Diving St. Vincent

The “Critter Capital” of the Caribbean

By Randy Harwood

 

 
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If you like shooting small to tiny marine animals and get off on finding weird looking, unusual fish and invertebrates and you want a destination that doesn’t require an 18 hour flight to the Indo Pacific, diving St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean might be for you.

 

This out-of the-way, mountainous island, the main island of the Grenadines, is mainly known by yachtsmen as a safe harbor and a boaters’ paradise. Its closest neighbor is St. Lucia, and it is also near Barbados and Grenada. St. Vincent is quite uncommercialized, and the topside weather is quite pleasant.

 

underwater reef at st vincent island

Reef at St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean

 

caribbean reef

 

 

St. Vincent Marine Life

 

The dive guides say they are often finding new, undescribed animals and the list of commonly seen subjects is very impressive, especially for the Caribbean. The list of animals we saw included seahorses, pipefish, a number of different eels; black-spotted and gold-spotted snake eels, short-tailed eels and spoon-nosed eels. Morays included broadband, chain, chestnut goldentail and spotted. Banded, blue-bar and yellowhead jawfish. Longsnout seahorses. Longlure and striated frogfish.

 

muck diving st vincent

 

All sorts of shrimp, crabs, flamingo tongues, mantis shrimp, long arm octopus, gobies, blennies, hamlets, basslets, angels, butterflyfish, flying gunnards….you get the idea. If you enjoy photographing juvenile fish, the shallow sandy and eel grass areas near fringing reefs will delight you with the fish nurseries. There's not many larger fish.

 

seahorse at st. vincent island

Caribbean seahorse in St. Vincent

 

 

Best time to dive St. Vincent 

 

July to December is the rainy season, with frequent rain showers.

 

 

Dive conditions

Diving conditions are usually very mellow with deep dives to 100’ + available for spotting some rare fish or crustaceans, but most dives are 15-50’ and last for 60 minutes or more. Visibility varies with the tides, weather, depths and locations, but usually is often good, sometimes very good (70’+). 

 

Traveling to St. Vincent

From the West Coast of the United States, an overnight either in San Juan, PR or Barbados is required,  followed by a short flight on Liat Air to Kingstown. We took the earliest Liat flight and made it just in time to start diving. We arrived at 9:05 am and were in the water at 10:30 am.

 

Where to stay while diving St. Vincent

 

St. Vincent has a large assortment of resorts and hotels to choose from, and you can stay at any of them.

 

Underwater Photography Tips

 

Photo equipment is almost entirely geared to MACRO and/ or close-up shots. Zoom Macro lenses like the 28-80mm, 60mm and 105mm lenses with or with out teleconverters and diopters are the main tools with one or two strobes absolutely necessary.

 

 

St. Vincent Underwater Photos

 

juvenile queen angelfish

 

saint vincent marine life

 

yellow damsel

 

flame scallop underwater photo

 

striated frogfish, st vincent

Hairy frogfish, a great find while diving St. Vincent Island

 

 

 

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Randy Harwood has been SCUBA diving since 1975 and has been photographing the marine environment for over 20 years. Diving all over the world, he has visited Mexico and Latin American, many of the islands in the Caribbean , Hawaii, Fiji, Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Republic of the Maldives, French Polynesia, the Philippines, Africa, Cocos and Malpelo Islands and Australia. He regularly dives in California and still considers the kelp forests of California a favorite dive destination.

Active in the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society for over 20 years, he has served as the Society President for almost 8 years.

Randy’s “Underwater World” calendar has been in continuous publication since 1986. He has contributed numerous photographs and articles to books, advertising media and magazines, including “Outdoor Photographer”, “SCUBA World”, Rodales “SCUBA Diving”, “Outdoor California” and many more.