Bermuda  is known as the shipwreck capital of the Atlantic. Its 280-square-mile reef platform has snared hundreds of passing vessels over the centuries, from treasure-laden galleons in the Age of Discovery to a U.S. Civil War paddle-wheel steamer and World War I and II ships. Scuba-diving on these wrecks is a captivating experience, not only because each, lying less than 60 feet deep, represents an underwater history lesson, but also because the surrounding coral reefs are in near-pristine condition — a far cry from many diving destinations in the Caribbean. Most of the wrecks themselves are also home to a large variety of marinelife.
New wrecks are being created all the time — not because the reefs have claimed more victims recently, but thanks to the addition of artificial dive sites. The latest was a decommissioned 75-foot ferry, the Sea Venture — named for the shipwreck that accidentally brought the first English settlers in 1609. It was sunk off Bermuda’s northwest corner in 2007.
The island’s handful of commercial dive operations are run by accredited scuba instructors, and licensed annually by the Bermuda government. Four are PADI five-star dive centers. Notably, they have developed the world’s only shipwreck certification program, which awards divers a free, frameable parchment certificate listing the history and details of the wreck they explored, along with their Bermudian divemaster’s signature. The program includes 22 of the most popular wrecks.
If diving is how you intend to spend most of your time in Bermuda, it’s advisable to book outings with several different operators to experience the full array of wrecks, since each operator is an expert on wrecks off their particular part of the island. Standout wrecks include the Constellation, a 192-foot, four-masted, wooden American schooner that served as a cargo ship in World War II before it sank off the West End in 1943; the L’Herminie, a French wooden warship which crashed in 1838, scattering dozens of cannon over the ocean floor; and the Cristobal Colon, a 499-foot Spanish luxury liner that went down off the island’s northeast corner in 1936.
Bermuda water temperatures vary from an average 65°F in the winter months (though water clarity is better then) to average highs of 85°F in the summer. Check out www.bermudatourism.com  and www.bermudadiving.com  for details on wrecks, dive operators, rates, and seasonal schedules, plus photo galleries of the most intriguing caverns, swim-throughs, and reef life.
tel. 441/292-6642, information line 441/291-5640
76 Pitts Bay Rd.
dive [at] bermudascuba [dot] com
5 North Shore Rd., Flatts
tel. 441/535-8707 or 441/292-4434, fax 441/295-7235
belldive [at] logic [dot] bm
Grotto Bay Beach Hotel, 11 Blue Hole Hill
info [at] trianglediving [dot] com