Uncovering History in the Wreckage
Ships have come to grief on Bermuda’s reefs since a Spanish ship went down between 1500 and 1503. Depending on the person you ask, you’ll hear there are between 300 and 400 documented wrecks on the reefs encircling the six major and 120 minor islands that comprise Bermuda. Exploring these wrecks connects you to the past in a way few other experiences can. It’s a thrill to see the wreckage up close. So take a dive into marine history and explore the amazing wrecks off the isles of Bermuda.
Unlike most wreck diving adventures, many of the wrecks in Bermuda are in water shallow enough to make diving up to three wrecks in a day possible. Wreckage can be found as shallow as 6 m (20 ft.) and diving below 24 m (80 ft.) isn’t necessary, so divers can usually count on great visibility and adequate bottom time, allowing the flexibility for multiple dives in 1 day. This is a great trip for those who want to see as much as possible with limited time.
Around Bermuda there are actually 36 known diveable wreck sites, 12 of which are most frequently dived, 12 more occasionally dived, and 12 rarely visited. One of the premium sites is the Cristobal Colon which, weather permitting, is a must for divers—it’s a spectacular site. The wreckage of the 150m (500-ft.), 1920’s ocean liner covers acres of the sea bed more than an hour’s boat ride from shore. She ran aground in 1936 and was used for bombing practice during World War II. Look for the huge boilers and deck equipment.
If you don’t want to go so far out in the ocean, visit one of the wreck dives just off the coast. One of the oldest is the Virginia Merchant, which carried colonists from England. The ballast stones of the three-masted ship lie in 12 m (40 ft.) of water. The King, a U.S. Navy Tugboat built in 1941 and sunk as an artificial reef in 1984, is intact and lies upright at nearly 20 m (65 ft.). The 77 m (255-ft.) Mary Celestina was a blockade-runner that now rests at 17 m (55 ft.) underwater. One of her paddlewheel frames makes her readily identifiable. The Hermes was sunk as an artificial reef and sits on the bottom at 24 m (80 ft.). It is upright and intact. So take your pick—you certainly won’t be bored for lack of options.
Wreck Diving in Bermuda
There are numerous dive operators in Bermuda—we’ve listed a couple below. All operations make dive-site selections based on the weather as well as diver experience and preferences.
Bermuda is vacation heaven on-shore as well, with many big resorts offering alternative adventure and sporty activity. The kid-friendly Fairmont Southampton has a tough 18-hole, par 3 golf course, and can make arrangements for sport fishing, diving, tennis, and cycling. Cambridge Beaches is adults only and has five private beaches and a spa. You can also rent a motor scooter and cruise around.
Bermuda Tourism ( 800/BERMUDA [237-6832] in the U.S.; www.bermudatourism.com). Dive Guide International ( 303 /484-7575; www.diveguide.com/berm-scuba.htm).
Tours: Blue Water Divers ( 441 /234-1034; www.divebermuda.com). Fantasea Diving (441 /236-1300; www.fantasea.bm).
When to Go: Apr–June are the colder months, but offer the best visibility. Sept–Oct are warmer with good visibility.
L. F. Wade International Airport.
$$$ Fairmont Southampton, 101 South Rd. ( 800 /257-7544 in the U.S. and Canada or 441 /238-8000; www.fairmont.com/southampton). $$$ Cambridge Beaches, 30 Kings Point Rd. (800 /468-7300 in the U.S. or 441 /234-0331; www.cambridgebeaches.com). $ Greene’s Guest House, 71 Middle Rd. ( 441 /238-0834; www.thegreenesguesthouse.com).