South America has a great myriad of breathtaking dive sites, including famous spots such as in Brazil, Columbia, and the incredible World Heritage Size that is the Galápagos, which is home to some of the rarest creatures on Earth above and below the waves.
The Galápagos Islands, located in the Pacific west of Ecuador, are world famous for their conservation, diverse life and even extremely rare species, 20% of which are only found there. Due to deep sea upwellings, the ocean around these volcanic islands are rich in nutrients, which support such a varied ecosystem. Within this entirely protected national park, divers can encounter Galapagos sharks, whalesharks, rays, marine iguanas, turtles and sea lions. The Galapagos Islands should be on every diver’s to-do list - no excuses.
Brazil similarly is just as special for diving, particularly the island of Fernando de Noronha. This marine park and UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts an array of species, from tropical fish and turtles to reef sharks and manta rays. This little island also boasts Brazil’s biggest sea turtle colony, as well as a breeding population of spinner dolphins. To top it all off, visibility here averages at around 50 meters (164 feet), although the downside to all this beauty is strict control of the area. An expensive tourist fee plus rigorous conversation rules only allow a limited number of divers at any given time means that diver numbers are kept under control. Close to Rio de Janeiro is a diving haven named Arraial do Cabo. Here, 40 dive sites with crystal visibility, minimal currents yet slightly cooler water, means it’s ideal for beginners. For more advanced divers, there are caves and wrecks to explore. Also near Rio de Janeiro, pristine reefs, thriving marine life, caves and wrecks can be enjoyed while diving in warmer water.
Let’s conclude with an absolute diving gem - Colombia. Notably, the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina are an exceptional treat for adventure seekers. With over 40 dive sites and the third largest coral barrier reef on Earth, divers can experience exceptionally beautiful reefs, caves, blue holes and sunken pirate ships in this mostly UNESCO protected space. Malpelo is a favourite among many divers, and for a great season. Picture huge schools of hammerheads, pelagic fish and silky sharks that block out the sun due to their sheer volume. Volcanic ridges combined with currents usher in enormous crowds of marine species. However, do note that this site is for advanced divers only due to conditions that beginners may find unsuitable. What better reason to acquire your advanced certification?