"At sea, life is tastier ..." read the verses of a popular song from Sonora Matancera.
Transparent and warm waters, fine white sands, an enviable peace to read or rest under a coconut tree and, above all, beautiful landscapes and sea beds with a universe of colors, species and amazing shapes for lovers of diving and snorkeling.
In this post you will find the best diving destinations in Cuba:
The second largest coral reef in the worldThe World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has named Cuba among the most important dive travel destinations in the world.
According to the Cuban Ministry of Tourism there are more than 500 areas for diving in Cuba, with exotic landscapes, caves, vertical walls, large slopes, cliffs, canals and tunnels.
The second largest coral reef in the world is located in Cuba, just after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
Unexplored and quiet seabeds, to interact with abundant and picturesque marine life such as groupers, eagle rays, hawksbill turtles, dolphins ... and even diving with sharks!
Warm waters all year longDiving in the warm waters of Cuba guarantees memorable dives.
The transparency of Cuban waters allows good visibility, which makes it possible to easily detect sharks and dolphins and to have very close encounters with the species.
When to dive in Cuba? The pleasant temperatures of Cuban waters allow diving in Cuba at any time of the year. Although if you want to witness the migration of whale sharks you must organize the trip between July and November.
Diving courses in CubaCuba has 7 International Marinas and 39 International Diving Centers.
As divers, you can bring your own equipment, but the dive centers have everything you need to do any variant of this activity.
You can also access international certifications such as Padi in Cuba.
For the less experienced, you can do your diving baptism in Cuba, or simply enjoy the varied excursions including snorkeling activities offered around the island, such as the ones in Cayo Blanco, Varadero.
Dive in Havana, among sunken ships
In Cuba there is also an underwater cultural heritage that has merged with the Cuban marine ecosystem.
Precisely this experience of wreck diving can be enjoyed in the northern coastal area of Havana, in the East Beaches, specifically those of Bacuranao and Boca Ciega, 15 km and 25 km respectively from the capital.
Underwater Photography in CubaTravelers from all corners of the world who are attracted by the charms of the Cuban seabed, travel to the island every year to participate in the prestigious International Meeting of Underwater Photography IMASUB.
This event, which takes place at the María la Gorda International Diving Center in July, includes competition dives, as well as free dives, day and night; contemplative diving; recreational activities and underwater photography in the intricate settings of this Cuban biosphere reserve.
4 unique spots in Cuba and an exclusive experience
If you are interested in a themed trip to Cuba about diving, to discover the unique beauty of its seabed, here we give you our selection of 4 exceptional spots where you can enjoy the best dives.
One of the nature activities in western Cuba you must take on your diving trip to Cuba is treat yourself with at least one weekend of total relaxation and contemplative meditation on the seabed of María la Gorda.
We suggest you discover the many natural attractions of Cabo San Antonio and the wonders of one of the most incredible underwater landscapes in the Caribbean, just 4 hours from Havana.
From María la Gorda International Diving Centre you will be able to take a yatch, departing thrice a day, which will take you to dive among barracudas, rays, turtles, lobsters and crabs that live between walls of black coral.
Also, if you are lucky you can spot whale sharks or some specimens of nurse sharks, totally harmless species found in western waters.
If you have international certification to dive, you must take it with you. But if you want to learn, María la Gorda Diving Center also has diving courses for beginners.
On the southern coast of this province we find the Zapata Peninsula, the largest wetland in Cuba and the Caribbean. This Biosphere Reserve has one of the best preserved marine ecosystems on the island, which can be explored from any of its 5 international diving centers.
From these centres, Playa Larga, Punta Perdiz, Caleta Buena, Playa Girón and Cueva de los Peces, you will be able to do the fascinating cave diving, in cenotes or flooded caves, which is the main attraction of this area of western Cuba.
You can also do various variants of diving from the coast: in caves with very peculiar and interesting formations, in tunnels and multi-level walls, as well as enjoying attractive coral formations.
Diving in Caleta Buena: Diving in this area of the peninsula is great, as there are large coral colonies, very well preserved, where black coral is abundant. In addition, it has a diverse marine flora, dominated by brightly colored sponges, and many species of tropical fish.
Diving in Punta Perdiz: If you want to explore tunnels and walls that descend in steps and be amazed by the beauty of the Barrier Reef of Jar, which begins only 3 meters deep, this is the ideal place.
Diving in Cueva de los Peces: a natural pool approximately 70 meters deep, which communicates with the coast through an underwater tunnel. You will not regret visiting this cenote, which receives its spectacular color from the algae, corals and fish that abound in it.
If you wish to include the Zapata Peninsula in a tour Varadero-Cienfuegos You will also have the opportunity to discover the wonders of the Cienfuegos coastal area, which exhibits, among its attractions, the Notre Dame coral, which reaches up to 6 meters in height.
In one of the most charming colonial villas in Cuba, we find history and cultural traditions along with the unique beauty of its sea.
In its 20 km of beach, protected by one of the largest and best preserved coral reefs in the Caribbean, there are more than 30 dive spots, which boast steep walls, shipwrecks and colorful coral reefs.
Experienced instructors feed the bull sharks, a somewhat aggressive species, which does not offer danger though, provided you swim with experienced divers.
As expected, it is forbidden to take children on this excursion and you would just observe, not interact with the sharks.
A thrilling experience, it is not dangerous and it is extremely attractive!
To complete this adventure, we suggest you travel on a catamaran to Cayo Sabinal, an exceptional site with incredible coral bottoms and where you can enjoy the peace and beauty of its unspoilt beaches.
Among these islets we find Cayo Coco & Cayo Guillermo, perhaps the most famous for its long white sand beaches, its turquoise waters and its coral reef of more than 10 km in length.
The Coco Dive diving centre, at Cayo Coco, as well as Morena Verde diving centre, located in the Hotel Meliá Cayo Guillermo, provide all the equipment, assistance and the boat that will take you to discover one of the most unforgettable seabeds of the Cuban archipelago.
Among large sponges, corals, gorgonians and surrounded by patches of tarpon, pomfret, sharks and barracudas, those who have dived in this area testify that the abundance of species, shapes and colors has made them feel as if they were in a natural aquarium.
Located in the central-eastern zone of the southern Cuban coast, between the provinces of Camagüey & Ciego de Ávila, this place is considered the best preserved of the island groups that surround Cuba.
Its biodiversity, according to experts, remains practically the same as when Spanish sailors sailed Cuban waters.
The only way to explore the waters of these gardens is as a guest on a diving cruise in the floating hotels of “vida a bordo” Jardines Avalon.
These boats are high-comfort yachts with very limited seats, which makes this an even more exclusive experience.
Given that in Jardines de la Reina there are a lot of mangroves, where up-to-3-metres-long saltwater crocodiles live, the more adventurous will find an extra attraction in these dives, diving near these reptiles, gray reef sharks, or silky sharks.
Cataloged by many as the best destination for diving in Cuba, we encourage you to visit this almost unspoilt reef, and to delight yourself with the variety of species of fish, corals, sponges, crustaceans and mollusks that live in those multicolored mazes of the Cuban seabed.
Tips and recommendations for traveling to CubaWe encourage you to visit Cuba not only to immerse yourself in its incredible seabed, but to also discover its culture, its oldest colonial villas, its unique corners of nature, its paradisiacal beaches, its Creole cuisine, and of course the kindness of its people.
Here are some tips that may be useful on your trip to Cuba:
- 10 tips to travel to cuba carefree
- 10 experiences to live the real Cuba
- 5 unique spots to explore nature in Cuba
- 5 Havana Adventure Tours
- Ecotourism in Cuba: Tours in unique agroecological farms
- Top colonial cities
- Accommodation in Cuba: the boom of Private Houses
- 10-days customized trip to Cuba
- Most popular tours around Cuba
- The best restaurants in Havana for a good, nice and cheap bite
Article written by Gabriela Rodríguez, independent Cuban guide.
See you soon!!
Video produced by Javier Ernesto Hernández-López.
Photographs provided by Acuario Nacional de Cuba, Anthony Sardiñas Capetillo, Hansel Caballero , Victor Isla, @juliodivingcuba, and @el_acuaman_cubano. 0