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Scuba Diving in Cuba

By Emma Lelliott

Scuba diving in Cuba has become hugely popular in recent years, and it's easy to see why. The water is warm and crystal clear, and the vibrant underwater wildlife and excellently preserved coral reefs make it a key destination for avid scuba divers.

The sheer number of great dive sites in Cuba is staggering, far too many to explore in a single Cuba diving holiday. Many keen scuba divers return to the island year on year to explore some of the more out of the way places. The sites also present a good variation in their level of difficulty, so diving in Cuba is suitable for both beginners and veteran divers.

Scuba diving in Cuba is a big business and there are plenty of companies to choose from, especially around the most popular dive sites. Note that if you have dived before, you must bring your certification card with you. If you are a beginner, many companies run courses that will get you certified in a few hours.

When Should I Go?

The rainy season runs from May to October; the most popular (and expensive) time to go diving in Cuba is between November and May. Plenty of good diving can still be done all year round - the average water temperature is a balmy 24 degrees Celsius. Be aware that once every two years or so Cuba experiences a hurricane between August and September along its east coast, so it is worth researching if a hurricane is expected to hit before you book your holiday!

Where Should I Go?

There are great dive sites suitable for Cuba diving holidays around the entire coast of the island, but the resort of Cayo Coco is a particular highlight. Located on the north of the island, a magnificent coral reef is half a mile from the coast and this particular part of the Cuban coast is teeming with tropical fish, giving divers plenty to see underwater. Out of the water, Cayo Coco features the finest beaches in Cuba, and the numerous hotels and dive companies that are set up at this resort mean that you'll have little trouble finding places to stay and companies to dive with.

Maria la Gorda is equally popular, and is regarded as one of the best sites for scuba diving in Cuba. Situated in the midst of a national park, Maria la Gorda provides a more secluded experience than Cayo Coco - there's little here except for natural beauty, a few apartments and restaurants, the dive centre and some of the best diving on the island. The dive sites are characterised by steep drops, and sheer walls that are riddled with caves and tunnels to explore.

If you'd prefer to go diving amidst ship wrecks rather than coral reefs, then Santiago de Cuba is the place to go, as there are a number of well preserved wrecks that are safe to explore.

How Much Will It Cost?

Naturally, the cost of scuba diving in Cuba will vary depending on the season you visit and the company that you go with. Single dives typically cost between $25 - $50 US, with discounts available if you buy several dives at the same time. Many companies now offer Cuba diving holiday packages, including flights, accommodation and diving costs, which can offer good value and save you the hassle of putting everything together separately.

About the Author

Emma Lelliott is the general manager of Captivating Cuba, an independent Cuba holiday specialist. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba are experts in putting together the very best Cuba diving holidays.

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Cuba Vacations - The Best Diving and Snorkeling

By D McKee 

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in the Caribbean is often associated with such locations as the Blue Hole in Belize, Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman, Santa Rosa Wall in Cozumel and Wreck Diving off the coast of Aruba. While these are among the most sought after spots in the Caribbean, there is another Island in the Caribbean that, although not usually associated with the best Dive and Snorkel sites in the world, can hold its own even to some of the most demanding underwater enthusiasts.

While mostly known for the pristine beaches, beautiful architecture and rich culture, Cuba is home to over 500 Diving and 360 Snorkeling sites within the Cuban Archipelago, many of which have been declared National Parks or protected areas. Preservation of Cuba's natural ecosystem on both land and water are taken very seriously to ensure that the warm clear waters and thriving biodiversity remain vibrant and healthy. The Main Island and Cayos of Cuba have an exceptional diversity of marine life and offer a variety of opportunities from reef exploration, walls, narrow channels and wrecks. Conditions surrounding the island are consistently ideal with clear warm waters and no strong currents.

Jacques Cousteau once proclaimed that he saw more fish on Cuban reefs than anywhere else in the world. You don't just have to be a seasoned diver though; excellent snorkeling is available throughout the island from just meters offshore to full day excursions among the reefs and wrecks. Five of the best places in Cuba to dive are:

Bay of Pigs is known for its underwater caves and sudden ocean walls and features lots of gorgonians, sponges and corals. A thriving marine life will satisfy Snorkelers and Divers alike as most of the diving is done from the shore.

Maria la Gorda is a biosphere reserve on the westernmost part of Cuba. Although quite remote, it is very rewarding for both Divers and Snorkelers as the seabed is among the top places in the Caribbean and contain an abundance of marine flora and fauna.

Holguin on the north coast is home to countless schools of underwater species and superb coral reefs. Numerous dive centers offer excursions at very reasonable rates.

The Cayos also on the north coast comprise of inlets and Cays including Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria, and Cayo Guillermo. With 20 miles of Coral reefs and perfect visibility, you'll encounter turtles, moray, lionfish and dolphins among the thriving underwater world. Divers will experience incredible walls and impressive coral formations.

Santiago de Cuba on the southern coast has wrecks, vibrant flora and fauna, and fantastic underwater topography.

All of these locations in Cuba have accommodation ranging from All-Inclusive resorts to more modest hotels. Many of the resorts include snorkeling as part of their All-Inclusive package and also offer day excursions to more remote locations at very affordable rates.

With a safety record that is tops in the world and extreme high regard to diver safety. By never having more than 5 divers per dive master and always having a highly qualified doctor manning their 10 recompression chambers means Cuba is not only one of the most spectacular places to dive but also one of the safest.

The incredible beaches of Cuba are incredible not only on the land but under the water as well. If you are traveling to Cuba just to soak up the sun and enjoy the laid back Cuban vibe, grab a snorkel and enjoy the world hidden under the turquoise waters. For Divers looking for world-class diving at less than world-class prices, give the reefs and coral around Cuba and you'll discover that diving in Cuba will not only meet but surpass your expectations.

Beyond the white sand and under the turquoise clear waters, there is a whole other world to explore on your Cuba Vacations.

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To learn more about Cuba, visit our other Cuba Pages

bulletCuban Places of Interest
bulletOther Cuban Attractions
bulletCuban Scuba

To learn about the other islands in the Caribbean, visit our Island Adventures Page





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Last modified: April 15, 2009