One of the many perks of diving on Roatan is the high volume of dive sites available in close proximity to land, with calm conditions and reefs starting shallow so that that we can easily dive on air.
Despite that fact that most of our dive sites are conducive to diving on air, we have a lot of Nitrox certified divers who like to dive on enriched air because of its many benefits. While it all comes down to personal preference, there are a few dive sites here on Roatan that we highly recommend diving on Nitrox in order to enjoy longer bottom times.
Enriched air contains a higher oxygen content and lower nitrogen content air does, giving a diver the ability to extend their no-decompression limit (or dive time). For a few of our dive sites, given their topography and depth, we find it more enjoyable to dive on enriched air Nitrox (EANx32). Having your Enriched Air Diver certification and diving on Nitrox will allow you to explore these sites to their fullest and to ensure a conservative profile.
1. The Odyssey Shipwreck
This cargo ship measures 300ft/100m in length, is about a 20 minute boat ride from West End. Sunk in 2002, the wreck sits on the sand at 110 ft/30.5m, and diving on Nitrox allows you to explore the length and structure of this ship with ample no-decompression time to spare.
For example, according to the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association) no-decompression dive tables, a diver using Nitrox 36 (or NOAA Nitrox II) may stay up to 50 minutes at 90ft/27m of sea water, while a diver using air may only stay a maximum of 30 minutes at this depth.
2. The Point
This is a top requested dive site from divers and a staff favorite, too! Less than a 10 minute boat ride from West End, this site encompasses the southern point of the island. It is famous for its giant barrel sponges, sea fans, and its nutrient rich water that brings in tons of fish ready to feed. Due to the topography of this site, we like diving it on Nitrox because it allows us to explore the wall, as well as the large plateau area (the area of this site that The Point is famous for) with an average depth of 50ft/15m.
Weather conditions for this site can vary daily, so we like to check the conditions to ensure the wind and potential currents are appropriate to still make it a fun and enjoyable dive!
3. The Seamounts of Cayos Cochinos
The seamounts of Cayos Cochinos lie 18 miles off the point of Roatan and can be reached by special two-tank charter trip (weather permitting), and simply phenomenal when the conditions are right. None of the seamounts break the surface, and the diveable mounts peak between 70ft/21m and 40ft/12m in depth. To get the most bottom time out of each dive, we strongly encourage Nitrox for at least the first dive. The coral at the seamounts is healthy and vibrant, and you have the opportunity to see lots of different schools of fish hanging off the reef as they feed.
Now, just because we recommend Nitrox for these dive sites does not mean you can't dive them on air. We simply think that these sites in particular are more enjoyable when you can spend longer enjoying the deeper topography of these sites!
Not a certified Nitrox diver yet? No worries, it's a fun, easy and enormously beneficial course! The PADI Enriched Air Diver certification can be done in a few hours, so it won't have to take up your entire vacation. Check with your local dive shop or drop us a line, and we would be happy to get you diving on EANx32!