For scuba divers, Cuba is a Caribbean destination apart. Where neighboring islands have experienced diminished fish species from overfishing, Cuba’s reefs have been astonishingly well preserved, and are the most dazzling in the entire region.
Start your dive explorations on the peninsula furthest west in Cuba, in Maria la Gorda, where international dive centers front the sheltered Bahia de Corrientes, one of the island’s best-protected zones for diving.
The area falls within the Guanahacabibes National Park, and is home to around 50 excellent dive sites that include features like plunging walls, swim-throughs and caves.
At the dive site called Lost Paradise, you can fin amongst shoals of jacks and barracuda. Keep an eye out for patrolling stingrays, too.
And at the Gorgonian Garden, divers delight at the sight of hulking Nassau groupers.
Punta Frances, located along Cuba’s fabled “pirate coast” on the Isla de la Juventud, is another must-do for divers.
Advanced divers can submerge into a tunnel at the site, called Cueva Azul, to spot huge tarpon.
Even snorkelers along Punta Frances’ shores may spot hawksbill sea turtles and maybe even manatees, too.
The Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Marine Park, off the island’s southern coast, is perhaps Cuba’s greatest underwater treasure.
A government-protected area, it’s considered among the most beautiful dive destinations in all of the Caribbean.
Since commercial fishing is not allowed within the park, the marine life here is prolific, with all manner of sea turtles and sharks (including reefs, hammerheads, black tips, leopards and silkies) to be seen.
The best way to visit the area is on multi-day trips via liveaboard dive boats.
Cayo Largo, east of Isla de la Juventud off Cuba’s southern coast, is yet another prime place to submerge, with shallow waters that host a wide range of marine life.
Tunnels, steep walls, and vibrant coral heads are among the over 30 dive sites here, with eels, barracuda, sharks, lobster, grouper and all manner of snapper among the inhabitants.
Off the northern coast of Cuba, make a beeline for the Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King) and Cayo Coco, home to beaches with sugar white sand and a rainbow of reef life.
The water is warm and crystal clear—all the more enticing for spotting angelfish, parrotfish and large schools of tarpon and spadefish as you fin along the pristine reefs.
And about two hours southeast of Havana, the Bay of Pigs may be in history books for the failed US military invasion, but scuba divers known it for something else.
You can gear up right on the beach and dive straight from the shore to access a spectacular wall that vibrates with all manner of tropical fish, and over 17 species of coral plants.
The Jaruca is a purpose-sunk wreck that’s fun to explore in this area.
Advanced divers love the site called Punta Perdiz for its deep wall, dazzling with fish life.
When you go on a scuba diving trip in Cuba you’re often going where relatively few divers have gone before.
To be sure, nowhere else in the Caribbean feels as pioneering as here, so
make sure your certifications are up to date and dive in for the underwater experience of a lifetime.
Maximise your scuba diving adventure along Cuba’s Caribbean coastline with our safety advice for the less-developed diving infrastructure available here.
Goats on the Road find out why Cuba is bursting onto the scene as a new wave-riding destination.