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Diving in Cuba

The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba will deliver on sites for shark lovers, cavern explorers or coral enthusiasts.

Diving in Cuba

Quick facts

The warmth of the Cuban people is matched by the warm ocean that surrounds the archipelago country in which the reefs are little explored and undisturbed which gives a unique experience as sea life, in particular, grouper and sharks, are curious and will interact closely with divers. Cuba is home to the second largest reef in the world behind the Australian Great Barrier and, what's more, is that Cuban diving features long drop-offs or the Grand Canyon which promises that dives are eventful and unforgettable.

This average visibility in the jade water is 98-131 feet (30-40m) which makes it possible to spot sharks and dolphins easily. There is no better site to do just this than Jardines de la Reina (The Queen’s Garden) off the southern coast of the island and where sightings of Jewfish, Hawksbill turtles and an array of sharks are common. The protected area allows no more than 300 divers a year and there are no inhabitants on the nearby island, therefore, the fish have never learnt to fear humans. Their natural curiosity creates unbelievably close encounters.

The ease of diving these sites and others off the remote islands of Cuba is enhanced by the liveaboard option. These sea hotels travel from site to site quickly and efficiently and decrease travelling time from the main island, which in turn increases time under the water.

When to go

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Where to dive

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  • Cayo Largo del Sur

    Pristine and abundantly inhabited by marine life, Cayo Largo del Sur’s shallow seas surround snow white beaches, making the ideal habitat for scuba divers who crave calm water and idyllic visibility.

  • Jardines de la Reina

    With the third largest reef in the world, guaranteed shark sightings and mighty crocodiles, the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) in Cuba is a destination seemingly created for divers.

  • La Habana

    From the cobblestone streets to the rippling sea, La Habana is a lovely city that offers scuba divers plenty of opportunities to discover fascinating dive sites with tremendous history.

  • Playa Girón & Playa Larga

    The beautiful beaches of Playa Girón and Playa Larga are famous destinations with lovely hidden scuba diving sites; cenotes, reefs, caverns, and more.

  • Varadero

    Jutting out into the clear blue water is Varadero, a peninsula of worldwide fame. Divers can find exceptional reefs and abundant marine life during a dive in these warm waters.

What to see

The exotic marine life in Cuba is as lively and colorful as the other Caribbean islands. Nassau groupers, black groupers and Jewfish are sighted amidst blue striped grunts, yellowtail snappers and blue creole wrasses. Nestled in the caverns are green moray eels and juxtaposed in the open water bull sharks roam above untouched reefs of coral and sponge.

This is a photographer’s heaven where at every turn there is a near-perfect shot to be taken and microphotography of organisms hidden inside resplendent sponges is overlooked due to regular sightings of turtles or the hammerheads. The 4 main reefs cater for both the large game viewer and the photographer looking to train their eye for the smaller creatures.


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One of the many islands claimed by Christopher Columbus for the Kingdom of Spain the in the 1400’s, Cuba is the main island of the archipelago country but it also includes the Isle of Youth, Cayo Largo and 4,195 islets. The mountainous inland territory is complimented by powder white beaches that run along the coastline and attract tourist in search of an array of activities during the day and the lively nightlife enhanced by heavy cigar smoke and scents of rum found in the streets of the capital, Havana.

The country has produced world renowned figures in politics, sport, literature and culture and hosts international festivals for Jazz and Ballet every year. Around the world Latino dancing is celebrated in the cha cha and mambo all of which originate on the island of Cuba and can be seen danced in their raw state in cafes and clubs.

Still a socialist state, Cuba has one of the world’s leading healthcare systems and the Spanish speaking Criollos and the Morenos from African descent enjoy this free service as well as an average annual temperature of 81°F (27°C).

Other attractions

It is not unusual, in a country with a strange amount of sports stars, to find that tourists take part in the festivities that center around these activities. Baseball games are the highlight of sporting events to attend. The nightlife in Havana is at its best in the Vedado district and if you time your visit correctly, you can catch the carnival type procession along the pathway that hugs the beach (the Malecon) but after rum tasting and mambo it might be a good idea to spend the days on horseback getting up close to the lush vegetation and birdlife for which Cuba is famous for. History buffs can enjoy the museum of Santa Clara where the body of Che Guevara is buried or the Museum of the Revolution to get the full context of how modern Cuba came to be.

Getting there

The main airport is located just outside Havana and is easily accessible using a direct flight from Canada, Europe and Mexico. There are flights from Tampa and Miami in the US daily, with specific licensed operators, and there are also chartered flights directly to some resorts which may be less expensive. Viazul is a bus service that is most often used to travel around once you have arrived.


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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.

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