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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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August 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Nature Island Divers, Jungle Bay Resort, Dominica, BWI

diving the volcanic crater

from the August, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

Soufriere, DominicaAfter a clumsy giant stride off the Nature Island Divers catamaran, I drifted down to 90 feet in clear 82-degree water at the edge of a submerged volcanic crater. Following the divemaster, I began a gradual upward spiral around the Scott's Head Pinnacle, its near-vertical pillar covered with colorful corals, tube sponges, sea fans, and wire corals. Sunlight penetrating the clear water produced bright and sometimes iridescent colors on the pinnacle. I was awed by a school of large barracuda that surrounded me, and as I rounded the pinnacle, a huge school of horse-eyed jacks warily eyed me from just feet away. Farther along, swarms of Creole wrasse and blue tangs fluttered past, and in the crevices, I spotted lobsters, anemones hosting tiny shrimp, and cleaning stations crewed by yellow wrasses. As I wound upward, an octopus scooted between crevices and a large green turtle ambled past. Near the surface, a large pelagic darted past so fast I couldn't tell if it was a mackerel or a wahoo. After an hour underwater, my fellow divers and I raved about this world-class Caribbean dive.

Mountainous, rainforest-clad Dominica is perhaps the most beautiful Caribbean island. Unlike most others, it sports few beaches, mostly modest hotels, sometimes cloudy weather, and no nonstop air service. It's only blemish: the cruise ships. It's been called the Nature Island, carefully protected by its government and citizens long before ecotourism became a buzzword.

Diving here is different. Nature Island Divers' operation is in the caldera of a dormant volcano, with signs of volcanic activity scattered around the island, such as hot water springs, bubbles rising from the seafloor in several places, hot water dives, a hot water spa of sorts, and several fuming craters.

The informal Nature Island dive shop is just what you might expect on such an undeveloped island, with its sideline of lionfish jewelry and other souvenirs, a kitchen selling lionfish burgers (it has been said that to render a wild animal extinct just make it a popular food) as well as snacks, beer, and booze. Their backyard doubles as a place to enjoy your burger and rinse and store your gear while snoozing dogs keep an open eye on you....

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