The ocean floor surrounding Bermuda is a playground for those who enjoy diving and exploring sunken ships!
Bermuda was once referred to as the “Isle of Devils”, a reputation that was gained because the reefs that surround the island have brought down many unexpecting ships through the years. With more than 300 shipwrecks for divers to choose from, there are some that are more popular than others. In this post we will look at 10 of the more popular ship wrecks in Bermuda, in no particular order.
1. The Sea Venture crashed in 1609 with, who would become, the first settlers of Bermuda. The ship stands upright and fully intact in about 50 feet of water. It is 75 feet long and has 4 levels with cabins and stairs that can be explored by divers. Some believe Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” was written about The Sea Venture.
2. The Cristobal Colon sank after crashing into a coral reef in the 1936. It is the largest shipwreck in Bermuda at 499 feet long with wreckage scattered and 2 main ship sections to explore. A variety of fish and marine life around the wreckage is an added bonus for divers.
3. The North Carolina was en route from Bermuda to England on New Year’s Day in 1880 but sank after hitting the reef. This 250 foot long ship rests in 10-45 feet of water with a collapsed mid-section but fully intact stern and bow.
4. The Hermes is a 165 foot long ship that was abandoned by her crew when she experienced engine trouble near Bermuda. Today she is fully intact with her mast pointing toward the surface and can be found about one mile offshore from Horseshoe Bay. This is a great spot for underwater photography as visibility in the area is excellent.
5. The Iristo (Aristo) is known as Bermuda’s unluckiest ship. The captain was not familiar with Bermuda’s reefs, and upon seeing the wreckage of the Cristobal Colon, he ordered the ship to change course. This actually caused the ship to crash into a submerged reef, resulting in the 250 foot long ship sinking in 1937. Today, coral grows around and on the wreck which is a beautiful sight for divers.
6. The Mary Celestia, also known as the Mary Celeste, sank in 1864. The ship was destined for North Carolina but sank soon after departing from Bermuda. It now lies off the South Shore of Bermuda, approximately 55 feet deep. After Hurricane Bill in 2009, a partial case of wine was found inside the wreck and one of those 151-year-old bottles was tasted by sommeliers in 2015. “The results were less than stellar.” Another item found in The Mary Celestia wreckage was perfume, the scent of which has been recreated by a local perfumery, Lili Bermuda.
7. The King George is the largest fully intact wreck in Bermuda. The King George was one of three dredgers in Bermuda. In 1930, the boat was towed 5 miles and left to sink when it was determined that The King George was no longer needed for harbour operations.
8. The Constellation sank in 1943, very close by to the Montana which went down in 1863, and is said to be the inspiration for the 1977 movie The Deep. A large amount of her cargo of was left on the ocean floor, including thousands of 50 pound cement bags which are now surrounded by plenty of ocean life as it is a great place for algae to grow. The 190 foot ship rests in 26-30 feet of water.
9. The Montana, also known as Nola, Gloria, and Paramount, had difficulty navigating the reefs which resulted in a 10 foot long hole in the hull. A Bermudian steamboat was able to come to the crews aid and get them all to safety, even rescuing a large majority of the ship’s cargo as well. However, this 236 paddlewheel steamer boat sank in 1863 about 8 miles northwest of Dockyard. Now resting nearby to The Constellation, there is plenty of sea life in the area which is an added bonus for divers.
10. The Xing Da is one of the more recent shipwrecks in Bermuda as this boat sunk in 1997. The ship was 221 feet long and carried Chinese citizens who were planning to illegally enter the United States. They were caught, however, with passengers sent back home to China and smugglers arrested. The Xing Da was then towed to Bermuda and as it was broken beyond repair, it was left to sink just beyond the barrier reef to the northwest of Bermuda. Once fully intact, the remains of The Xing Da are now scattered due to hurricane weather.
This list is far from exclusive, but helps to give an idea of the variety of shipwrecks available to be explored in Bermuda. There are many different types of boats, some are newer than others, and there are many very interesting stories to go along with them. If you are interested in diving and going to some of these shipwrecks, you have a lot of options! Contact Fantasea Diving & Watersports https://fantasea.bm/ or Dive Bermuda https://www.bermudascuba.com/scuba-diving-bermuda/ to book a wreck exploring dive.
Title photo credit to the Royal Gazette.
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