The depths of the ocean are as illustrious as a famous painting or a beautiful sunset. Although there are many attractive hot spots around the world for scuba divers, this region is home to some of the best diving.
With that said, here are the top 10 diving destinations in the Americas.
This Dutch Caribbean island is best known for its shipwreck dives and its healthy reefs that include plenty of sponges, coral, French angelfish, and parrotfish. What’s also great about this diving hot spot is that if you’re not certified to dive, you can get certified at the Gold Palm and National Geographic Dive Center at the Hilton in Willemstad. Through various certification courses, you can improve your diving skills and meet other divers. No matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Curacao will meet your diving needs.
9: Turks & Caicos
These islands have been a popular destination for scuba divers since the 1970s, with many of the islands still being uninhabited. If you’re looking for a spot with colorful marine life and calm waters, the Turks and Caicos is the spot for you. Since it’s set among the third-largest coral reef system in the world, this dive site offers plenty of drops into the deep and dramatic wall diving. Conversely, many of the reefs are close to the coastline in the shallow waters, making it perfect if you want to take the tank off and snorkel instead.
Diving in Belize is all about experiencing the Blue Hole, which is an underwater sinkhole that descends more than 400 feet into the deep blue sea. Although this dive is for more adventurous and experienced divers, the barrier reef in Belize is the second largest in the world, making it accessible for people who simply want to experience the abundance of sea life. Additionally, there are three atolls here (there are only four in the Western Hemisphere), so the deep walls and shallow waters offer a diving experience for people of all skill levels.
Nestled among Honduras’s Bay Islands, Utila is all about the simple life – and that includes diving. Not only is the water here crystal clear, but the area has about 95 percent of all the marine species prevalent to the Caribbean – including whale sharks. What makes this diving paradise so special is that it’s truly dedicated to just that, diving. There aren’t any shopping malls, skyscrapers, or golf courses around here, so you’ll avoid the touristy crowds by flying to this diving destination.
6: U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands offer plenty of diving hot spots, but St. John is perfect if you want to do it in a more peaceful and private setting. There are about 13,000 underwater acres, also known as the Coral Reef National Monument, protected in St. John. With this in mind, you can expect to see an array of sea life and pristine underwater environments, perfect for taking a crisp and clear picture. Some of the most prevalent forms of sea life here include tarpon, parrotfish, and Spanish mackerel.
The water surrounding Bonaire has been protected as a marine park since 1979. With this in mind, you can expect to dive in clear and clean water and see some of the most pristine corals in the region. Not only that, but Bonaire also features an abundance of marine life. Since most dive sites here are easily accessible by beach, Bonaire is perfect for divers who want to shore dive or night dive. Some of the more popular dive sites include Bonaire Marine Park, Angel City, Windsock Steep, and Calabas Reef.
4: Dominican Republic
People travel to the Dominican Republic to dive because of the amount of diving they can do in the area. With two oceans, offshore wall dives, a system of inland freshwater caves, deep harbors, protected coral reefs, 437 catalogued shipwrecks, and a coastline that stretches for 800 miles, any diver with any experience level is sure to find the right dive for them. In addition, this area features the largest migration of humpback whales in the world.
3: Cocos Island
If you’re hoping to take a Costa Rican vacation and dive in the region, consider heading to the Cocos Island that’s about 300 miles off the country’s coast. Supporting more than 25 species of endemic fish, Cocos Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered the best diving spot in the country – if not the world. Aside from endemic fish like the red-lipped batfish, there are also marlin, sharks, and whales in the area. Reaching Cocos Island National Marine Park is quite the boat trip, but there are also live aboard dive vessels available too.
Many experienced divers consider Cozumel one of the best places to scuba dive in the world, and that’s why it’s earned the number two spot on the list. With more than 100 dive operators, the island offers different types of dives ranging from deep dives, night dives, wreck dives, and underwater photography dives. With the 600-mile long Maya Reef at your disposal , it stretches from Cozumel to Central America , you’re sure to see a variety of marine life. If you’re looking for the best spots in Cozumel, consider the Santa Rosa Wall and the Tormentos Reef.
1: Grand Cayman
The Cayman Islands continually rank as one of the best places to dive in not just Central America, but the world. Whether you’re diving the 251-foot Kittiwake wreck or the Bloody Bay Wall, Grand Cayman won’t disappoint. Sure, you might have high expectations if you’ve never dived here, but all those will be exceeded once you land, jump into the water, and explore one of the 200 catalogued dive sites.
Diving in Central America is truly a remarkable experience. Although these diving paradises are ranked on this list, you really can’t go wrong with visiting any one of these destinations for your diving fix.
Have you dived in Latin America or the Caribbean? What was your favorite dive?
This article was written by Kevin Davies