St. Kitts 2018
I’ve been told that when I tell my stories about my adventures I get a bit wordy and so I will attempt to be a bit more concise in laying out my adventures in St. Kitts.
Travel to the Island
I began the day eating pancakes at my local breakfast haunt, The Townhouse Inn. The sun was just peaking over the horizon as I drove into the airport and parked my beast for the trip. After the typical airport rigmarole I reached the gate and met up with a couple of my fellow Orlando Reef Diver members that were on the trip. By the time it the gate agents were boarding us there were ten ORD members gathered around. My seat in first class was nice even on the short and uneventful flight to Miami.
It was raining in Miami when we arrived and our connection gate was literally next to the gate that we arrived at. I went for a short walk and when I returned we had gained three more ORD members. There were a couple of small delays before boarding the flight and then one significant delay after we boarded as the pilot stated over the PA system that the plane was being taken out of service. Luckily they were able to move all of us over to another gate where a similar plane had just arrived.
The flight down to St. Kitts was relatively uneventful and the process to get through customs was quick and painless. After gathering my bags I found the tour bus driver and started to herd the divers to a staging area as to make the organization and disembarkation faster. We made it to the hotel, The Bird Rock Beach Hotel, where the hotel representative signed us in, gave us a quick rundown of the hotel, and walked us to our rooms. I finally met my roommate and the final ORD member to join the trip. After a short rest, where I don’t believe I stopped sweating from the humidity, we met with our dive master, Caesar (Albert), who told us how our diving would go over the week. We then all ate at the hotel’s restaurant and retired for the night.
5/27/2018 - Day 1 of Diving
The morning started very early. At least much earlier than I typically get up. After breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant we all ventured down to the dive shop for Dive St. Kitts where we filled out the required paperwork. Afterwards we boarded the dive boat and set up our gear. Our dive masters on this trip were Lucy and Angela and our captain was Mike.
Black Coral - 9:30am - 49ft
This was the first dive of the trip and was rather enjoyable. I had a little difficulty with submerging as I underestimated how much weight I needed to become negatively buoyant. Once I got down the reef was great. We saw a nurse shark curled up under a rock. There were also a ton of lion fish (which became a reoccurring theme on this trip).
Spanish Anchor - 11:15am - 36ft
The second dive for the morning was amazing but I didn’t bring my camera with me as I thought the dive would not be as picturesque. We saw a ton of neat critters such as yellow headed jawfish, oriental fan gurnard, sand diver lizard fish, and garden eels. There was also a huge anchor stuck in the rocks that was encrusted with flora.
After getting back from the dives I recall that I was very tired. I went back to the room and I believe I didn’t really emerge until dinner time. I ate and went back to the room for the night.
5/28/2018 - Day 2 of Diving
Ocean’s Paradise - 9:30am - 71ft
This was an amazing dive with tons of wildlife but of course the biggest draw were the sharks. We had between 4-6 reef sharks swimming around and through our group.
Rocky’s Reef - 10:30am - 37ft
Again back in the shallows near the Spanish Anchor site. This time I brought my camera and I attempted to capture all of the amazing life I saw.
After the dives we got cleaned up and went to an outdoor food court (think of food trucks that don’t move). We then proceeded to get a tour of some of the island’s hot spots. The tour bus took us along the southwestern side of the island where our first main stop was at the Romney Manor and the Caribelle Batik factory. After seeing a demo of the batik process and purchasing a shirt I explored a bit of the estate. It was very nice but then it dawned on me that it was a slave plantation. Apparently it was one of the first one to liberate their slaves and therefore has a special significance on the island.
We left and headed to the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. This very well preserved fortress had amazing views and tons of information throughout. It was a worthwhile spot but it was getting rather hot.
I ate dinner back at the hotel’s restaurant and after hanging out with the other divers for a bit retired to my room.
5/29/2018 - Day 3 of Diving
Sandy Point #1 - 10:10am - 62ft
This was an okay dive. We had a late start because we had to stop for gas and also the dive master couldn’t locate the mooring buoy as it had been cut by the local fishermen at some point. Anyway, the dive had the typical reef structure up until the very end when we hit the section of the reef that we were meant to hit. I didn’t seem to have any good photos from this dive.
Sandy Point #2 - 11:45am - 60ft
We did a second dive at this location but started where we were supposed to. Saw a ton of little things and it was a very enjoyable dive.
near the M/V River Taw - 3:50pm - 44ft
A handful of us went on a third dive where we dove near the M/V River Taw and then explored the nearby reef and other artificial stuff placed nearby. This dive was really cool and I was able to take a bit more time finding cool stuff. I found an octopus! Also there was a van chassis and a rusted out bulldozer.
5/30/2018 - Day 4 of Diving
As the dive company caters to the cruise ships that come into St. Kitts we worked around their schedule and moved our diving to the afternoon. This left the morning open and I joined a couple, Darren and Angela, and explored the island a bit. We even walked around the port and Basseterre a bit. We ended our trip by having lunch at the food court where I got accosted by a pan handler asking for money. I could only understand about every 20th word he spoke so I tried to let him down as easily as I could. Eventually he realized that is efforts were useless on me and he moved on.
The Rocks - 1:50pm - 75ft
Another awesome deep water reef with tons of reef sharks. We had between 8-12 sharks come in. They especially came in after one was fed a lion fish. There was one instance where I was head down attempting to take a photo and when I looked up the group had moved on and were probably 40 or so feet away. When I looked behind me there were three sharks bearing down on my position. It was the only time that I had any anxiety at all around sharks but I hightailed it back to the group as quickly as my flippers would take me and the sharks followed me the whole time pealing off only as I approached the group. I wish I had the foresight to swim backwards and film their chase. Of course I’m probably blowing this out of proportion but that was my feeling at the time.
M/V River Taw - 3:35pm - 44ft
This time at this site we mainly stuck around the two portions of the wreck and not so much the surrounding area. I really enjoy wrecks because they typically have a little bit of diversity compared to the surrounding reefs.
M/V River Taw (night dive) - 7:10pm - 43ft
Again we hit the River Taw but this time it was just as the sun was going down. The night dive was great as the animals changed shifts with their nocturnal cousins. Saw a couple of turtles and then we stumbled across a huge loggerhead turtle that was attempting to sleep on the wreck. Our presence disturbed it and it swam off with the two remoras attached to it (video below).
When we got back we ordered pizza and then crashed.
5/31/2018 - Day 5 of Diving
Camps - 8:50am - 60ft
As the last day of diving commences we dove this spot that was supposed to be the best site of the entire trip. Maybe I was tired but I considered it okay. There was definitely some different fauna here and we did experience a hot water vent but it didn’t seem as grand as it was set up to be. I think I would have enjoyed this more if we could have spent more time on the site. I felt like the really cool stuff was at the end of the dive when we had to start our ascent.
M/V Corinthian - 10:40am - 67ft
We hit another wreck but this is a newer wreck and didn’t have much growth on it nor was there a ton of fauna. We did venture to some reef walls that I would have liked to explore more but that was when I started to notice my depth was exceeding my plan and I had to ascend a bit. It was a decent dive.
Spanish Anchor to Rocky’s Reef - 1:54pm - 37ft
In order to maximize our diving a handful of us went on an extra dive back in the shallows near the Bird Rock. We traversed between the Spanish Anchor dive site to the Rocky’s Reef dive site. It was a thoroughly enjoyable last dive.
We got cleaned up after the dives and went to Mr. X’s Shiggidy Shack where I ate a large lobster that was great and enjoyed some live music.
6/1/2018 - Nevis
Since almost everyone was leaving early the next morning we couldn’t do any diving. So instead Caesar organized a short trip over to Nevis. In the morning after breakfast we were shuttled over to Nevis on one of the dive boats. We met up with a tour bus that drove us up to the botanical gardens and we had a guided tour of the plants around the gardens. Afterwards we at lunch at the Lime Bar & Grill and returned back to Charlestown. Alison and I decided to check out Museum of Nevis History (Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace) but it was thoroughly disappointing and hot. Once we had our fill we returned to the boat and were shuttled back to the Bird Rock.
I ended up going for a long walk down to Basseterre where I explored a bit off of the beaten path and got some strange looks from some of the locals. It was darn hot so I returned to the hotel after about two hours and immediately joined everyone else in the pool area. We chilled there for a bit and had another night of eating pizza.
6/2/2018 - The return
After breakfast it was all business. Organizing and packing everything for the trip back. Settling up the bill with the hotel. Okay, not all business. I did kill a bunch of time playing games on my phone. The trip back to the airport and then the flights back through Miami were uneventful. It was a great trip!