THE TOP TEN Best Carribean Scuba Diving Spots
Anna Vander Broek

Diving experts pick the visibly best

Two months ago we turned to an expert panel to help us list the World’s 10 Best Scuba Spots. After finalizing our list, we took a step back and had a realization: Four of the 10 spots were in the Caribbean. Appreciating how much our experts seem to enjoy diving in this area of the ocean, we decided to go back to them for to develop our list of the 10 Best Caribbean Scuba Spots...
Anna Vander Broek Diving experts pick the visibly best Two months ago we turned to an expert panel to help us list the World’s 10 Best Scuba Spots. Aft...  more


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Created 06/19/08
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Northwest Point Drop-off

Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands
The current at Northwest Point Drop-off flows at the perfect speed for "sightseeing." A reef lines the steep drop-off that gave the location its name and provides a flourishing environment for all sorts of sea life. "You dive this site for the ease of diving, the scenery, and because you're pretty well assured you'll see certain types of animals," says Morrisey. And you won't miss out on much of the action; the visibility here is easily 100 feet, which makes the sightings even more pleasurable.


Stingray City

Grand Cayman, the Cayman Islands
Stingrays naturally find their food skimming the bottom of shallow waters, and Grand Cayman North Sound, where Stingray City is located, is the perfect spot to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. "Fishermen once cleaned their catch [in the Sound], and now stingrays at these sites are habituated to feeding by divers and snorkelers," says Jackson. Jump on a quick boat ride to the sandbar where you can scuba dive, snorkel or even wade around while feeding the practically domesticated stingrays.


Blue Hole

Lighthouse Reef, Belize
With very little marine life, the Blue Hole is more of a geological trip than a visit to the zoo. An unbelievable sight from the air, the almost perfectly circular Blue Hole was created by what was a dry cave system in the Ice Age. At 110 feet below sea level, the caves have stalactite formations where reefs and hammerhead sharks lurk in the shadows. The water stands perfectly still, and one can stare up through the passage to the sky above. "It's so distinctive a feature. It's very striking," says Morrisey. May and June are the best months to spot sharks circling the hole.



Dutch Caribbean
Despite its stunning beaches, Bonaire, 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, is best known for spectacular shore diving as well, and is ranked #2 on the PADI network of top 10 travel destinations. "You can basically gear up and walk from the beach into the water," explains Lucey. The beauty of Bonaire dives is the comfort and accessibility found with developed dive sites. Bonaire offers good diving year-round and is one of the only dive locations that you can dive 24 hours a day.


Cocos Island

Costa Rica
While Cocos Island, located 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, offers live-aboard diving only, you'll find the animals you come in contact with are worth the boat bobbing. Surround yourself with hundreds of Hammerhead sharks, swim with dolphins, tuna, the gigantic marble rays, even whale sharks. "This is a must-do dive destination," says Christopher. Cocos Island is ranked as the #6 best dive site by the PADI network. Plan your trip to the island from May to October for the best conditions.


Providenciales (or Provo)

Turks and Caicos
Ranked #7 by the PADI network, the island of Provo is the perfect destination for those travel companions more concerned about eating fish than watching them. "There is probably not a better selection of restaurants, especially in Provo," says Lucey. "And there are fantastic beaches." For the serious divers on the trip, the ocean wonders top the warm sands. "There's a better chance of seeing a shark here than most places in the Caribbean," adds Lucey. Most divers venture to Provo for the excellent wall diving, where the walls drop straight down, rather than sloping as in other parts of the Caribbean.



Although Jackson points out that Cozumel hasn't fully rebounded from hurricane damage, but it is recovering fast. The infrastructure in Cozumel is highly developed and has many luxury resort options, which may be one reason the PADI Network ranked it as their #1 Scuba destination. The diving itself is popular because of its fantastic visibility. But before you book, be aware that a trip to Cozumel is better for the more advanced diver. "The currents could be too strong for some divers," says Jackson.



Dutch Caribbean
Ranked #5 on the PADI Network's favorite scuba spots, Curacao is located in the southwest Caribbean and well maintained by the marine parks. Because of the care it is given, and the large amount of space it covers, Curacao offers a large variety of marine life and topography. The drop-offs of Curacao are what typically draw in the professionals. For mammal lovers, be sure to sign up for the rare dolphin dive, in which you take a boat to a predetermined site to meet the trainers and spend 30 minutes enjoying the beauty of swimming with dolphins in the open water.



Dutch Caribbean
Aruba is located in the heart of the southern Caribbean and is great for wreck diving - in fact, several aircraft and ships have been purposely sunk for divers. Jackson suggests checking out the 400-foot Antilla, the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean. He also notes that the Jane Sea shipwreck is very photogenic and the Arashi and Sonesta airplanes are easy, shallow dives. Aruba is also great for off-shore reef diving, and there is little or no current which proves perfect for investigating the shallow coral formations.


The Bahamas

The Bahamas
Ranked #8 by the PADI Network, the true draw to the Bahamas' scuba diving is the chance to spot a shark or dolphins. Like Cozumel, the diving in the Bahamas is enjoyable for all levels of divers, and there are many high-end hotels, nightclubs, shopping and more on shore.

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