Diving in Barbados… Well it is an interesting experience. Fun but slightly disturbing. I went with Barbados Blue which is conveniently in the Hilton where I was staying. They have all the gear you need, even if some of it is a bit worn out so if you are using their kit check every last bit. My regulator mouth piece was ripped for my first dive so I was constantly drinking water, I thought this might be a one off but the next four sets of kit I set up had ripped mouthpieces. I was handed a reg which had previously been sat in a bucket of water with the rubber ball off and no filter in place. The BCD I was given had no string attached to the dumps. After I finally argued to get safe kit we went out on a large boat, to one of the many reefs and wrecks. The dive guides know all the best ones so it is probably best to trust them. If you go there you will understand when I say that although they are speaking English (supposedly) you will not understand a word they say so you need a veteran tourist translating for you ... Bajian is not a coherent dialect.
Once you get in the water things improve ... dramatically.
I went on four dives three of which were reefs and one wreck dive. The all the reefs were very similar in that there were thousands of fish and other strange creatures as well as some fantastic coral, the most exciting creatures were the turtles (in Asta) that swim lazily around you within reach (but they don’t seem to like you stroking them!) All the reefs I went to started at about 15m and descend much deeper than I am certified, but there is still loads to see even at the shallow depths. At Clarke’s Bank you share the reef with the Atlantis Submarine, so you can also pull faces at the slightly shocked passengers, and you could always put any non-divers in the sub to show them what they are missing.
The final dive was a wreck dive in Carlisle Bay just next to the Hilton, between about 7m and 15m there are 7 sunken ships, some of which you can easily get into - others would require some serious squeezing, but supposedly you can investigate all of them if you so desire. As the first time I have seen a wreck I thought these were absolutely fantastic, hundreds of different animals and weird things growing on the ships, overall this was my favourite dive. My dad followed me on the surface with a snorkel and he had a great time. It is possible to free-dive down to some of the shallower wrecks so this is a great place for divers and non-divers alike.
According to some more advanced divers there are great dives for people at all levels, including the largest wreck on the island at 55m which is supposed to be the best in the Caribbean (although the Guides are probably slightly biased)
Aside from the casual lack of any safety precautions the diving is amazing, as long as you know what you are doing and don’t accept unsafe kit you will have a brilliant time.
Apart from diving the island is great fun, with a vibrant nightlife and great food. I spent all the time while not diving eating, drinking and jet skiing, but you can also waterski, sail, windsurf, surf, visit caves…and much, much more. I am sorry if this sounds like a bit of a sales pitch, but I have been about 20 times (before learning to dive) and still love it, I hope you do too.
I was there between 30th July and 3rd August. This is rainy season in Barbados, so it is guaranteed to rain once a day for about 30 minutes but if you get there before British school holidays travel & accomodation can be a lot cheaper. Rainy season is still hot and still very sunny.
Cost of Dives : $150 USD ($300 Barbados Dollars) for a four dive package (I got this for $130 USD by bargaining). A single dive is $80 USD. This includes kit hire but there are discounts for using your own kit (which I would recommend). The more dives you do the cheaper it gets per dive.
Water temp was 29-31 degrees celcius. I wish I had taken a 3mm shorty as I got a little cold after about 40min, most dives were about 50minutes long, the last one a bit shorter.