By: Melanie Reffes
Source: USA Today
The Caribbean has long attracted adventurers to its clear waters and technicolor underwater world, and today, it remains one of the most popular scuba diving destinations on the planet. From wreck dives to plummeting walls, there's a dive for just about everyone in this sun-kissed region.
The top 10 winners in the 10Best Readers' Choice Best Caribbean Dive Site category are as follows.
No. 10: M.V. Maverick - Tobago
Photo: M.V. Maverick, Credit: iStock / Nigel Marsh
The 350-foot car ferry sits intact and upright off the coast of Tobago, where the marine life in residence includes barracuda, eagle rays, cobia, sea turtles and countless schooling fish. The wreck lies 50 to 100 feet underwater.
No. 9: Sisters Rocks - Carriacou
Photo: Sisters Rocks, Credit: iStock / RainervonBrandis
Situated just 15 minutes by boat from the shore of Carriacou, Sisters Rock is a drift dive site featuring a pair of pinnacles where sharks, turtles and eagle rays swim. The reefs here are protected and covered in soft corals.
No. 8: Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park - Grenada
Photo: Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, Credit: Boris Kasimov / Flickr
This manmade dive site began in 2006 and today comprises more than 50 life-size sculptures within one of Grenada’s Marine Protected Areas. Divers can see firsthand the transition from art to artificial reef.
No. 7: Superior Producer - Curaçao
Photo: Superior Producer, Credit: Turtle and Ray
The 200-foot Superior Producer off the coast of Curacao ranks among the best wreck dives in the Caribbean. Divers visiting the upright ship can explore the wheelhouse and open cargo holds while seeing groupers, schooling barracuda and loads of anemones.
No. 6: The Andros Wall - Bahamas
Photo: The Andros Wall, Credit: iStock / ultramarinfoto
Considered the best wall dive in the Bahamas, the Andros Wall comprises a series of sites where divers can explore underwater mountains and canyons in a wide range of sizes and shapes.
No. 5: Klein Bonaire - Bonaire
Photo: Klein Bonaire, Credit: iStock / sujesh80
Klein Bonaire, a small island off the west coast of the larger Bonaire, offers divers calm, protected waters with near-ideal dive conditions. A largely pristine coral reef has plenty to see, and divers can even visit a nursery site where researchers seed and propagate coral.
No. 4: Bianca C - Grenada
Photo: Bianca C, Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority
The Bianca C, a 600-foot cruiseliner nicknamed the Titanic of the Caribbean, sank in 1961 and remains upright beneath the water. Divers who visit the wreck often spot eagle rays, moray eels, nurse sharks, barracuda and even schools of Atlantic spadefish.
No. 3: Turks Island Passage - Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos
Photo: Turtle Island Passage, Credit: iStock / Velvetfish
Salt Cay, situated on the south side of Turks Island Passage, makes an excellent base for diving the deep channel separating the Caicos and Turks Islands. From January to April, humpback whales can be spotted as they migrate through the passage.
No. 2: Wreck of the RMS Rhone - British Virgin Islands
Photo: Wreck of the RMS Rhone, Credit: iStock photo
It'll take at least two dives to fully explore the wreck of the Rhone in the British Virgin Islands, but it's well worth the effort. Descending down toward the ghostly ship, divers can see schools of Sennets, grunts and barracuda. The hull is covered in orange cup corals.
No. 1: Butler Bay Wrecks - St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Photo: Butler Bay Wrecks, Credit: iStock / DurdenImages
There’s a wreck for just about every type of diver in Butler Bay off the coast of St. Croix, as well as a few sunken abandoned cars. Among the more popular options are the Rosa Maria, a 177-foot freighter; Coakley Bay, an oil refinery tugboat; and Suffolk Maid, a large trawler.
Caribbean expert Melanie Reffes and diving expert Kristin Valette-Wirth of PADI Travel partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.