dive operators.  In total there are 6 shipwrecks that were intentionally sunk as artificial reefs; except for one that was sunk by its crew in 1919, so they were allowed to stay on the island.  The wrecks lie on a sandy bottom in between 15 – 55ft of water (4.5-17m) and are covered in lovely corals and sponges.  We did an hour long dive taking our time exploring one shipwreck and then the other.  Keep one eye on the wrecks, but keep a look out into the sandy areas off the wrecks as there were a number of animals swimming by including a giant Hawksbill Turtle and a super cool “walking” octopus and a curious Sharptail Eel gliding along the bottom.  I had never seen one swimming out in the open like that before!  One of the larger shipwrecks had an opening to swim through and then a wide hold to venture down into and explore.  It was good fun venturing through these sunken ships and watching how they had evolved to be new homes for the marine life there!

Check out my video of these two dives!