Helmet and Scuba Diving
It might look like something out of Star Wars, but helmet-diving is an easy way even for nonswimmers to walk the ocean floor and view the island’s intriguing reef life. Bermuda Bell Diving (5 North Shore Rd., Flatts, tel. 441/535-8707 or 441/292-4434, fax 441/295-7235, belldive [at] logic [dot] bm) takes groups of 12–18 (maximum) participants on daily expeditions to inner-coastal reefs. The business was established back in the 1940s, but former carpenter Paul Pike has been running things for the past two decades aboard his 40-foot admiral’s barge, Cameron, which he named for his daughter.
Helmet-diving, as its name suggests, involves a heavy (50-pound), astronaut-style helmet which rests on your shoulders—and, naturally, feels lighter underwater. It features a glass viewing window and is attached to a hose-pipe that runs to the surface, pumping in fresh air as you walk freely on the seafloor.
Pike’s 2.5-hour tours ($65) include the half-hour trip out and back to reefs at Shelly Bay, Admiralty House, and other venues. Maximum depth is 18 feet, though 10 to 12 feet is the norm. Tours leave from the Flatts wharf at 8:30 a.m., noon, and 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and weekends, weather permitting. Pregnant women, or people with certain medical conditions, are not permitted to take the tours for safety reasons.
Triangle Diving (Grotto Bay Beach Hotel, 11 Blue Hole Hill, tel. 441/293-7319, info [at] trianglediving [dot] com, www.trianglediving.com) is a five-star PADI dive center, offering certification and advanced courses, night dives, one- and two-tank dives, and private charters. The facility also sells diving equipment. Its location allows for excursions to the many East End dive sites, including Spanish shipwreck Cristobal Colon, some 10 miles offshore near North Rock Beacon, and the popular “Cathedral,” a towering coral reef preserve you can swim through, situated just off the St. David’s Island shore. Rates include a one-tank dive for $85, a two-tank dive for $120, and a 10 dives for $500.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition