Scuba in Cuba: A Guide to the Best Dive Sites
January 20, 2017
Cuba is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in the world for diving. We've put together a guide to some of Cuba's top diving sites for you to explore during your Caribbean charter.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean Sea, there are hundreds of dive sites with caves, coral gardens and abandoned shipwrecks for visitors to explore. The sea temperature is a glorious 25°c all year round and there are many species of exotic marine life to discover in the warm waters. Peak diving time is between December and April which coincides perfectly with the winter yachting season.
On the North Coast, Boca de Caldera (The Mouth of the Cauldron) is a great site for divers of all levels. The visibility is excellent and the sea near Havana is calm with very little current. Dive straight from the rocky shore and discover a string of small caves and an interesting wall dive, or drop anchor further out into the bay and explore the stunning coral reef and shipwreck sites. Watch the Coral fish swim around you in the beautiful, brightly coloured garden of sea sponges and fans on the ocean bed.
Two of the best wreck dives in Cuba are also found on the North Coast. At Sanchez Barcastegui dive 25m down to an 8000-ton Spanish battle ship which sunk in 1895 after a collision with another boat. The site is well preserved in a coral reef and is home to large shoals of tropical fish. Coral Island is another wreck site, a merchant ship which caught fire and then ran aground on the Cuban coast. The surface of the ship is a breeding ground for corals, sponges and algae, and the interior which is divided into 3 sections, has been taken over by marine life. Explore the stern area and discover the many different species of fish hiding in and around the ship.
The South Coast of Cuba has some of the best dive sites in the country and perhaps even the world. Thanks to the Cuban government's revolutionary measures to restrict tourism and support marine conservation, many vulnerable species are protected and thriving in Cuban waters. Isla de la Juventud or the Isle of Youth has the most dive sites of anywhere in Cuba and has been nicknamed Treasure Island by the locals because of its fantastic selection of caverns, tunnels and dramatic wall dives. Spend a few days exploring the island underwater and meet some of its residents including turtles, Barracuda and Eagle rays. There are 56 sites in total in the marine reserve, some of the most popular include Tunel del Amor, Pared de Coral Negro and Cueva Azul which stretches down an incredible 1500m and is filled with shoals of small silvery Glassfish.
El Acuario in Cayo Largo must be one of the prettiest beaches in the world. The soft sand is a dazzling white and the water is crystal clear and inviting. Spot pelicans, turtles and iguanas on the beach before heading into the warm water to swim with the multi-coloured Coral fish, French Angels and Hog fish who live in the Elk Horn coral garden below. If you're lucky you may also catch a glimpse of the elusive Bull sharks who live in the deeper water of the lagoon and occasionally swim out to greet groups of divers.
The jewel in the crown of Cuba's dive sites is without a doubt the breath-taking Jardines de la Reina or Gardens of the Queen. Designated as a marine reserve in the 1990's by the government, the number of divers is restricted during the year and the reefs are in pristine condition with abundant marine life. If you're looking for underwater thrills, the Avalon Diving Centre offers a unique shark encounter in the reserve. Conditions are ideal for a close look at the shark population in the Jardines, the visibility is excellent with very little current, and groups of up to 20 Reef sharks swimming together at a time are common. Shark lovers may also get an opportunity to see Silkies, Whale, Hammerhead and Leopard sharks cruising the waters of this exceptional site. The archipelago stretches out over 75 miles in total and the coral islands are home to dozens of varieties of tropical fish including Groupers, Snappers and the impressively large Jewfish. Bottlenose dolphins and Sperm whales are regularly spotted swimming in the Jardines de la Reina and you can even snorkel amongst the mangroves with friendly saltwater crocodiles if you're feeling particularly brave.
With so much on offer and so many exciting dives for all levels of experience, Cuba is truly a paradise for diving enthusiasts. For more information and to book your Caribbean charter today, please contact us at: email@example.com