If you have dived in The Caribbean before, please share your experiences: Dive spots you would recommend, which Dive Center you used, Fishes & Diving, Visibility, Currents, etc. Please post your comments in the section below, by doing so you will help fellow divers to plan their next trip
The Caribbean is an astonishing area for Scuba diving. The Caribbean Sea is separated from the Atlantic Ocean from the north by the Greater Antilles island chain starting with Cuba, the Greater Antilles merge with the Lesser Antilles which curve towards the south forming the eastern edge of the sea.
The north coast of South America forms the southern edge. Mexico and Central America are to the west and south west. The channel between Mexico and Cuba opens to the Gulf of Mexico.
The Caribbean Sea has over 700 islands, inlets and cays. Including the coastal countries, there are over 30 different countries that make up the Caribbean. Some of the most noted for Scuba divers include the Cayman Islands, Mexico, the Virgin Islands, Belize, and Honduras.
In this page you will find more detailed information about scuba diving in The Caribbean.
Table of contents
Photos The Caribbean
Blacktip Shark patrolling the crystal clear water... EPIC photo!Photo by Yann Hubert
Huge Turtle resting on the sea floorPhoto by Rich Guest
Turtle Flying To The SurfacePhoto by Jihye Lee
Turtle Playing With DiversPhoto by Matthieu Billaud
Turtle Swimming Back ViewPhoto by Matthieu Billaud
Turtle Swimming Or FlyingPhoto by Matthieu Billaud
Turtle Checking Us OutPhoto by Rich Guest
Turtle SwimmingPhoto by Rich Guest
TurtlePhoto by Yann Hubert
Best Dive Review
The Caribbean offers divers a tropical paradise year round. The strong tourism industry means frequent flights to most of the destinations from many other countries. The Caribbean is heavily favored by visitors from North America, as well as many European nations. Here are some of the best diving destinations in the region:
- The Cayman Islands: The Cayman Islands are an overseas British territory. The three main islands that make up the Cayman Islands are Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. A few years ago the Cayman Islands started their dive 365 project. The goal was to establish mooring buoys at 365 different dive sites around the islands. That project is the heart of the islands current promotions. Scuba Divers can dive a different site a day for a year. The Cayman’s have a wide variety of sites with a good mix of boat dives, shore dives and those only suitable for liveaboards.
- Mexico: The eastern coast of Mexico wraps around the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The diving along the Yucatán Peninsula is among the most popular destinations in the world. Off shore of this peninsula is the northern section of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS). The MBRS starts at the tip of the peninsula and extends a 1,000 kilometers south through Belize to Honduras. The Yucatán Peninsula is also know for cenotes diving. Cenotes are sinkholes that have formed by underwater rivers eroding away the surface soil. The sinkholes contain a mixture of fresh and salt water. Cenotes provide an overhead diving experience and may include both caverns and cave diving. The MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) off the Cancun Mexico coast is another must dive location. It has over 700 statues for divers to explore. A number of them are at a depth that snorkels can also enjoy.
- Belize: South of Mexico, Belize is also along Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It is here that the MBRS has a true barrier reef. The Belize Barrier Reef is the worlds second largest barrier reef. The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System comprises about 12% of the barrier reef and has 7 marine protected areas. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Center since 1996. At some points the barrier reef is only 300 meters off shore. The marine protected areas allow scuba diving and one of them is know as a migration destination for whale sharks. Belize also has three true atolls, there are only four in the western hemisphere. One of these atolls is the home of the famous Great Belize Blue Hole.
- Honduras: The popularity of diving in Mexico and later into Belize has lead to the development of a diving industry in Honduras. The tourism is not as strong here as in other parts of the Caribbean allowing a more relaxed environment.
- Cuba: Cuba is not as heavily visited as many of the other leading tourism destinations of the Caribbean. The reasons are political in nature and nothing to do with the beauty of the country or the outstanding dive sites. The United States political viewpoint has placed an embargo on Cuba that applies to American citizens. They are currently banned to travel to Cuba as a tourist. These regulations are slowly changing and it very possible that soon Americans will have the opportunity to explore the country.
- The Virgin Islands: The Virgin Islands are politically separated into the US Virgin Islands and the British Islands. There are eight islands in the virgin Islands, four each for Britain and the US. The islands offer great diving year round. Technically a portion of the Lesser Antilles, they are often looked at separately from the other countries of the Lesser Antilles.
- Lesser Antilles: The Lesser Antilles Start at the Virgin Islands and arc south to South America. Not including the Virgin Islands, the Lesser Antilles has eight sovereign countries and thirteen non-sovereign states or territories.
How to dive The Caribbean?
One of the great things about the Caribbean, besides the diving, is the range of options available. Reef dives, wall dives, shipwrecks, drifts, cenotes they are all there. Just about everything except cold water.
Mexico has the cenotes some of the best cavern diving in the world. Bonaire is often rated the best shore diving in the world. Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve in Belize are known for whale sharks. The list goes on. Some of these destinations are best experienced by staying at a resort. Others are best done by liveaboards.
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Best time to dive in The Caribbean
The classic answer of when to go would be year round with a warning about the hurricane season from June 1 to November 30. The Caribbean covers a great distance and the hurricane threat is not uniform. The southern Caribbean has a much lower threat than the eastern section. Honduras and Belize are also out of the hurricane belt.
While individual tolerances differ, most divers will dive without a wet suit in the summer months. A rash guard or dive skin is a good recommendation. In the winter months, a 3mm wet suit is generally enough. Many divers in the southern Caribbean find they can dive year round without a wet suit.
Top liveaboards in Caribbean according to divers reviews
A wide range of training is available in the Caribbean. Just about all of the destinations have dive sites that are suitable for Open Water Diver training and Advanced Open Water Diver training.
Photography is also a great specialty given the great visibility found on most dive sites. The Grand Cayman’s has what may be the best underwater photography course in the world. Cavern diving is also a certification that is popular in Mexico. The invasion of the lion fish into the Caribbean has lead to lion fish hunting. Some countries require and all recommend being trained to hunt the lion fish.
Scuba Diving conditions
It is difficult to generalize diving conditions over such a large area. However, it is safe to say that the Caribbean is noted for warm water and good visibility year round. In the summer many divers do not use any dive suits. Dive skins, Rash guards and 3 mm wet suits are the most commonly used protection worn if they are worn.
Snorkelling in The Caribbean
Snorkeling is a favorite pastime for many visitors to the Caribbean. Most of the diving destinations have a number of shallow dive sites that are also suitable for snorkeling.
Sting Ray city in the Cayman Islands is one of the most beloved snorkeling site in the world. Cruise ships to the area frequently offer snorkeling trip at each of their stops.
Fishes and Coral
Entire books have been written on the marine life in the Caribbean. There are between 500 to 600 species of reef fish in the different regions of the Caribbean. There are over 40 species of soft corals, 65 species of hard corals and over 100 different crustaceans.
Scientist have identified 34 marine mammal species visiting the Caribbean with 20 of them being common year round. There are also six of the seven species of marine turtles found here.
If you are planning an upcoming dive trip or travelling to The Caribbean, it is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving, because you never know what could happen and when you might need it (because accidents do happen!). I recommend this diving insurance as they offer worldwide coverage and focus on providing scuba divers a quality insurance and medical assistance service.
The Caribbean is seen by many as the home of recreational scuba diving. Jacques-Yves Cousteau introduced the world to the underwater world by way of his inventions, books movies and television programs.
Many of the diving destinations he loved the most are in the Caribbean. As new divers started to visit these remote destinations, tourism developed to support them leading to the tourism destination the Caribbean is today. So it does not matter if you want a luxury vacation with diving or diving at unspoiled lightly visited area, there is a dive destination in the Caribbean right for you.
Now that you know all about the underwater world, you might want to start planning your scuba holiday! Check out our The Caribbean Travel Review for information about how to get there, activities and excursions, where to stay, and more.