Cuba, the largest Island in the Caribbean is also one of the best unsung scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.The late Jacques Cousteau, possibly the best known name in scuba diving, once said that he saw more fish on Cuban reefs than anywhere else in the world!
The warm clear waters of Cuba, hold treasures in terms of biodiversity in it’s miles and miles of coral reefs. Right from the underwater caverns that provide mysterious confines which beg inspection to the plentiful wrecks including a sunken torpedo boat and a fallen transport plane now safe havens for an unparalleled variety of marine life, Cuba is a diving dream turned reality.
Currently on offer there are 31 diving centers at 18 different zones and 100′s of dive sites with new areas being developed everyday. Of these, Maria La Gorda located in the Pinar Del Rio province of Cuba, a scenic 4 1/2 hours drive from Havana past scenic banana, sugar cane and tobacco plantations is one of the most loved Cuban dive spot even if it’s one of the least developed areas of the island. It has two distinct dives zones – a shallow area that gently slopes away from the beach for a short way before suddenly dropping steeply to several thousands meters below sea level on a near vertical plane. The drop creates some impressive walls cut with tunnels and caverns. Other underwater sights include black coral walls, 18th century shipwrecks and a few caves.
For something a little closer to the country’s capital city of Havana, Cayo Levisa is the place to go. It’s just one of the thousands of cays and islets surrounding Cuba. An hour outside the capital on the north west of the island, this Cuban dive site is home to sponges, black coral and some of the larger tropical fish. It’s also home to some of the island’s more memorable shipwrecks from the 17th and 18th Century. Cayo Largo, in the south of the island is another obvious choice for diving with it’s virtually untouched beaches and coral reefs. A great place for beginners as it is protected against any strong currents in it’s huge reef.
About 90 miles east of Havana, Varadero is a top Cuban beach destination and a dive site where you can spot a sunken torpedo boat,or check in on a fallen transport plane.
Then there’s the peculiarly named Bay of Pigs dive site, a fabulous 30 m swim through with small coral gardens at 6 m then drop off down a fantastic coral encrusted wall with Tuna, Barracuda, jacks and the likes. Playa Giron near the Bay of Pigs too has some good diving. Renowned for it’s shelf diving, the area has sheer drop offs near the shore which make for some great swim-throughs.
No matter where in Cuba you choose to dive you can’t be disappointed. If nothing, the clear warm waters, 30-40m visibility and abundant coral life make it a joy to dive. So the next time your planning a scuba diving trip, head to the Caribbean don’t forget to experience some ‘Cuba Diving’!