For my 50th birthday, I went with 8 friends to St. Lucia. Five of us are divers, and we bought the dive package at Anse Chastenet which includes a room, all-inclusive food, and 14 dives for the week. We didn’t get in all 14 dives, as American Airlines stranded us for a day, but we did make several.
In general, the diving for my birthday week mid-April featured a significant amount of marine life, but the visibility was mediocre and at times the currents were strong. I’m certain both the new moon and the erupting volcano in St. Vincent. had something to do with it.
Anse Chastenet Dive Shop
For the most part, we did two tank morning dives, but occasionally we tacked on an afternoon or night dive. Anse Chastenet has several dive boats. It is possible to get your own boat if you have enough divers in your group. With only five, however, we boarded the large, two-tiered heavy duty dive boat with many people.
Fortunately, they provide dive masters for each small group, so we had our own guide, Dave. While everyone on the boat dives the same site, they space out the drops, so most the time we don’t see other groups until the end.
Generally speaking, they stick to the maximum depth 60 feet, 45-minute dive rule, but we all had so much air left in our tanks, that Dave extended our dives. It probably helped that I knew Carmen and Adam, who run the dive shop.
Prior to our arrival, we filled out the dive paperwork and on the morning of our first dive, we checked in with the dive shop. I had my own gear, but most of the rest of the group rented. The shop provided all that we needed including a locker with a lock for dry things and rack specifically for our group to hang our wetsuits and BC’s.
I wasn’t creative about naming my group of friends, so it was called Beth’s group, and apparently fellow divers wanted to know who was Beth?
Dive Sites in St. Lucia
Anyway, we started out with a shore dive on the Anse Chastenet reef which is in front of the hotel. Surprisingly, we did a small check out. We had to fill and clear our mask as well as remove our regulator and find it.
Once we finished the test, we followed the reef with the coast on our left shoulder. Dave goes slowly and points out all sorts of critters, so I liked that about him.
One the first dive, we saw tons of eels (like five or six), coral banded reef shrimp, lots of arrow crabs, scorpion fish, flounder, box fish, several lionfish, copious sponges and more.
After an hour surface interval at the resort with water and snacks, we boarded the boat for our second dive at Superman’s Flight, just ten minutes. The name of this dive is due to a few reasons, but one is the sometimes strong current. That is what we experienced.
The current wasn’t “scary” strong. It was more like a drift dive in Cozumel. Had it been sunny, this dive would have been glorious. The coral reef is in spectacular condition. Along with schools of fish, there were countless, active fire worms, one as big as I’ve ever seen.
We also saw two free-swimming sharptail eels, a giant crab, lobster, some more arrow crab, and some tiny shrimp. This is a great dive site!
The following day, we dove three times, a two-tank morning dive and one afternoon dive. Our first dive was a short boat ride away at Jalousie. There were coral banded reef shrimp everywhere. We also saw lots of blennies. In fact, one coral head I saw was home to three of these little guys poking their head out.
We also spotted some gobies, fireworms, crabs, more eels (one free-swimming) and a frog fish. I haven’t seen many frog fish in the Caribbean, more so in the Philippines. So it was a nice find, even though it looked like a dark glob!
The Pinnacles dive site featured more of the same. Lobsters, eels, lizardfish, gobies, shrimp, a juvenile spotted drum, and several lionfish. Unfortunately, in St. Lucia, the dive masters cannot spear the lionfish and feed them to the groupers like that can in Mexico.
They must be certified to remove the lionfish, which are harmful to the reefs in the Caribbean. As a result, they are everywhere. On one dive, I saw about ten!
Our afternoon dive took place at Turtle Reef. Had I known it was also in front of the resort, only slightly off the shore, I likely would have skipped it. Though deep, I could have swam out to it if I wanted to. Despite being sunny, the water was dark and murky.
I wasn’t to fond of this dive which is name for the shape of the reef, not for the opportunity to see turtles. Though, that said, Tina snorkeled at the same time we dove and she spotted one, which is rare in St. Lucia.
We found some more blennies, followed a boxfish around, and spotted another camoflauged scorpion fish. There were some pretty feather dusters as well.
My birthday started out with a bang. Or should I say bust! I passed on the complimentary morning mimosa to dive Trou Diable. This dive from the start was a fiasco. One person forgot their weight belt. One person pulled the mouth piece off her regulator and then proceeded to land inside a sponge on her descent.
We finally got going and as we rounded the bend with the reef on our right, we got caught in a horrific current. There was both an up current and a side current. We were kicking like mad to keep from shooting backwards as we sped to the side.
I dropped down a little lower which helped some until I got pinned against a sponge. The poor reef! Ruth kicked a chunk of coral off while she was trying to stay under control.
Cat looks over at me, and I could tell by her face, she was thinking WTF with the shrug emoji. Seeing any marine life or snapping photos was out of the question.
For 25 minutes, we just kicked until we got into the protection of two large coral heads. Dave, signaled to cut the dive with his hand across his neck, but to just wait a minute.
It turned out once we got to this quiet spot, the surrounding shallows were also quiet. As a result, we kept diving and garnered 25 minutes of enjoyment. Fortunately, the second half of the dive was really nice.
We spotted two free-swimming sharptail eels, several flamingo tongue, Christmas tree worms, blennies, gobies, and five lettuce slugs. There aren’t many slugs and nudibranch in the Caribbean, but this was a treat!
Upon surfacing, however, I turned to Dave and asked, “Were you trying to kill us? That was the worst dive of my life! ABORT!!” We all lived to tell about it and got a chuckle out of it, but it was truly the second worst dive of my life.
All I could think of was the poor lady who had just gotten certified because her boyfriend dove. She was tentative to begin with. Back on the boat, I asked if she was OK.
She said, “I signaled abort in the first minute of the dive!”
They got back on the boat and got dropped elsewhere. I wish we did that, though I don’t know how we could have surfaced in that current.
Not only was the second half of Trou Diable nice, but the first half of Piton Wall was remarkable! We saw TWO BIG seahorses! Cat and Angela spotted them, and of course neither of them have a noise maker. They just stayed at the location making all sorts of gestures (including the galloping horse move) until people saw them. It’s funny to see someone excited underwater!!
The good and the bad news about our group spotting it first, is that we saw it before the sand got kicked up, but we also had to move out of the way for others to see. I didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed in one spot the entire dive and watched. This generally is not my personality, as I can’t sit still that long.
I don’t know why I am so enfatuated by them. Maybe because they are extremely elusive and delicate, and they have the word horse in their name which reminds me of my horseshow days.
Just to point out how much I like them, Carmen sent me a text before we dove today which said, “I hope you see a seahorse for your birthday.”
I thought to myself, that would be nice, but also thought, fat chance! It is so rare to see one, and we saw TWO! One orange and one brown. What a wonderful 50th birthday present! I will forever remember both these dive sites in St. Lucia!!
After seeing both the seahorses early in the dive we drifted slowly past burrfish, crabs, shrimp, lettuce slugs and more. But all I really wanted to do was return to the seahorse. All of our boat dives had been drift dives, we never turned around against the current.
This time, however, we circled back against the light current. I was so EXCITED!!! We got back to the general area, and with Dave’s help we found the seahorse again. I practically laid down on the bottom to just stare at it and take photos. SO COOL!
For our fourth day on St. Lucia, we skipped diving and did the Gros Piton hike. It was like a stairmaster workout. A great challenge and fun. More details may be found at this post about our Gros Piton hiking experience.
For our final day of diving, we motored to the north rather than the south. These dive sites were farther away. Maybe a 20+ minute boat ride. It was nice to have the change of scenery, though I would have gone back to Piton Wall and Superman Flight in a heartbeat.
Lesleen M Wreck
First we dove a wreck dive. They dropped our small group off at the new wreck (sunk on purpose to make a reef), while they dropped a few other groups off at the older wreck. We swam from one to the other.
I’m not the biggest fan of wreck dives, especially if they are not a true shipwreck, but the older wreck featured a decent amount of marine life including several spotted drums and a filefish. Seeing an octopus swim around might have made it a little better too! Octopi are also fascinating creatures to me. Also, the visibility improved slightly which was a welcome change.
Our final dive took place at Anse Couchon, just around the corner from the wreck. This was a nice reef with a light current. We saw our first angelfish which was a treat, some more lettuce slugs, several spotted drums, blennies, shrimp and the list goes on.
I really liked the pair of irredescent jawfish we saw dancing out of the sand. Any time I got close enough to snap a photo they hid in their holes, but they were beautiful. In the Solomons, they were a dime a dozen. In the Caribbean, it’s the only pair I’ve seen.
These sites to north were nice, though my favorite dive site in St Lucia was the Piton Wall, for obvious reasons. ETB