Cuba is hard to reach but worth the trip! The remoteness of the largest island in the Caribbean means that it is not as crowded as other vacation destinations. Plus, it has a 5,646-kilometer coast, providing plenty of attractions to explore for those who are looking for an underwater adventure.
Whether you are looking for shipwrecks, steep walls, colorful corals, or shallow reefs, Cuba has something to offer. It also has a diverse marine life, so you will never be bored! You can go diving almost any time of the year, although, it is best to avoid the rainy season!
Pack your bags and head to Cuba! It is time to put on your best wetsuit and go diving in Cuba! For sure, you won’t be disappointed!
1. Jardines de la Reina
The name translates to Gardens of the Queen in English. It is located on the southern coast and has gained a reputation as one of the best places to go Cuba scuba diving. One thing that makes it a more popular destination is the fact that it is home to the world’s third largest coral reef.
If you are looking for a thrilling experience, this will also be a good spot to choose. In some areas, you can have thirty sharks circling you during a dive. Some of the species that you might spot include silky sharks and Caribbean reef sharks.
Aside from scuba diving with sharks, it has healthy soft corals that are sure to be a feast for the eyes. Some might find the colors to be underwhelming, but they won’t disappoint since they are exceptional when it comes to their health and size.
Its tropical location makes it a good destination for year-round diving. For the best experience, however, we recommend that you visit from December to April. A lot of people tend to avoid October because of the possibility that there will be hurricanes.
2. Cayo Largo
If you want to experience the best beach in the country and if you want to go diving at the same time, Cayo Largo is one location that is hard to beat. It has an impressive barrier reef that can be reached just a mile off the shore.
Those who are interested in wreck diving will have some places to explore as well. It may not be one of the best shipwreck diving destinations globally, but it can still prove to be impressive.
There are more than 30 diving sites that you can explore when you are in Cayo Largo. One of the most popular is El Acuario, which is 15 meters below. It has diverse colors and marine life. There will be plenty of chances for spotting cat sharks, bull rays, and stingrays. Make sure to bring your diving camera to capture its underwater beauty.
Before you head out, it is good to know that this island thrives solely for tourism. With a length of only 26 kilometers, it is inhabited exclusively by people who are working in the tourism industry.
3. Isla de Juventud
Called Isle of Youth in English, this is another enchanting destination that will make another great choice for diving in Cuba. People go here only for two things – snorkeling and diving. Among others, one of the best spots in the area is Punta Frances Marine National Park, which is one place that should not be missed if you want to try cave diving.
Cueva Azul is another popular dive site in Isla de Juventud. Like Punta Frances, it is also a top pick for cave divers. There is a tunnel entrance and there are three exits. As you exit the wall, you will find the famed big blue, which stretches at 1,500 meters down.
For the advanced divers, other places that are also worth checking out include Pared De Coral Negro and Lon Indios. From black corals to rocky walls, it has everything that you will be looking for in an advanced dive, including marine life.
If you are looking for a place to practice macro photography, on the other hand, be sure to visit El Cabezo de las Isabelitas. Don’t forget to pack your lenses for underwater photography!
From rock formations to coral gardens, your eyes will experience a visual feast, which is why Varadero is another top pick when it comes Cuba scuba diving. If you are into wreck diving and underwater photography, you won’t end up being disappointed at Coral Negro, Neptuno, and Caribe. They are all known for their exceptional wrecks.
Another spot that is not to be missed when you are diving in Varadero is Ojo del Magano, which is a blue hole. It is located only 10 meters below sea level. Here, there will be plenty of sightings of barracuda, red grouper and snapper. So, better learn how to prevent scuba mask from fogging for the best underwater views!
As a tourist destination, there is more to Varadero than diving. You can also explore its 20-kilometer white sand beach. There are also nature reserves and golf courses. If you want to go out for a hike, take the time to see the Saturno Cave.
5. La Habana
It is impossible to talk about Cuba without mentioning Havana or La Habana. After all, this is what people know the most when talking about the country. While it is popular for history and culture, those who would like to go diving in Cuba will also love Havana.
The average depth of the dive sites in Havana ranges from 5 to 35 meters, so there is something for everyone.
The Havana coast is a favorite amongst beach lovers. Under the water, it is equally stunning. Among others, one of the spots that is worth checking out in Havana is Boca de Caldera. This coral garden is shallow and is known for its clear water, allowing it to offer exceptional visibility.
Havana will not disappoint as well for those who are looking for wreck dives. Coral Island is one of the most popular amongst advanced divers. You might also be interested in seeing Sanchez Barcastegui, a Spanish vessel that has been in the area since 1985. Meanwhile, for advanced and deep divers, Baracoa Umbrellas will be impressive.
6. Cayo Coco
This is one of the groups of islands located in the Northern Atlantic coast of Cuba. It is known for its picturesque white sand beaches and coral reefs, making it another great destination for diving in the country. Sun seekers are sure to love how clean the place is!
For those who are looking for top destinations for Cuba scuba diving, Cayo Coco is not to be missed. One of its highlights is the 10-kilometer long coral reef, which goes anywhere from 10 to 30 meters. Whether you are getting your open water certification for the first time or you are a diving expert, this has something to offer.
The marine diversity in Cayo Coco is another reason why it is one of the country’s most inviting dive spots. You will see barracudas, sharks, snappers, groupers, and pomegranates, among others. This is a great place to practice underwater photography.
There is no need to bring your own diving equipment. As a tourist spot, there are several dive shops where you can rent scuba tank, dive computer, scuba BCDs, and scuba fins, among other gears that you will need.
7. Bay of Pigs
Situated in the country’s southern coast, this is another excellent pick if you want to go diving in Cuba. It is still a secret destination by the standards of Cuba, but it is quickly gaining popularity, so you should visit before it becomes over-developed and crowded.
This isn’t one of the places where you have to worry about how to stay warm while scuba diving. Throughout the year, the water remains warm, which is about 29 degrees if your visit during the summer.
Thee are plenty of sites to uncover in the Bay of Pigs. One of the most popular is the Jaruca wreck. It was sunk by locals intentionally in 1994 to become one of the diving destinations in the area. If you are looking for something more challenging, you can visit El Cenote, a deep limestone sinkhole.
If you want to dive at Bay of Pigs, there are two access points – Playa Giron and Playa Larga. You can book dive tours in both locations. The shops are regulated by the government, so you can expect pretty decent prices.
Located about 250 kilometers from Havana, it is a colonial town that is known for being an urban historic center. Those who are interested in history are guaranteed to have a good time here. More than its architecture, this is also a good place to try diving.
There are 30 identified diving sites that you can visit when in Cienfuegos. Among others, one of the most popular is La Corona, which has a depth of 30 meters. It has narrow coral channels with sharp drops. There are occasional sightings of whale sharks. There are also lobsters, barracuda, and groupers.
Punta Sabanilla is also a great dive destination. The depth is 30 meters and it is known for its picturesque fauna, including corals and gorgonians.
The tropical climate of Cuba makes Cienfuegos a year-round diving destination. To experience the best weather, however, it would be best if you visit from November to May when the water temperature will range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
9. Playa Santa Lucia
Around seven hours by car from Havana, you will reach Playa Santa Lucia. It is quite neglected compared to other destinations in Cuba but holds a lot of promise if you are looking for a good dive.
This small village in the northeastern part of the country might not exactly fit your definition of paradise, but it is worth a visit.
There have been several reports of sightings of a bull shark in Playa Santa Lucia, which is considered one of the most dangerous sharks. Despite this, to date, there have been no reports about attacks on holiday divers.
For those who are interested in wreck diving, one of the sites that you should not miss is the Nuevo Mortera, which sank in 1905. It has a maximum depth of 30 meters. It is known as a home to green moray. When you see one, make sure to not touch it if you don’t want to risk losing your fingers!
10. Santiago de Cuba
Known as the cultural capital of the country, this is another good destination for diving in Cuba. It is nicknamed The Hot Land, which is a literal reference to the fact that it is the country’s hottest city throughout the year. So, if you are visiting in summer, better prepare for the excruciating heat!
While the options are not as diverse as the more popular destinations in Cuba, there are still several spots that are promising. If you are looking for shallow water, one of the best to check out is La Cueva, which has a depth of seven meters. The cave has a length of 17 meters, a width of 3 meters, and a depth of 7 meters.
If you are looking for something that is more challenging, check out Mandinga, which is 35 meters deep. The maze, meanwhile, has a depth of 25 meters. You will also like La Pared, which has a depth of 35 meters and has a wall that has abrupt drops.
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So, if you are looking for unique underwater experiences in a country with culture and history worth exploring, you should definitely go diving in Cuba! Head out to the places that we have listed above and discover why this destination is quickly becoming more popular!
Is Cuba too far and inaccessible? If you are having doubts, there are plenty of other places you can explore. Check out the best destinations for diving in U.K. and diving in Hawaii for equally impressive underwater adventures!