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Dive Sites

1. Table Rock- 5ft to 25ft, Snorkeling, Caves

The reef barrier of Old Providence is the world’s most extensive flanking volcanic islands. Its farthest point, at 10.5 miles from the northern end of Santa Catalina, is known as Point of Reef, where a lighthouse stands on an islet of sand and coral rubble. Excursions are frequently made to this point, which include the cooking of fish in improvised bonfires. In its nearby surroundings there are numerous patch reefs, fragments left by erosion of the barrier, inside of which Table Rock stands out for numerous caves that can be explored with ease by divers with tanks and also by those who can hold their breath for long periods of time. The caves, well illuminated by tunnels that interconnect among themselves and with the surface, are visited by all kinds of fish including nurse sharks and large schools of fish, silvery fish. Its walls, contact with which should be avoided in order to prevent damaging them as well as getting scratched, are covered in organisms of shining colors. However, the main attractions are the caves themselves with their capricious forms and admirable light contrasts.

 2. The Bight- 60ft to 150ft, Wall

After a 20 minute boat ride, you arrive to this site located north of the reef complex. Diving begins in the plateau, at 60ft, from which you can reach the slope edge. You can choose whether to follow its contour or go deeper until 130 ft to look at the exuberant wall. This site offers the opportunity to enjoy, in great conditions, a reef bank in slope edge, where it is possible to observe big colonies of star boulder coral growing as a mass or a shingle, also colonies of lettuce coral covering the walls and beautiful great coral mounds. Big fish are common, especially between January and March, and along with the small and abundant community of reef and ocean fishes, they complete the diving scenario at this site. Due to the conditions of depth and significant distance from the island, this site should be visited by experienced divers.

 3. Blue Hole- 60ft to 130ft, Wall

After a short boat ride, northeast of Saint Catalina Island, you’ll find Blue Hole, so called because of its depth and the hole shape of the reef platform that surrounds it. This place works as an oozing site of coralline sand masses produced by the coral reef complex in this area; you’ll find sand slopes that descend into deep waters. Diving at this site takes place of the borders of this formation, at 45- 60ft, where a coralline platform precipitates to the slope. Coral formations are scarce but you’ll find some individual corals along with the great brain and lettuce corals. One of the main attractions in the Blue Hole is the abundant fish life: margaritas, jacks and snappers search protection among the corals and feed in the surrounding sand areas. It is possible to observe here the under water geomorphology and the abundant submarine fauna.

 4. Bite- 50ft to 100ft, currents

One descends to 40 ft on a flat, rocky platform, covered by corals, sponges, octocorals. It is crossed by numerous sand beds, remnants of ancient streams which eroded the platform before the rising of the sea level. The platform plunges via a steeply inclined, nearly perpendicular slope, descending to 100 ft where it reaches a sandy bottom, less inclined. On the slope you’ll see sandy fissures alternating with rocky crests covered by stony and soft corals and tubular sponges.

 5. Santa Catalina’s Slope- 40ft to 150ft, Wall

A buoy marks the site of the immersion, above a terrace at 40 ft depth with a dense coral cover but interwoven with sandy patches and a channel which reflects light and gives a beautiful blue hue to the water. You descend to a second terrace at 60 ft which plunges by a slope, with cliff walls in some parts, towards a deep, sandy terrace, visible while you look at the slopes. A peaceful risk free dive to familiarize yourself with the surroundings, without currents, protected from winds due to its proximity to St. Catalina, in splendid light, with all the richness of coral communities.

 6. Right Channel- 35ft to 70ft

The name alludes to the channel for ships and vessels coming in and out of Old Providence’s dock with a sand bottom at 70 ft depth and flanked by masses of coral. To the right, towards the exit’s path, there’s an elongated promontory with dense coral coverage in plates and heads; the upper part is at 40 ft depth and descends in a convex slope to 70 ft. The immersion, simple and secure, consists in a trip by the border between the sandy channel and the coral hill where one observes abundant sea life. It’s to familiarize yourself with diving in Old Providence and exploring coralline formations dominated by stony corals such as Montastrea and soft corals, with innumerable fish and different types of hidden invertebrates in the interstices of the reef complex structure.

 7. Left Channel- 35ft to 60ft

Coralline platform, northwest of Saint Catalina Island, on the left side of the access channel for ships and vessels into the island, where a steep slope begins at 25 ft and ends on a sand bottom between 45 – 60 ft. This displays excellent coral cover and a lot of fish life, including active swimmers like creole wrasse and blue chromis, you’ll also occasionally encounter snappers, groupers and marine eagles. This site is monitored every year through Reef Check methodology by the island’s certified divers. On the bottom boulder star and brain corals and boulder star predominate and, if you look closely, it is possible to appreciate the beautiful mushroom corals. The immersion could take place in shallow water for beginners or deeper for the experienced divers.

 8. Felipe’s Place- 31ft to 80ft, Wall, Crack

It’s the diving site par excellence in Old Providence and St. Catalina, named after Felipe Cabeza, who described, explored, and popularized it, just as he has done for many dive sites throughout Providence reef barrier. The tour, with different difficulty levels, which can be decided according to experience of divers, takes 10 minutes in a boat ride from the dive centers; signaled by a buoy, anchored on a coralline shoal at 35 ft of depth where immersion begins. The bottom is a terrace covered by a dense community of soft coral which forms a vast garden in perpetual and harmonious movement, inside of which rigid pillar corals and beautiful sponges stand out. Clouds of small reef fishes move about and take refuge in the coral labyrinth and in innumerable empty spaces and bends on the bottoms, where the minute coral reef diversity is hidden. Fifty meters further, one descends smoothly towards a channel of white sands flanked by hills covered in the stony coral that for about 60 ft is dominated by star coral which adopts, in those that incline most strongly, the typical form of roof tiles. In its steepest parts, the channel has small walls of vivid colors. After a slight ascent, one arrives at the edge of a cliff which descends from 60 to more than 100 ft and constitutes, together with the final part, the most attractive of the submarine flight. The cliff wall, concave, deep blue, descends to a white sand bottom, 50 ft lower; innumerable sponges, soft whip and black corals and sea fans, projecting from the wall change the perspective. In a cloud up, you discover that the wall is covered by the most impressive reef life: algae and encrusted sponges, corals, crabs, small fish which swim up side down, sea urchins and lobsters. In the surroundings, the possibility of observing turtles, barracudas and sharks increase. After advancing 150 ft alongside the wall, where one can descend to a 120 ft depth, a large fissure appears evidence of millennial erosion. The fissure is a deeply carved fissure which forms an ascending strait between narrow walls, with impressive light contrasts, which leads you from 80 to the 40 ft of the departure platform.

 9. Cromis- 35ft to 120ft, Wall

Near Felipe’s Place, shares some of its attributes. It shares the same buoy and descends to a similar terrace, at 30 ft, with similar dense coral cover by which it is characterized, with many soft and feathery corals, pillar corals, and schools of small fish. The difference begins after descending by a sandy channel to 80 ft, when one must cross a crevice. Beginning there, it leads you towards the south and follows along a pronounced slope of a submarine hill, by the edge of a shelf which plunges into a great depth, but for the safety you should only descend to a maximum of 120 ft. The slope presents large lettuce corals, along the edge of a slope, you encounter dense schools of creole wrass and intense blue colored fish which feeds on plankton in middle waters above the reef. The self has abundant sponges, octocorals, and whip corals which project out on the abyss, from a densely covered with encrusting algae, among cavities which serve as refuges for many invertebrates and fish.

10. Confusion- 55ft to 140ft, Wall, Crack

Called this way due to its various names which derived in a hodgepodge, finally solved by naming it Confusion. The base of the buoy lies at 60 ft, located 10 meters from a steep slope that runs toward the south. One arrives to 130 ft depth, though the slope goes much deeper. Coral, octocorals, sponges. The steep slope leads to a less pronounced one, with a shingle reef. One arrives at a point at 80 – 90 ft, an eye catching projection over the blue abyss. Very abundant life: sponges, elephant ear corals, fish. It contains a very interesting crevice. You ascend along a route which outlines the point and carries you to the base of a promontory by whose mini wall the ascent leads to a beautiful terrace at 40 ft.

11. Conolly- 60ft to 140ft, Wall Crack, Cave

So called because of its location with respect to the house of Dr. Conolly, one of the first medical doctors on the islands. One moors to the buoy, after a 10 min boat ride, and descends bordering the wall until 60 ft; the wall plunges down further than the limit of recreational diving. The wall is deeply hollowed out by a very beautiful cave which begins at 100 ft and descends to 130 ft; it is narrow and irregular and can be observed from outside or partially explored. One follows the wall which gives way to a steep slope, with shingle reef and elephant ear corals, tube, pillar and barrel sponges. Afterwards, one arrives at the promontory and mini wall of Confusion which climbs from 60 to 40 ft and one ascends to the surface.

12. Contour- 56ft to 90 ft, Wall

The route follows border of a flat platform between 50 and 90 ft to a steep slope, almost like a cliff face, to more than 150 ft. The platform and incline are densely covered by corals, which very large sponges and abundant fish. The edge arrives at a rocky point which marks the entrance to a small gorge of great beauty that descends to 120 ft like an excavated stairwell in the rock and which ends in a cave. The rocky point is bordered towards the end of the tour, before returning to the higher platform and the boat. It is recommended to invert the route beginning in the cave. Peaceful and safe dive

13. Stairway to Heaven- 80 ft to 120ft, Wall, Crack, Cave

If it were not for its depth and risk, this dive site would be mandatory for all divers. It was discovered and explored by Beda Vasquez, one of the instructors who have contributed the most to the dive sites exploration in Old Providence. Beginning at 80 ft by a channel of sand that leads towards an impressive gorge which plunges to the ocean depths, from a point between 100 and 120 ft. On the left side, beginning from 100 ft one descends by a vertical face embroidered by all kinds of sponges, soft and whip corals, and multitudes of organisms of very vibrant colors which makes this one of the most impressive walls in Providence. One arrives to 170 ft where there is sandy platform which leads to a beautiful wide grotto with a rocky ceiling blanketed by impressive wall communities unique for its species, which are characteristic of this depth; great tube sponges and soft corals branching like feathers, non existent shallower depths. From the bottom of the grotto, in a strong light contrast, the open sea is observed before you, with frequent appearances of sharks, rays, and, down below, three enormous carved steps in the coral, giving the site its name. One remains there for 5 minutes and ascends vertically to the platform at 80 ft where it becomes multilevel in order to finish at 60 ft.

14. NX- 80ft to 180ft, Wall, Crack

NX is one of the most impressive dive sites in Providence and St. Catalina. It’s a wall that begins at 100 ft and is deeply excavated by erosion so that it forms an enormous bottomless crevice, which can be explored with precaution and by expert divers up to about 200 ft. There are similar structures to large stairs which define the more than prudent diving limit. The stairs ascend up to a cave situated at 140 ft, which connects with an ascending gorge, a narrow and beautiful chimney which brings one to the edge of the wall, at 100 ft, from which point the ascent to the surface begins.

 15. Turtle Rock Cliff and Grotto- 50ft to 140ft, Wall, Cave, Crack

Beautiful site, for experimented divers. This site offers an additional attraction from that seen in Turtle Rock: from the buoy, descending 50 ft and swimming northeast to the steeo slope, one gets to a crack that divides the place and invites you to descend through a wall of full life, covered by shingle reef and multicolor calcareous algae.

16. Turtle Rock- 50ft to 140ft Wall, Crack

Some of the most fantastic sites, easily accessible and of moderate depths, for those who want to enjoy an exceptional submarine landscape and to observe, in very safe conditions, the life embedded in crevices and walls. Turtle Rock is an enormous rock in the upper toadstool, 40 ft in height; its upper part is a rounded dome, of some 35 ft in length and 20 in width, which resembles the shell of a giant tortoise and gives the site its name. The rock, formed by erosion, is separated from the wall by a deep crevice which surrounds it and continues to its base, much thinner than the upper part. The crevice has a dense coral cover, sponges and algae. The crevice and its walls present its own eye-catching communities, typical of vertical and shady walls. Ideal for detailed exploration, preferably with the help of a flashlight to reveal the intense reds and oranges on the concavities next to the rock. The external surface or wall of the rock is open to the ocean and continues to 140 ft, on a cliff face or wall which can be explored in another immersion, as inspection of the rock takes at least 35 minutes of diving.

17. Spiral- 80ft to 115ft, Cave, Crack

Site of exceptional beauty, the route begins on the edge of a cliff which plunges to great depths, deeply excavated by vertical fissures and horizontal concavities left by erosion of the calcareous reef platforms during the enormous changes in sea level over thousands of years. This resulted in abundant twists and turns, rocky projections, walls and hollows with different grades of verticality and light. The fauna and flora which covers the bottoms adopt curious forms through their adaptation to the irregularity of the walls and displays intense coloring in the darkest sites. However, the major attraction is a descending tunnel through which barely fits a diver, it descends from 80 to 115 ft of depth and is reserved to expert divers.

 18. Sponge Valley- 80ft to 115ft, Wall

Very close to the previous site, which makes it possible to visit both on a single drive, by surrounding a rock similar in structure and origin to Turtle Rock, at a moderately inclined slope, on a rocky point, where on a bottom of mixed sand and coral, one encounters a notable group of gigantic sponges the size of a person and larger, with characteristic fauna in its interior and abundant organisms, especially fish, in its surroundings.

19. Nick’s Place- 50ft to 130ft, Wall, Cracks

Eight minutes of boat ride from the dive centers, in the Sponge Valley limits, this site is characterized by a great crack that divides the wall. This wall offers in certain months an additional attraction: red hint groupers come together to reproduce. Nick’s Place scenario is typical of leeward cliffs of the Providence platform, where the coral development allows them to receive more sunlight to make their vital processes. Creole Wrasses schools swim together, feeding suspended food in the water mass. Beyond 60 ft, it is possible to observe the beautiful Blackcap Basslet that occasionally swims up side down, close to the corals, watching divers with curiosity. Sponges are enormous and a geological formation similar to the one in Turtle Rock enriches this underwater scenery.

20. The Cave- 48ft to 140ft, Wall, Cave

The cave is a culmination point of a very interesting dive, which begins on the terrace at 50 ft, where the buoy is located. Divers border the nearby wall, characterized by projections disrupting its verticality, which increases the habitat diversity. The terrace and the wall are crossed by a deep crack, a channel or submarine canyon, remnant of an ancient stream, which dissected the terrace and dug, in one of its sides, the major attraction of this site: The Cave. It’s 30 ft deep and 13 ft high at the entrance, narrowing towards the back; it’s walls are covered by organisms adapted to the darkness. Many divers can fit in the cave simultaneously, though it is not prudent nor comfortable for all to enter at the same time to avoid stirring up the sand and obscuring the beautiful contrasts of light, which can be appreciated from the bottom.

21. Planchon- 50ft, Shipwreck

During the Second World War, German submarines were supplied by ships in the outskirts of Providence; one of these was sunk at the entrance and today constitutes one of the most attractive diving sites. The Planchon, as its know, lies at a depth of less than 50 ft on a coral covered terrace, from where the hull stands out, inverted and virtually intact but now covered by a rich coral community. The hull’s side forms an artificial edge of great beauty and is easy to explore. Some openings allow the observation of the ship’s interior, but exploration of its interior is prohibited for safety reasons.

22. Bajo De San Felipe- 10ft to 42ft, Snorkeling, Cave

This site, located in front of Lazy Hill or the San Felipe sector, is one of the easiest and most entertaining dives in Providence. In this site, Coralina and Ecoastur implemented a marine path. Usually the immersion takes place contouring a little cliff which is followed by a great coralline shoal with abundant brain and star boulder corals and one of the most diverse fish communities of the island, especially small ones. It’s possible, though, to observe occasionally good size snappers and groupers. Lobsters are common. Excellent for beginners or shallow water diving in double immersions.

23. Nose- 25ft to 35ft, Snorkeling

Located at the west side, in front f Lazy Hill Sector. Patch reef owes its name to a rocky point that resembles a nose. Here, stony and soft corals form the scenery of patchy reefs usual in Caribbean. Star boulder corals dominate this formation and, along with the mustard and brain corals, they configure the habitat for innumerable animal species, like the territorial damsel fish that defend their algal gardens. This dive does not go deeper than 35 ft and takes place following the coralline shoal border where the larger amount of life is found.

24. Convent: 60-140 ft, Wall

Located in front of the Fresh Water Bay, Descending through the buoy’s rope, one reaches 50 ft, where a big sand hole, surrounded by a big coralline shoal, is found. One borders this shoal until the cliff, where it is possible to choose between continuing the descent until an accorded depth or doing a shallower immersion through the border at 60 ft. Coralline formations are characterized by growing as mounds of star boulder and brain coral; in the steep slope, Agaricia shingle reef is present. A great diversity of Hamlet fishes is observed, specially the Providencian or Mask Hamlet, which was first described on this island. It’s a relaxing dive with frequent sightings of big snappers or turtles.

25. Tete’s Place- 23ft to 30ft, Snorkeling

Coralline shoal of great beauty, shallow and close to the shore, perfect for the beginner immersions. A rocky bottom interspersed with coralline sand and inhabited by a reef community dominated by beautiful specimens of pillar coral mixed with octocorals and large schools of fish, at 15 ft of depth. A step like formation of no more than 10 ft high is separated from a sandy platform covered by a sea grass and algae meadow. During the dive, one follows the rocky step, in whose cracks and crevices innumerable organisms are hidden; when the smoothly descending step meets the sandy and grassy bottoms, one returns to the buoy and ascends. Morays are frequent; the large schools of fish (blue stripped grunts, snappers, squirrel fishes) barely elude the divers who swim among them. An easy diving site, placid and safe, excellent for taking pictures.

26. Three Little Houses: 50-130ft Wall, Cracks

It’s a coralline platform that descends smoothly from 50 to 80 ft, where a more inclined slope begins and drives towards a sandy bottom at 130 ft. It has luminous blue waters due to the bottom clarity. The most interesting characteristic of Three Little Houses, so called because of the three houses that served as land reference points to locate the site (before GPS and buoys), is the great amount of crevices that furrow the calcareous platform and, in the slope, they form fissures in which mid sized fishes take refuge. These crevices and fissures are evidence of chemical erosion on the platform formed by ancient tunnels and subterranean river beds which caused this type of erosion thousands of years ago, when the sea level was much lower.

27. Snapper Shoal: 47-65ft, Snorkeling

In the middle of the intensely blue waters, resulting from the reflection of the light over the white sands at the depth of 45 ft, one descends until a sandy underwater platform of disperse stony and soft corals. A few meters to the west, one encounters a little wall of 10 to 18 ft that leads to another sandy platform at 65 ft. The wall, perpendicular, with numerous cracks, projections and rocky openings, densely covered by reef organisms brilliantly colored by the effect of the shadow, constitutes the principal attraction of the site. The great landscape beauty, appreciable thanks to the clarity of the blue waters, is exceptional for divers, with or without experience, who wish to witness life developing on walls o vertical surfaces, cracks, and shady places in completely secure conditions. It’s recommended to use a flashlight to illuminate the darkest sites to reveal intense reds, oranges and yellows of sponges, algae, fish and the infinite number of organisms which occupy the countless interstices of the rock. It is a very suitable site for understanding reef geomorphology since the little wall was an ancient coastline cliff, formed when the sea level was lower. The little cliff displays numerous evidences of erosion in the form of crevices and fissures, including small creeks and river mouths.

28. Manta’s City: 30ft, Currents, Snorkeling

Within the reef lagoon, in the lagoon channel behind the barrier reef and reef terrace, over a white sand bottom which produces a particular luminous blue in the crystalline water, one encounter’s disperse patchy reefs. A spectacular slope of bright white sand descends from the reef terrace to the lagoon where one finds the patch reefs. Large coralline heads, especially of star coral, some really enormous and thus very old, as well as soft corals and sponges form the basic structure of the patch reefs. They rise from the bottoms of the lagoon, at 45 ft, to near the surface and serve as a refuge for a complete variety of reef organisms. In the sandy bottoms, you frequently find sting rays which, mistaken for manta rays, give the site its name. It’s an easy diving location, good for beginners and for familiarizing oneself with the environment, as well as for the underwater photography, due to the extreme water transparency. Also very suitable for understanding the general structure of the barrier and patch reef. Currents usually make divers drift, and they have to be picked up by the boat down stream. Although there are low risk currents, they should be taken into consideration.

 

 

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