Gesten Van der Post

Gesten Van der Post

Traveller extraordinaire. Very little is known of Gesten except that he (maybe she) likes croissants. And coffee.

New Artificial Coral Reef for British Virgin Islands

Scuba diving fans will find plenty to cheer as the Beyond the Reef project takes shape beneath the waves of the Caribbean Sea…

The British Virgin Islands are well known for fantastic sailing conditions, and with the introduction of Beyond the Reef’s new dive sites, the islands are hoping to boost dive tourism too.

Beyond the Reef are a diverse team, ranging from underwater engineers to sculptors, bonded by their passion for the sea. With the future of the earth’s resources looking fragile, the hope is that the project will create a new teeming hub for local sea life.

As part of the project the team have sourced three old airplanes, which are being converted to shark sculptures. The planes will be joined by a local icon, the Willy T ship, a wreck since Hurricane Irma battered the islands in 2017, which will also be sunk to create part of the new reef system in the BVI. All structures being sunk by the team have been cleaned and made safe both for marine life and future scuba diving explorers.

Willy T soon to be a coral reef

The archipelago already features such must-visit scuba diving destinations as the notorious Kodiak Queen, another sustainable artificial reef which was sunk in 2017, and the RMS Rhone, a British Royal Mail steamship, that sank in 1867. However, the new reef is designed to boost both marine life and the local community.

One of the planes converted to a shark

The deputy director of tourism in the British Virgin Islands, Rhodni Skelton says, “…These artificial reefs, created from abandoned wreckages by an inspiring and passionate group of individuals will become a valuable tourism asset for the Territory… and bring a fresh new look to our dive product.”

Community support

Dive companies in the British Virgin Islands will be asking divers who explore these new sites to donate $5 to local causes. Much of this will go towards teaching local children to swim, as well as educating locals about respect for the ocean and threats that loom over its future.

These donations are at the forefront of the passion driving the Beyond the Reef project forward. After discovering that less than 1/3 of children living in the BVI know how to swim, the Beyond the Reef team hopes to have every child swimming in the next 10 years.

Mr Skelton said, ” I am ecstatic about the chosen charitable cause to which funds generated by the project will be directed, that of teaching BVI children to swim.  This is not only an important skill for living in the British Virgin Islands but a foundational skill for any number of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in the marine sector.”

A sculpture of a pirate in the new BVI reef

Visiting the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are an archipelago of around 60 islands, found just off the east coast of Puerto Rico. Their Caribbean setting makes them a popular haunt for celebs, but don’t let that put you off…. There is plenty of opportunity for independent travel too.

The main airport (Code EIS) is on Beef Island, just off the main island of Tortola. Currently there are no direct flights to or from Europe or the continental USA, with connections going through neighbouring island nations including Barbados, Grenada, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

If you’d like to find out more about scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands, visit BVI Scuba.

Discover the British Virgin Islands, and book flights using our handy widget below…

*All images supplied by Beyond the Reef

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