The Government is introducing a marine parks system, installing permanent moorings in certain areas to eliminate anchor damage. Designated marine parks include Dog Island, Island Harbour, Little Bay, Prickly Pear, Sandy Island, Seal Island and Shoal Bay. Mooring permits are required. Do not remove any marine life such as coral or shells from underwater. Spear fishing is prohibited.
Stoney Bay Marine Park Underwater Archaeological Preserve was opened in March 1999 for limited public diving, although surveying, mapping and historical research was not complete. The park is protecting the wreck of a Spanish ship, El Buen Consejo, which ran aground on 8 July 1772 off the northern tip of Anguilla while on its way to Mexico with 50 Franciscan missionaries bound for the Philippines. It now lies about 100 yd offshore at a depth of 30 ft, with cannons, anchors and historical artifacts. Dives are fully guided and can only be done with Shoal Bay Scuba and Watersports. You are shown a video and given an overview of the ship’s history before you go down. Eventually dive trails with plaques will be installed.
There are good dives just off the coast, particularly for novices or for night dives, while the others are generally in a line due west of Sandy Island, northwest of Sandy Ground, and along the reef formed by Prickly Pear Cays and Sail Island. Off Sandy Island, there are lots of soft corals and sea-fans, while at Sandy Deep there is a wall which falls from 15-60ft. There are also several wrecks, nine of which have been deliberately sunk as dive sites around the island, the most recent in 1993.
Further west, Paintcan Reef at a depth of 80ft contains several acres of coral and you can sometimes find large turtles there. Nearby, Authors Deep, at 110 ft has black coral, turtles and a host of small fish, but this dive is more for the experienced diver. On the north side of the Prickly Pear Cays you can find a beautiful underwater canyon with ledges and caves where nurse sharks often go to rest. Most of the reefs around Anguilla have some red coral; be careful not to touch it as it burns.
Dive centers: Scuba diving can be arranged through The Dive Shop, PO Box 247, Sandy Ground, T2020, F5125, excellent courses are available at this five-star PADI training centre, recommended. Retail shop open daily 0800-1600, snorkeling and diving equipment for sale or rent. All dives are guided boat dives; a single-tank dive costs US$40, a two-tank dive US$70, night dives US$50. Anguilla Divers, based at La Sirena, Meads Bay and Island Harbour, dive the east end of the island and offer PADI courses, in English, French, German or Spanish, T4750, F4632, axad...@anguillanet.com Shoal Bay Scuba & Watersports, T4371. You can check http://www.anguilla-diving.com/class.htm as sea life found in Anguillian waters which is personally observed and photographed.