Cuba

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Scuba Diving in Cuba

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Cuba Diving highlights

Offering beautiful coral reefs, world-class shark diving, a rich variety of marine-life, and the rare opportunity to dive with saltwater crocodiles, scuba diving Cuba means diving one of the best Caribbean diving destinations

An excellent destination for scuba divers of all levels, Cuba is also known for its unique culture and history which makes it just as interesting to discover topside. Divers and non-divers alike will have plenty of things to experience and explore on Cuba diving trips!

Check out the trip report and photos from one of our dive trips to Cuba

2019 Update: Due to current US government-imposed sanctions on Cuba, we are unable to take new reservations. Please contact us for more information or to get you booked on a trip to a similar destination.

 

Intro to Cuba

The Cuban archipelago is situated in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet. This mix of ocean systems creates a unique and exciting habitat, rich in inquisitive nature. The islands' flora is marked by endemic and assorted plant groups, with orchids, desert flora, and palms being the highlighted ones. The extravagance and endemism of Cuba's fauna are endless. The marine life and wetlands, living fossils, endangered species, and essential coral reefs are known to have an extraordinary value and worldwide acknowledgment. Cuba sits on the second largest barrier reef system in the world, and as such its marine ecosystem is the jewel of the Caribbean. Diving Cuba is an exceptional experience, and visitors will discover something new and exciting both above and below the waves.

Cuba is on our list of the Best Liveaboard Destinations for Beginner Scuba Divers. Check out the full list here.

 

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Diving Information 

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Marine Life & Environment

Diving Cuba you can expect to swim over vibrant reefs boasting 50 species of coral and 200 species of sponge. These in turn play host to a plethora of interesting marine life such as jewfish, stingrays, green morays, turtles, and Atlantic spadefish. Cuba is known as a great shark destination, and the good visibility makes it easy to spot several species of reef shark patrolling the edges of the reef. In addition to this, diving deeper sites will reveal schools of jack, tuna, tarpon, and barracuda, as well as grunts, snappers, red hinds, parrotfish, squirrelfish, and triggerfish. Finally, Cuba hosts a surprising array of critters, and those that make the effort to search amongst the coral heads will be rewarded with lobsters, crabs, shrimps and numerous other macro species.

For another destination further afield boasting world-class marine diversity, check out our guide to Sipadan scuba diving.

 

WHERE TO DIVE CUBA

Jardines de La Reina

The highlight of any dive trip to Cuba, Jardines de la Reina was declared a Marine Park in 1996. This uninhabited area has been preserved for future generations as a complex network of untouched marine ecosystems. It is regarded by many scientists and organizations as a reference of the original status of a coral reef. This world-class diving location is, indeed, an underwater paradise; imagine vertical walls covered with brightly hued sponges, huge pilar corals, black corals extending their branches in the contrasting blue water. Divers can discover many species of gorgonians and fragile laminar corals displaying their beautiful shapes through crevices, canyons, and caves. There is also the opportunity to dive with crocodiles!

Cuba  Cuba

Check out diving in Fiji for another destination boasting fantastic corals, sharks, and interesting culture. 

Cayo Largo del Sur

The epitome of tropical paradise, Cayo Largo del Sur's endless white sand and shallow lagoon is the perfect location to start your dive career or earn additional certifications. The pristine barrier reef lies less than a mile offshore, where divers can discover an abundance of tropical fish in the warm, clear water. Venturing to the ocean-side of the reef reveals exciting drop-offs, caverns and grottos, and even a couple of wrecks.

La Habana

Home to several interesting wrecks, La Habana's history is well worth exploring above and below the waterline. Diver will be pleasantly surprised at the rich marine life on wrecks such as the Coral Island merchant ship, and the Sanches Barcastegui.

Playa Giron & Playa Larga

Boasting a wide range of dive sites to explore, these two beachfront locations offer some fantastic shore diving along the nearby reef. A vibrant display of corals and sponges attract a tantalizing array of fish, from small tropical species to larger ocean-going pelagics, and even dolphins. Playa Giron also has a cenote dive where visitors can discover unusual cavern dwelling species.

Varadero

This famous peninsula juts out into the Nort Atlantic Ocean and is almost as remoted as the tiny islands spread out from its tip. Warm, clear water hides several worthwhile shipwrecks, while the reefs are alive with unspoiled coral gardens. There is some fascinating underwater topography to be found, including cavern and caves, cenotes, and some unique rock formations.

 

Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperature: Varies from 22°C (72°F) in December to 29°C (84°F) in July
  • Visibility: 20 - 40 m (65 - 130 feet)
  • Weather: Climate varies slightly during the year. Drier season (December to mid-April): 73 to 77°F (23-25°C); Height of summer (August): 83°F (28°C)

 

Best Dives Sites in Cuba

Here are some of the best dive sites to explore on Cuba diving trips:

  • 1. Pipín - At the mooring buoy, the reef is 15 meters deep, forming impressive canyons and caves that run perpendicular to the coastline until they reach 24 meters of depth at the edge of the drop-off. At this point, the reef is very colorful and alive, with huge schools of grunts patrolling the border of the abyss; many jacks; silver tarpons in groups of 10-50 coming straight at you and then making a swift turn 5 inches away from your mask, along with turtles, eagle rays flying near the wall and sometimes a lonely three-meter-long great hammerhead coming up from the deep to take a quick look at the divers and then disappearing into the blue. In the meantime, as divers go around the canyons, a group of 10-12 silky sharks keep swimming close to the surface near the boat; then, during the safety stop, they come to get an eyeful of the divers.
  • 2. Farallón - This is one of the best dives in Jardines de la Reina. Farallón is a giant coral mountain 17 meters deep at the top and divided into four parts by tunnels that run across and end at a white sandy bottom of 29 meters. These tunnels are about 30 m. long, 3 m. wide and 10 m. high, with an opening at the top that allows the sunlight to pour through, creating a spectacular show of light and shapes, giving the diver the feeling of flying across another world. Same species as in Pipín plus the reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) swimming close to the bottom.
  • 3. Vicente - Dive along the drop-off, with coral mountains at the edge descending from 20 m. to 40 m. and then to the abyss (800 m.). Visibility is more than 40 meters. You can find massive black coral colonies in the wall; also, the mysterious and shy great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) sometimes emerges from the blue to show its incredible body shape and elegance.
  • 4. Black Coral I and II - These two dives are the most exciting! Minimum depth is 24 meters on top of the reef, then a sandy bottom at 30 m. Channels run across the reef perpendicular to the coast, until they reach the drop-off; at this place, there is a resident population of more than 30 reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) that get very close to the divers (sometimes 10 inches away from the mask). After 15 minutes of breathless watching at these creatures, while they swim around, the dive continues close to the coral formations and sandy channels with sleeping stingrays (Dasyatis americana), parrotfish, big black groupers and tons of jacks swimming near divers until the end of the dive.

 If you love coral reefs but don't want to travel too far, have you considered diving the Red Sea?

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Travel Information 

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How to Get to Cuba

Visitors can arrive in Cuba by air or by sea. There are numerous international air and cruise terminals with regular direct flights from Canada and Europe. The most common way is to fly into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport and then take a connecting flight to your resort. 

 

How to Dive Cuba

There are a good number of Cuba diving resorts spread around the island, and the main dive centres offer a choice of operators. Cuba’s Jardines de la Reina is a liveaboard-only diving destination and only 900 guests per year are allowed.

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Cuba has a fascinating history and unique culture that sets it apart from its Caribbean neighbours. Everything from the food to the music, as well as the genuine Cuban hospitality, will make you feel welcome. The nightlife in Havana is world-renowned, and baseball is a popular national pastime.

  • Great beaches
  • Shopping
  • Tours, rides, circuits and excursions around different tourist destinations of the island
  • Sailing, sports fishing, water skiing and snorkeling
  • Bird watching, hiking, diving, sports fishing, outdoor horseback riding, caving, mountain biking or rural tourism
  • Golf
  • After-dark entertainment scene

 

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Cuban Convertible Pesos
  • Language: Spanish, but many Cubans have studied either English, French, German or Russian
  • Time Zone: UTC-4 or UTC-5
  • Electricity: 110/230 volts AC, 60Hz  

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

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