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Aboard Blackbeard Cruises: Madison Avenue

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

You’re awestruck. Your team dives 20 feet into the ravine, through a cragged arch nearly 10 feet high, and you’re in another world.

On deck the divemaster called this site “Madison Avenue.” Now you understand why. You’re swimming down a rocky thoroughfare evoking those wide, glamorous Manhattan streets. Sandy chutes intersect the corals and run into the distance like alleyways to neighborhoods beyond.

It’s an almost picture-perfect match for New York City, and then you remember this natural wonder — not its landlocked cousin — has existed for hundreds of years, maybe more. You ponder who’s actually copying whom.

The similarities don’t end with the architecture. The reef is a melting pot of sea life. Creatures crisscross the ravine, making the daily commute. A mellow blacktip reef shark glides by. Some yellow- and blue-striped grunt school beneath jutting sea shelves.

A lone, massive crab catches your eye. It scuttles across the nearest rock ledge, appearing to drink in the ocean vista. You aren’t the only tourist on Madison Avenue today.

Your team exits the ravine and comes to rest beside some sun-soaked pillar coral. But you have one more stop on the Avenue: a narrow sea cave, its mouth 35 feet below on the ocean floor.

Your pulse quickens as you descend to the cavern — you’re almost prone now, your fins kicking up little eddies from the ground. The cave’s too tight to enter, but it’s wide enough to stick your head and dive light inside. It’s like peering into a New York City storefront: fish glimmering in your headlamp’s beam, a veritable smorgasbord of the Caribbean’s ocean life. You finally kick away and swim toward the surface, a tankful of new memories in tow.

That’s what they say about Madison Avenue: If you can make it there, you’ll take it with you everywhere.

For more of Blackbeard’s Cruises’ best dive experiences, check out Lobster No Lobster and The Washing Machine’s Spin.

Visit to learn more, check out current dive deals, or contact Blackbeard’s Cruises today to book your next trip.

Aboard Blackbeard’s Cruises: Lobster No Lobster

Monday, August 10th, 2015

You’re tickled. As your dive party rounds the next bommie like clockwork, you have to wonder: Will there be lobsters?

The divemaster teased their appearance before entry, even before counting down to “dive!” — massive creatures weighing as much as 200 pounds. Lobsters have crawled around this gorgeous reef for more than 200 years; some of them could be just as ancient.

Granted by Jacques Cousteau, Lobster No Lobster’s 1970s namesake is its reputation; crustaceans and the seasonal lack thereof, at depths of 25 to 30 feet. From April to the end of July? No lobster luck. From August to March? Lobsters prowl.

You glide over polyps and fans dolloping a narrow little island beyond the dive. Each reef bank begets another in a circular daisy chain, sprouting like bonsai branches or flower petals. You dived off a boat’s mooring and backward in time, and you’re delighted.

Each turn has yielded bounties of flatworms, brilliant nudis and other mollusks — the usual Caribbean suspects — but no lobsters. Slack tide is drawing, and this is it: your last chance for a glimpse. You bank around the last curve, and the ocean erupts with underwater life. Yellow-headed jawfish whip up tiny sand clouds from the seafloor, and you bubble with laughter as several long, silvery fish dart toward you for a play date.

There are no claw-pinching giants. Instead, a kaleidoscopic fairyland has made this last bommie its home, giving you five or six dives’ worth of creatures to relish. A school of barracuda meanders by for a peek, but you’re not afraid — they have just as much right to this spectacle. And you remember that rock ‘n’ roll chestnut: You can’t always get what you want, but you just might find, you get what you need.

For more of Blackbeard’s Cruises best dive experiences, check out The Washing Machine’s Spin.

Visit to learn more, check out current dive deals or contact Blackbeard’s Cruises today to book your next trip.