Diving Guanaja’s Barrier Reef

Guanaja’s fringing reef is a protected marine reserve making it an ideal spot for scuba diving and snorkeling nearly anywhere offshore the mainland. Part of a volcanic and coral mountain range called The Bonacca Ridge, Guanaja marks the beginning of the second largest barrier reef in the world – the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. It offers a mixture of pinnacles, vertical walls, lava tunnels and wrecks including the nearby Jado Trader, one of the most sought-after wrecks in the Caribbean. It also boasts nearly every species of coral growing in the Caribbean Sea, including several species of rare black coral, and sponges of all colors, shapes and sizes.

black-coralscuba diver hovering outside Black Rock CanyonThe scuba diving in Guanaja  shares many similarities to our sister islands, however being a remote location with few visitors, our reefs have remained virtually untouched by diver impact.  There is also no competition for dives sites, as with only 2 dive operators and 45+ sites, you really will feel like you have our reef system all to your own.

Dive sites ring the island, meaning finding a location to scuba dive in the lee of the wind is nearly always possible. In addition to the sites surrounding Guanaja, the innumerable cays that encircle the island form an ideal habitat for reef creatures and virtually every known crustacean.  From tiny black spotted nudibranchs to cave dwelling Caribbean lobster, the reef systems is ideal for macro and close up photography. There are also more than 300 identified fish species in Bay Island waters. Scuba divers frequently see Angelfish, Hamlets, Butterfly fish, Creole Wrasse, Grouper, Jackfish, Moray eels, Octopus, Parrotfish, Nurse sharks and more.

Nearly all of the sites offer lively shallow terraces that are perfect for snorkeling as well as scuba diving. Separate snorkel tours are offered to ensure you are taken to a site that is guaranteed for good snorkeling.  When joining the scuba divers, we also do our best to accommodate sites that work well for divers and snorkelers.

Visibility is generally around 100 feet/30 meters. During the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual, though we are always able to scout out the areas that offer the best conditions. Currents are mostly mild to non-existent.

All visitors to Guanaja are now required to make a $10.00 (annual) cash contribution to the Environmental Fund for the Protection of Guanaja Island. Proceeds go toward the preservation of the reefs, mangroves and general ecosystem as well as to fund environmental education programs for Guanaja residents. The $10.00 contribution will be collected at Dunbar Rock during your scuba diving registration.

Dunbar Rock Dive Shop

scuba divers on dive boat doing a gear-checktwo of dunbar rocks dive boats at the dive dockThe PADI/SSI dive center operates 2 custom dive boats: the 45’ Freedom and 40’ Endeavor. Each have capacity for up to 20 divers.  The boats have wide platforms for giant stride entries and sturdy ladders for exiting the water. They are provisioned with drinking water, fruit for snacking, fresh water showers, towels, camera rinse tanks, dry storage, shaded areas and all required safety equipment.

Boat rides vary from 20 – 30 minutes for dives along the south to up to 45 minutes for dives along the northern coast. Boats generally depart at 8:30 am for the morning 2-tank dive, returning for lunch with the afternoon boat leaving a reasonable time after lunch has concluded.

If we are diving the north shore of Guanaja, we will stay out for a three-tank dive and lunch will be prepared during a break between the second and third dive.

One night dive is included with any seven night package and is generally conducted on Tuesday evening, or whenever the majority of divers prefers to go. Additional night dives may be scheduled with a minimum of 6 divers for $40.00 per person plus tax.

Two tank sizes are available: 63 cu ft and 80 cu ft tanks.  Nitrox is also for a $10.00 upgrade per tank or unlimited for $120.00 a week plus tax. Unlimited tanks are available at no extra charge for guests who wish to do training dives or recreational dives “around the rock.

Concierge Dive Services

Our friendly and professional staff pride themselves on not just being your guides but your dive concierges, so please plan on leaving the lifting, hauling and packing of all the diving gear to them!

Our team will carefully carry your gear onto the boats, prepare it for the dive, change it over for the second dive, and rinse and store it at the end of the day. Your only assignment while on board is to do a check to make sure you have all your gear before we depart, then sit back and enjoy the ride.