Scuba Diving Spooky Channel in Roatan, Honduras

Eons ago during the last Ice Age, an ancient waterfall cut a massive gorge through the very foundations of the island of Roatan. Millennia later, the ten-storey canyon at Spooky Channel rests just under the ocean surface, inviting Advanced Open Water Divers to shine their torches into this monolithic marvel.

You begin the dive in murky green shallows of the Sandy Bay lagoon. The eerie visibility for which this site earns its “spooky” status will gradually engulf you as you follow the rocky bottom deeper into the grotto. You’ll feel almost overwhelmed as the channel walls slowly rise and close in from both sides. At 12m/40ft, you’ll plunge through a large dark hole leading straight down.*

The sun is quickly reduced to a few cascading godrays as the channel ceiling closes together stories above. At the surface, a tiny crack in the reef crest balloons outward to form the main chamber, a 29m/95ft deep cathedral of green sea stars, scurrying lobsters, and grotesque rock formations. While this part of the channel is not terribly dense with fish life, sliver-shaped schools of houndfish— smaller relatives of the barrucuda— often congregate in the shadows.

As you drift out of the cathedral towards the mouth of the channel, the visibility quickly clears to the Roatan’s typical pristine conditions. Parrotfish, groupers, and angelfish pluck algae from the rubble. During the summer months the algae growth in this section thrives on the warmer stagnant water trapped in the channel, transforming the floor into a verdant carpet.

After about 20 minutes, you will reach the mouth of the channel. Most divers pass through the large vertical mouth and onto the coral reef. If you feel confident in small spaces, you can find a smaller swimthru to the right to dramatically exits through tiny blue hole onto the wall. Watch your buoyancy when exiting the channel: the wall at Spooky Channel is deep— over 60m/200ft.

The coral reef wall is populated by large schools of bright blue creole wrasse and very large yellowfin groupers. The groupers have are particularly well-adjusted to diver presence, swimming within a few feet of the group. If you are carrying a spear, you can expect to have several of these fish as hunting partners, eagerly awaiting your next lionfish slay.

Alternatively, you can finish the dive with a series of swimthrus near the back of the channel. About halfway back in the channel on the right, you will find a pair of columns at 14m/50ft. Follow the vertical slope up to 10m/30ft to find a series of easy swimthrus, the last of which shoots you out under the mooring line at a perfect safety stop depth of 5m/15ft.

Aquatic Life: black groupers, yellowfin groupers, barracudas, lobsters, king crabs, houndfish, oceanic triggerfish, various sea stars, toadfish

Don’t Miss… looking under the rocks for a toadfish. Though you will probably spend much of your dive swimming on your back and staring up at the channel, it pays to look down for these odd-shaped and very vocal bottom-dwellers.

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