When the reefs call, divers can suit up and head to the Caribbean where hundreds of dive boats head out daily to sites just minutes away. All the major islands offer diving trips, lessons, and equipment, but here are some options for you to explore.
1. Saba – The offshore marine environment is significantly fascinating on this 5sq mile Caribbean island! With a seabed and mounts of healthy reefs and marine life and extraordinary formations with a depth of 200 feet, you’ll quickly see why the island is highly praised for its over 25 dive sites whose settings include underwater lava flows, hot spring, large strands of black coral, millions of tropical fish and underwater mountaintops submerged under 89ft of water.
2. Cozumel – Amazing reefs and marine life are in abundance here. Dive brochures list over 30 popular dive site locations, such as the Palancar Reef, known for canyons and abrupt wall formations. Don’t miss the vivid tunnels of the Devil’s Throat off Punta Sur where you’ll be sure to catch the schooling yellow jacks and turtles. Almost all reefs are protected by the Cozumel Reef National Marine Park, so you’ll be sure to find pristine, spectacular diving!
3. Bahamas – If getting there and budget is a factor, you can’t beat the convenience of the Bahamas. Divers can literally spend weeks exploring the Andros Barrier Reefs’s chasms known as Blue Holes, and the walls descending into the famous underwater canyon known as the Tongue of the Ocean. With over 25 unique dive destinations in the Bahamas, you’ll find some of the most exciting experiences, perhaps one will be when you swim and feed reef sharks, an experience offered nowhere else in the world.
4. Turks & Caicos – The Turks & Caicos Islands are surrounded by one of the most extensively appealing coral reef systems worldwide; which includes a collection of unusual underwater wrecks and drop off diving. You’ll see colonies of black coral, rare forms of anemone, purple sponges, endless formations of coral and thousands of tropical fish.
5. Belize – There are hundreds of world-class dives, virtually all with 100-foot visibility. Enjoy the longest barrier reef in this hemisphere, home to the Great Blue Hole, hundreds of islands, snorkel and dive locations, over 100 species of coral, hundreds of species of fish and an abundant variety of marine life.
6. Dominican Republic – With crystal clear waters and vibrant colors of marine life, the thing about the Dominican Republic that impresses divers is its enormity: two oceans, a system of inland freshwater caves, offshore wall dives, a smattering of satellite islands, protective coral reefs, deep harbors, 437 cataloged shipwrecks, a coastline of over 800 miles and the largest annual migration of humpback whales on earth.
7. Dominica – See gorgeous colorful reefs, spectacular walls, and unique “Champagne Bubbles.” The coastal underworld of Dominica is replete with coral villages and steep drop offs and while some of these attractions are several meters deep others are only a few feet from the water’s surface. Whether you are visitor who likes to snorkel or dive, you can float through the island’s spectacular underwater scenery.
8. St. Eustatius – Incredible snorkeling and diving; healthy reefs, a bank of shipwrecks, 17th and 18th century city ruins and beautiful underwater flora and fauna creates a diverse ecotourism offering.
9. BVI – With just a snorkel and mask there is much to explore at one of the many incomparable dive sites around 60 islands and cays. At The Baths, an extraordinary natural landscape awaits, with partially submerged grottoes created by huge boulders that were scattered by ancient volcanic activity. Snorkelers can tour giant boulder fields or immerse themselves in coral-encrusted shallows. Brewer’s Bay on Tortola holds schools of trumpet fish, barracuda, octopus, stingrays and sergeant majors, and Smuggler’s Cove at the northwest end of the island, offers two reefs, just 100 feet offshore, which are the playground of grunts, squirrel fish and parrot fish. Off Anegada, the wreck of the Parmatta, which ran aground in 1853, on her maiden voyage, provides an opportunity to see butterfly fish, turtles and huge groupers.
10. Puerto Rico – There are countless diving sites around this tropical paradise. With a continental shelf surrounding it on three sides, Puerto Rico has an abundance of coral reefs, caves and sea walls for divers of all levels of experience to explore. Mona Island has been heralded as the Galapagos of the Caribbean, famous for its unique flora & fauna above the water. Heading to the South region of Puerto Rico, known as Porta Caribe, you’ll find a thrilling recreational dive spot at Caja de Muertos Island – off Ponce. West of Caja de Muertos is a very lively and beautiful reef known as Derrumbadero – precipice.
Images courtesy of the Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, and Statia Tourist Offices as well as thanks to Brenda S and R Duncan Kirby.