In later years, studies have discredited the overblown legends and some have even gone so far as to suggest that the number of ships and aircraft gone missing is not actually significantly greater than in other areas of the ocean. We call those people spoilsports. Having said that, bringing up the subject in Bermuda you do get the impression that the locals are a little tired of talking about it, which is a shame as it's such a compelling topic. Certainly it’s a huge point of differentiation when compared to other island destinations.
Regardless, the miles of reef around the island of Bermuda were definitely the cause of many of the shipwrecks years ago, and the treacherous conditions helped give the island a nickname: Isle of Devils. Even today the coastguard regularly ends up rescuing boats that have run aground.
With hundreds of sunken ships, an embarrassment of (maritime) riches, and some of the most accessible wreck diving anywhere in the world, the reef is at least great news for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. Wrecks here are not just for advanced divers either. Boats like the Taunton, a 228-foot Danish steamer built in 1902, sits in just 10 feet of water. There are not many places in the world where you can snorkel a wreck, but Bermuda is one of them.
The lighthouse at North Rock
On my trip I dove with the guys at Triangle Diving. No wreck or deep dives for me as it was my first outing in five years, but they took me to a great spot called North Rock, about nine miles out to sea. There’s a weird, solitary and slightly spooky lighthouse out there. Given the number of shipwrecks around the island it is perhaps not the most effective of lighthouses, but it still looks cool.
The water in mid-June was warm (high 70s) and visibility was a good 100 feet. In winter visibility increases dramatically, going anywhere up to 200 feet. Peak season for SCUBA is March through October, but you can dive here year-round if you don’t mind the cooler water. Temperatures vary dramaticallyfrom low 80s in the summer months through low 60s in winter—a range as expansive as the number of buried ships to behold.
It is rather unusual for an area to have more than one quality wreck to dive. For there to be dozens of them, accessible to every level of diver, is very luxurious indeed. You could even get your PADI certification here while diving wrecks, a level typically saved for the advanced.
Disclosure: We traveled to Bermuda for the Lennon unveiling as a guest of the Bermuda Department of Tourism, but all opinions and images are completely our own.
[Photos: Kai MacMahon for Jaunted]