Pristine, healthy reefs and dozens of shark species, make Cuba truly exceptional and yet far from any dive crowds. Discover approachable marine life and immerse in a world of colourful corals and fish.
Diving in Cuba
The largest country in the Caribbean, diving in Cuba should be on any diver’s bucket list. Dive sites here excite shark fanatics and coral lovers, and boast some epic topography, including drop-offs and caves.
Furthermore, much of Cuba’s reefs have been minimally explored, meaning the coral is exceptionally healthy and fish have never learned to fear humans, resulting in incredible intimate close encounters with curious sharks, turtles and groupers.
Divers can find plenty of dive centers and dive resorts all over Cuba that are perfect for both fun divers and those wanting to take dive courses. A popular option is diving via liveaboard, as these benefit from easier access to the remote dive sites.
Best time to dive
With average ocean temperatures resting around 81°F (27°C) all year, and visibility ranging from 30-40 meters (98-131 feet), it’s a great country to dive any time of the year. However, depending on the season, the temperature does expend some mild change. In July and August, the sea can reach 30°C (86°F). and the lowest is from December to February, which can drop to around 25°C (77°F).
The high season runs from December through March when the climate is more comfortable due to less humidity thanks to the coinciding dry season, which is November until April. Weather is sunny with temperatures averaging between 24°-27°C (75°F-80°F). Hotel and diving prices are often more expensive and fully booked during this time, so try to reserve in advance.
May to October is the rainy season when humidity is the highest and downpours pass quickly. Prices are lowered, so it’s a good time to snatch some awesome deals on diving and accommodation.
Cuba doesn’t escape the hurricane period, lasting from June to November, so be aware of this when travelling.
Types of diving
Cuban diving includes reef diving, where untouched corals and marine life thrive, such as at the famous Jardines de la Rey, where divers often visit Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. These sites have vibrant reefs and an abundance of life, in addition to tunnels and caves.
Cave diving is also common, with many areas offering sites with caverns and tunnels, such as those in Santa Lucía, Jardines de la Rey, Punta Francés Marine National Park on Isla de Juventud and Playa Girón, to name only a few.
Shipwrecks are dotted around for divers to explore. Notably, the USS Merrimack in Santiago de Cuba is a famous wreck upon which amazing marine life that has taken up habitat. Other wrecks can be found off Varadero, where the Russian guard frigate BP 385 MONCADA rests, and the Jaruca wreck, located in the Bay of Pigs.
Liveaboards are popular in Cuba, for ease of access to many stunning, remote dive sites, such as those in the protected marine park of Jardines de la Reina.
What to see
Colorful fish, crustaceans, turtles and pelagics galore. Cuba’s marine life is diverse and doesn’t fall below what you would expect from exceptional reef diving, with a few special treats thrown in for good measure, like dolphins and sharks.
At Cayo Largo, there over 30 dive sites overflowing with life on the healthy reefs, like reef sharks, grouper, snapper, reef fish, lobster and so much more.
The heavily protected marine park of Jardines de la Reina is home to a myriad of beautiful reefs and creatures across its 50 dive sites, but more notably, it’s the perfect place to spot sea turtles, hammerheads, leopard, silky and blacktip sharks, and even saltwater American crocodiles.
Best places to dive
Cuba truly has some sensational and unique diving, and to name only a few,
Jardines de la Reina
The incredible Jardines de la Reina off Cuba’s southern coast is worthy of notoriety. It’s known as one of the Caribbean’s best places to dive, where marine life is truly alive and creatures are tame, due to the area having been well protected over the years. Sighting of sharks are common here and the corals healthy and colorful. With 50 dive sites to discover, the best way to explore this area is by multi-day liveaboard.
The Canarreos Archipelago of Cuba has an amazing 672 islands, inlets and cays, among which is Isla de la Juventud is situated. This island, discovered by Christopher Columbus, was a pirate base camp, thus it’s no surprise that many divers have found treasure chests filled with gold coins over the years. Boasting not only history, the 50 dive sites here offer awesome architecture, like caves, tombs, craters and wrecks, as well as colorful coral gardens, sponges, seemingly infinite fish species and more.
On the northern coast of maniland Cuba is the popular beach resort town of Varadero situated on the Hicacos Peninsula. With it's array of beach resorts this makes it a great place to base yourself whilst in Cuba. Local dive centers will usually offer dive excursions to the best sites. There are some local dives sites for those not wanting to travel far, but better diving can be found in other part of Cuba.