Favored by a pleasant climate and its strategic geographical position, Cuba is surrounded by a transparent sea. It has 5,746 kilometers of irregular coastline which includes more than 200 bays and some 600 kilometers of beaches. All 300 natural beaches are characterized by warm, crystal-clear waters and sands of varied texture and color. Interestingly, Cuban beaches and keys have a characteristic that sets them apart from others in the Caribbean. In most cases, they are protected by coral reefs, which such protection facilitating the practice of water sports. Many of these great beaches are located on virgin keys and islets.
In the waters that bathe the island and its four surrounding archipelagos, temperatures hover between 23oC and 30oC (73oF and 86oF). With horizontal visibility varying from 20 to 30 meters, there are ample possibilities for enjoying Cuba’s captivating underwater beauty.
All this creates a great setting for the enjoyment of water sports.
Diving is one of the most popular water sports on the island. On the insular platform (70,000 square kilometers), more than 500 varieties of fish, crustaceans, sponges, mollusks, and a large number of coral species all live together. Consequently, Cuba has one of the most precious ecosystems in the Caribbean. Awaiting you are dives during which you can explore coral reefs, along slopes, in caverns, navigation channels and tunnels. Among all these wonders you will always be surrounded by numerous fish. Certified divers can descend as deep as 40 meters, day or night. Most sites have been declared protected areas by the Cuban government.
Diving centers provide everything you need to fully enjoy your favorite activity. This includes all the equipment and resources required for diving, exploration, life on board vessels and lifesaving gear. The diving equipment meets international standards. Courses for beginners and experienced divers alike are available, along with a full range of diving specialties. Medical care, including a hyperbaric chamber, is also available at these centers. The professional instructors providing services have been trained by PADI, SSI, NAUI, ACUC and CMAS and are recognized by the World Confederation of Subaquatic Activities .
Certifications issued by diving schools and supported by the Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) are accepted by all Cubans diving centers.
Every year the Hotel Colony on the Isla de la Juventud hosts an international underwater photography contest (Fotosub).
There are 15 scuba diving zones in Cuba.
Maria La Gorda, Pinar del Rio
Diving sites: 39
Located on the western-most tip of theGuanahacabibes Peninsula, 186 miles from Havana.
A natural paradise replete with myths and legends of pirate ships and Spanish galleons sunk along its coasts. Its treasure include both natural wealth and the richness humans have left behind. Give yourself a special treat by exploring this beautiful, silent world.
UNESCO has declared the area to be a biosphere reserve. The fantastic scenery and the seabed, which is rich in marine species and coral reefs of impressive beauty, make this an ideal place for both scuba diving and ecotourism.
Valle de Coral Negro, featuring coral walls more than 100 meters long, and the Salon de Maria, an 18-meters deep cave adorned with plumule coral, are a must-see, as are adjoining areas where the concentrations of fish during migratory seasons are truly impressive.
Cayo Levisa, Pinar del Rio
Diving sites: 15
Located in the archipelago de los Colorados, 91 miles from Havana.
One of the most attractive sites of this zone is La Corona de San Carlos, a long ridge converging in sand beds with coral hillocks, where families of eagle rays and stingrays congregate.
Diving sites: Playa El Salado (15), Havana City (23), Tarara (16), Puerto Escondido (7)
Located in and around the City of Havana.
From the bay of Mariel to Puerto Escondido, Havana’s coastal area offers the very best conditions for diving. Its coral reef is well preserved, and offers 30 meter (98 foot) visibility all year long. What a wonderful location from which to observe a wide variety of fauna!
El Colony, Isla de la Juventud
Diving sites: 56
Located on the Isla de la Juventud, 50 miles southwest of the Cuban mainland.
Its enchantment stems both from its history – which is filled with legends of buried treasure – and from its beautiful seabeds. The Colony scuba diving zone offers a vast array of renowned sea depths, which many specialists consider some of the best in the world for scuba diving. Tunnels, passages, grottos, deep channels and underwater valleys form an incomparable submarine seascape inhabited by a great diversity of species. Punta Frances a marine biosphere reserve, must been seen by all travelers.
Cayo Largo del Sur
Diving sites: 32
Located in the heart of the Caribbean, at the eastern end of the Canarreos Archipelago, 113 miles from Havana. Accessible by airplane only.
Cayo Largo del Sur is a little slice of paradise. Its beautiful coral reefs, which are relatively close to the surface, provide refuge for a wide variety of fish. Nature went all out when it created this shallow area near an almost vertical break in the ocean wall, where you can see a wealth of sponges and large fish. The key, renowned for the rich and colorful diversity of its marine life, offers excellent conditions for scuba diving. Cayo Rico’s banks of mollusks are a special attraction.
Diving sites: 32
Located 87 miles east of Havana on the Atlantic Ocean side.
The most famous beach resort in Cuba, with over 20 km of fine white sand, is also an enclave featuring good diving sites from which divers can reach the coral reefs and observe caves, channels, sunken planes, corridors, warships and other shipwrecks. The various diving sites include more than 40 kinds or coral and a wide range of fish. Varadero offers divers the possibility of exploring caves, some flooded with freshwater, and sea water showcasing unique formations of stalactites and stalagmites. In the Cueva de Saturno interior, there is a lake and two galleries where blind fish and shrimp can be found.
Bahia de Cochinos, Matanzas
Diving sites: 14
Located 111 miles east of Havana on the Caribbean Sea side.
Nature has blessed the bay of pigs with the very best in recreational diving areas. In this dazzling environment, you can find one of the most attractive natural environments ever known. The bay is a narrow elongation of the Caribbean sea and offers one of the most spectacular wall diving sites in the world.
Cienfuegos (30), Guajimico (16)
Located 168 miles east of Havana on the Caribbean Sea side.
This beautiful city, situated along Cuba’s southern coast, has one of the largest and cleanest bays in the Caribbean. The diving-zone depths abound in fish and feature huge coral masses, interrupted by a broad, deep channel from 10 to 40 meters deep, and coral that at some point touch the surface of the water. The reef also includes the largest coral column in the world, 23 feet high. Six sunken ships have turned into genuine artificial reefs, because they are completely covered by many sea creatures, providing food and shelter for lots of fish.
26 miles east of Cienfuegos, you can find an incredible place where high coastal cliffs split to form a small creek; this is where the Guajimico Diving Center and its villa are located.
Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus
Diving sites: 21
Located 210 miles east of Havana on the Caribbean Sea side.
One of the longest coral reefs in Cuba lies just under the surface of the clear, warm water that bathes this isthmus. It is a favorite haunt of the scary-looking yet harmless Whale Shark. Cayo Blanco’s craggy ocean wall is famous for its concentrations of black coral. Divers may also have a real adventure exploring underwater tunnels adorned with coral, sponges and gorgonians, entering 25 meters (82 feet) under the surface and emerging out at depth of 50 meters (164 feet).
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, Ciego de Avila
Diving sites: 20
Located 325 miles east of Havana on the Atlantic ocean side.
Because of its spectacular natural beauty, this region is also known in Cuba as theKing’s Gardens. The diversity of its seascapes, the transparency of its water, the excellent quality of its sand and the captivating enchantment of its coral reefs have made this place famous. This zone, situated near the Old Bahamas Channel,possesses an extended coral bands, more than 32 km (20 miles) long and 10 to 30 meters deep. In these waters, there is a diversity and abundance of really exceptional fish life, so much that few sites in the Caribbean can equal what some have compared to diving in an aquarium.
Jardines de la Reina, Ciego de Avila
Diving sites: 33
Located 54 miles (87 km) south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea.
The Queen’s Gardens can be reached from the Juraco pier. These surroundings offer a glimpse of paradise;
- fantastic sea beds
- scuba diving sites extending for nearly 43 miles (70 km)
- coral reefs inhabited by many species of marine fauna
- deep, craggy areas
- large fish
- hawksbills and other kinds of turtles
In this area, you can go scuba diving accompanied by Silky and Bull Sharks.You can even hand feed them if you want a truly unforgettable underwater experience.
Santa Lucia, Camaguey
Diving sites: 35
Located 400 miles from Havana on the north coast (Atlantic Ocean)
There are many attractive diving sites for all kind of divers, where each diving session always offers something new, charming and exciting. Some shipwrecks, such as Nuestra Senora de Alta Gracia, Sabinal, Mortera and Pizarro, the last two from the 19th century, will show you their antique wonders; Las Anforas, a site where you will find the remains of an old Spanish fortress also beckons you, as does, Las Mantas, a big 10 meters (33 feet) coral ridge cut by sand beds where you will seestingrays of different sizes. And you don’t want to miss the Bull shark show organized by the local instructors; during the show these fascinating creatures will literally eat out of their instructor’s hands.
Diving sites: 20
Located 491 miles east of Havana on the north coast (Atlantic Ocean)
There is a 18-km (11-mile) diving zone, with an irregular and complicated underwater structure, forming high hillocks, caves, small valleys and vertical wall cliffs. In other areas the platform descends softly along wide gorgonians, sea fans and coral terraces. Also featured the attraction, charm and color of the typical Caribbean coral reef.
Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba
Diving sites: Sigua (24), Bucanero (23), Daiquiri (13), Sierramar (13)
Located 535 miles east of Havana on the south coast (Caribbean Sea)
From a narrow marine platform which falls into the abyss, divers can observe large fish. One exceptional attraction is the well-preserved sunken Spanish warship, Cristóbal Colón.
Marea del portillo, Granma
Diving sites: 17
Located 635 miles east of Havana on the south coast (Caribbean Sea)
The diving zone is part of the Santiago de Cuba area, with the same characteristics and fauna, including big hillocks, coral ridges and walls falling into a massive ocean trench.
Divers should present an up-dated diving card. Amateur diving courses and higher level courses are available (Resort, Open Water, Advanced).
8 Hyperbaric chambers location
Havana del Este
Santiago de Cuba
For more information on diving in Cuba, contact us