The Chimney (Great Dog) – 30-45 ft Novice
One of the most famous dives in the dog islands, the Chimney is another site with an unusual underwater structure. A short distance from the dive boat mooring, a small canyon leads through one of the spurs coming off Great Dog. As you swim through, the top of the walls start to come together to form a natural archway covered in multi-colored sponges and delicate orange cup corals (bring a light to fully appreciate the range of colors). At the end of the canyon the walls close off leaving a crack wide enough to swim out through (the exit) – this leads the dive team naturally back towards the moorings and the latter portion of the dive which is usually spent exploring the large coral formations underneath the dive boat.
Coral Gardens / Airplane Wreck (Great Dog) – 30-50 ft Novice
A very different dive from others on the Dog Islands, the south side of Great Dog sports a large traditional coral reef. Another feature is the remains of an small inter-island commuter plane originally operated by the now defunct Atlantic Air BVI. Following an abortive take-off from Beef Island which ended with the plane in the water 200 yds off the end of the runway (no-one was hurt), the plane languished in a hangar for some time prior to be dismantled for scrap return to the US. The BVI dive operators were able to persuade the owners to give the fuselage over for use as a dive site and this was sunk in about 50 ft of water on the edge of the sand east of the dive boat moorings. All that is left of the plane is the fuselage (no wings, engines or seating inside) which creates a focal point for marine life, including a number of barracuda. The reef itself is very healthy, providing a home to a wide range of reef fish, lobster and the occasional nurse shark or turtle.
Seal Dog Rocks – 40-80 ft Novice / Intermediate
Exposed to the ocean, this can be a very exciting dive. Regular sightings include eels, eagle rays and nurse sharks with occasional reef sharks. During the summer months, this site harbors a large amount of baitfish – a treat for tarpon. You definitely want to keep your camera handy on this dive!
The Visibles / POS (Cockroach Island) 40 – 80 ft Intermediate / Advanced
Situated off the West side of tiny Cockroach Island, this area is swept by current and so attracts a range of marine life. Glassy sweepers teem at the bottom of the pinnacle below the southern of the 2 moorings on the site, along with tomtates, blue striped grunts and gray snapper. As the current picks up coming around the pinnacle, look out for schooling barracuda, horse-eye jacks along with occasional African pompano, permit and spadefish. In the summer months when the bait fish proliferate close in to Cockroach, look out for tarpon, reef shark and eagle rays. A challenging dive due to the variable and sometimes strong currents so please pay close attention to the dive leaders instructions and stay close in the dive group.
Bronco Billy (George Dog) – 20-45 ft Novice
An excellent 2nd dive of a two-tank trip or afternoon dive, the dive site is named after the surge that runs through the site occasionally in the winter months (and can make the site undiveable). An archway leads to a shallow canyon through the reef – on the other side of the canyon the reef curves around to create an amphitheatre effect with soft and pillar corals in the center. A couple of grottos up against the edge of the island along with the overhung lip of the the reef ‘amphitheatre’ provide numerous areas to look for reef fish, lobster and eels.
Ledges/Dolphin Rocks (George Dog) – 20-50 ft Novice
Exposed to the swells on the North side of George Dog, this site is only available on calm days. Divers are rewarded with a tour around the wash rocks which are undercut with ledges on the West side and canyons on the East side. Right underneath the boat is a 50ft wide, 20 ft deep hole in the reef which opens out on one side with a double archway making an interesting start to the tour. This dive is best done in the summer months when the wash rocks attract bait fish which in turn brings in barracuda, mackerel, bonito and large tarpon.
Wall To Wall (West Dog) – 30-75 ft Intermediate / Advanced
Similar to the Visibles, this site is washed by sometimes strong currents and so close attention should be paid to the dive leader at this site. Also known as the “yellow fish” dive, the deepest part of the site consists of a trail of boulders leading back up to the mooring which are usually covered in french grunts, porkfish, yellow goatfish and schoolmaster snappers (all yellow !). The name comes from the fact that the site is often ‘wall-to-wall’ fish. On a good day when the current is flowing we have seen eagle rays and reef shark along with lobster and nurse sharks under the ledges found below the mooring in 35 ft of water.
Joe’s Cave (West Dog) – 20-45 ft Novice
Another interesting 2nd dive, this site is best done to view the scenery as it does not have as much marine life as other locations. Nestled up against West Dog, the underwater topography consists of numerous large boulders – some up to 25 ft high. These produce a large number of available holes and ledges between the boulders and the seafloor – perfect for looking for lobster. The cave itself is a triangular crack in the rock face, open to the air at the top (but narrow) and widening at the base. Providing there is no surge, divers can swim into the cave and are rewarded with a spherical chamber at the end of the cave that is usually filled with glassy sweepers.
The Flintstones (West Dog) – 30-70 ft Intermediate
A less regularly visited site, the Flintstones is named for the rocky outcroppings on the west side of West Dog which are supposed to resemble Fred and Barney’s home of Bedrock. Underwater, the boulders continue, creating numerous ledges and overhangs for fish and lobster to hide in. Look out for an occasional nurse shark and also Fred’s House – a huge boulder that dominates the undersea terrain.
Head over and check out our Scrub Island dive sites!