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Scuba diving in Cuba

The colourful and vibrant island of Cuba is as exciting underwater as it is on dry land. With most sites just a short boat trip from the coast, you'll find excellent scuba diving sites across the whole archipelago, each with a fascinating variety of marine life.

Water temperatures average around 24°C year round, and with hardly any coral destruction or pollution, the warm, transparent sea offers visibility of 30 to 40 metres. From canyons and walls to caves and wrecks there are a multitude of dive sites across the 5646 kilometres of coast – here are a few to whet your appetite.

Jardines de la Reina

Named by Christopher Columbus in honour of the Queen of Spain, the Jardines de la Reina is a diver's paradise with a reputation as being one of the best dive spots in the world.

Located 80 kilometres off the south of Cuba, the 250-kilometre long mangrove and coral island system is part of the third longest barrier reef in the world and home to an abundance of treasure.

As a protected marine park, no more than 300 lucky divers are allowed to visit this incredible underwater spectacle each year and the lack of human interference is apparent in the diversity of marine life to be discovered.

Across the 50 dive sites in the area, you'll find brightly coloured walls covered in sponges and coral, schooling barracudas, solitary jewfish, bull rays and old Spanish wrecks from the 17th century. Sharks are also an everyday experience including reef, whale, hammerhead, black tips and bull sharks.


Edged with glorious white sand beaches, Varadero is one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean and serves up an exciting showcase of dive sites.

With tranquil waters and excellent visibility, it's the perfect spot for beginners to take their first underwater expedition and you'll find plenty of dive centres offering courses at all levels.

With a depth of 12-14 metres and just 25 minutes from Varadero, Coral Beach is an attractive shore dive bursting with tropical fish extending over five kilometres of coral reef with organised dives available both day and night.

A little further afield, the Bay of Pigs offers a fantastic selection of dive sites from reefs and caves to small wrecks and an impressive wall offering excellent conditions for a multilevel dive. For an eclectic collection of crustaceans, corals, and brightly coloured fish, Bacunayagua – just an hour from Varadero – is another wonderful spot for divers of all levels.

Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo

Located in the Jardin del Rey archipelago, these two picturesque islands are a prime base for exploring the surrounding underwater world.

With three dive centres offering internationally-recognised diving courses and excursions, visitors can pick and choose between over 30 different dive sites in the region swimming alongside shoals of tarpon, groupers, and jacks with the odd shark and barracuda thrown in for good measure.

The coral reef extends for over 32 kilometres with depths of between five and 40 metres with one of the most exciting sites, Los Tiburones, found in Cayo Coco. Crossed by tunnels and channels, observe nurse sharks resting peacefully on the seabed and beautiful yellowtail snappers against a back drop of transparent sea.

Regular excursions run from Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo to Santa Lucia, a remote resort on the north coast where visitors can observe bull shark feeding.

Santiago de Cuba

With around 11 sites and plenty of wrecks to explore in the area, Santiago de Cuba is abundant with breathtaking underwater landscapes. Narrow tunnels roll into secret caverns and steep walls are bursting with marine life from tiny tropical species amongst the coral to huge groupers and reef fish.

Open water divers will be enchanted by the wreck Guarica surrounded by huge groupers with more advanced divers invited to explore the Spring Carol or the Ferry – a 30-metre long ship that can be entered through the hold and is filled with jewfish.

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