Saba and St Kitts Dive Sites
A liveaboard to the Caribbean islands of Saba and St Kitts in the Lesser Antilles will not only offer shark diving but great macro life sightings.
Saba and St Kitts dive sites offer some of the best diversity in the northern Caribbean. These two islands are very distinct from each other and the topography and underwater marine life complement each other perfectly.
With the famous seamounts of Saba to the historical sites and wrecks of St Kitts you get some great variety.
The large marine life and surprising macro finds will ensure you have a perfect cruise.
Cruises are scheduled to run in one direction, so no island or site needs to be repeated on the way to disembark. You embark at either St Maarten and disembark in St Kitts or vice versa.
Take a look at the Liveaboard Cruise options below.
Saba and St Kitts Dive Sites - 2 LIVEABOARDS
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Saba offers some of the best dive sites in the Caribbean. There are deep water seamounts, pinnacles, reefs and walls. The Saba Banks are being explored and provide a vast new dive area. Muck diving is possible here with frogfish and seahorses commonly found.
All of these dive sites have a rich marine life with large corals and sponges due to their depth protecting them from potential hurricane damage. Reef, grey and nurse sharks along with rays often come up from the deep water and are found among the numerous reef fish, groupers and turtles. If you are lucky Hammerheads and Whale sharks along with Manta rays sometimes pass by.
Starting at 30m this is the tip of the narrow ridge with a vertical drop off.
Starts at 30m with rocky outcrops before reaching the drop-off. This site has a few shallower peaks at 25m allowing a longer NDL.
At the east end of the seamount this is a highlight of the deep pinnacle. This site is the start point to venture out to the Eye of the Needle located close by.
Eye of the Needle
This is a narrow column that rises majestically up from the deep to reach 28m of the surface. This unique site is a result of volcanic action followed by erosion to leave the needle standing alone in the deep water.
This pinnacle, first discovered in 1999, has only been reinstated as a dive site in 2010 due to mooring issues. It is south of the main seamount and has twin pinnacles 30 and 40m below the surface with a vertical wall.
Shallow Water Pinnacles
The two shallow water pinnacles are Diamond Rock and Man O' War Shoals found closer to the island in the wells bay area.
Diamond Rock is a landmark in Saba due to its shape and colouration. It is near the edge of the cove and home to many of the local birds who nest there and give the distinctive white colour from their droppings.
It can be subjected to currents so offers a great chance to see schooling jacks, snappers and has even had bait balls seen here.
In the sandy bottom look for the southern stingrays and flying gurnards as well as the many sharks patrolling the area.
Man O' War Shoals
Man O' War Shoals located just east of Diamond Rock also has twin peaks and offers the same fantastic variation of marine life. Here black coral can be found with a multitude of sergeant majors and other reef life. The Atlantic spadefish and oceanic triggerfish also make a rare appearance at this site.
Ladder Bay Area
This area has five dive sites and is named after the steep stairs used by locals before the port was built to unload cargo to the island.
Starting at 20m and descending to 38m this site is often described as a loaf of bread as it has a rectangular shape.
The sandy area has garden eels, southern stingrays while the reef itself is covered in sponge life and gorgonian fans and even some black coral. A grouper cleaning station is in the deep area with a few coral encrusted anchors of old cargo ships.
Ladder Labyrinth, Hot Springs, Lou’s Ladder and Babylon
For the other sites, the topography is rocky fingers or ridges winding through the sandy bottom, with several locations having the distinct yellow colouration to the sand that shows it has geothermal activity. The volcano that forms the island is not extinct but dormant and hot spots underwater prove this. Divers can bury their hands in the distinctive coloured sand and feel the warmth during the dive.
When exploring the alleys between the sea fan encrusted lava flows look for nurse and Caribbean reef sharks, along with southern stingrays and garden eels.
The reefs themselves are home to many spiny lobsters and other crustaceans like crabs and shrimp, along with morays and turtles.
Octopus are regularly seen as well as grunts, filefish, porgies, jacks, tarpon and barracuda.
Tent Bay Area
Tedran Reef is a series of coral outcrops (like knuckles on a fist) at the edge of a sandy slope, which then forms a vertical drop-off. A unique site with old anchors in the coral, southern stingrays and Jackfish.
Tent Reef Deep
Tent Reef Deep is a 38m dive at its deepest and is a deep patch reef at the end of the Tent Reef system. It is often combined with the Rent reef site to allow multilevel dives. Black coral, Snapper, garden eels, southern stingrays along with oceanic triggerfish are often seen here.
Tent Reef is a mini-wall, with huge boulders providing opportunities for swim thru’s. The boulders form an archway big enough for divers to pass through, here look for the cherub fish at only 5cm in size it is a relative of the angelfish. This is a site for frogfish and seahorses too so look on the sponges careful as you pass.
Turtles often patrol the area and the wall of Tent Reef.
Tent Reef Wall is a multilevel wall dive with overhangs ideal for the crustaceans and octopus to hide during the day. It is an ideal night dive and has a large resident snapper that often hunts in divers torch beams even bumping them to move them out of its way.
Windward Side Dive Sites
The windward side of Saba has quite a different topography to the leeward side described above.
Dive sites include Hole in the Corner, Core Gut, David's Drop Off and Greer Gut.
These dives are only possible when conditions allow and are more impacted by weather and currents due to the exposure. The sites are boulders and hard corals rather than the lava flows covered with song and sea fans. Staghorn coral can be seen along with lettuce and plate corals.
Special sightings here are the eagle rays and nudibranchs along with a rare siting of a dolphin and Saba’s only wreck dive. Marine life here includes queen angelfish, lack fish, groupers, hawksbill turtles, nurse and black tip sharks.
St Kitts and Nevis Highlights
Dive sites vary from historical sites and wrecks to reefs and seamounts.
MV River Taw
Amoung the most popular sites in the area “The Taw” is a cargo ship that sank in 1985, initially sat upright until a hurricane in 1989 broke it into two parts. The 45m wreck is located in the shallow water, so ideal for photographers with abundant fish life, octopus, stingrays and turtles are abundant.
MV Corinthian (The Tug)
Completely intact at a maximum of 20m depth where the old Tugboat sits upright on a sandy bottom. The sloping bottom means that the shallow point is at 9m and joins to a lovely reef.
The boat was only sunk in 1995 but already has black coral tree’s visible on the structure.
Sank during a hurricane in 1983 due to the poor attention of the watchkeeper the freighter rests on the reef entirely upright.
Schools of snapper, squirrel fish patrol around the wreck with puffer fish and barracuda. Large lobsters and a resident green moray make great opportunities for photographers during the dive, and there is even a volcanic vent to warm your hands on.
Coconut Reef Area
There are a few sites in this large area of reef that offers pristine coral and sponge structures.
Depth varies from shallow 10m to 40m of depth in some areas.
You will see huge schools of fish, barracuda, blue runners, creole wrasse, snappers, and groupers. On the reef itself look out for the many moray eels, green and spotted along with lobsters and stingrays.
A small wall site that ranges from 10 to 18m of depth that offers a shelf on the top where hawksbill turtles hang out. Look out for the giant barracudas too that often hand out below the boats.
Green Point Drift
A great shallow reef with abundant tube and barrel sponges along with sea fans and black coral. It is a volcanic substrate with mainly soft corals, look out for angelfish, grouper, and snappers along with lobster.
Located between Nevis and St Kitts about 3 miles offshore this site covers a large area with depths ranging from 10 to 40m.
There are limestone shelves covered in hard and soft corals, so lobsters are evident all over the area as well as nurse sharks.
Look out for the flying gurnards, scorpionfish and angelfish.
The area known as White Hole is known to be a nursery for the marine life and stingrays are often seen here,
This site is around 2 miles from the shore and is a curved wall with corals and song life descending to 40m.
Schools of creole wrasse and barracuda are common, turtles, lobsters, and eels are also resident along with the occasional reef shark at depth.
This mini wall is a historical site which includes old anchors, and the corals are well protected from any previous storms as it is hidden in a bay area.
Look out for Barracuda, turtles, angelfish, stingrays, and eels to name a few of the inhabitants.
The Finger Reef
Like its name the site stretches out like a finger, and is a ridge that can be dived from both sides. The top is at 20m, and you often see schools of creole wrasse, jacks, and mackerel as you travel along the ridge.
Saba is unusual for a Caribbean island as it does not have any beaches. But it does have some great hiking and is the location of the highest point of the Netherlands.
You can take a break from the diving to join a hike on the island, disembarking at Fort Bay and taking the only road on the island to windward side of the main village and start point for the hikes.
The road itself is also an experience and called “the road no-one could build”, a great feat of engineering. This joins the port and airport via the three villages on the island.
Marine Park and Conservation in Saba and St Kitts
Dive tourism started in the area in the early 1980s and resulted in the Marine Park being founded in 1987 to set permanent moorings, conservation practices, and maintenance to preserve the area. The marine park has won many awards as it is the only self-sufficient operation of its type. They generate revenue via visitor fee’s (3 USD per dive), the sale of souvenirs and donations.
There is a unique zoning system used to get the best possible compromise between different very different uses of the marine environment.
St Kitts Brimstone Hill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you visit here you can view a short video of the island’s history then have the opportunity to walk around the various structures built by several European nations over a few hundred years. The site is very well preserved with a fantastic view of the surrounding islands and ocean.