When you think of South America, one of the first countries that will come to mind is Colombia. Despite having a reputation as an unsafe country, many are brave enough to make it their next travel destination. Why not? It is rich in history and has a unique culture worth exploring.
To add, those who are fascinated with the outdoors will easily fall in love with the country. Especially for those who fancy being under the water, there are plenty of options for diving in Colombia. After all, it is part of both the Pacific Coast and Caribbean Coast, so you will not run out of places to discover.
Thinking of where to go to scuba dive Colombia? Get your wetsuits ready! Read and learn more about some of the best places to check out!
1. Providencia Island
It is impossible to talk about diving in Colombia without a mention of Providencia Island. This small northern island is known for being the home of the third-largest coral reef barrier in the world. To add, the sea that surrounds it is a designated Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, which is a UNESCO protected area.
One of the biggest selling points of this island is the diversity of the sites that you can explore. Whether you are just learning scuba diving for beginners or you are already an expert, there is a place for you. It has caves, blue holes, and shipwrecks, among others.
While there is an endless list of sites that you can explore in Providencia, one of the highly-recommended is Felipe’s Place. It is a coral garden with diverse creatures. Be sure to get your diving cameras ready to capture its underwater allure!
2. San Andres Island
This is a large island that is close to Nicaragua, which is why some people think that it is no longer a part of Colombia. It is only about two hours by air away from Bogota. A small part is mainland, and the rest is already water, making you spoilt for choices when it comes to dive sites.
With the size of the island, you can be here for a week and still not have time to visit some of its sites. In general, the water temperature is at 29 degrees Celsius. While you can go diving year-round, one of the best times to visit is in February.
To be specific, some of the best dive sites that you can visit on the island are Trampa de Tortugas, La Rocosa, and Raggaenest, all of which are known for having great visibility, making them great places to bring your lenses for underwater photography.
3. Malpelo Island
It is recognized by the United Nations as one of the best diving spots in the world, so make sure to include this as well in your plans if you want to scuba dive in Colombia. It is a volcanic island on the Pacific Coast and is dotted with seven islets. It is not as accessible as the other islands in the country, which makes the place more appealing.
A word of warning – Malpelo is not for everyone. Before you go, make sure that you are familiar with scuba diving safety tips and invest in the best dive safety gear. It is not meant for beginners. It is circled by sharks and has steep walls, so go here only if you are already an expert diver. The currents can also be strong, so proceed with caution.
4. Gorgona Island
Locally known as Parque Nacional Natural Isla Gorgona, it is composed of two major islands – Gorgona and Gorgonilla. The national park that encompasses the island has a marine area that covers 97.5%, so you will not run out of opportunities to dive.
With more than 15 submersion sites, it is difficult to choose which one is best to explore. If you are a beginner, we suggest that you go to the eastern part, which is known for having calm water. The western part, on the other hand, is perfect for experienced divers who are looking for a thrilling adventure.
Like the other dive sites in Colombia, it has diverse underwater wildlife, which includes humpback whales, barracudas, whitetip reef sharks, and giant manta rays, among others.
5. Isla Fuerte
If you want an unpopular destination for diving in Colombia, this is one place that should be on your radar. A lot may not have heard of this place, but believe us, it has plenty to offer!
This tiny coral island has a diameter of only one mile. The maximum elevation is only 12 meters. It also has a small population, with roughly only 2,000 people, most of whom have African descent. The reef, however, is three times the size of the entire island!
There are more than 37 dive sites that you can visit in Isla Fuerte. The water conditions, however, can be unpredictable. So, make sure that you have a top-notch scuba dry suit that will make it easier for the body to manage the changes in underwater temperature.
6. Capurgana and Sapzurro
This is already on the border of Panama. The coral reefs are preserved, basically because it is less touristy compared to the other reefs in Colombia. It is home to more than 30 dive sites, each with something unique to offer to its visitors. For the best experience, it is best to go from May to November.
It is not a single place but two towns that are next to each other, so you will be hitting two birds with one stone. The only way to access it is via boat. However, it is quickly gaining popularity. You should visit now before it gets developed and crowded.
Aside from the diving destinations, the towns are also known for their pristine beaches and exciting nightlife.
Like most of the places that have been mentioned in this post, it also has diverse marine life. So, be sure to have the clearest scuba masks to fully appreciate its beauty. Learn how to master basic skills like how to clear a scuba mask to enjoy an uninterrupted view. It is home to scorpionfish, butterflyfish, barracuda, stingrays, and angelfish, among others.
For those who are planning to visit, you should bring cash. There is only one ATM that you can find in Taganga. If you need cash, you will have to travel all the way to Santa Marta, which is sure to be frustrating.
Like many of the places where you can go dive and have a vacation in Colombia, avoid drugs. Many people are trying to sell outside bars. Often, they work with the police and will try to extort money from you. Researching about scams like this is an important part of preparing for a dive holiday if you are going to a country like Colombia.
8. Islas Rosarios
Located in Cartagena, this is a great place for divers of all skill levels. Regardless if you are a novice or a pro, there is an accessible site that you can visit. The crystal-clear water is adorned with unique coral formations, although, it can be underwhelming compared to the other places that we have mentioned above.
The aquatic plant life is one of the surprises that will await divers in Islas Rosarios. You can enjoy the diversity of flora and fauna. After all, the Natural Park Corales Islas Del Rosario covers an area of 4,633 square miles of water and there are 30 islands.
9. Santa Marta
Known as the oldest city in the country, this makes it a great place for diving in Colombia if you are a history buff. If you would like a break from your dives, you can explore the rich past of the city.
If you are in Santa Marta, the most popular dive site that you can visit is the Tayrona National Natural Park. One of the reasons to visit the latter is because this is where you can find the highest coastal mountain range in the world. In terms of diving destinations, some of the spots that should not be missed are Concha Bay, Playa Blanca, and Chengue, among others.
One thing that you will love is that the water is warm, making sure that you will be comfortable in your dive. Despite this, it still pays to know how to stay warm while scuba diving to be prepared in case things become unpredictable.
10. Bahia Solano
If you want to go whale watching in Colombia, Bahia Solano is one of the places that should be on your bucket list. It is a part of the Choco province, which is not popular for both locals and tourists, making it a great choice if you want to get away from the crowd.
It is known as a destination where the sea and the jungle meet. It has pristine and deserted beaches that can offer unrivaled tranquility. The underwater wildlife is impressive and diverse, providing opportunities to spot turtles and humpback whales, among other marine creatures.
One of the most popular attractions in the area is Sebastian de Belalcazar, a warship that sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Cabo Marzo, on the other hand, is a good choice for those who are looking for underwater caves to explore. Before you head there, make sure that you are familiar with cave diving to keep you safe and sound.
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In sum, Colombia enjoys a great location with two coasts gifted with some of the best underwater gems in the world. With the destinations mentioned above, you are guaranteed to have a fun-filled scuba dive in Colombia. Now is the time to brush up on your knowledge of fundamental diving concepts and explore the allure of Colombia.
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