angelfish in Anguilla

In Open Water: Diving in Anguilla

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After mediocre (yet still fun) dives in Dominica and Antigua, we were primed for some killer diving in Anguilla. And Anguilla delivered in spades—or should I say in angels?

Diving in Anguilla

I’m not even sure how we found the dive outfitter Special D. Diving and Charters, though being on a small island I’m pretty sure I just Googled “best dive operator in Anguilla” and Dougie (aka Douglas Carty) popped up. And I will attest that he is the best.

Special D Diving Anguilla

It’s always comforting when you arrive to a dive to find that every one of your fellow divers—travelers like you—keep returning to this very dive operator year after year because they love him so much.

Diving Anguilla

If I could afford a house in Anguilla—or heck, even a timeshare—you better believe I’d become chummy with Dougie, too. And Punkie, as well, who was our captain and every bit as likable as Doug.

Diving Anguilla

The dive boat was docked at Sandy Ground, and from there, we motored 10 minutes offshore to the northeastern part of the island. In fact, we could see our resort, the Viceroy Anguilla, directly across from our dive site for one of the most flourishing wrecks I’ve dived to date.

Diving Anguilla

I’ve done dozens of wrecks at this point, and I still can’t help but feel a bit like Ariel every time I dive one. Luckily, no great whites were lurking just around the corner—only a few harmless barracuda here and there.

Barracuda in Anguilla

I remember a time when I was a diving novice and barracuda sent me kicking my fins in the other direction. Now, I float along beside them, as they give me the side eye, hoping they’ll turn and smile—er, sneer—for the camera. Oh, how diving has helped me conquer some of my greatest fears.

Barracuda in Anguilla

Schools of fish surrounded us from every angle. For those of you who don’t dive, wrecks are actually good for the ocean, as they create an artificial reef on which the marine life can thrive.

Diving Anguilla

Doug had said that a turtle or two hangs around the sunk ship from time to time; he wasn’t lying.

Turtle in Anguilla

I didn’t even notice this guy as he dozed peacefully atop the bow, blending in seamlessly with the barnacled, rusty ship. Later, a few of his friends flew gracefully overhead.

Turtle in Anguilla

The turtles weren’t the only camouflaged creatures we saw; there were also a handful of rays hiding on the sandy bottom.

Rays in Anguilla

Rays in Anguilla

But of all the animals we saw, the lobsters were what shocked me the most. These guys ranged from around two to three-and-a-half feet long—I’ve never seen them grow so big! I tried to get SVV to pose next to one for scale, but the lobster got camera shy.

Lobsters in Anguilla

Still, I managed to chase a couple of them with my underwater camera and capture a bit of their creepiness. Watch this and tell me it doesn’t remind you of the prawn in District 9.

Because the wreck wasn’t a very deep dive, only 50 or 60 feet, we got to stay down the better part of an hour. (For you rookies out there, the deeper you go, the faster you suck through air, the less time you have below the surface.)

Diving Anguilla

There are a few factors that make a perfect dive: abundant marine life (obviously), good sunlight, great underwater clarity (vis) and warm temps. We had all of the above. I think we were both pretty sad when we hit 200 bar and had to rise for our safety stop.

Anguilla-32

After a brief surface interval, the second dive was over a reef, and my camera began to fog up so I didn’t get too many shots (again: I have got to remember to put a pack of silica inside my housing next time!). It was a drift dive, so we were clipping along at a solid pace, lapping the fish, who were oblivious to our presence as we zoomed past them.

Diving Anguilla

I did see this honeycomb cowfish, who I found fascinating with her bright, geometric skin and big, painted eyes, and I tailed her closely before the tide swept me away.

Honeycomb Cowfish

After surfacing for good, I was kicking myself for not allowing more time in Anguilla to dive. Due to the 24-hour flying policy, we were officially out of time to squeeze any dives in before our no-fly window started.

Diving Anguilla

Still, we left Sandy Ground two very content divers, and Anguilla will now rival the Bahamas as my go-to Caribbean dive spot. A big thanks to Doug and Punkie for making it a great day! Diving Anguilla

COMMENTS
  • April 23, 2013

    Such awesome shots!!! LOVE the turtles, but I especially love the lobsters (Lucas and I call each other lobsters — long story). If you ever get a timeshare I’m coming to visit and we’re going diving together! 😉

    • May 2, 2013

      DONE. Or how about the four of us just buy an Anguilla beach shack together? 😉

  • April 23, 2013

    Nice lobsters! And I love the line about how diving has helped in conquering some of your greatest fears – I remember way back then when you actually had fears =) Now you’re wonderwoman!

    • May 2, 2013

      You cured me of them! Maybe it’s you who’s the Wonderwoman!

  • April 23, 2013

    Oh my word, I LOVE all of the photos. Love.

  • April 23, 2013

    WOW i am impressed by the amazing photos.. They are just beautiful they make me want to go and travel and see and explore the world.. Thanks for posting this blog with these images.. Amazing 🙂

  • April 24, 2013

    Wow! So amazing. Your photos are fantastic!

  • April 24, 2013

    Wow, that looks like an amazing experience. I like how the hidden rays keep the sand off their eyes. These are some of the best underwater pics I’ve seen… congrats to you and your camera 🙂

    • May 2, 2013

      That is so nice of you! It’s just my little G11 I’ve had for years. The big difference, I think, is that a) it didn’t fog up for once and b) the vis was pretty good, even 60 feet down.

  • April 25, 2013

    Dreamy underwater shots!! I have always wanted to dive.

  • April 25, 2013

    Sounds like an awesome experience. I still need to get my PADI license… I want to go diving so bad!

  • April 25, 2013

    Gorgeous photos, I really need to get back out diving.

  • April 25, 2013

    EEEE!!!! I’m having some very serious diving envy right now. We’re putting our next experience on plastic so we can go. I’m dying to be back in the water.

  • April 26, 2013

    These are absolutely amazing photos underwater. Truly a gift of nature that we must take good care of.

  • April 26, 2013
    SVV

    It took all my effort not to grab a few. Yummy !

  • April 28, 2013

    Yay for diving posts! I love wreck diving… I’m not a hard core wreckie so not for every dive, but to shake things up occasionally? Yes please! Looks like a great one!

    Oh…. and I think you mean that you came up with 50 bar, right? You wouldn’t want to come up on a full tank 🙂

    • May 7, 2013

      Ha, yes, I meant 200 PSI. Why can’t all dive operators use universal terms?

  • April 28, 2013

    3 foot lobsters?! Crazy! I love the turtle shots, I think they’re just such cute animals.

    • May 7, 2013

      I think that’s being conservative, too. Those guys were serious sumo lobsters!

  • April 29, 2013

    Ahhhhhh turtles!!!! Seeing turtle in the wild is one of my dreams. Oh love it so much.

    • May 7, 2013

      Have you never gotten to snorkel with any? If not, go to Borneo–we saw them by the dozens!

  • May 2, 2013
    haidang

    great white sharks? are there even any in the Caribbean? sounds like a fun dive!

    • May 7, 2013

      Heck no! But some equally dangerous ones 😉

      • May 7, 2013
        Haidang

        It’s not worth it! Jumping off things>>>>>>>Swimming with predators

  • May 5, 2013

    looks like so much fun!

  • May 7, 2013

    I have only done two dives as I just got licensed. I never really considered wreck dives, and always thought reefs is where its at. Maybe I should reconsider!
    BTW, do you take all of your own pictures? What camera do you use?
    Looks like you’re kind of deep as its very blue.

    • May 7, 2013

      Congratulations! You will no doubt catch the bug, too. The only downside is it’s a costly hobby! Yes, I take all my own shots with a Canon G11. Sometimes I get great ones when the vis is clear; others, it’s all silt, etc.

  • May 13, 2013

    Wow these shots are awesome! Id love to go diving but Im not sure if I would cope well! But these photos make we want to give it a go!

  • May 18, 2013

    Whether you are diver looking for an ideal beach vacation with tremendous dining and would like to have an activity like diving in your vacation mix, or you are beach-goer looking for a fun new activity, Anguilla diving is an unforgettable way to connect with the ocean.

  • May 22, 2013

    Looks like a great dive spot! I’ve never done a wreck dive. Your photos turned out great!

  • May 28, 2013

    Some really cool shots! the one of the the turtle on the wreck is awesome – they are easily one of the coolest animals to see swimming while diving. If you ever get the chance you should dive the Red Sea, especially around Sharm El Shiek, its beautiful

  • June 29, 2013

    I am really intrigued by these shots. I am now motivated to try something similar. Thanks!

  • October 11, 2013

    Fantastic photo with some great photos. I am a huge fan of diving in Anguilla so was happy to read your post and see you had a great time as I did.

    P.S. I think my wife likes to think she is like Ariel when diving too 🙂

  • January 31, 2014

    What a great dive! Looks so peaceful down there. And sea turtles! Those are always my favorite creatures to see when diving. 🙂

  • March 22, 2017

    Ah, diving! I have always been a passionate admirer of people who have the courage to dive! Great post, Kristin!

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