Guanaja Dive Sites
There are 39+ named Guanaja dive sites, another 6 or so “kept secret” by the Dunbar Rock dive staff for their guests only. More dive sites being discovered every day along the barrier reef off Guanaja and around the numerous cays that surround the island. Below is some information on just a few of our favorite Guanaja dive sites.
North Side Guanaja Dive Sites
This site is a guest favorite. A sprawling sandy bottom, flanked by two walls, this site offers the best of all worlds. At 60 ft, a variety of large sea cucumbers can be seen all along the sand bottom, along with rays sifting their way through the channel.
The reef offers an abundance of Coral Banded and Pederson Shrimp, along with Arrow crabs and other invertebrates. This site has something for everyone. Make sure you keep an eye out for the Yellowhead Jawfish darting in and out of their holes. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a Nurse Shark or two.
This pinnacle is located in a channel close to Guanaja. It rests on a sandy bottom at 135 fee/41 meter and rises to a point 55 ft/17 m below the surface. The pinnacle is covered with gorgonian, wire coral and black coral – a great place to hunt for seahorses.
If you are not familiar with black coral, you might be surprised to learn it is the green almost “fern like tree” we point out. Not to be outdone by the coral, the wall of the channel has some beautiful blue bell tunicates and crinoids to show off along it at depths of only 30 feet/10 meters.
This wall is considered to be the premier wall dive on the reef. Between 70 ft and 90 ft, search the Delicate Sea Rods for the elusive Longsnout or Lined Seahorse. Crinoids scatter themselves throughout the colored sponges. Above 60 ft, the reef comes alive with color. Azure Vase Sponges, Red and Orange Branching Sponges, and as many colors of Rope Sponges you could possible imagine, are home to the schools of hundreds of Fairy Basslet, Creole Wrasse, Black Durgon and Blue Tang. Search these shallower waters for turtles and Barracuda on your way back the boat. On your safety stop, look around the mooring line for a lettuce leaf nudibranch.
A favorite for the Dive Masters because this site is always clear with great visibility. When you first enter, you’ll be greeted by the resident Nurse Shark, affectionately named Jack Jack by the staff. This site has a beautiful sandy bottom that is alive with Furry Sea Cucumbers, Sand Dollars and occasional Ray. Follow the reef in search of the many cleaning stations of the Pedersen Cleaner Shrimp. Brightly colored Damsels dart in out of the reef while schooling fish envelop you as you swim along the edge. Look in the crevices for the tell-tale black and white elegant tail of the Juvenile Spotted Drum.
This dive site is famous for its cracks & crevices where you can find nudibranchs if you search carefully. Nudibranchs are some of the most beautiful and diverse creatures in the ocean and they make wonderful subjects for the underwater photographer. The trick to finding these soft-bodied sea slugs is to dive slowly…very, very slowly. The maximum depth of this site only reaches 70 ft/23 m but nudibranchs can be found at any depth in the ocean so have a go at finding a few!
Created by volcanic action, this conglomeration of caves, tunnels and deep cracks and crevices is one of the most exciting dive sites around Guanaja. It’s common to turn a corner, or come out of a tunnel and come across a sleeping shark or a big moray eel lounging in a nook or cranny.
Expect to see plenty of silverside sardines, glassy sweepers, groupers and barracuda. Also to be found here as at many sites in Guanaja if you take the time to look are beautiful blue bell tunicates.
South Side Guanaja Dive Sites
Night or day, this site is something to behold. Named from Sabastian the Crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, this site is certainly lives up to its namesake. During the day, this wall dive has plenty to see, including Giant Gorgonians, Barrel Sponges and an array of small crabs. At night, this site truly comes to life! At a mere 45 ft, the Coral Banded Shrimp and Arrow crab come out to feed. Giant Basket Stars blossom into their full glory while Brittle Star dance across the coral as they go about their nightly duties. Lobster and Crab wake up from their slumber to join you as you make your way along the reef. Be sure to keep enough air to explore the grassy bottom at the end of this dive. In only 8 ft, the Octopus and stingray are starting to play! Located on the south side of the island, just minutes from the Villa.
This is a site along the barrier reef wall that has some spectacular drop-offs. As is true along the entire barrier wall, the beauty here is truly unbelievable. The top of the wall is at about 35 feet/12 meters then drops down to about 160 ft/53 m. From here, a sandy shelf juts out 60 ft/ 20 m or so before the wall drops off to oblivion. Black and yellow crinoids are found here. Crinoids are often misidentified by divers as brittle stars or overlooked all together, but they deserve your attention! They are thought to be the most ancient class of spiny-skinned animals, with fossil forms dating back to the Paleozoic – before Urchins, Sand Dollars, Sea Cucumbers, Sea or Brittle Stars. Ask our guides to point them out if you have not seen these wonderful animals before.
This is another cool spot along Guanaja’s barrier reef wall. There are interesting pinnacles here, but no surprise given the name, this site is known especially for the deep-water Gorgonia that inhabit the wall.
There are some giant barrel sponges here as well – big already but still growing! Barrel sponges, sometimes called the “redwood of the reef” are the largest species of sponge found growing on Caribbean coral reefs. They have been known to reach a diameter of 6 feet/1.8 meter with an estimated lifespan of hundreds to a thousand or more years.
Jim’s Silver Lode
This amazing dive starts off with the entrance to a tunnel along the barrier reef wall at approximately 70 feet/21 meters. As you enter the tunnel it is not uncommon to swim thousands of silver-sides taking refuge in the tunnel. It opens out into an amphitheater-like area with a sandy bottom surrounded by coral. Huge grouper, schools of yellowtail snapper and the occasionally a green moray make up the welcome committee in this area. This is an excellent photo-op dive site.
On the south side of the island, next to Don Enrique’s Wreck, you’ll find this stunning wall dive. For those divers who love coral, this site if for you. Two pinnacles start this dive with a bang. Circle them as you make your way to the wall. The wall is covered from top to bottom with Gorgonians and Barrel Sponges. Scattered among the cracks and crevices, you’ll find anemones, tunicates and eels. Look even closer and you could be lucky enough to see one of many varieties of Nudibranch, an Arrow Blenny or Spotted Cleaner Shrimp hiding in plain sight. Take your time and enjoy the beauty of this amazing site. Located just a short boat ride from Dunbar Rock on the south side of the island.
The Jado Trader
The 240-foot Jado Trader was a refrigerator freighter sunk in 1987 to form one of the richest artificial reefs in Honduras. The Trader rests on a sandy bottom, completely intact and in waters between 80 and 110 ft/27 to 30 m.
Due to its location, weather conditions at time prevent us from diving this site. But since it is very nearby the Villa, we visit whenever the opportunity allows. The wreck is now nicely encrusted with plenty of marine life around it. After visiting the wreck we explore two large volcanic coral pinnacles while slowly making our way back to the boat.
Wreck of the Don Enrique
One of Guanaja’s “old favorite” dives is the wreck of the shrimper Don Enrique. Located next to an interesting wall that drops 80 feet/26 meters to a sandy bottom, the bottom slopes gradually deeper, and at about 90 ft/30 m you come across the boat resting right-side-up on the bottom. The mast still looms upwards to about 50 ft/17 m. Both the wreck and the wall abound with life. Spotted eagle rays are common to this site.
This dive features two life size head-and-shoulder statues in approximately 65 ft/19 m of water. One is of Christopher Columbus and the other is of a local chief, Lempira. Once standing erect, the statues now lay flat on the lip of the drop off at this dive site, which also features a partial shipwreck, Spanish cannons and a 16th century bell.