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Dominica

This Eastern Caribbean island is a dive travel paradise, with take-your-breath-away topside and underwater sights. You’ll be wowed by every inch of Dominica’s dramatic profile – from its sheer, cloud-capped mountains to its pristine coral reefs. The most popular diving is found along the island’s western coast – with sites clustered in the south, mid-island and north.

Off Dominica’s southwestern end, Soufriere Bay is actually the submerged crater of an ancient volcano. Divers can explore the shallow reefs that line the rim of the crater or drop down on its volcanic flanks for a deeper profile. Operators also take divers outside the bay to sites like Scott’s Head Pinnacle. Just west of Scott’s Head, Swiss Cheese is comprised of three swim-throughs and arches, including two large granite boulders that lean against each other to form a church steeple-like grotto filled with blackbar soldierfish.

While the island is better known for the diving off its southwestern end, the entire west coast offers good diving. Dominica’s mid-island region (mostly off Salisbury Beach and Grande Savane) features patch reefs sloping down to steep walls at sites like Rodney’s Rock, Castaways Reef and Nose Reef. Larger blue-water pelagics like spotted eagle rays and rainbow runners that are largely absent from southern sites can be spotted here.

Northwestern sites offer a varied underwater topography, exemplified at sites like Toucari Caves with its honeycombed caverns dripping with black coral and golden sea spray. Dive operators who dive at the Cabrits Cruise Ship Pier have dubbed the site Pole to Pole, where you can find seahorses and flying gurnards.

Sperm whales are common off Dominica from October to March, and most of the island’s dive operators take groups on weekly excursions during this time.

Weather: Daytime temps average between 75 and 90 degrees. Ocean breezes mitigate the tropical heat, and temperatures in the mountains can be appreciably lower. Expect the lowest temps from November to February. The rainy season is from July to October.

Average Water Temp: Water temperatures range from 78 degrees in winter to 83 degrees in summer.

Average Visibility: Visibility ranges from 60 feet to more than 100 feet.

Entry Documents: A passport is required, plus a return or ongoing ticket.