Looking to dive with sharks?
How about photographing some of the most vibrant coral in the world? Or, do you want to swim with humpback whales?
If so, diving in the Caribbean should be at the top of your bucket list.
With over 7,000 islands spread across the Caribbean Sea, this area has something for everyone.
Let’s take a look at some of the best locations for diving in the Caribbean so you can plan your next trip.
Best Diving Locations in the Caribbean
#1 The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the best places to swim with humpback whales. Because of this, thousands of divers flock to the island each year. Make sure you are one of them by planning your trip around the humpback whale mating season.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season for the Dominican Republic is different depending on the region. In the eastern and southern coasts, the rainy season is from late April to October. In the northern and western regions, rain can be consistent year-round.Remember that just because it is the rainy season, doesn’t mean you will experience rain every day or all day. January to April is the best time to visit if you want to dive with humpback whales.
- Where to Dive: You can find a wide variety of diving sites around the Dominican Republic. Everything from amazing coral to giant ocean life can be found in the countries warm waters. We’ll list the top three sites you shouldn’t miss.
- Silver Bank- this site is about 110km (68mi) off the north coast of the island. Between January and April, as many as 3,000 humpback whales gather in the area for mating season. This isn’t strictly a scuba site as people often snorkel here.
- Airport Wall- if your a fan of wall dives then Airport Wall is a site you shouldn’t miss. The site is so named due to its close proximity to the Puerta Plata International Airport.A variety of coral, as well as rays and reef sharks, can be seen during the dive. Make sure you have a deep dive qualification as this one goes to depths of 35m (115ft).
- Atlantic Princess- this is a great starting point if you are just getting into wreck diving. For more experienced divers, there are plenty of opportunities to penetrate the wreck.
If you are a beginner, you can still enjoy this wreck, which rests at a depth of about 13m (45ft).
The Dominican Republic can be a divers paradise and is a location you shouldn’t miss.
The opportunity to swim with humpback whales is by itself an amazing reason to go. But, the well-preserved reefs and amazing wrecks should not be missed. You can expect to see a variety of other large aquatic life on top of various types of colorful soft and hard corals.
#2 The Bahamas
Over 700 islands make up this amazing country near the southeastern coast of Florida. With that many islands, you can be sure there will be a large number of dive spots to enjoy. You can find robust coral and amazing animals with plenty of photo-worthy spots.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season in the Bahamas lasts from late May to early October. Water temperatures around the islands range from cooler in the north to warmer in the south. The temperatures can run anywhere between 24°C (75°F) – 29°C (84°F).
- Where to Dive: As with other islands in the Caribbean, there are too many dive spots to name around the Bahamas. It depends on what you are looking for. So, to help you narrow it down, we’re going to give you the top three spots to please a variety of divers.
- Current Cut- if you are into drift diving, this is a high-speed dive that you shouldn’t miss. The site is between Eleuthera Island and Current Island.You want to dive here when the tide is coming in as it forces water through the narrow opening between the islands. You can see everything from rays to reef sharks and a variety of coral.The max depth here is around 20m (60ft).
- Stuarts Cove- ever seen those dive sites where tons of sharks swim around a group of divers? This is one of them. Stuarts Cove is a great place to dive if you want to swim with large schools of reef sharks. The best part, the max depth is only 12m (40ft) so it is suitable for all levels.
- Tiger Beach- this is another fantastic spot for you to dive with sharks in the Bahamas. This time, tiger sharks, hammerheads, and bull sharks.The area is located off the island of Grand Bahama and is a great spot for both beginners and more advanced divers. If this video doesn’t scare you, then consider making this your next dive destination.
If you haven’t been already, you should consider making the Bahamas one of the next places you dive. Expect to see a variety of shark species including hammerheads as well as bull and tiger sharks. You can’t go wrong both above and below the water in this island paradise.
Honduras has a number of islands located in the Caribbean Sea worth checking out. These areas have everything from whale sharks to amazing coral. Aside from the location, Honduras has some of the cheapest diving in the world. This is also a great place to get your open water certification if you don’t yet have one.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season in Honduras lasts from May to mid-October. The water temperature ranges from 25°C-28°C (78°F-81°F) between October and March, and 26°C-28°C (80°F-84°F) from April to September.
- Where to Dive: The bulk of dive sites are around the islands off the country’s eastern coast. Let’s take a look at three of the best spots to consider.
- Mary’s Place- this has been ranked as the best spot to dive in Honduras. The area is full of canyons you can swim through and robust coral fans teeming with life.
- Connie’s Dream- if you want to be immersed in a kaleidoscopic world of brain coral, forests of tube sponges, and colorful aquatic life, this is the site for you. The site is located off the island of Roatan. Here’s a video showing the more colorful side of this dive site.
- El Aguila Wreck- this is one of the more interesting wrecks you should experience at some time in your life. This site is a giant cargo ship which was intentionally sunk in the mid-’90s. The wreck is now broken up into three sections.You can see giant eels, schools of parrot fish, and lush coral overgrowth. This video is an amazing example of what this site can offer you.
Whether you’re an experienced diver or newly certified, Honduras has something for everyone. The island of Utila is known as one of the cheapest places in the world to dive and a great spot for beginners.That doesn’t mean this area is only for new divers, though. There are plenty of wrecks and drop-offs that you can get into if you are a more experienced diver. Add this country to your list for a great diving experience.
#4 The Cayman Islands
Among divers, the Cayman Islands is the stuff of dreams. Expect deep drop-offs, lush coral, giant aquatic life, and everything else a recreational diver could want. All set against the backdrop of crystal clear turquoise water and pristine beaches. Make sure that your next vacation to the Bahamas has the Caymans somewhere on the itinerary.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season in the Caymans runs between the months of May and October. Expect the water temperature to be highest during September, peaking at around 30°C (86°F), and lowest during February, dipping down to 25°C (78°F).
- Where to Dive: Throw a stone and you will strike a dozen dive worthy locations. But, we understand that time is precious and you want to make sure that you hit the best spots during your time in the Caymans. So, we’ve narrowed down the top three sites that you have to check out while on the islands.
- USS Kittiwake- if you are an experienced wreck diver this should be the first site you dive. The USS Kittiwake was intentionally sunk for divers by the United States Navy. Lucky us!The coral growth is minimal so you can easily explore all five levels of this ship. For advanced divers only. This video will show you everything you need to know.
- Stingray City- more of a novelty dive, if you want to get close enough to feed and touch rays, this is the spot. The rays gathered here over the years to feed on the scraps from fishermen cleaning their catch. Now, you can feed them by hand and pet them.As the depth is only 4m (12ft) this is a dive suitable for anyone. Check out this video to get a better idea of what to expect.
- Ghost Mountain- a great spot for both advanced divers and novices. You can find just about everything at this awesome pinnacle.If you are a newer diver you can enjoy the colorful coral and micro life. For the advanced divers reading this, you can take a plunge through the cavern. This video shows off the spectacular colors you can see at this site.
As we’ve already said, the actual amount of amazing dive sites in the Grand Caymans is almost limitless. There is a reason dive instructors and dive masters flock here during high season. If you want to experience some of the best underwater sites around you can’t go wrong going where the pros go.
The crown jewel of the former Dutch Antilles, Bonaire has a lot to tempt divers of all skill levels. You can experience some amazing walls, drop-offs, wrecks, and everything in between. Don’t forget the camera as these sites provide great photo and video opportunities.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season for Bonaire is between the months of early December and late March. Expect water temperatures to average between 26°C (79°F) and 29°C (84°F). February and March are the coolest and September and October the warmest times of the year.
- Where to Dive: Like the other locations on our list, Bonaire has a near limitless number of amazing sites. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to dive all of them in one go. So, what are the three that you shouldn’t miss? Glad you asked.
- Willemstoren Lighthouse- if you are an advanced diver, this is the spot for you. Assuming that is, that you can get to it.This site is only accessible when the water is calm as it is in the open waters off the southern tip of the island. As this area is exposed to the open sea, it is more prone to chop.Should you get the chance to make this dive you can expect to see some of the most pristine coral the island has to offer. There is also an abundance of marine life including eagle rays, moray eels, turtles, and triggerfish. The lucky few can even experience dolphins. Here is a video showing off the coral.
- The White Hole- the white hole is a large sandy pit surrounded on all sides by coral walls. This is the place to go if you want to spot some awesome aquatic life. It is quite common to see nurse sharks and large schools of tarpon along with the amazing coral.From here, you will usually be led right to the next dive site on our list, turtle city. This video is one of the best around for showing off the hole.
- Turtle City- most likely, if you make the dive out to the white hole, this will be the next spot you go too. You can do this using the same tank.This is the spot to see turtles. The icing on the cake is the amazing views of coral and the occasional eagle ray you can spot in the distant blue. Definitely a site you shouldn’t miss. Check out the video for some awesome turtle action.
One of the best things about Bonaire is that many of the sites are great for beginners. Also, because many of the dives start from the shore, experienced divers can rent a car and some gear and go. This won’t work for the white hole and turtle city. But, you can get to most of the islands 50+ sites by car.
Some Practical Advice for Diving in the Caribbean
Remember that the Caribbean Sea is large and the water temperatures can vary. You need to plan your trip according to each individual location so that you can hit each spot at the optimal time.
Many of the locations in the Caribbean can get expensive. Especially, the Cayman Islands, which is known as being a haven for the world’s wealthy. This doesn’t mean there won’t be cheaper options in each location. What it does mean is that you should plan your trip and budget accordingly.
The major exception to the above statement is Honduras. Especially, the island of Utila. As we stated previously, Utila is known for some of the cheapest recreational diving in the world. This is a great place to go if you are looking to dive on a budget.
Because there are so many islands and so many dive sites, it is best to stick to one area at a time so you can see the best spots. You could spend a lifetime diving the Caribbean and probably not see everything. So, it’s best to take it slow and enjoy everything that nature has to offer.
What do you think?
Do you want to rush to the Caymans to dive the Kittiwake first?
Or, maybe swimming with humpback whales is at the top of your list? We love diving in the Caribbean and, after reading this guide, hope that you’ve been inspired to make your next trip. Let us know in the comments what you think as we love hearing from other divers just like you!