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The Caribbean’s reputation for diving is actually somewhat patchy and this is certainly one part of the world that great hotels and great diving would appear to be mutually exclusive.
Peter Island is, however, the exception to this rule. Arriving at Beef Island airport on Tortola, you are met and escorted by private boat across Sir Francis Drake Strait to this island paradise - the answer to the question of finding the best Caribbean diving and the best accommodation in one place.
Located south of Tortola, the island is a large private resort made up of 1,800 pristine acres fringed with endless white sand beaches. There is a variety of accommodation options, with rooms set amongst immaculately tended gardens full of mature palms of all kinds, bougainvillea, frangipani, and other tropical plants.
The beach is a nearly mile-long crescent of perfect white powder, dotted with thatched umbrellas. Activities at Peter Island include kayaking, windsurfing, tennis and, of course, renowned snorkelling and diving. If island fever strikes, then the resort runs a regular trip to 'the Baths' on Virgin Gorda, an amazing collection of giant granite boulders that form a series of spectacular pools and grottos in which you can snorkel.
The dive centre at Peter Island is just two minutes from any of the rooms and staffed by a small, highly personable dive team offering an excellent and intimate service. Digital underwater cameras can be hired, and all the sites are within thirty minutes, so no day trips are necessary.
The Virgin Islands rank constantly at the top of many dive magazines polls, and once you're there it's easy to see why. The protected waters offer some truly excellent diving. The wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone (voted the best Caribbean wreck dive by Sport Diver & Rodales Magazines) lies just fifteen minutes away. Sunk in a hurricane of 1867, Rhone is one of the best known and sought after wreck dives in the world and starred - complete with killer moray eel - in the film The Deep. Having been there for nearly 150 years she is now totally encapsulated with corals.
The ship's remains are home to abundant marine life, including yellow moray, lobster, barracuda, a school of Jack, Soldierfish, Spotted Drum, Queen Angelfish, Cowfish, and octopus. Weather permitting, you can also venture to the outside reefs where with the blue water there is the chance of bigger things. The reefs are in great shape (El Nino seems to have had little impact here) and there are forests of waving fans and soft corals. Be aware that there is also a lot of fire coral, especially at Santa Monica Rock, so keep your hands to yourself.
The bays on Peter Island are free from pesky charter yachts because they are roped off with buoys and yachts have access to just one remote beach.
Will, Original Traveller
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Isabel and Will are our 'Dive Peter Island' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.