The Caribbean is home to world-renowned diving spots like the Western Hemisphere’s largest coral reef off the coast of Honduras and the second-deepest submerged sinkhole, which is near Belize. These popular, natural sites are brimming with marine life like nurse sharks, giant groupers, sea turtles and thousands of tropical fish. And for many, the most exciting dives are something out of a Caribbean movie and a piece of history with shipwrecks and maritime legends of sunken treasure.
While divers and snorkelers may not come back with gold, these incredible, submerged structures are their own sort of treasure, thanks to their otherworldly beauty and enduring history—and a Royal Caribbean cruise can take you to them.
Check out our top five Caribbean underwater treasures:
MV Captain Keith Tibbetts – George Town, Grand Cayman
The Cayman Islands are a treasure trove of history with as many as 365 dive sites scattered along the nation’s shores—from British naval ships to USS submarines. The MV Captain Keith Tibbetts is a 330-foot frigate and the only divable Soviet Union-made ship in the Western Hemisphere. Intentionally sunk along the north shore of Cayman Brac, the frigate is now a popular, artificial reef that is home to thousands of grouper, grunts and more than 100 species of fish and coral.
Odyssey – Roatan, Honduras
Almost 110 feet below the surface and just off the shore of Roatan, Honduras lies Odyssey. After a damaging fire ended its hauling career, the 300-foot freighter was purposefully restored, cleaned and subsequently sunk in 2002 to create a new, advanced diving adventure. Holes were even intentionally cut in the hull to enable further exploration of the otherwise intact vessel. The site is the largest in Roatan and one of the largest in the Caribbean, requiring multiple visits to truly explore it in its entirety. It’s also conveniently located near local reefs.
Pro tip: Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line that offers diving certification with Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Five Star Dive Centers on board.
SS Sapona – Bimini, The Bahamas
Not all shipwrecks are fully submerged. The SS Sapona sits in 15 feet of water, just a few miles off the Bahamian island of South Bimini. The ship is a unique concrete-hulled cargo steamer and was first commissioned during World War I due to a steel shortage. Having run aground in The Bahamas in 1926 after a hurricane, it was opened to diving and snorkeling in 1945. Diving between the “pillars” of its rusted hull, explorers can get a peek at the ship’s inner workings as well as the tropical fish taking shelter there.
Berwyn – Bridgetown, Barbados
Barbados has a reputation for being a home to many of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean and multiple shipwrecks that turned into ideal diving spots. Topping the list is the Berwyn, a French tugboat from World War I that sought shelter in Bridgetown after coming under fire, and was mysteriously sunk by its own crew shortly thereafter in 1919 (rumor is they didn’t want to leave Barbados). More than a century later, the ship stands upright and largely intact, overgrown with sponges and corals in Carlisle Bay.
Miss Opportunity – Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
With the largest concentration of wrecks in the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas boasts a number of top dives beyond its wide selection of coral reefs and pinnacles—small, underwater masses of rocks. Another ship that was intentionally sunk in 1985, Miss Opportunity lies tilted on her starboard side, making for an eerie dive between decks. Adventurers can opt to begin at the top deck, now the deepest section of the ship, then make their way to shallower waters.
Ready to dive deeper into the stories of these sunken treasures? Head here to see how a Royal Caribbean cruise can be your jumping-off point.