Caribbean diving is an unforgettable experience, with pleasant water conditions and an array of locations to choose from, each of which are unique in their own way. The diving here caters to levels of dive experience, from freshly minted open water to technical. From Belize’s Blue Hole to the shallow reefs and colorful fish of Bonaire to the amazing shipwrecks of Aruba, it’s hard to narrow down the best spots due to the sheer number and variety of amazing diving in the region.
That said, here are just seven of the most incredible dive destinations of the Caribbean. How many have you visited?
Rated by many publications as the best dive destination of the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands frequently rank among the top five on average. This world class dive destination has sites such as the USS Kittiwake wreck of Grand Cayman, the Strawberry Sponge Wall, Snapper Reef, the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts wreck in Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Wall. These islands are also popular with non-divers for sites like Stingray City, where you can swim or snorkel through shallow waters within inches of stingrays the size of table tops.
Renowned the world over and consistently rated among the best locations in the world for scuba diving, Bonaire is surrounded by highly accessible reefs in pristine condition. This environmentally-conscious island has worked with the dive industry to ensure the reefs remain unharmed by poaching and pollution. This underwater volcanic mountain, the tip of which is visible as the island, features fringe reefs right off the beach of every hotel on any part of the island.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Often ranked among the top 10 dive destinations in the world, Cocos Island is a dive destination that can only be enjoyed via liveaboard due to its location 300 miles off the main coast of Costa Rica. A must-dive site for shark enthusiasts, Cocos Island is a unique spot to dive with literally hundreds of hammerhead sharks. You can also swim with dolphins, tuna, marbled rays, and even whale sharks, making it a top dive destination in the Caribbean for larger pelagic wildlife.
Curacao, Dutch Caribbean
Located in the southwest Caribbean, Curacao is part of the Dutch Caribbean. This site features beautiful dropoffs, large variety of marine life and topography make it a destination worth visiting. Like Bonaire, the reefs and islands are among the best maintained and protected from pollution and other harm.
Cozumel is one of the more popular dive destinations of the Caribbean due to its relatively easy access. Strong currents around much of the island’s dive sites make it more suited for experienced or advanced divers, but there are more mellow sites that newly minted open water divers can enjoy. Cozumel is popular for its impressive wall dives with brilliantly colored tropical fish and corals, as well as sightings of larger marine life, including various types of sharks and rays. The Chankanaab Lagoon is one of the most visited sites on the island where divers and snorkelers can observe small coral and limestone formations.
Blue Hole, Belize
More of an adventure dive than a place to view corals and marine life, the Belize Blue Hole is a world famous dive site and site of geological significance. The almost perfectly circular Blue Hole was created by what was a dry cave system in the Ice Age, with stalactite formations at roughly 110 feet and the occasional hammerhead shark sighting.
Turks and Caicos
The islands comprising the Turks and Caicos provide a rich assortment of relatively unexplored underwater sites, including sea lanes where boaters and divers often spot whales. Along with miles of coral reefs teeming with marine life and some deep dropoffs where the walls plunge into inky black depths of more than 2100 meters (6900 ft), the islands also feature fantastic wreck diving.