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Diving in Haiti

Travelling to Haiti is not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to take a risk, the country’s tropical waters reveal deserted and colorful reefs as well as the eery 450-foot Zombie Hole.

Diving in Haiti

Quick facts

While it is surrounded by other diving hotspots in the Caribbean, Haiti’s reefs rarely see scuba divers. As such, most of the sites found around the island are in pristine condition, seemingly unaffected by the coral bleaching that has devastated other Caribbean islands. A variety of wrecks, reefs and walls are just waiting to be discovered.

The most famous dive site in Haiti is Amani’s Zombie Hole. Here the floor falls to 450 feet below sea level and the wall is covered in black coral and sponge tubes. The most sought after feature of this dive is the largest elephant ear sponge in the world. It purportedly survives at a depth of 130 feet (40 meters), but has not recently been seen, leading to rumors that it was pushed over the edge by a storm.

In addition to colorful reefs, Haiti is also home to a variety of wrecks. A small PT boat lies at a depth of 90 feet (27 meters) just off of Kaliko Beach. The wreck is neighbored by a fascinating wall creating a 2-for-1 dive. The Tina D and the Ellie Jeanne, both large boats, lie a bit deeper, making great dives for advanced and technical divers. In addition, there are many pirate ships and Spanish galleons, including some used by Captain Morgan and Christopher Columbus, in the waters around the island. The locations of these are kept under lock and key, but you might be able to convince a local dive master to reveal the secret. Expect to be sworn to secrecy first.

There is certainly enough diving to keep both beginners and advanced divers happy during a dive vacation to Haiti. Because there aren’t many divers who choose Haiti as a destination, it is important to book your adventure in advance. An unexpected benefit of visiting a place so far off the diving map is that dive sites are always being discovered and you might just be one of the first divers to ever see a newly discovered wreck. If it’s adventure you’re looking for, Haiti should be on your mind.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Much of Haiti’s marine life has been overfished in the last couple of decades, so fish sightings may not be as abundant here as elsewhere in the Caribbean. However, steps are being taken to create protected marine areas in the hope that the plentiful marine life that used to call the island home will soon return.

One thing you are sure to see in Haiti are beautiful and huge corals. The island is home to 35 species of coral and 12 types or gorgonians. In particular, the black coral and gargantuan elephant ear sponges stand out. In fact, the Zombie Hole is purportedly home to the largest elephant ear sponge in the world.

In addition to beautiful corals, you might also spot stingrays, eagle rays, reef sharks, barracuda, small schools of fish, moray eels and crabs. Of course, the invasive lionfish has created issues for the local ecosystem. If spotted, expect the dive master to kill this poisonous species.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Gorgeous waters and deserted beaches are found around the country of Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. It was here that Christopher Columbus first landed on his voyage to the New World. Of course, he thought it was a part of India or Asia but established a Spanish colony anyway. The colony’s location, around current day Limonade was important as it marked the spot where the expedition’s flagship, the Santa Maria, sank.

The Spanish continued to colonize Haiti from 1492 until 1625 when the western half of the island was given to France. In 1804, the only successful slave uprising took place, creating an independent country on the island. The next two hundred years brought a series of political and natural disasters which have prevented Haiti from developing to its potential. These disasters culminated in the earthquake of 2010 in which tens of thousands of people died and millions were left homeless.

Today, Haiti is on the road to recovery. Damage can still be seen from the earthquake and political instability abounds. However, things are improving year after year and the tourism industry is beginning to return. Still kidnappings, killings and diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases and malaria, are much more prevalent in Haiti than elsewhere in the Caribbean. Additionally, because so few people choose Haiti as their dive destination, it is imperative that all dives are planned and booked before departure from home.

Other attractions

Aside from deserted beaches and clear waters, Haiti is home to a naturally beautiful interior that is as interesting currently as it is historically. Visitors can hike through pristine rainforests, climb mountains or find rushing waterfalls. In addition, Port-au-Prince offers plenty of museums and monuments at which you can learn about the island’s history including La Citadelle and Palais Sans Souci. A trip to the island wouldn’t be complete with touring one of Haiti’s famous rum factories. The Barbancourt Distillery is one of the most famous.

Getting there

Most international travellers will arrive at Aéroport Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport (PAP) in Port-au-Prince or Aéroport International Cap-Haïtien (CAP) in the north. Domestic flights also operate from these airports.

It is also possible to enter Haiti overland from the Dominican Republic. Buses and taxis will take you as far as the border, but won’t cross it, so arrange additional transport to meet you on the other side.

You can choose to get around the island by chauffeur, rental car or tap-taps, which are a local version of public transportation.

UTC-05:00

Time zone

HTG

Currency

+509

Calling code

110 V

Electric volt

A, 

B

Plug type

PAP

Main airport
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