Scuba enthusiasts around the world have thousands of destinations to visit, each with its own unique attributes, sights, and wildlife to explore. The Caribbean region, however, stands out as a world-class destination, offering recreational divers some of the most incredible conditions on the planet.
Caribbean Scuba Diving
The Caribbean region is comprised of more than 7000 individual islands and is home to some of the very best scuba diving opportunities available. Here is a look at our top 5 Caribbean scuba diving locations, a personal list from Joseph Koza.
#1: Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands
First discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1503, this tiny island – only 10 miles long and one mile wide — has a population under 200 people. Don’t let its small size put you off; Little Cayman has some of the most accessible and majestic diving spots on Earth. Check out Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson’s Reef to catch a glimpse of the area’s abundant wildlife, including sharks, sea turtles, reef fish, and lobsters. Another great diving spot is Jackson’s Bight, which offers recreational divers a chance to explore subsurface tunnels and caverns. Water visibility peaks during the winter months and extends into April, making it a great destination for a holiday getaway. A daily ferry running from Grand Cayman serves the island, or you can opt to fly directly to the island via local charter.
#2: Roatan, Honduras
Not as well-known as some other tourist-heavy Caribbean destinations, Roatan is often considered a “hidden gem” for discerning scuba divers. Roatan is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world, known as the Great Mayan Reef. The reef stretches over 700 miles, and much of it is easily accessed via short boat ride. The island itself is geared toward visitors, with abundant attractions, transportation, and hospitality to make this an ideal vacation destination. Roatan’s incredible diving opportunities are available for divers at any skill level, and the waters surrounding the island are teeming with wildlife.
#3: Andros Island, Bahamas
Even though it is the largest island in the Bahamas chain, Andros Island is regarded as the most secluded. Home to about 8000 residents, this little-known island features many natural areas that are untouched, giving visitors a glimpse into what it was like thousands of years ago. Andros Island is best known for its collection of “blue holes” – deep pockets formed by undersea sinkholes. Some of these blue holes are inland, while others await divers just offshore. Divers can frolic with sharks, octopuses, fish, and brightly-colored corals. There are also three shipwrecks available for more experienced divers to explore.
#4: St. Vincent in the Grenadines
The island St. Vincent is the largest of the islands comprising the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Formed by volcano activity as recently as 1979, the island is renowned for its black sands and abundant sea life. Movie watchers may be interested to learn that the island was the site of some of the shooting locations for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Popular diving spots on the island include Anchor Reef, The Wall, and New Guinea Reef. Another spot known as Bat Cave offers more experienced divers a bit of extra adventure. Numerous dive shops dot the island, and the island’s accommodations suit nearly every travel budget.
#5: Cozumel, Mexico
Located in the Caribbean Sea just off the east coast of the Yucatan peninsula, Cozumel Island is mostly undeveloped, yet provides scuba divers with incredible conditions all year long. Long popular with cruise ship passengers, the scuba diving available here is world-class. The island offers opportunities for all skill levels, including those trying out scuba for the first time. Some of the most popular spots include Barracuda Reef, Columbia Deep, and C-53. Cozumel is also home to a series of “cenotes”, which are sinkholes that can be explored by qualified cave divers. Visitors to the island will find plentiful activities, restaurants, and accommodations in the town of San Miguel on the island’s west coast.