Bermuda Dive Sites
Due to Bermuda’s treacherous reef system many ships have found themselves run aground over the past 400 or so years meaning that there are many different eras of shipwrecks to visit. Some of the more famous shipwrecks include the Mary Celestia (Mari Celeste) which was sunk in 1864 but gained fame in 2011 when a storm revealed a hidden cargo inside the bow of the ship, another famous wreck is the Constellation which was the inspiration for the novel and film The Deep by Peter Benchley. A few others we visit regularly are The Hermes, the 2 tugs, and the Minnie Breslauer. There are many more wrecks scattered around the Bermuda coast so normally you will not visit the same wreck twice and the majority of wrecks are suitable for Open Water Divers. We try to accommodate any requests for specific wreck sites, but it is not always possible due to the conditions on the day.
The Mary Celestia
A Confederate Civil War-era blockade runner, sunk in 1864 carrying much-needed supplies to the South. Whilst being piloted by a Bermudian who had said “I know every rock here as well as I know my own house” she struck the reef and sank within 8 minutes. The only casualty was the ship's cook who had returned to his cabin for personal belongings. She sits at about 55ft (17m) in a sand patch surrounded by reef. The Mary is the only paddle wreck that has one of it’s paddles still intact and is a highlight of the dive.
In 2011 after a particularly strong storm had removed a large quantity of sand from the bow section of the wreck, a team of marine archaeologists uncovered several sealed bottles of French wine and bottles of perfume. A PBS documentary about the expedition is scheduled for release in 2015, you can follow the project here. A bottle of the wine was opened and tasted at the Charleston Wine & Food Festival. Food & Wine magazine's Ray Isle subsequently learned to dive with us in order to dive on and write an article on the Mary Celestia. He also conducted an interview with William Shatner on the subject. In addition, local perfumery Lili Bermuda has recreated the perfume found aboard, which is currently on sale.
Scuttled in 1984 as an artificial reef for divers. The 165ft Hermes was built in 1943 as a buoy tender for the US Navy until she broke down on the way to the Cape Verde Islands. Abandoned in Bermuda, she was sold to the Bermuda Dive Association for $1. The Hermes sits upright in 70-75ft (21-23m) of water, her hatches were all removed before sinking to enable divers to safely penetrate. Very photogenic, it is possible to explore the forward cargo hold, crew compartments and engine room. Surrounded by pristine reef we often find schools of barracuda, yellowtail and grey snapper as well as large black grouper.
The oldest of the two wrecks, the King, was sunk in 1984 as Bermuda’s first artificial reef. Once used as a treasure hunter and dive boat, now battered by storms there is no possibility to enter her but you can peer inside through the holes in her hull.
The Forceful is an ex tugboat from Royal Naval Dockyard, purposefully sunk near the King in a sand patch, she has been pushed up against the reef by storms. There is a clear route through the engine room for divers to explore, as well as swimming under her large propeller. At the stern in large letters is the word ‘Bermuda’ which makes an excellent photo op. The wrecks sit in 65ft (20m) of water and are separated by an ‘S’ shaped sand patch, with lots of reef to explore around both wrecks.
This 300ft English steamer sank on New Year's Day 1873 on her maiden voyage from Malaga to New York. She struck the reef and was being towed to St. George's harbour for repairs when she finally sank. The Minnie now lies in about 50-65ft (15-20m) of water. The bow of the wreck lies smashed across the reef with her stern section relatively intact sitting in the sand. Her massive boiler and propeller are still easily identifiable.
Constellation and Montana
The twin wrecks of the Constellation and Montana went down nearly a century apart almost on top of each other. The Montana was another Confederate Civil War-era blockade runner, that went down in 1863 while on route from London to Wilmington, NC. Sitting in 30ft (9m) of water, her bow is relatively intact with her engine standing upright almost touching the surface, and her two paddle wheels are easily recognizable from the wreckage.
The Constellation was an American four masted schooner sailing from Baltimore to Venezuela carrying a large cargo of war supplies. Her cargo included bags of cement, sheets of slate, lead crucifixes, 700 cases of Scotch and drug ampules as well as large amounts of bottles and glassware. The Constellation went down in 1942 while making for Bermuda for repairs after her water pumps broke. Awaiting a local pilot boat she was driven onto the reef and sank within 50 feet of the Montana.
These two wrecks are the inspiration for Peter Benchley's best selling novel and movie The Deep staring Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte and Robert Shaw.
With Bermuda being the world’s most northerly coral reef, we are spoiled for choice and with most sites ranging from 30ft-55ft (9-17m) you can really spend the time underwater to appreciate them. The reefs are all healthy flourishing ecosystems with much of the reef comprised of symmetrical brain coral and large sea fans.
South West Breaker
This location was made famous by comprising in the opening scene of the film “The Deep”. Since then it has been a popular site to visit. Here the quantity of marine life rivals that found in many large aquariums and this site will have you talking about it for years to come. A single large swim through leads you through the breaker where you will find it home to glassy eye sweepers, large snappers and groupers. At a certain point during the year, you may find the sun disappearing behind what you may think is a cloud but as you look up you will see it is actually large numbers of barracuda blocking the sunlight. At a depth of 35ft (12m) this makes for a lovely afternoon dive for beginners and experienced divers alike to be able to have a thoroughly relaxed dive.
Technically this could be considered a wreck site but the ship was sunk in 1661 and has long been taken by. After hurricanes, some pieces of the wooden can sometimes been seen but the main structure of the vessel has been lost. Instead what we dive is the beautiful surrounding maze-like reef. With many tunnel like swim-throughs this site is well loved with the experienced divers. The bottom of the reef is at a depth of 55ft (17m) and well worth a dive for the more adventurous divers who are comfortable with enclosed spaces as swimming through the various parts of the reef can get a little close. Definitely not one to be missed if you enjoy a little adventure.
Lost in Translation
Another dive site close to the bay and dive center, it is also similar to the Virginia Merchant dive site with the swim-throughs, though the ones at Lost in Translation are a little easier to dive. At 50ft (15m) the isolated reef segments are a great way to explore and with a few swim-throughs it is a great all round dive spot for those looking for a relaxing dive with a difference.
This is one of our newer dive sites with the buoy having been placed in 2013 and at a depth of 55ft (17m). Located close to the breakers at Elbow Beach this area has many arches to swim under where jacks and large snappers have been seen frequently. The many little channels lead through and over the reef allowing for a lovely exploratory dive. One of our favorites, a special treat.
This lovely reef site has a maximum depth of 55ft (17m) and with numerous swim-throughs it makes for an ideal site for the more seasoned divers. The swim-throughs are scattered along the bottom of the reef allowing divers to explore the innermost sections of this centuries old, volcanic formation.
You can view the Sport Diver supplement for more information on a number of our wrecks here.
For more HD videos of our sites, compliments of Yuri Matsegora please follow this link.