The island Antigua is located in the Eastern Caribbean, close to Barbuda and in the centre of the Leeward Islands, just 17 degrees north of the equator. To the north and west you will find other famous islands like St. Barts, St. Martin, St. Kitts and Nevis, and to the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadeloupe. The official language on Antigua is English. Land temperatures on Antigua usually range from 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24°C) in the winter to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29°C) in the summer. The humidity is low and it rains about 45 inches (1143 mm) each year, which makes Antigua the Eastern Caribbean Island with the most sun. North-eastern trade winds are present year round, save for a little dip in September. During hurricane season Antigua can be hit by a storm, so be aware.
Average water temperature is 80° (27°C) and the visibility varies from 50 to 140 feet (15 to 43 metres). Most dive sites have little or no current. Depths are usually 25 to 80 feet (8 to 24 metres), but can at certain points be as deep as 180 feet (55 metres). Antigua is encircled by healthy coral reefs and walls. The marine life is tropical and very diverse; including black margates, gorgonian bushes, blackbar soldierfish, hammerhead shark, very large barrel sponges, blue tangs, star coral and black coral, bermuda chub, stoplight parrotfish, jacks and yellowtail snappers – just to mention a few of the species. You will see a lot of red corals that are not actually red, but inhabited with a tiny algae called zooxanthellae which provides the striking colour. Without the algae, the host coral would be white and almost transparent.
The southern and eastern coasts are surrounded by shelves excellent for snorkelling or shallow scuba diving. To really understand what Antigua has to offer you should dive at both the south and the west side of the island, at least. You will most probably have to dive with several operators, since dive stores on Antigua usually only arrange trips to their own side of the island.
Cades Reef is one of Antigua’s most well-liked offshore diving sites, with part of the reef in a designated underwater park. Horseshoe Reef is an offshore formation where you can visit several wrecks and, if you are lucky, spot a hammerhead shark. Advanced and experienced divers usually prefer the ledge of Sunken Rock. This dive is around a gigantic rock, about as big as a city block. The rock pinnacle is no more than three feet (0.9 metres) below the surface. Most divers choose to dive at Sunken Rock in the morning or during the night, since waves build here