Sample Virgin Islands Dive Destinations

Here are 8 sample dive destinations. Easy access from the mainland U.S., no passports required for U.S. citizens and a variety of amazing dives, including plunging walls, hulking wrecks and laid-back reefs, make a trip on Braveheart to the U.S. Virgin Islands a must-do for divers who want to experience the vacation of a lifetime!


Diving and Snorkeling The Virgins

With reefs teeming with large fishes and healthy corals, the Virgin Islands are the ideal place to learn to SCUBA dive or to continue your dive training and to learn about marine biology, Braveheart offers on board training as well. There are many shipwrecks to explore including the HMS Rhone and the Chikuzen. The water is crystal clear and most dive sites are protected from the waves providing for comfortable entry and exit from the water.

Renown as 'the sailing capital', smooth waters and steady trade winds provide exciting inter-island passages and allow your sailing skills to develop quickly. The islands are close together so it's easy to visit them all, and each has its own unique charm, from cactus covered uninhabited desert islands to towering rainforests. There are endless opportunities for adventures hiking, kayaking, and trekking. The calm coves are our relaxed base to explore the marine kingdom, carve deep-arcs waterskiing and drift asleep under the stars. Braveheart has been sailing and diving the Virgin Islands for years and will bring you to dive sites not on the usual routes..

At the center of an enchanting archipelago, sweeping like giant stepping stones from Florida to South America, lies a group of beautiful and pristine islands with fascinating biological, geological and cultural history. These mountainous volcanic islands emerged next to the Galapagos and, over the eons, plate tectonics has pushed them northeast over two thousand miles. Some are tall and trap passing clouds producing dense green vegetation and rain forests, others are smaller and drier. Swept by steady trade winds, all have perfect coconut palm fringed beaches surrounded by crystal clear waters and colorful reefs.


The Indians

Probably amongst the top 5 most popular dive and snorkeling sites in the BVI, The Indians are located just north of The Bight at Norman Island and about half way between the easternmost tip of St. John, USVI and the westernmost tip of Peter Island, BVI. We always recommend charter guests plan their sailing itinerary to include a stop here at the beginning or end of your holiday. It's the perfect place to begin or end your yacht charter experience.

Four rocky pinnacles rise straight up, about 100' from the ocean floor. Approximately 50' of that is above water. There's good diving to be had on the western side (where the dive boat is seen in the photo above) and the visibility is usually excellent. You'll find both hard and soft corals, colourful sponges and maybe a shark ... if you're lucky. I've never seen a shark here, but friends of mine have. I saw a very large spotted eagle ray here once that quite surprised me. This is not the typical place to see such large rays. There are smaller rays around though.

There are lots of blue tangs, parrotfish, cow fish, damsel fish, sergeant majors, jacks, queen angels, wrasse, trunk fish, and all the usual suspects, including an eel or two. If you're lucky, you might spot a queen trigger fish. There's an underwater cave that's usually occupied by various reef fish but on this particular day, there were at least 10 lobsters hiding in there. It was mid September and a storm had just passed through two days before, so I guess they were just hanging out in the safety of the cave.

You'll also find a short little tunnel to swim through (with SCUBA gear) which is pretty neat. The kids love going through there. Bring your underwater camera, there are good photo ops here.


The Wreck of The Rhone, 1867

The wreck of the RMS Rhone is the most popular scuba diving site in the British Virgin Islands. It is regarded by some commentators as one of the best wreck dives in the world.[1]

Like many great wreck dives, the Rhone has a great shipwreck story behind it. The RMS Rhone was a royal mail steam packet ship that transported mail cargo between England, Central America, and the Caribbean. She was one of the earliest iron hulled ships, and was powered by both sail and steam. She was built in 1865 in London, and she measured in at 310 feet/ 94 meters long. Her propeller was only the second bronze propeller ever built, and she was regarded as unsinkable. During her maiden voyage she weathered several severe storms.

The wreck is located on Black Rock Point on the West side of Salt Island. The site is only accessible by boat, and is served by eight National Park mooring balls for boats to moor up to. Because the site is a designated dive site, anchoring on the wreck or hooking into the wreck with a grapnel is prohibited by law.

Maximum depth is about 85 feet/26 meters. At its shallowest the wreck structure reaches to within 15 feet/5 meters of the surface.Maximum depth is about 85 feet/26 meters. At its shallowest the wreck structure reaches to within 15 feet/5 meters of the surface.

The visibility on the site is normally good, in between 50 and 75 feet/15 and 22 meters, but can be higher on very calm days.

Prevailing seas tend to come from the Southeast, and so the wreck is normally in reasonably calm waters. However, when the sea comes from the south, it can be rougher. The wreck also has a periodic and highly variable current, which usually flows due north.
The site is dived year round.


Rainbow Canyons at Pelican Island

Rainbow Canyons at Pelican Island is a wonderful combination of coral gardens and terraces contained in an area about 500ft by 300ft. It is great for new divers. It is located on the southwest corner of Pelican Island. Nearby sand flats are also worth exploring for their interesting sea life.

Pelican Island's intimate association with the Indians makes this site a great alternative when the parking lot is full at The Indians. The 2 sites share a common hanitat for all species.


In addition to the usual reef inhabitants, this site is often home to large Tarpon as they feed on the schooling silversides. The sand flats on the west side of the site are home to colonies of Garden Eels. As is common throughout the BVI watch out for the Fire Coral!


Southwest side of Pelican Island



RAINBOW Canyons can also be a lot of fun for snorkelers!



Painted Walls is a series of underwater canyons that rise from an average depth 0f 35ft. to just below the water's surface. At the end of the 3rd canyon are 2 arches covered with encrusting sponges in an artist's palate of color.

This can be a difficult dive when the seas are from the east because of the strong surge in the shallows and canyons. In good conditions it is an excellent site for divers of all experience levels with good buoyancy control.


The underwater canyons and ridges of Painted Walls teem with local reef life, due in part to the site's exposure to open water to the east.


Southeast tip of Dead Chest off of Peter Island



Wreck Alley

Vessels sunk in protected locations to form marine habitats make for fascinating dive sites. Wrecks can be found not just in Wreck Alley, but throughout the BVI. The 136-foot cargo carrier Inganess Bay, located between Cooper and Salt Islands, was an inter island cargo boat that served the islands between Puerto Rico and Trinidad.

It went aground by the Moorings charter yacht base in 1996 after a storm snapped her anchor cable. The wrecked vessel with its conspicuous red hull lay there for months before she was declared a 'write-off' and a salvage team spent weeks preparing her for her final resting place in Wreck Alley.

The ship lies in 95 feet of water but the mastheads are visible from the surface at a depth of 45 feet. The ship is easily accessed from a mooring ball on the surface. Schools of snappers and grunts hover motionless about the broken midsection.

Many of the walls of the wreck are encrusted with corals and colorful sponges while sections of windows still hold their glass panes. The interior sections of the wreck are easily accessible adding to the excitement of the dive. Exploring the shadowy and eerie living spaces and cargo hold of a once active inter island work boat is a unique experience


Alice in Wonderland at Ginger Island

Completely uninhabited but for its wildlife, Ginger Island is a hilly, privately owned piece of paradise which is located between Tortola and Cooper Island. Shaped somewhat like a wishbone, it is surrounded by three very popular dive sites. With excellent visibility at about 100 feet most of the time, and incredibly healthy coral formations, Alice in Wonderland is one of our favorite sites.

Located off Ginger Island s south shore, and one of the most popular dive sites in the British Virgin Islands, Alice in Wonderland is a spur and groove coral reef that begins at about 35 feet beneath the surface and extends to maximum depth at just 70 feet.

The site gets its name from the many huge mushroom-shaped coral heads that are reminiscent of the scene that greeted Lewis Carroll’s Alice when she arrived in Wonderland, and as there are fantastic creatures living here, just as there were on the other side of the famous rabbit hole, you’ll be inclined to agree!

Look for spotted moray eels and big lobsters, exceptionally large pufferfish, spotted eagle rays, stingrays, hawksbill turtles, and jacks. Peek beneath the ledges, where nurse sharks sleep, and don’t forget to look out into the blue, since you can see some large pelagics passing from time to time.

Besides the mushroom heads, there are rocks and ridges, sandy-bottomed canyons, and huge sponges that hold surprises galore. The site is suitable for all divers, and is good for at least two or three dives.


Mountain Point Virgin Gorda

Mountain Point Caves and grottoes, huge rock formations that mimic those on shore, and magnificent coral heads take turns attracting attention at Mountain Point, where the white, sandy bottom slopes from 20 to 70 feet, cutting its way through canyons and hosting a colony of bobbing garden eels.

Look for stingrays and the occasional eagle ray on the sand, and be sure to peek inside the caves, since nurse sharks and turtles can sometimes be found resting there. All along the reef, parrotfish and butterflyfish, damsels and grunts add their signature splashes of color to the harmonious colors created by the coral and sponge growth that blankets the rocks.

Watch for tarpons hunting glassy sweepers, and keep an eye out for small reef sharks. Although surge can be a problem in the shallows from time to time, the site is ideal for all divers. Experts should be certain to take advantage of the “cow’s mouth” swimthrough, which is a deep cut between boulders.


Chikuzan Wreck

Situated 12 miles NW of Virgin Gorda surrounded by miles of sand, this is the only place for marine life to congregate. Regular visitors include schooling barracuda, horse-eye jacks and snapper; stingrays; eagle rays; African pompano; Atlantic spadefish; nurse sharks and reef sharks along with a resident 600lb Goliath Grouper.

This is a challenging site due to regular swells in the 3-5ft range – She now serves her new purpose attracting an assortment of both pelagic and reef fish and is an excellent wreck for almost any level diver. The wreck of the Chikuzen rests in 75 feet of water far from any reef, attracting marine life like an oasis in the desert.

The ship is on its port side with the starboard rail reaching up to about 50 feet. Except for the pilothouse, most of the ship is intact, with three large cargo holds that can be entered through open hatches.

The hull is well covered with coral and sponge growth. The possibility of encountering big pelagics such as sharks and rays is always high. In fact, one of the few Whale Shark encounters in the British Virgin Islands occurred here.