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Wreck Diving in The Caribbean, Guide to Enjoy the Experience Like an Expert

wreck diving in the caribbean

The great traveler and adventurer Ibn Battuta said “Traveling leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”  Wreck diving in the Caribbean elevates this truth to the nth degree. All types of ships, aircraft carriers, freighters, warships, and even the occasional sunken plane can be a target for your next wreck diving trip in the Caribbean. You can find some of them in this article. Top 7 Caribbean Shipwrecks That Scuba Divers Shouldn’t Miss. Any of these sunken ships can be the lure that will make you descend towards one of the most fantastic experiences you have ever dreamed of, and that will undoubtedly turn you into a storyteller.

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The narrator of this article about wreck diving in the Caribbean will be Víctor Córdoba. He is Human Resources Director at Dressel Divers, PADI Course Director, and Instructor Trainer IANTD, specializing in Cave Diving, Trimix, and Rebreather Diving. Our expert also has more than 6,000 dives in his logbook, and of course, he has carried out and led hundreds of wreck diving expeditions in the Caribbean.

Why Do Wreck Diving in The Caribbean?

Sunken wrecks become artificial coral reefs. However: “This is not what makes them so attractive to divers. Cozumel already exists to see corals and fish” – Says Mr. Córdoba. What makes wreck diving in the Caribbean one of the most successful adventure dives is the anticipation of discovery. “During the time wreck diving adventure in the Caribbean lasts, you become a treasure hunter, a historian, and an archaeologist. Indiana Jones with a regulator, BCD, and fins. That adrenaline rush when you see your target for the first time or when you swim over the bridge of a ship or discover a camouflaged object submerged for decades, is an unbeatable sensation.”- Dive Instructor on Dive Instructors tells us at Dressel Divers.

What Should You Do to Practice Wreck Diving in The Caribbean Properly?

“To practice this type of diving safely, it is necessary to train. Having excellent skills as a diver is necessary, especially buoyancy control, finning techniques and the handling of lines and reels”- Our expert assures us. We discussed recreational wreck diving skills in our Wreck Diver article: Wreck Diver: This Is How You Become One so, you become one of them.

Another vital point is to choose very well which wreck you are going to visit. In the Caribbean there are hundreds of shipwrecks, many of them deliberately caused. That is, they were intentionally sank to attract tourism. These sunken ships are generally kept in very good condition and are at depths suitable for recreational wreck diving. Often, these shipwrecks are previously prepared, meaning the hatches, doors and everything not firmly attached, that could come off, was removed before sinking them. In addition, dangerous or sharp reliefs were cleaned and, in some cases, gaps were opened that allow natural light to enter the interior for the enjoyment of recreational divers.

However, other wrecks sank naturally, due to weather inclemency, war encounters or unsolved mysteries. The fact is that these vessels are usually much deeper or it is necessary to cross strong currents to reach them. These boats are not clean for divers and hardly any light enters them. In that case, wreck diving in the Caribbean involves technical training.

Planning the dive and having a diving center that is expert in Caribbean wreck diving, such as Dressel Divers, is another key to living the adventure safely.

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Is there any danger when doing wreck diving in the Caribbean?

As we have mentioned, there are different levels of wreck diving in the Caribbean, so the most important thing is to choose the dive site considering the divers’ scuba level.

“The greatest precaution we should have to practice Caribbean wreck diving is to keep in mind that we are in an overhead environment.” – Mr. Córdoba tells us. An overhead environment is where the divers have no direct exit because a physical impediment is above them, forbidding ascent. So, it is more than advisable to carry out special training focused on improving skills as a wreck diver.

Recreational wreck diving courses in the Caribbean will instruct you on the safety considerations to take into account. You will learn to navigate wrecks, use reels, and ropes, advanced techniques to fin kick without removing the sediment or having a negative impact that spoils the state of the wreck.

You will also learn the basic rule of wreck diving in the Caribbean: “DO NOT TOUCH”. This is for various reasons.

  1. To keep the wreck and its contents in the best possible condition for future divers.
  2. To protect the physical integrity of the diver himself. Sharp or rusty edges can be inconvenient for your gear and skin.
  3. Legal restrictions of the country itself. In some countries, the wrecks in their waters are government property, so touching them or taking something as a souvenir can translate into a nice fine.
    Caribbean Wreck Diving, Which Different Types Are There?

    We can divide wreck diving in the Caribbean into three categories which are:

    • Caribbean wreck diving without penetration.

    In this type of dive, you never enter the wreck, but go around it, look through holes (portholes or windows), and that’s all. These dives have barely no risk. Therefore, every open water diver can practice them.

    • Caribbean wreck diving with limited penetration.

    In wreck diving with limited penetration, the underwater explorer can enter the wreck. However, penetration is limited to those areas where there is natural light. In addition, the diver always has to see the exit. Do you remember that above we mentioned authorities made holes in the wrecks’ hull? This is the reason.

    • Full penetration wreck diving.

    This is the closest possible dive to cave diving. This type of wreck diving in the Caribbean penetrates far beyond the illuminated rooms and immediate exit possibilities. These are much more complicated dives that require technical diving knowledge and skills

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What Equipment Do I Need to Practice Caribbean Wreck Diving?

For recreational wreck diving in the Caribbean, you need some extra gear. The following:

  • A diving flashlight. Your light must be consistent and suitable for wreck diving conditions in the Caribbean, with a powerful and dimmable light. You can learn more about dive lights by reading this article. How To Use A Scuba Diving Light During A Night Dive
  • Diving knife. Essential to free yourself if you get caught in ropes or rigging. Learn more about its usefulness in this article. Diving Knife, Why Is It So Important?
  • Reels and ropes. That will allow you to draw a line to penetrate inside the wreck and, most importantly, to be able to get out of it.

In this article, we wanted to offer you a complete guide to wreck diving in the Caribbean. Now is your turn. When are you coming to practice it?