The Best Diving in Cuba


Have you ever considered diving in Cuba?

With laws in place to ensure that the oceans are protected, you’re sure to experience flawless conditions. It is a hotbed of diving and snorkelling, thanks to the vast species of fish and coral that it garners.

They have a range of incredible dive sites, from Bay of Pigs to Jardines de la Reina

 

Protecting much of their environment from man, it comes as no surprise to see such pristine conditions. That is why Cuba is fast becoming a sought-after destination. With that said, it seems as though a few people are in the “know” when it comes to their amazing dive locations.

The best way to experience the caribbean sea can often be through a cruise.

Top 7 Dive Sites in Cuba

Looking for the best scuba diving in Cuba? You’re in the right place, below you will find the top seven dive sites in the country. Enjoy a long list of amazing diving locations in Cuba, plus, I also cover whether or not it is safe to dive in Cuba and the best time to travel. 

I also take a look at each dive site, offering information on the depth, visibility and water temperature.

Jardines De La Reina

This is much of the pulling power when it comes to Cuba diving. It is one of the most recognisable wonders in the country. It is also known as Gardens of the Queen and can only be accessed by those that are licensed. That means you will need a trusty cruise such as Liveaboard.com to take you through to see the true underwater beauty.

This spot is an exclusive one, Avalon has the rights to the National Park, but this contributes to an unforgettable experience. When you are in there, it will be you and your dive buddies experiencing the site, you won’t be amongst anyone else. 

There is no guarantee in what you are going to see, but potentially you could swim with crocodiles, sharks and also smaller species that are hidden in the healthy corals.

 

Location: 100km off the Southern Coast

Perfect For: Beginners and experienced divers alike.

Likely to See: Hammerheads, Reef Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Hawksbill Turtles, American Crocodiles & many other species.

Temperature: 79 °F (26 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C).

Visibility: 100 feet (30 meters).

Depth: 15-30 metres.

Canarreos Archipelago

The beautiful blue waters of Canarreos Archipelago is home to vast species. You can find huge drop offs, walls and schools of fish.

This is another protected marine preserve offering an intimate experience. These are some of my favourite type of dives, they allow you to really soak in what you’re seeing. You can visit the area by cruise, you are also able to dive via land operations but it can be a little more difficult and it is through expensive hotels. 

This is a diverse spot, showcasing lots of different things to see from shipwrecks to Reef Sharks.

 

 

Location: 50km off the Southern Coast

Perfect For: Beginners and experienced divers alike.

Likely to See: Lots of species of Sharks, Barracuda, schools of Fish & healthy coral.

Temperature: 79 °F (26 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C).

Visibility: 100 feet (30 meters).

Depth: 61 metres.

Jardine Del Rey

Also known as Garden of Kings, Jardines Del Rey is around 250 miles from Havana. 

It is host to numerous islands including the likes of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. Many of the them have bridges from the mainland, making them accessible by land transport.

There are some incredible wrecks, caves, reefs, and of course- the famous Bull Shark sites to explore. Enjoy Cayo Coco and the magical marine life that lives there and you can also visit the official marine park. You can only visit this with a pass, usually on a liveaboard.

This location is a must for scuba divers from around the world- check out the marine park and embrace the rare diving sites.

 

Location: Off the Northern Coast.

Perfect For: This depends on which site that you dive at.

Likely to See: Reef Sharks, Bull Sharks, Yellowtail Fish, Dogfish, Parrotfish & much more.

Temperature: 79 °F (26 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C).

Visibility: 65-130 feet (20-40 meters).

Depth: 10 metres.

Caya Coco

This dive site is part of the Jardines Del Rey. Yet it deserves a special mention, as it is popular among divers. That is because it is well protected and brandishes a healthy reef. You will find lots of smaller fish, lurking between the coral

You’ll also discover the usual Reef Sharks and Hammerheads that often appear in the Caribbean Sea.

It’s easy to book resorts and dive schools in this area, plus you are never too far from other dive sites.

Bear witness to the underwater spectacle of Caya Coco, it comes with stunning coral reefs and healthy conditions. 

Location: Off the Northern Coast.

Perfect For: Beginners and experienced divers alike.

Likely to See: Hammerheads, Reef Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Hawksbill Turtles, American Crocodiles & many other species.

Temperature: 79 °F (26 °C) to 84 °F (29 °C).

Visibility: 100 feet (30 meters).

Depth: 10 metres.

Bay of Pigs

Have you heard of the this famous spot in Cuba? 

No prizes for those that can guess what this bay is named after. It is famous since 1961, when America failed an invasion on this very bay.

It now stands for a more tranquil setting with blue water, vibrant life and lots to discover.

This spot is great for snorkelers too, it is shallow and you can enjoy seeing lots of diverse fish and 17 different healthy coral species.

 

Location: 161km from Havana. It is based on Southern Coast.

Perfect For: Beginners and experienced divers alike. Great for snorkelers and divers.

Likely to See: Shipwreck and different species of smaller fish.

Temperature84 °F (29 °C).

Visibility164 feet/50 metres.

Depth: 70 metres.

US Citizens can now dive in Cuba.

Santiago de Cuba

Diving the USS Merrimac, Santiago de Cuba should be done by advanced divers. It isn’t one for beginners due to the current and the deliberately placed wreck.

It was left during the American-Spanish war, in an attempt to deter enemies.

Enjoy swim-throughs, walls and the wreck. It’s a historical place and before you descend you can embrace the crystal-clear conditions and the mountainous backdrop.

 

 

Location: South East Coast

Perfect For: Advanced divers.

Likely to See: A historical wreck placed on purpose, healthy corals and schools of fish.

Temperature: 25°C (77°F) and 29°C (84.2°F)

Visibility: 100 feet (30 meters).

Depth: 22 metres.

Cayo Largo

Do you want perfect diving conditions and white sandy beaches?

You can enjoy the best of both worlds at Cayo Largo. As well as having amazing dive sites, you can also enjoy the on-land attractions. Swaying palms and immaculate beaches are awaiting you. If you are going with a partner or friend that aren’t interested in diving, then you will both be happy here.

The diving itself is special- find coral fish, sting rays, bull rays, turtles and cat sharks during your dive. 

 

Location: South of Havana.

Perfect For: Beginners and experienced divers alike.

Likely to See: Lots of coral fish, sting rays and bull rays.

Temperature: 79 °F (26 °C) to 82 °F (27 °C).

Visibility: 100 feet (30 meters).

Depth: 8-30 metres

How to Dive Cuba

Cuba is made up of 4,000 islands. They have lots of dive centres that surround the most sought-after spots. It is key to understand that they do not have PADI dive centres due to the Embargo. For that reason, it is important to check centre reviews. I personally prefer to dive places such as Cuba via Liveaboard, you can see my full review on the best way to do so- here.

Other amazing options in the beautiful nation includes Maria La Gorda.

Best Time For SCUBA Diving in Cuba

The dry season is between November and April, the best time to dive is from December onwards. After April though, it enters rainy season, you can still dive but visibility isn’t the best. Expect the temperature to be around 25-27 degrees celsius in the warmer months, but it is certainly chilly for divers during the rainy season.

The prices are higher during the busier season, but it’s well worth it.

Recommended Diving Certifications for Cuba Diving

All PADI levels or even complete newcomers to the sport can enjoy diving in Cuba. Although as already mentioned, there are no PADI dive centres. Unless you use cruises and liveaboards with PADI staff. Do your research prior to booking with a centre or use the review link on our Cuba Liveaboard review.

Where is the Best Diving in Cuba?

As you can see, there are so many different places to dive in Cuba. The most desirable location is Gardens of Queen but all of their spots have a unique reason to dive there. Take a look through all of the options and find one that suits your preference and skill level. 

How Much Does it Cost?

Whilst researching dive prices, I stumbled across a UK Divers Forum, where prices were listed as:

  • 5 Dives- 125 Euros
  • 6 Dives -150 Euros
  • 8 Dives- 200 Euros
  • 10 Dives- 230 Euros
  • 12 Dives- 275 Euros
  • 15 Dives- 330 Euros
  • 20 Dives- 398 Euros

 

 

If you are looking to do your PADI Open Water course, you can see how Cuba compares to other places in terms of prices here.

Flying from Europe is affordable, you can get return flights from £400. Getting to Cuba is fairly cheap and you have lots of options when you’re there. When it comes to diving it is best to plan ahead.

Can US Citizens Scuba Dive in Cuba?

Due to the embargo, travelling to and from the US is not straightforward. With that said, US citizens can dive in Cuba. Holidays aren’t allowed but travelling there for educational reasons allows those from the US to enjoy the beautiful Cuban diving that’s available.

Scuba diving can qualify as educational, be sure to dive for shark conservation and other educational benefits that will help you bolster you’re diving and conservational skills.

Final Thoughts

We love Cuba and all of its destinations, if you are searching for incredible coral reefs, lots of sharks and a diverse marine life then you are in the right place.

It is easy to book and you have lots of places to visit. Don’t miss out on the marine park and the coral reefs and rare sharks that are sighted there. 

Katy Jane

Thank you for reading. I started KatyJaneDives.com to share my passion for diving. I am an environmental educator, scientist and now an MSDT diver. This platform has been made to create, connect and share my knowledge in the world of diving.

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