Scuba Diving Cuba

Scuba Diving Cuba

The magic of the largest island of the Antilles is the combination of nature, climate and its people. Beautiful landscapes as well as seascapes make Cuba the ideal setting for tropical holidays throughout the year where nautical adventures and activities are at there best, with the local charismatic and hospitable multi-cultural population welcoming the visitor to the country.

scuba diving cuba

We offer hundreds of different dive sites with a variety of features whether it is wall and cave diving, wreak diving or leisurely diving on coral reefs and observing the multitude of marine life. Many areas still remain unexplored with little evidence of commercialized tourism. Our dive packages are ideal for both novice and professional divers.

There is just as much beauty under the sea as there is on the land that is why we combine both diving, tropical beach resorts and visiting some of Cuba’s highlights to make your holiday memorable…

There are some 200 bays and 289 natural beaches with crystal clear navigable waters all year round and an annual average temperature of 25º C as well as the varied marine flora and fauna that Cuba has to offer, visitors come to enjoy Cuba’s unique Caribbean appeal that makes this island the ideal destination.

Our aim is to organize a holiday for you full of adventure, fun and leisure with an assured and personal service from our team based in Cuba. We can tailormake scuba dive packages for you according to your particular requirements. All you need to do is drop us an email and one of our team will provide you with all the information and prices for your proposed dive holiday.

Select your scuba diving holiday for the places below and send us an email with your choice of location and specific requirements and we will design a package for you – it’s as easy as that…

scuba diving cuba

Jibacoa – dive and relax at an all inclusive beach resort

Ideal for an easy yet interesting diving experience – a true gem and hideaway holiday…

Jibacoa known as Playa Jibacoa is a fishing village in the Mayabeque Province of Cuba with the backdrop of the Cuban mountainous country side. It is located in the municipality of Santa Cruz del Norte, at the mouth of the Rio Jibacoa, 60 km east of Havana, a 1 ½ hour’s drive.

Jibacoa and Sparta make a lovely dive site that you can spend well over an hour on due to the very shallow depth. There is some coral growth encrusting the wrecks, but it is not that prolific.

There is plenty to keep your attention, especially as the wrecks themselves are interesting to look at. Quite a few barracuda were hanging out at the surface and on the wrecks and there are butterfly fish, grunts and balloon fish.

In some debris at the side of Sparta and under a rock you may see some sizeable lobsters…

Maria la Gorda – dive at this secluded nature reserve and tropical beaches

Legendary pirates of the Caribbean diving area – who knows what you will find

This remote enclave is located in western Cuba, on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, located in a Biosphere Nature Reserve. Experts consider the seabed at María la Gorda is among the top ten in Latin America due to its abundant marine life and extraordinarily beautiful corals. Divers can enjoy crystal-clear warm waters. The area is filled with legends of pirates that are borne out by the anchors, old cannon and other treasures that lie on the bottom of the sea near peaceful Corrientes Cove. Isolated and serene, Maria La Gorda is famed for its clear seabed, which many consider to be one of the richest in Cuba in biological terms. Here, you can see many species of coral, including the largest colony of Black Coral in Cuban waters; gardens of gorgonians; sponges; a large wall studded with grottoes; and Barracudas, Dog Snapper, Schoolmasters and other kind of Snappers…

diving cuba

Maria la Gorda is home to some of the best in diving in Cuba. The reefs are incredibly healthy, the marine life is abundant and varied and combining this with the tranquil setting above water, it makes the location one of the best places to visit for an all-round holiday experience. For a diver visiting Cuba wishing to relax and take in the scenery, this is definitely the place to go.

The international scuba-diving center has its own lodging. It is in Pinar del Rio Province, around 188 miles (304 kilometers) from Havana, the capital of the country. The Villa is small and familiar with 55 rooms. 20 of them are cabins. This Diving Center has some 39 sites of high level diving. Some are still not named. All of them are less than 1 hour cruise from the peninsula and some are just 5 minutes away. Many are suitable for wall diving, but each one has its particular charm. We suggest to you El Cabezón de Ludo, El Salon de Maria, El Almirante y Yemaya, and for the second diving of the day Acuario, El Ancla de Francois and El Jardin de la Gorgonia.

Since the diving site is very near, you can do the first dive in the morning, at about 09:00 get back to the Villa, and then second dive in the afternoon, at about 15:00. As a protection measure, the Diving Center makes sure that diving cannot go deeper than 30 meters (98 feet) and not more than 40 minutes dive.

The diving at Maria la Gorda is done all around the wide, sweeping bay with sites 10 to 20 minutes journey from the dive Center by boat. There is a shallow shelf that gently slopes away from the beach to about 10-15 metres before it suddenly drops steeply to thousands of metres below sea level on a near vertical plane, creating some wonderful walls cut with tunnels and caverns where the feeling of weightlessness above such an immense drop is awe-inspiring. When on the wall you stand a good chance of seeing some tuna or jacks and in the shallows there is an abundance of reef fish.

Maria la Gorda is located in the Pinar Del Rio province of Cuba, a scenic 5 hours drive from Havana past banana, sugar cane and tobacco plantations, giving it delightful views for those non-diving holiday makers. The area surrounding Maria la Gorda is a national park which also extends out into the sea, making for some wonderful views and exotic wildlife to see. Many exotic birds including black vultures, land hermit crabs, a variety of lizards, iguanas, and other birds including storks and woodpeckers are all there to be seen on your scuba travels, meaning you can take in plenty of above water wildlife, as well as the amazing variety beneath the sea. Maria la Gorda’s coast is home to a beautiful, remote bay and a sandy white beach lined with palm trees.

Hotel Selection

Maria La Gorda Hotel Before going to Maria la Gorda a stay in Havana is recommended as it is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the Caribbean, and one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. You can also visit Havana at the end of your diving trip.

On arriving at the resort at Maria la Gorda to commence your scuba travels, you’ll find the solitude of the place striking, and be amazed by the incredible beauty of the beach which is a picture-perfect paradise. Maria la Gorda is very small, limited to the dive centre, a bar, two restaurants, a shop, a handful of apartments on the beach front and some wood cabins set back in the trees. The dive centre is efficiently run and the guides give excellent briefings, trying very hard to ensure you get the most out of your scuba diving holiday. The restaurants are pleasant and the lodgings are basic, but comfortable, but the only real reason to stay at Maria la Gorda for more than a few days is if you are on a scuba diving holiday – beyond the natural beauty of the place there is very little else to do other than relax on the beach or snorkel in the clear blue waters.

Isle of Youth – one of the best pure diving areas in Cuba

The Treasure Island as depicted by Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of “buccaneers and buried gold”.

The Isle of Youth is considered as one of the world’s best diving sites. It is situated south of the province of Havana, and has been called by many “The land of the thousand names” in reference to the different names this place had received for many centuries since its discovery. It was precisely admiral Christopher Columbus who discovered this land during his second voyage to the region, and he called it then “San Juan Evangelista”. “The Cotorras (Parrots) Island” and “Treasure Island” were also among its first names, when pirates and corsairs used it as a hideaway between the XVI and the XVIII centuries… 

The Isle of Youth is also the land of citrus fruit and ceramics. The scent of the citrus blossoms always dominates the air during flowering period announcing the upcoming orange and grapefruit harvests, which are highly demanded by consumers all over the world. The zone has also become a protected area due to its natural and archaeological resources, with thick tropical woodland and a rich animal life among which giant iguanas, hutias, pigeons, and wild boars can be found in their own natural environment.

In the island’s south-western tip, 122 kilometers from Nueva Gerona, we find the Punta Frances Marine National Park where the “El Colony International Diving Centre” is located. This 4000-hectre zone has one of the best preserved coastal ecosystems in the country with 56 attractive diving sites, many of them characterized by coral reefs of extraordinary beauty and colours and by an abundant diversity of fish (tarpon, mackerel, Grant Sea and even barracudas, while sharks are less frequently seen), dense sponges, underwater caves, passageways and tunnels.

The diving centre, located on a 6-kilometre coast line between Punta Pedestales and Punta Frances, is surrounded by a unique maritime setting and is shaping up as the ideal place for the lovers of nautical activities, with day and night immersions, underwater photography, port facilities for up to 15 boats and drinking water, power, fuel and food supplies services.

The area is protected by the northeast and southeast winds and its crystal-clear waters have a 25 to 30-meter visibility and average temperatures ranging from 28 to 30 degrees Celsius.

There are 56 dive sites. The most important diving sites have been named by experts as: “La Pared de Coral Negro” (The Black Coral Wall), “El Tunel del Amor” (The Tunnel of Love), “La Cueva Azul” (The Blue Cave), “El Pasaje Escondido” (The Hidden Passage), “La Cueva de los Sabalos” (The Tarpons’ Cave), “La Piedra de Coral” (The Coral Stone), “El Salto” (The Fall) “El Ancla del Pirata” (The Pirate’s Anchor), “El Paraiso de las Levisas” (The Levisa Paradise) and “El Pequeño Reino” (The Little Kingdom).

Other interesting sites are “Los Barcos Hundidos”, with the remains of sunken ships scattered across a very extensive area between 6 to 9 feet deep; “Los Indios” (The Indians), known for its vertical walls and big coral hillocks with sand beds, and “Fuera de Limite” (Off Limit) a singular place where coral reef grows from the coast and falls into 15 metres deep.

The beaches are also amazing as well as the thick wild woodland with its stony areas, luxuriant palm trees and sulphur water springs, which are very popular among the visitors. Divers’ safety is not only guaranteed by internationally certified instructors but also by physicians specialized in hyperbaric medicine who are available at all times to provide preventive services and diving diseases treatment. A multilock hyperbaric chamber is also available.

Domestic flights are available from Havana to Nueva Gerona, on the north coast of the island. There is also a good new fast motorised catamaran service from the southern mainland (2 hour 45 minute to Nueva Gerona). Land transfer from Havana takes around 1 hour to the marina at Batabanó. The Hotel El Colony is a 40 minute transfer from Nueva Gerona.

Before going to the Isle of Youth a stay in Havana is recommended as it is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the Caribbean, and one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. You can also visit Havana at the end of your diving trip.

Hotel Selection

The hotel provides transfers to the diving centre. At the diving centre there is a dive shop with all the dive equipment. The dive boats are fully crewed and have Dive Instructors onboard. To get to the many dive sites sailing time is around 40 minutes. Boats leave in the morning and return in the afternoon giving you the opportunity of at least two different dives.

The hotel on the island that serves the diving area is Hotel Colony on the west of the island, which is close to the marina where the dive boats leave from. Hotel Colony was built in 1958. It has 81 air-conditioned rooms including some new bungalows with private bathroom and TV. The hotel also has a restaurant, snack bar, sea bar, night club, swimming pool, among other facilities. We rate the hotel as 3-star mainly as it located on a beach and has a swimming pool and the bungalows are better than the standard rooms. There are no other eating options outside of the hotel other than the hotels’ restaurant, so your booking will be based on full board. The hotel staff are helpful and friendly.

Havana & Trinidad – visit two old colonial cities and dive at three different dive areas

Havana and Trinidad are World Heritage sites – where galleons of the past sailed into their ports.

Your diving experience is at Trinidad, a Spanish colonial town that was declared a National Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. It is characterised by cobbled streets, stately churches and some great architecture. There are three diving areas here: Cayo Blanco, Ensenada de Casilda and Peninsula de Ancon. Cayo Blanco is over an hour’s boat journey from the dive Center but the other two regions are much closer.

We have included Havana, not for diving, but as one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. Steeped in history, Spanish colonial architecture, romantic plazas and street cafes, its vibrant nightlife, the iconic and legendary Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, pre-revolution playground during the American prohibition period with famous visitors such as Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and the infamous Mafia run gambling casinos…

scuba diving cuba

The Ancón Península is just a few miles from the city of Trinidad. It is a narrow strip of land bordered by a sandy seabed containing patches of coral, ridges, tunnels, channels and other features, with concentrations of coral, a wide range of sponges, gorgonians, common sea fans (Gorgonia spp.) and tropical fish. The waters around the Cuban archipelago are characterized by their gentleness – mild tides and no strong currents, their warmth over 24°C all year round, virgin conditions, no pollution and well preserved bottoms , the diversity of its underwater flora and fauna, and the total absence of aggressive animals.

The diving zone has three remarkable underwater structures. The first one in a zone where the platform is narrow with web defined terraces where there are sandy bottoms with low coral patches and ridges reaching up to 5 meters ( 16 feet) height, getting into the drop-off up to 25-30 meters ( 82-98 feet) deep, where the wall starts. The second one is in a zone where the platform goes down by steps, and the third one is located near Cayo Blanco, characterized by a bottom of big ridges and wide channels that in some sites are closed in their top forming real tunnels. The sessile fauna is very typical, with big sponges of real varied colors and shapes, more than 40 species of corals, including walls with real forests of the valuable black coral (Antipathies Salix), . Deep water, branch and feather-like gorgonians and sea fans give a special attraction to each dive session.

Havana (North West Coast) The capital of Cuba since 1607, Havana (La Habana) is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the Caribbean, and one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. With a population of over two million it has been through major upheavals since it was founded in 1519, with revolutions and uprisings leading to a large number of its beautiful buildings being left to decay over the years. Now many of these buildings are being restored and the city is alive with music, dancing and fine museums. Old Havana, the historic centre of the city, preserves a wealth of Spanish Colonial architecture and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. American novelist Ernest Hemingway, who lived there for the last 22 years of his life, said in terms of beauty, only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana’s charm. During the Prohibition era of the 1920’s, Havana became a very popular holiday centre for Americans with nightclubs and gambling rampant up until 1959 and the revolution.

Trinidad (Central South Coast) Tourism officials like to say Trinidad is a museum in itself. Those visiting the 500‐year‐old city will find Spanish colonial architecture, underscoring a colonial ambiance that marks the tiny city one of the country’s greatest attractions. Only a few square blocks in size, historic Trinidad is famous for its lovely, cobblestone streets, pastel coloured houses with elaborate wrought‐iron grills, as well as majestic palaces and plazas. The city can be toured in a few hours, by foot or by horse‐drawn carriage.

The city’s is located near both the Escambray Mountains and the Caribbean beach. One of the area’s most interesting sights is the Valley of the Sugar Mills, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. The valley has around 70 long‐standing sugar mills that are a reminder of the importance of sugar to the Cuban economy over the centuries .It has la Torre Iznaga, a 45 meter tower built by Alejo Iznaga Borrell in 1816. Twenty km from the city is Topes de Collantes, one of Cuba’s premier ecotourism centers.

Another attraction is the Casilda Bay, which attracts both snorkelers and divers. A nearby islet has pristine beaches. Ancon Beach is a white sand beach that boasts a number of 3/4 star beach hotels. Ancón was one of the first new resorts to be developed in Cuba following the 1959 revolution. Along the Ancon Peninsula are three hotels: Hotel Costa Sur (South Coast Hotel), Hotel Ancon and Brisas Trinidad del Mar (opened in 2002). The newest hotel in the city centre, Iberostar Trinidad Grand is rated 5*.

scuba diving cuba

Our Hotel Selection

Florida Hotel, Havana Before going to Trinidad a stay in Havana is recommended as it is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the Caribbean, and one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. You can also visit Havana at the end of your diving trip.

This boutique colonial hotel is located in the heart of Old Havana in walking distance of all the main plazas, historical sites and buildings, museums, restaurants, street cafes, bars, banks and two famous cigar factories. The elegance of the property, common to all restored mansions in the Old Havana now operating as hotels, carries over to the restaurant, equipped with a well-stocked bar. A less formal and livelier option is the hotel piano bar, where Cuban music and jazz are performed live every night.

Brisas Trinidad del Mar Hotel, Trinidad So you can enjoy the all inclusivity of a beach resort as well as the local attractions we suggest staying at the 3-star Brisas Trinidad del Mar Hotel located at Ancon beach and near the marina. The hotel is semi-luxurious and easygoing. For those looking to combine beach time, great sea and mountain views, and easy access to Cuba’s finest colonial city, this is the best option. The all-inclusive hotel imitates the famed colonial architecture of nearby Trinidad, with pastel colors and pastel-colored imitations of the town’s more famous landmarks, including the San Francisco Tower and the Plaza Mayor. The hotel is on one of the best sections of Playa Ancón, and it has a great pool and all the services one could want, including language and dance classes. Rooms are handsomely outfitted, nicely decorated with pale yellow walls and blue accents.

Facilities include: 3 restaurants; 2 bars; 24-hr. snack bar; outdoor pool; 2 outdoor tennis courts; gym; Jacuzzi; sauna; scooter and bike rental; children’s center and programs; massage; laundry service

Cayo Coco – diving and 5-star luxury all inclusive beach resort

Paradise tropical islands with a cornucopia of flora and fauna.

This scuba diving holiday hotspot can be found nearby the Old Channel of the Bahamas. In the lower part of the Bahia de los Perros, situated on the south coast of Cayo Coco in an area exposed at low tide, live many sea birds that can be clearly seen from the viewpoint at La Silla.

The drive along the causeway to Cayo Coco is around 18 miles from where its coral reef extends for more than 13 miles, with white, fine sands and clear waters. Cayo Coco holiday makers will be treated to an area renowned for the softness of its golden sands, the stunning beauty of its seafloor, and its landscapes of glorious vegetation, where deer, pigs and other wild animals wander freely. The region contains many outstanding rocky points, glorious coastal shelves and meandering natural trails making it one of the most aesthetically pleasing sites in Cuba. Among the 158 bird species living on these keys are sinsontillo, arriero, and pelicans…

diving cuba

Cayo Guillermo is 8 miles long, boasting five beaches. They are very similar to the beaches of Cayo Coco, ensuring a similarly beautiful experience outside of the waters! Around half a mile out is a fascinating coral reef where several kinds of coral can be seen including the brain coral. The best beaches are playa El Paso, which is 3 miles long, playa del Medio and playa Larga, all of which boast glorious white sands and warm, clear blue waters. Whatever one’s interests, holidays in Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are always enchanting and captivating.

When scuba diving in Cayo Coco you will find many varieties of corals and sponges, caves, crevices, walls and tunnels. The special attraction for scuba diving holiday makers in this area is the huge variety and quantity of fish as a result of its proximity to the Bahamas Trench. The sites are filled with tarpons, snappers, groupers, pompanos, Atlantic spadefish, and sergeant majors.

Hotel Selection

Melia Cohiba Hotel, Havana Before going to Cayo Coco a stay in Havana is recommended as it is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the Caribbean, and one of the most enchanting and fascinating cities in the world. You can also visit Havana at the end of your diving trip. The Melia Cohiba Hotel is in a privileged location in the modern El Vedado district, facing the Havana Malecón and near the Historic Center of the Havana. Elegant and sumptuous 5-star hotel with 462 rooms. The luxurious comfort of its Royal Service and the lively nightlife of its fabulous Habana Café mark the difference. Recommended for business and incentive trips, weddings and honeymoons.

Melia Cayo Coco Hotel, Cayo Coco One of Melia’s finest luxury hotels, located beachfront in Cayo Coco, habitat of a large colony of pink flamingos. Five-Star All Inclusive Resort with 250 rooms. Conceived only for adults aged 18 years or more. Its superior suites and rooms are built on stilts over a natural seawater lagoon. Recommended for couples, weddings, and honeymoons. The Melia Cayo Coco is certainly one of the best 5-star all inclusive beach resort hotels on Cayo Coco.

Facilities include: 3 restaurants; 2 bars; 24-hr. snack bar; outdoor pool; 2 outdoor tennis courts; gym; Jacuzzi; sauna; scooter and bike rental; children’s center and programs; massage; laundry service…

Diving in Cuba

snorkel in cuba

What our prices include: Local Dive Masters and/or Dive Instructors will accompany divers. Boats, dive instructors (for 5-6 divers), tanks, weights and weight belts included. Should divers not bring their own personal dive equipment; diving equipment can be obtained at the Dive Centers (each Dive Center has a different policy as to whether they include dive equipment or rent dive equipment other than tanks, weights and weight belts). Met and assisted upon arrival at airports, transfers, hotel accommodation, car rental, excursions, domestic flight, etc., will depend on what package we quote you for. 24 hours service and assistance from our Havana office.

Our prices do not include the following: International flights, Tourist Visa Card (obtainable from the Cuban Consulate in your country, your travel agent or airline), Travel and medical insurance (medical insurance is compulsory to enter Cuba), Cuba Airport Departure Tax (25 CUC’s per person payable after check-in), any food and beverages, dive equipment (other than tanks, weights and weight belts), dive courses or extra immersions where it is not mentioned as included in the packages that we quote you for, personal expenses, staff gratuities.

Diving Certificates, Dive Courses & Dive Equipment: Certified divers should have a minimum ‘Try To Dive ‘(PADI & NAUI) ‘Open Water’ (PADI, NAUI, ACUC, CMAS,SSI, SNSI) Certificate which has to be produced at the Dive Centers. Uncertified novice divers need to have an introductory short course of including 1 immersion is available at a cost of CUC60.00 payable at the Dive Centers (this course is not valid internationally). A basic internationally recognised Open Water Diver certificated 4 day course with 4 immersions is available at a cost of CUC360.00 payable to Cuba Select Travel. There are other specialised advanced courses available on request.

Important: Divers must travel within Cuba with their passports and Tourist Visa Cards and also present these documents at the Dive Centers.

Other Diving Centers in Cuba

We can also provide diving holidays in the following places: Havana, Varadero, Cayo Guillermo, Santa Lucia, Cienfuegos, Holguin, and Santiago de Cuba.

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