Favourite Dives: Shark Canyon

By Gary Ward
Shark Canyon

Maximum Depth: 12m / 40 ft Level: Advanced, Strong Current

The small Cays off of the southern coast of Carriacou have some interesting and unique topographical features, which can make any diving here a thrilling challenge. All of the islands of the Grenadines sit atop a shallow sand bank, called the Grenadine Bank, which rises up from the depths of the ocean to an average of only 21m. As the water column moves up over this bank and meets the small islands the water can rush through the channels creating some sudden and ripping currents.

East shore of Frigate Island

Frigate Island, one of the eastern-most cays is one of our favourite locations for more challenging dives as it sits close to the “drop off” and the strong Atlantic currents. Shark Canyon is probably the most challenging of challenging sites, and one we get the opportunity to dive very rarely. Which is why it is also one of our favourites. The site itself runs along the eastern edge of Frigate Island. Here, as you get really close to the island the years of strong currents have eroded the rocks to form a deep fissure close to the island. Diving this fissure is diving Shark Canyon!

Shark Canyon
It’s a hard swim over the reef leading up to Shark Canyon.

So what is it that makes this site so challenging? Getting to it and getting away from it at the end! To dive the site you need to be on the inside of the rocky ridge formed between the sea and the island. The prevailing wind and surface currents from the east push the boat quickly onto the rocks, so drop off needs to be quick, negative entry and far enough away so as not to endanger the boat or passengers. That’s issue number 1. Issue number 2 is that the underwater current splits aggressively to drag divers north or south around the island, and so once you have started to descend its critical that you swim hard across the current to get close to the rock formations. Delay too long and you will be swept with the current and miss the entrance to the canyon. You must be prepared to swim across or into some pretty strong current for a short period.

Shark Canyon
The entrance to the canyon.

The entrance to the canyon doesn’t look overly enticing. The rocks gradually rise up to 5m (15ft) from the surface forming a flat plateau, and then you will see the fissure which you can drop down into. The fissure is then all calm, relaxed and oh so full of life! As we meander through the canyon there are small caverns and swim-throughs cut into the rocks which are more than ideal to dive through. There are deep over-hangs and hollows, where hard corals and sponges are everythere. Schools of chub and trigger fish dance around above you. The canyon itself is fairly short, and the entrance is roughly in the middle, so I tend to drop in and head south for about 40 to 50m, before turning the dive and heading back the other way. As we pass by the entrance and continue north, we come across some large overhangs in the shallows above us. Here we quite often encounter Caribbean Reef Sharks sleeping with the fast waters flowing over their gills. Be slow and stay close to the ground and we can get quite close too.

Shark Canyon
Shark Canyon, Carriacou.

After the large overhang, there is a small lip onto a flat plateau which signals the end of the dive site. To exit, we all push into the plateau and let the current pick us up and push us around the northern tip of the island, where we can also start to swim with the current into deeper water. With surface markers deployed the boat will come to us and make a pickup. Exit from the water will involve gabbing the drift line and pulling yourself, hand over hand, to the stern of the boat before quickly climbing up the ladder onto the boat. It’s an exhilarating ride and an amazing site that we can only visit when the winds are light and the currents not too strong. For those that have been there, they will attest to how rewarding and thrilling this dive is. For those that have been on the boat when we’ve tried (and failed) they will no doubt attest to how strong the current can be…. But here was Shark Canyon!

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About the author: Gary is the owner of Deefer Diving Carriacou. He is a Master Instructor and keen CCR diver. He loves to explore new sites to keep the diving around Carriacou fresh and exciting.

For more information about diving in Carriacou, please visit our website,