A SERIES OF SHALLOW WRECKS, varying from World War One casualties to modern tugs, have been sunk here over many years to create a marine park. There is a circuit of wrecks, anchors and other artefacts around which divers and freedivers can easily navigate.
Some of the wrecks are so shallow that they are only just beneath the surface. At these, if you look up, you will see groups of snorkellers enjoying the prolific fish life that make this site its home.
Huge barrel sponges cover the top of the barrier reef.
With so many wrecks, along with profuse marine life, this is a site that calls for both wide-angle and macro photography, so we split up with our own guides to get the most from it.
The wrecks are in good condition and very easy to dive. However, as they are on a sandy bottom, and this is a shallow site, the visibility can be as low as 10m with the stirring up of the sand on windy days.
We were treated to reef squid, turtles, barracuda, sea-slugs, numerous shrimps and crabs, loads of tropical reef fish and a wonderful seahorse.
It was quite a start to the trip, and we were happy to spend the whole day exploring the Carlisle Bay wrecks.
Our evenings were dedicated to discovering Barbadian cuisine, and we were astonished by the variety and quality of the restaurants we visited.
Of course, we had to try out some of the famous rum cocktails too, and our visit to Cocktail Kitchen didn’t disappoint, with Dark & Stormy becoming a firm favourite. However, the scotch bonnet (pepper)-infused Mango Chow was a whole new experience, and not for those whose limit is a korma!
One of the most famous dive-sites in Barbados is that of the wreck of the Stavronikita, and it was the focus of our second day of diving. The Stav, as it is known, was sunk as an artificial reef in 1978 and sits between 20 and 40m.
This 110m Greek freighter has been under water for nearly 40 years and has plenty of coral growth to show for it.
The ship was carrying a cargo of cement to the island when fire took hold and she had to be towed to port. The wreck stayed for two years before the Barbados Parks & Beach Commission bought it to be used as a diver-attraction.
To be able to sink such a large vessel, explosives experts from the US Navy were called in, and it’s possible to see the blast-holes where the hull was breached to sink her. One is just forward of the starboard propeller and can be penetrated, which takes you along a corridor to the cabins. It’s quite dark, but there are frequent escape-holes along the way.
The Stav is still intact and sits upright on the seabed, adorned with colourful sponges, anemones and corals. To do justice to this splendid piece of rust you would need at least three or four dives but as it was we had only one, so focused on the shallower bow section and the forward mast, though we did regret not having more time on the wreck.
We also pulled up to one of the many piers and jetties lining the coastline. Offering shelter for many fish species, as well as providing a substrate on which coral and sponges can grow, these man-made structures usually make good dives.
While those that are still in active use might suffer from debris and rubbish being strewn on the seabed, there are always critters and fish-life that will make it their home. It also creates an atmospheric scene and can offer up a surprise or two. This one had incredible coral growth on one section, with another covered in tube sponges.
Our final day of diving saw us visit another shallow area called Folkstone Marine Park. Again, the lack of depth meant that the sand had lowered our visibility after some stormy weather. However, the team were proud that some of the brain corals thriving there had been transplanted by them, after being saved from certain destruction during a harbour extension plan.