The choices are numerous!!
Choosing the best scuba diving locations is a highly subjective affair, depending on the preferences of the person or people who are being asked. There are hundreds of major dive destinations around the world, and many thousands of dive sites.
Scuba diving locations are everywhere across the planet. You could visit a scuba diving location in Africa, Asia, Australia, or in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. You may choose South America, Central America or the Caribbean. How about North America, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, or the Red Sea?
While your own geographical location, your vacation time and your finances may limit which scuba diving locations you can reasonably expect to travel to, it won’t do any harm to draw up a wish-list for yourself, and you may want to add the following dive destinations to that list. This article shall focus on dive locations that lend well with Cruise Ship destinations and ports of call. During the 1980’s and well up until the late 90’s used to feature a number of diving theme cruises, however, they have dwindled in both popularity and offerings of late. But it is still a very worthwhile endeavour. You’ll need to invest some upfront time in selecting both a cruise and a dive tours(s) that interest you, but it is a great idea. For one, it allows both the avid diver to be able to pursue their desires, while affording the non-diver friends, family members, and significant others with some pretty awesome activities, while you are exploring the down-under!!
While individual prices and costs for dive tours will run the gambit depending on your specific desires and wishes, you can generally expect to pay anywhere from an average of $75 to $135 per diver for a decent dive tour, while you might even find some “last minute” discounts for cash if you are just wanting to take a chance and walking up on a day of deal. Both Diving, and Cruising in the Caribbean are a known quantity, conditions are relatively good, and they both offer very well-developed infrastructure and quantity of offerings for the choosing. Yes Diving and Cruising the Caribbean certainly ticks all the boxes, but you’ll still be faced with just where in the Caribbean you will finally decide on.
Caribbean scuba diving top spots
The Caymans (Western Caribbean Cruises)
High on the list would have to be Grand Cayman, part of the Cayman Islands, a group of three islands located south of Florida in the Caribbean. The main island is Grand Cayman, and its two sister islands are Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. This Caribbean scuba diving location has been ranked No. 3 on the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Network’s list of favorite scuba destinations. Grand Cayman has great water visibility, excellent amenities, and is well-known for its themed dives at locations like Stingray City, where you can swim in 12 to 15 feet of water with as many as 50 Southern stingrays around you.
Wall diving is also a feature of Caribbean scuba diving in Grand Cayman, and the North Wall offers wall diving from around 90 feet. Closer to the surface, the drop-off at Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay begins at a shallow 18 feet, then descends sharply to over 1,000 feet. Here the Caribbean scuba diving coral-lover will be in their element. All in all, Grand Cayman caters to all levels of diver, and there are plenty of activities for when you are out of the water.
Bonaire (Southern Caribbean Cruises – Out of San Juan)
The Caymans are not the only Caribbean scuba diving sites suitable for all levels of divers. The shallow diving of Bonaire, in the Dutch Antilles, is ranked No. 2 on the PADI Network’s list of favorite scuba destinations, thanks to the fantastic shapes and colors in the reefs there.
Caribbean scuba diving trips can take some planning, so it’s good to know that Bonaire lies southwest of the normal hurricane belt, the sun shines nearly every day, and all diving happens on the island’s 24-mile leeward west side where the seas are usually calm.
Plus, all the sites around Bonaire are accessible from the beach, as Bonaire’s massive reef system begins just a few hundred feet offshore which is a rarity in the Caribbean and a great boon if a non-diver is accompanying you on your Caribbean scuba diving vacation. This feature also makes Bonaire a great place to become dive-certified, as training can be conducted in safe shallows.
Cozumel (Western Caribbean Cruises)
The largest of the Mexican Caribbean’s islands, Cozumel is just 12 miles off Mexico’s Yucatan coast and would certainly have to be on your Caribbean scuba diving wish-list, being ranked No. 1 by the PADI Travel Network. Cozumel has the clearest water in the Caribbean, with visibility never less than 100 feet and sometimes over 200 feet. The only pause for thought may be if you are a novice because you may find the continual current a little unnerving, as Cozumel is known for its drift diving.
Currents running through the main reefs on the leeward coast provide the perfect conditions for the keen drift diver, and it is these currents that bring the nutrients that allow the reefs to flourish so spectacularly. In total there are 19 scuba diving reef areas that cater for all tastes, including dramatic swim-throughs with a magical abundance of marine life. Cave divers can take a short hop to the scuba diving locations on the mainland where they can dive the freshwater caves called the cenotes.
Cozumel is not only a top spot for scuba diving, it is also a great all-around fun destination with luxury accommodation and buzzing nightlife.
If your idea of a Caribbean scuba diving vacation is moving from boat to water back to boat, then the Costa Rican Cocos Island may appeal because this island is over 300 miles from the Costa Rican coast and boat-living is a necessity. PADI ranked this Caribbean scuba diving location No. 6 due to the ease of spotting the most impressive marine creatures. Dive operators consider the Cocos Island to be one of the best big animal dive destinations in the world. Better to be sure you are beginning or ending your cruise adventure in San Juan (and have ample 5 to 7 days time on your hands) if you wish to do this dive adventure, as its at least a 13hour boat ride just getting there.
Belize (Western Caribbean Cruises)
Belize is a largely undiscovered gem for Caribbean scuba diving enthusiasts, despite the fact that its barrier reef is 185 miles long, which makes it the longest in the Western Hemisphere.
Diving is carried out on the reef and around the atolls and cayes (pronounced keys). For the more adventurous, a 60-mile trip off the coast will bring you to the Lighthouse Reef system, where the famous Blue Hole is located. No one on a Caribbean scuba diving trip to Belize will want to miss this – an almost perfect hole a quarter mile wide that descends vertically over 400 feet.
Aruba (Southern Caribbean Cruises)
This is the ideal spot for a Caribbean scuba diving vacation if you have a penchant for exploring wrecks. Aruba has the largest of all Caribbean wrecks, the 400 foot German freighter called the “Antilla”, scuttled in the Second World War. All of the dive sites are easily accessible, as the island is only 19 miles by 5 miles, and there are thirty main wreck and reef dives to explore.
Saba (Southern & Eastern Caribbean Cruises – stopping in St. Maarten)
Saba is one of the Windward Islands of the Dutch Caribbean, and it is called “The Unspoiled Queen” because it is not overrun by tourists. It is best known for huge underwater pinnacles that rise to within 80 feet of the surface, and also boasts underwater lava tunnels and hot springs.
No matter where you venture on your Caribbean scuba diving vacation, you really can’t go far wrong. And don’t take this as a definitive list; remember that there are plenty of other great scuba diving destinations that have not been mentioned here, including St Lucia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Your own choice will depend on what you want from a scuba diving location. That could be a chance to swim around and into wrecks, or explore the most fantastic coral reefs. You might want to venture deep in a Blue Hole and marvel at its geological improbability, or swim with sharks and dolphins and be surrounded by a myriad of marine life. It may be wall diving that really gets your pulse racing as you swim out over a drop-off that plunges thousands of feet into blackness, or you may relish the challenge of cave diving. This can easily be a day trip tour from St Maarten by Air, or Boat
Other Popular Spots to Cruise and Dive
Mention has to be made of the Bahamas in any article on Caribbean scuba diving, as there is so much on offer that you are utterly spoiled for choice. The Bahamas is actually an archipelago of 700 islands, and whatever your diving preferences, you will find an answer somewhere in the Bahamas. Sunken Spanish galleons, blue holes, ocean caves, coral reefs, and marine life in abundance are all awaiting the keen Caribbean scuba diving tourist
The amount of dive shops you can find along the Gulf coast and Atlantic coast testify to the fact that this is the best and most popular scuba diving location in North America. Marine life is a big attraction, and divers can swim with giant turtles, manatees, sharks, tropical fish, rays and dolphins. For Americans, this is obviously the easiest spot to reach for scuba diving, and that will certainly play a part in its success as a scuba diving location. In terms of visibility, the Gulf coast is preferable, but you will find a great variety of wrecks and reefs on the Atlantic Coast, and if you want warmer water and more exotic marine life, then the Florida Keys may be your chosen port of call.
Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
The scuba diving location of Grand Turk is situated along the southern tip of the Bahamas, and benefits from being sheltered from heavy currents. Visibility is therefore excellent and scuba diving is an option throughout the year. Marine life, such as manta rays, can be found here in abundance, and it is a top spot for wall diving where coral and sponges adorn the walls that descend thousands of feet.
Hawaii is not the greatest scuba diving location for visibility, being more exposed than many places, but there is plenty to compensate for this. Marine life rules the day around Hawaii, thanks to its fertile volcanic ecosystem, and divers can see giant sea turtles, huge stingrays, sharks and whales around the coasts. Needless to say, Hawaii’s tourist infrastructure cannot be bettered, so it is far more than a great scuba diving location
Fiji Islands, South Pacific
The scuba diving location of Fiji is known as the Soft Coral Capital of the World and offers a varied and incredible diving experience. Water conditions and visibility are second-to-none throughout the year, and the colorful coral formations prove a draw for professional and amateur underwater photographers alike. It is here that you will find the Great White Wall, the Yellow Tunnel and other underwater features.
Heron Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef)
Any article on scuba diving locations can’t pass without mention of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and one spot you might want to explore is Heron Island. This is a quiet coral island that rises above the reef and offers fantastic snorkeling and diving opportunities just off the shoreline.
Vanuatu is located east of Australia between New Zealand and Southeast Asia, and is a scuba diving location with a marvelous diversity of marine life and diving experiences. Caves, wrecks, swim-throughs, walls, overhangs, lava towers, coral reefs, and underwater grottoes all await the scuba diver who is happy to venture further afield.
Koh Tao Island, Thailand
This is known as a favored destination for divers who relish colorful reefs and the more pulse-racing experience of swimming with Whalesharks and Grey Reef Sharks. A scuba diving location that’s also an established tourist destination, one drawback for the responsible diver is that marine conservation can take a backseat to bringing in the cash, with shark-hunting trips offered as an official activity.
Maldives, Arabian Sea
This is certainly a favorite for divers who long for “a little less talk, and a lot more action”. Known as one of the world’s premier shark swim-ins that can be found it’s safe (pardon the pun) to say that this area sure ain’t no petting zoo down there!
It is hoped that this article may have been able to give you some ideas at least on where to begin or focus your search efforts on planning your next diving-cruise adventure. Dive Safe, and enjoy the rest of world that most people never get the opportunity to know even exists!! One Final Note: Please remember to tip your dive masters, as many times, this is how they are making their living.
For more information on Dive Cruising Tours Expeditions and Excursions, contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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