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Diving in Colombia

Dive with giants in Colombia in either the Pacific or the Caribbean. Head to Malpelo where hammerheads await you, or simply lounge on the sandy coastline in this jungled country.

Diving in Colombia

Quick facts

Colombia is twice the size of France and home to some of the most amazing dive sites in the world, including the world’s third largest coral reef barrier.

Choose between dive sites in the Caribbean and the Pacific during your trip to Colombia: the former tend to be clear and more placid, while the latter are a bit wilder.

The Island of Malpelo in the Pacific offers truly magnificent dives, where you can see an unbelievable number of hammerheads and silky sharks, as well as the ever-impressive humpback whale (in season).

Found far off the mainland is Isla de Providencia, a little-visited destination out in the Caribbean. Technically found closer to Nicaragua than Colombia, Isla de Providencia has incredibly clear water and is an excellent alternative to the massively popular San Andreas.

The reefs are exceptional here, and the wall dives are some of the best in the Caribbean. There are also some stellar wreck dives at Isla d Providencia, like the Planchon, a WWII German ship.

When to go

Thanks to its coastline on two different bodies of water, you can dive in Colombia during any month of the year. However, if you want to see hammerhead sharks at Malpelo, January to May is the best time to travel. Overall, ocean visibility varies from 15-30 meters/50-100 feet, depending on your dive site and current conditions. The average water temperature is 28° C / 82° F, and the average air temperature ranges from 27°C / 81°F to 20°C / 68°F.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

  • Malpelo Island

    A lonely rock in the East Pacific Ocean, Malpelo Island’s true treasures lie beneath its waves where scuba divers will be awed by a huge shark population.

  • San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina

    Deep in the Caribbean curious divers will discover the islands of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. The isles may be far from the shoreline, but they still retain their Colombian charm.

USD 1,380Per trip
  • San Bernardo Islands – Accessible only by boat, the San Bernardo Islands are a small chain of 10 islands in the Caribbean, 80 kilometers/50 miles south of Cartagena. In this unique ecosystem, you will find a variety of colored fish, numerous forms of coral reefs and large variations of marine fauna and flora.
  • Isla San Andres – This seahorse-shaped island is located in the Caribbean Sea not too far off the Nicaraguan coast. It is surrounded by crystal clear warm water and filled with several varieties of coral reefs and a large variety of marine fauna and flora. The Blue Wall is one of the most popular sites, given that sighting of sharks, sting rays and barracuda are common.
  • Taganga - Just outside of Santa Marta you’ll find Taganga, a small fishing village close to Tayrona Park. Almost year round, you’ll find barracuda, giant grouper, nurse shark, and reef fish including angels, puffer, parrot, surgeons and moray eels. You'll also find coral reefs, sunken ships, underwater caves and various marine ecosystems.
  • Providencia – The seas around Providencia is a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) protected area and home to the third largest coral reef barrier on earth, which includes over 40 different dive sites. Here, you will find some of the most beautiful corals in South America along with blue holes, caves and sunken pirate ships making Providencia a must visit dive area.
  • Malpelo – For hardcore diving enthusiasts, the 500-kilometre/311-mile boat ride from the west Colombian mainland to Malpelo Island is well worth the travel. Looking to dive with sharks? Say no more, you’ll see schools of hammerhead sharks (reaching up to 300 individuals), silky sharks and a variety of shark species and moray eels. Other common sightings in the area: Galapagos shark, white-tip shark, giant schools of angelfish, Creole fish, tuna, whale shark. Not to mention a few blue whales and humpback whales.

What to see

Bring a checklist of all the marine life you want to see, because you’ll possibly find it all here. There are whale sharks, hammerhead sharks (sometimes in massive schools), manta rays, humpback whales, angelfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish, moray eels and scorpion fish.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Located on the northern tip of South America, Colombia is home to the Andes mountains, lush valleys, alpine lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and numerous coffee plantations.

Take a stroll on Colombia’s gorgeous tropical beaches along either Caribbean Sea or the Pacific Ocean, a coastline with a combined length of 3208 kilometres/1993 miles.

Visit Bogotá, the capital city located in the heart of Colombia, and enjoy restaurants and hotels amid 300-year-old homes and churches. When on the Caribbean coast, visit Cartagena to see a walled, colonial Old Town, a 16th-century castle and nearby coral reefs. Indigenous people have inhabited this region for thousands of years, taking advantage of the fertile landscape.

The Spanish came in the early 1500s conquering and colonizing the region. Today there is a melting pot of cultures, including a blend of native, colonial, African, and European influences. The country has had its fair share of hard time since the 1960s.

Mining, natural gas and the drug trade have all taken their toll on this land. However, the past decade has shown a rapid decline in violence and instability, so that Colombia has become a much safer place to vacation.

Other attractions

  • Taste and tour the country’s many coffee plantations in Eje Cafetero.
  • Shop in the nation’s best boutique shops and dine at the top restaurants in the wealthier neighborhoods of North Bogota.
  • Visit the museums of Bogota, including the Gold Museum.
  • Explore the colorful homes and elaborate street murals in the neighborhoods of Comuna 13.
  • The Lost City, built and occupied by Tayrona Indians between the 8th and 14th centuries, is hidden deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains and is also a must see.
  • Head to some of the quiet cays just offshore for a lovely day out.
  • Visit the remote peninsula La Guajira Peninsula. It’s an oasis of bird-covered mangrove swamps and sand dunes, where the La Guajira Desert meets the Caribbean Sea.

Getting there

Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, Pereira, Cali, and Barranquilla all have an international airport. Most visitors fly into Bogota and some tourists may take connecting flights to smaller airports from there. You can also take ferries or pangas out to the more remote islands, and the public transportation on land is cheap and semi-efficient.

UTC-05:00

Time zone

COP

Currency

+57

Calling code

110 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

BOG

Main airport
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.