Top 5 Caribbean Night Dives

Caribbean dive boat at night

Caribbean dive boat at night

My top five Caribbean night dives

Blood worms on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

Blood worms on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

Night dives offer another fascinating dimension for the undersea brigade as well as some additional challenges. Marine life can be very different with nocturnal animals on the prowl and diurnal ones asleep, whilst the coral polyps can present a dazzling spectacle when illuminated by a good dive light. On the other hand, communication is undoubtedly trickier as may be navigation, and you don’t want to come up too far from the boat when visibility is limited!
Careful planning and execution will remove a lot of stress from these rather less common adventures.
In my experience night dives are well worth the trouble and the cold on the return journey.

Most of the writer’s 300 dives to date have been in and around the Caribbean and his current five favourite night dive sites are described below.

If you disagree about Daniel’s choice of night dive sites or have additional suggestions please let us know.

Town Pier, Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Location – west coast, off the north Town pier (shore or boat).
Type of dive – shallow dive on harbour bottom and under pier.
Skill level – novice.

Pluses – the pier’s stanchions are festooned with micro life and there are lots of other marine creatures all around as the area serves as a nursery for juvenile fish of all types; even the rubbish on the seabed provides shelter for many interesting critters.

Minuses – the site can only be dived with permission from the harbour master if there are no large vessels docking and you have to be careful where you surface to avoid being trapped between the pier and any docked boats. The blackness under the pier has been known to provoke attacks of vertigo (the best advice is to hang on to your buddy if that happens).

DM Log – entry and exit by steps just south of the pier, vis 10 metres plus, max depth 25′, no current, two seahorses among the detritus on the sea floor together with octopus and moray eels, large tarpon using the dive lights to help them catch their prey, sometimes swimming between one’s legs, profusion of growth on the stanchions with an abundance of bristle worms, lovely flowering coral, anemones, decorated crabs and sponges of many colours – orange, yellow, green and purple. Back beneath tugboat with limited headroom.

Divers on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

Divers on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

Anthony’s Key, Roatan, Honduras

Location – offshore north of island, about 15 minutes from resort (boat).
Type of dive – shallow reef.
Skill level – novice.
Pluses – well organised dives (resort has its own chamber and dive doctors on site), coral in excellent condition with interesting configurations in mini canyons, many nooks and crannies, a lot of marine life both macro and micro in crystal clear water.
Minuses – dive boats are large so there may be quite a few people in the water at the same time even on a night dive.
DM Log – slight chop on surface, max depth 46′, no current, vis 10 metres plus, beautifully coloured corals and sponges all around, delightful topography, squat lobster and spiny lobsters, octopus changing colour, very large crab, sleeping fish in mucus cocoons, many small red shrimp and lots of so called ‘blood worms’ which the polyps were keen to eat. Sea wasps on surface attracted by the dive lights so a speedy exit.

La Buceadora, Los Roques, Venezuela

Location – north point of Grand Roque (boat).
Type of dive – open water along mountain side to cavern entrance.
Skill level – intermediate.
Pluses – unusual, hardly visited location with surprising sights and sounds, large animals and some good micro life, striking rock topography.
Minuses – remote location so operator needs to be reliable, currents can be strong and adverse on return so keep a keen eye on your air.
DM Log – surface chop, max depth 64′, clear but swirling water so vis less than 10 metres, swimming with strong current on way to cavern so return was hard work, entrance to cavern in mountain side spectacular with swell and sounds of waves crashing above and many baby lobsters inside, very large parrot fish asleep in crevice nestled beside a big green moray eel, whilst a white spotted moray swam freely nearby. Some phosphorescence.

Sadly, the current socio-economic environment in Venezuela, and related personal security  issues, effectively put this destination off limits as you will run far more risks topside than under the surface

The dive boat seen from below on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

The dive boat seen from below on a night dive in the Caribbean Sea

Balboa, George Town, Grand Cayman

Location – entrance to George Town Harbour, west of Grand Cayman (boat).
Type of dive – shallow wreck.
Skill level – novice.
Pluses – easily accessible site, simple navigation, great variety of marine life and attractive coral encrusted remains of the freighter with plenty to explore.
Minuses – popular site and the wreck is completely broken up so no penetration is possible, harbour master’s permission is required in view of possible vessel traffic nearby.
DM Log – calm sea, no current, dusk entry, max depth 36′, vis 10 metres plus, wreck more beaten up by storms than on last visit and less large animals than previously, big green moray, lots of good sized grouper, parrot and other fish sleeping in cracks all over the place, coral polyps putting on a splendid array, many lobster of all sizes as well as trunk fish, adult spotted drum and a great crab near the propeller/rudder.

Japanese Gardens, Tobago, southeast Caribbean

Location – off Speyside, on Atlantic coast (boat).
Type of dive – drift dive.
Skill level – intermediate.
Pluses – exhilarating experience due to currents, lots of marine life including large animals.
Minuses – out of season vis is poor and currents make for a challenging dive so you don’t want to get separated, and can’t always stop to check stuff out.
DM Log – current from strong to negligible making for an adrenalin rush start to the dive through ‘kamikaze cut’ between rocks in a channel followed by more mellow conditions on healthy reef covered with brightly coloured sponges and corals, max depth 57′, very large loggerhead turtle, free swimming white spotted moray, squid, Spanish as well as spiny lobsters and a big stone crab.

Writing by Daniel Nash Segundo, photos by Dave Lloyd