The turquoise waters and sugar-sand beaches of Cuba offer some of the most dramatic views in the Caribbean, but it is the pristine coral reefs and unpolluted waters that are the real draw for serious divers and hobbyists alike.
The untouched seascape below the waves offers viewing opportunities that are difficult to come by in heavily visited sites elsewhere in the Caribbean. While there are hundreds of diving sites from which to choose, from classic coral reefs to fascinating wreck diving, these sites in particular are among the best.
Desembarco del Granma National Park
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Desembarco del Granma National Park earned this prestigious designation due to its stunning sea cliffs and underwater terraces that house a vast array of sea life. Known for its almost unspoiled beauty, this site offers divers the opportunity to observe a pristine ecosystem at work, both above and below the waves. Manatees, sea turtles and queen conch are among the notable varieties of sea life found here.
Perfect for beginners, snorkelers or advanced divers, Cayo Piedras del Norte Sea Park is an underwater park devoted to diving of all varieties. Extensive wrecks lie on the sea bottom, housing unusual varieties of fish species and offering dramatic exploration opportunities.
Maria la Gorda
The diving site of Maria la Gorda gives divers a zone protected by walls of coral that shelter exotic and unusual varieties of fish, most notably manta rays and the elusive whale shark. Dozens of species of sponge and coral can also be found growing here. The site is mere meters from the beach and offers a gradual descent through crystal-clear waters.
In addition to its historic connotations, the Bay of Pigs offers divers a vast network of underwater caves to explore and the rare opportunity for wall diving.
Jardines del Rey
At Jardines del Rey, divers can expect the plentiful reef fauna that makes Cuba so appealing, from barracuda to manta rays to snappers and reef sharks. Colorful sponge species create a spectacular backdrop, with tunnel diving, cave exploration and classic reef diving among the main attractions.
Many beachfront hotels and resorts, such as the Gran Club Santa Lucia, offer scuba diving as part of their all-inclusive packages. This is an ideal option for most travelers, as it gives them a base from which to explore, while also renting out any equipment they might need for a reasonable price. Such packages can be negotiated when booking a hotel or guests can sign up for them once they have arrived in Cuba.