With tropical waters, stunning marine life and varied underwater topography, the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations have it all. They rank right up there with the world’s most spectacular diving destinations, and with convenient travel options, it’s possible to take in more than one on a single trip.
The best Caribbean scuba diving destinations
To save you the leg work (or should that be fin work) we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations. We’ve also included handy information about dive schools, package scuba diving holidays and local accommodation options, to help you plan your trip.
By Caribbean we are not referring just to the many islands but anything bordering the Caribbean sea. So from Florida in the north down to the northern coast of South America and all the way up the Central American coastline to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsular.
Made up of thousands of smaller islands, coves and inlets, the potential for scuba diving in the stunning Bahamas is incredible. Highlights include spotting loggerhead turtles and the coral canyons at Victory Reef, and the incredible Deep Water Cay. Dive sites can be like your own private sanctuary, where there’s only reef sharks and big game fish for company.
Dive schools in the Bahamas include Stuart Cove and Atlantis, among numerous others. You can book holidays through Sportif Dive. Accommodation options are varied, including Small Hope Bay Lodge and the superbly situated Stella Maris Resort.
The Yucatan, Mexico
As well as top scuba diving options along the stunning Caribbean coast including Cozumel, the Yucatan also offers a dive experience like no other. A vast underground river network is entered through hundreds of dramatic sink holes, known locally as cenotes. This is your access to an eerie underwater and underground world that’s like nothing else on the planet.
Dive Cenotes Mexico and Diving Cenotes Tulum both offer cenote diving courses, guiding you through these incredible waterways. You can book cenote diving tours and holidays through Playa del Carmen tours, and there are countless accommodation options in the area, including the Dreamtime Diving Resort.
British Virgin Islands
The star of any BVI diving break is the wreck of the HMS Rhone, just off Salt Island. This royal steamer went down in 1867 and is regarded as one of the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations. It’s also been declared an Underwater National Park.
Blue Water Divers and Sunchaser Scuba are both schools that offer diving tuition and excursions in the area. If you’re looking for a BVI scuba holiday, then Dive BVI offer an island hopper cruise that takes in the wreck. There’s also accommodation available at the Long Bay Beach Club at Tortola.
Together with Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire makes up the Netherlands Antilles, just off the north coast of South America. They all offer great diving, however Bonaire is the smallest and most unspoiled of the three islands, with an environmentally conscious diving industry that has preserved some of the Caribbean’s most pristine diving spots.
The Front Porch is a particular highlight. It’s a sloping reef that runs down to a submerged tugboat wreck and is home to some incredible marine life.
Top schools include Dive Friends Bonaire and Bonaire Dive and Adventure, both of which offer courses and dive training. For the complete dive tour experience and accommodation, check out Divi Flamingo beach resort.
With the continental shelf surrounding it on three sides, the island of Puerto Rico is blessed with an abundance of coral reefs, caves, sea walls and trenches suitable for divers of all experience to explore. Just off the southern coast the shelf drops away, producing a dramatic 20 mile long sea wall that’s overflowing with marine life.
There are plenty of dive schools on the island, including Sea Ventures and Casa del Mar, which also offer luxury charters. San Juan Diver run both courses and extended diving tours. Accommodation and packages are available at the Gran Melia Resort and Fajardo Inn Resort.
Turks and Caicos
With an abundance of dive sites, including sea lanes where, in season, whales are frequently spotted, this is a top diving destination. Experienced divers can go for some drop off dives, where sea walls plunge into the depths. There are also plentiful reefs teeming with black corals and sponges plus an assortment of wrecks to explore.
The Bohio Dive Resort offers both tuition and accommodation in luxurious surroundings. Dive Provo run PADI courses and you can find out more about the accommodation and liveaboards in the T&C islands on the Aggressor Fleet website.
Grand Cayman boasts around 35 dive operators, plus there are a few more on the neighbouring Little Cayman and Cayman Brac islands. There are spots offering all sorts of dive options, from reefs and wrecks to stunning underwater photography opportunities. As one of the best dive destinations in the world it easily makes this list of the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations.
Cayman Diving and Deep Blue Divers are just two of the schools offering PADI tuition and dive excursions. There are also various all-inclusive dive resorts and specialist accommodation, including Cobalt Coast and Compass Point, who can take care of all your dive holiday needs.
The small and mountainous island of Saba, in the Dutch Caribbean, gives you the impression that you’re diving in the Grand Canyon. There are 38 official dive sites around the island, meaning they never get too busy. Under the water you can explore lava flows, black sand and submerged mountains.
One of the best ways to visit is in a live aboard like the Explorer Ventures vessel that tours here. On land, there are plenty of dive schools to choose from, like Saba Deep and Saba Divers. There’s also some dedicated dive accommodation in the form of Scout’s Place and Juliana’s Hotel.
There are several incredible dive spots along the Belize coast, including the Ambergris Caye, 1,000 foot Great Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Wall. Together these form a huge barrier reef, one of the world’s largest including famous dive sites such as Glover Reef, Lighthouse Reef and Gladden Spit.
Take a guided dive down the steep sides of the Great Blue Hole into blackness, stopping to explore the various caverns along the way. The Half Moon is decorated with lavish coral and sand chutes, with incredible tropical marine life.
Along the huge reefs and near the Great Blue Hole you can find plenty of dive schools, like the Scuba School Belize and Amergris Divers. Check out Isla Marisol Resort the Blackbird Caye Resort and Roberts Grove resorts for packages and accommodation options that make the most of Belize’s stunning location.
US Virgin Islands
One of the most popular shallow diving spots in the Caribbean, the Cow and Calf Rocks are the main attraction here. Swim through amazing natural arches, traverse ledges and explore the wide reef.
It’s also home to St Croix, with the underwater trails of the Buck Island National Park. Cane Bay and Salt River are also well worth exploring, making this easily one of the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations.
So, there you have our list of ten of the best Caribbean scuba diving destinations. Each offers something completely unique, so to find your favourite you’ll just have to check them out yourself.
Be sure to check out our Caribbean scuba diving discounts to save money on your next trip. Also check out our article about the best Caribbean dive sites for a slightly different view.