Six fantastic scuba diving destinations in Cuba
As the largest island in the Caribbean and with 3,600 miles of shoreline, Cuba is becoming an increasingly popular scuba diving destination. Home to some of the western hemisphere's healthiest coral reefs, divers can enjoy an array of thriving diving sites, from the Jardines de la Reina archipelago to Cayo Largo.
With 3,600 miles of relatively untouched coastline, it’s no wonder Cuba is home to some of the western hemisphere’s healthiest coral reefs.
The largest island in the Caribbean is fast becoming a popular scuba diving destination and it boasts an array of spectacular diving sites.
Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen)
Named by Christopher Columbus after Queen Isabella of Spain, this archipelago is situated off the southern coast of Cuba and spans an area of 840 square miles. Home to 600 cays and mangrove islands, the region’s ocean waters are full of turtles, whale sharks, stingrays, and reef sharks, making Jardines de la Reina scuba diving heaven.
Diving and fishing in the reserve is limited every year and the area can only be accessed by boat which makes is a tranquil spot for the lucky few.
Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs)
The Bay of Pigs is one of the best shore diving locations in Cuba and divers can explore the steep wall that drops 450 metres off a few minutes swim from the beach of Playas Larga and Giron.
Black coral, elkhorn, staghorn corals, and sponges can be found in the holes and cracks of the cliff face and onshore, divers can explore saltwater cenotes and limestone caverns.
Situated on Cuba’s south coast, this island is the second-largest in the Canarreos archipelago after the Isla de Juventud and it is home to dozens of diving sites where visitors can enjoy visibility of up to 100 feet.
Wrecks of more than 200 ships that sank between the 16th and 18th centuries can be found in the emerald green waters, and there are plenty of underwater caves, tunnels and cliffs teeming with vibrant coral and hundreds of tropical species of reef fish.
El Colony is located off the Isla de Juventud and boasts about 56 diving sites in the Punta Frances national marine park. Home to coves and caves, the area is known as Pirate Coast and while the sunken shipwrecks might not have any gold, there is plenty of treasure to be found in the form of parrotfish, angelfish, hamlets, and neon tube and basket sponges.
Maria la Gorda
Located on the western tip of Cuba in the Pinar del Rio province, Maria la Gorda is a hotspot for nesting turtles in May and June and whale sharks during August and September. Divers will feel as if they are swimming off the edge of land due to the shallow shelf that slopes away from the beach and then dropping thousands of feet. Marine species include manta rays, barracuda, huge sponges, and black coral.
Marea del Portillo
Marea del Portillo sits on the south coast near Manzanillo and is home to a myriad of Spanish galleons, English schooners and ships that sand between the 17th and 19th centuries. One of the most renowned shipwrecks is El Real, a 36-cannon galleon, and Cristobal Colon, a Spanish battleship.
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