If you love to scuba dive, one of the best areas in the world to dive is located just south of the United States, in the Caribbean. There are tons of excellent Caribbean dive destinations, each with its own claim to fame.
This article will answer the big question, where is the best diving in the Caribbean, as well as specifics like which has better diving Bonaire or Curacao? and is Turks and Caicos good for scuba diving?
Read on for our list of the top 10 Caribbean dive destinations.
The smallest of the “ABC” islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire is known as the shore diving capital of the world for its incredible 60 scuba diving sites that are accessible from the shore. It also features an amazing range of marine life, with 57 types of coral and more than 400 types of fish.
In fact, Bonaire is the answer to the question, which has better diving, Bonaire or Curacao? While Curacao makes the list of top 10 Caribbean dive destinations, it doesn’t offer quite as many opportunities as Bonaire.
There are 26 other dive sites around Bonaire in addition to the shore sites, and a marine park that has been in existence since the late 1970s. For some of the best shallow diving in the Caribbean, check out the Salt Pier.
Bonaire is located outside of the hurricane belt, making it one of the best Caribbean scuba dive destinations in the summer months.
One of the most popular activities in this island paradise off the coast of Mexico is scuba diving. Cozumel was called one of the world’s best places to dive by none other than Jacques Cousteau.
The world’s second-largest reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, lies just offshore, and the water around Cozumel has great visibility. You can also see amazing coral and vibrant marine life all around and in Cozumel Reefs National Park.
Cozumel is known for great drift diving plus a huge variety of marine life, including sponges, turtles, nurse sharks, tropical fish, moray eels, and eagle rays. It also offers some of the best Caribbean diving in December.
This island off the coast of Honduras is one of the top 10 Caribbean dive destinations because of its relaxed vibe, low cost, and a vast variety of dive sites. Scuba divers here can choose from more than 100 dives, including shipwrecks, walls, and caves.
Also offering access to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Roatan has crystal clear water and marine life including sharks, eagle rays, seahorses, starfish, lobster, squid, hawksbill turtles, groupers, and more.
Some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean can be found off the shore of this charming Central American country. Belize is home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef, as well as the famous Blue Hole.
The Belize Barrier Reef spans three atolls, the largest of which is Turneffe Atoll off the coast of Ambergris Caye. It features amazing visibility, gorgeously colored marine life, and plenty of easy spots to dive. You can even stay at a resort within the atoll to be as close as possible to the reef.
Belize has some of the best Caribbean diving in December, as waters around it are calmer then but still plenty warm. You can also see barracudas during this time, as well as witness the amazing sight of Nassau groupers spawning at Glover’s Reef.
The Bahamas may seem like a laidback spot, but this collection of islands just off the coast of Florida is one of the best Caribbean dive destinations for shark diving in the world.
This thrilling sport features cage-free diving in calm and clear waters among a variety of shark species, including tiger sharks, nurse sharks, hammerheads, lemon sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks.
Some of the best shallow diving in Caribbean waters can be found at the Southwest Reef off of Nassau, which has amazing coral formations.
If you want to go scuba diving in The Bahamas, consider staying at one of the two all-inclusive adults-only Sandals resorts in The Bahamas—Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma and Sandals Royal Bahamian in Nassau—which offer complimentary scuba diving among crystal clear waters and vibrant reefs.
The Cayman Islands
Another of the top 10 Caribbean dive destinations is this group of 3 islands, offering a huge variety of experiences. There are shipwrecks, walls, and marine parks to explore, and each island has its own top dive spots. Wherever you dive in the Caymans, you’ll see vibrant marine life like moray eels, tarpon, turtles, nurse sharks, and sponges as well as a range of tropical fish.
On Grand Cayman, you’ll find Stingray City, where you can see stingrays being hand-fed, as well as the famous USS Kittiwake shipwreck. (Stingray City offers some of the best shallow diving in the Caribbean.)
Little Cayman Island has more than 50 dive sites available. One of the most popular is the Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park. Cayman Brac also has wall and wreck dive sites, including the wreck of a Russian destroyer.
Does the Cayman Islands have clear water? Yes! In fact, it’s considered to be some of the world’s clearest water, with visibility ranges of 60 to 100 feet. It’s also an excellent spot for night diving, with very little light pollution.
The Caymans also offer some of the best diving in the Caribbean in January, as waters are calmer then and the temperatures are nice and warm.
Located off the coast of Venezuela, beautiful Curacao offers a wide variety of scuba diving sites and colorful marine life. These include unique small sea life like banded corals, red night shrimp, red-banded lobster, lettuce sea slugs, flame back angels, gobies and blennies, frogfish, and pygmy angelfish.
There are more than 85 dive sites to choose from here, from shipwrecks to coral reefs to walls. One of the most popular Curacao dive spots is the Blue Room, an underwater cave that glows with a blue light.
Curacao also lies outside the hurricane belt, so it’s a great option for scuba diving in the summer. If you want to go scuba diving in Curacao, consider staying at the all-inclusive adults-only Sandals Royal Curacao, which offers complimentary scuba diving.
Turks and Caicos
Is Turks and Caicos good for scuba diving? Yes, Turks and Caicos is good for scuba diving! Located just 90 minutes away from Florida, Turks and Caicos is home to one of the world’s largest coral reef systems. This plus its incredibly clear and calm water and wide variety of marine life make it one of the top choices for best scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Here you can see green turtles, eagle rays, nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, gray reef sharks, angelfish, and elephant ear sponges. There are plenty of shipwrecks, wall sites, reefs, and caves to explore. The Columbus National Marine Park is another top dive spot.
One of the top Caribbean dive destinations for wreck diving, Aruba is the third of the ABC islands located off the coast of Venezuela, and perhaps the most well-known.
Scuba diving spots in Aruba include the famous underwater shipwreck of the Antilla, as well as reefs located just off many of its sparking white sand beaches, such as Mangel Halto, Puerto Chiquito, or Catalina Cove.
Aruba lies outside the hurricane belt, making it a good option for summer scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Is scuba diving good in St. Lucia? Yes, scuba diving in St. Lucia is good. In fact, its clear waters have more than 150 different types of fish, and it offers a variety of diving experiences from shipwrecks to thriving reefs to protected marine parks.
One of the most unique scuba diving experiences in St. Lucia is to visit Sugar Beach for some stunning underwater scenery. Here you can dive around the base of the Piton mountains, where they form an 1800-foot drop off.
Anse Chastenet Marine National Park gives scuba divers the opportunity to see an incredible coral reef and a wide variety of marine life including lobsters, barracudas, and parrotfish. If you want to go scuba diving in St. Lucia, consider staying at one of the 3 all-inclusive adults-only Sandals resorts in St. Lucia, all of which offer complimentary scuba diving.
Ashley has always loved to explore new places and indulges her passion for travel whenever she can. She has been to 12 countries and 32 states so far.
Ashley has worked as a freelance writer for more than 20 years, specializing in the areas of travel, marketing, personal development, and the pursuit of happiness.
Favorite destinations include Sorrento and Capri, Italy; Haarlem, Netherlands; Paris; Sydney and K’gari, Australia; Rotorua and Waiheke Island, New Zealand; the American West; Palm Beach; the Florida Keys; and her hometown of New Orleans. Ashley has a goal of visiting every state plus many more international destinations.