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December 8, 2009

Best Havana Diving Sites & Hotels

Filed under: Havana Diving — admin @ 3:58 pm

Millions of people visit Cuba every year to relax on its beaches, tour its cities, and explore the surrounding waters that are teeming with exotic fish, sharks and amazing coral reefs and gardens. While there is quality diving found at nearly every beach and offshore site, Havana remains one of the most popular places to visit in Cuba. Known for its dance parties, cuisine, amazing architecture and beautiful beaches, Havana offers a bit of everything for travelers — entertainment, dining, cultural centers, and of course, diving. Some visitors prefer to dive straight from the beaches while others book passage on boats to visit wreckage and coral reefs located further below the surface. Whatever your Havana diving preference, you’ll be sure to find the perfect diving site during your visit.

Where to Find the Best Havana Diving Spots

Cuba is home to some of the most exquisite diving sites in the world. Its beautiful coral reef is nearly untouched as it has remained protected and visitors are limited in order to preserve the reef. Perfectly located, Cuba is surrounded by coral reefs, both far from shore and some so close you can walk up to it and snorkel from the beach. And then there are the manmade diving sites where ships and more have been sunk for divers of all ages to explore. In total, there are more than 70 scuba diving sites in the Havana, ensuring that all Havana visitors can find the perfect spot for diving.

Havana’s International Scuba Dive Centre

The International Scuba Dive Centre includes a few locations: Copacabana and La Aguja. A few miles southwest of Havana you’ll find the Blue Reef Diving Center in Caimito. And Located in Havana Playas del Este, the Tarará Diving Center is within walking distance of Havana’s shore and beaches. In all, Havana is home to more than 70 diving sites, ranging from depths of 5 meters to 35 meters and featuring some of the best natural diving available on the island. Havana divers may explore Boca de Caldera (the Mouth of the Cauldron), filled with small caves near the shore or shipwreck sites at the bottom of the water that have been taken over by the marine life. Coral reefs stretch for miles around Havana serving as a home to hundreds of species of unique coral and sponges and colorful tropical fish.

Wreck diving is an exciting experience as divers can explore manmade ships in a wholly natural underwater site. From merchant ships like Coral Island to Spanish vessels like Sanchez Barcastegui, you’ll spot everything from the smallest fish to the giant grouper and tarpon that frequent the wreckage. Some ships were sunk intentionally to provide reefs and enhance diving. Comodoro is such a wreck, sunk for an artificial reef, that has thrived thanks to the marine life surrounding it.

Jardines de la Reina

Perhaps the most famous and most beautiful of all the dive sites, Jardines de la Reina or the Gardens of the Queen, is a natural paradise located on a small island off the shore of Cuba. The area is so spectacular, and so filled with a myriad of creatures, that it is often referred to as the Galapagos of the Caribbean. The area includes secluded mangrove islands, exquisite wildlife and several dive spots. Dive close to the scurrying fish or swim next to the reef sharks, bull sharks, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks and more. No two trips are the same in the Jardines de la Reina as the marine life continues to change and extend more than 75 miles. While the Gardens of the Queen are not located directly at Havana, it is well worth the trip to see this amazing underwater coral garden.

Cayo Largo

Cayo Largo del Sur is often compared to Maldives for it’s white, powdery beaches and immaculate lagoon waters. An inner reef surrounds the island is the perfect place for diving and snorkeling with amazing elk horn coral gardens and a multitude of fish species that live in the area. Enjoy a day trip traveling to the smaller islands in the area, including Cayo Rosario, Cayo Blanco and Cayo Sigua, each home to their own unique coral reefs. It’s hard to match the diversity of the diving sites found in and around Cayo Largo as you’ll find rays, barracuda, bull sharks and more. Every day offers a new glimpse at what’s living and hunting in Cayo Largo and the 56 designated sites here.

More Cuba Dive Sites

There certainly isn’t a shortage of diving sites in Havana and around the entire island of Cuba. While Havana diving offers some of the best, easiest-to-see diving sites, there are still many other sites you may want to consider.

  • María La Gorda International Scuba Centre: Located on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, there are more than 50 dive sites from which to choose.

  • Santa Lucía: Numerous shipwrecks can be explored in over 30 diving sites.

  • Playa Girón: See where the shelf drops to great depths from the island’s underwater platform.

Where to Stay for Easy Havana Diving

No matter where you decide to stay while visiting Cuba, you’ll have access to the multitude of activities in and around Havana. And while the city is located on the island’s northwestern shore, some accommodations allow for easier access to the water and diving centers. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to stay in Cuba for the ultimate Havana diving experience. While many visitors take advantage of the local Cuban scene, staying in hostels and guesthouses, many of the island’s hotels offer Havana diving packages for staying guests. Before booking your reservation, ask about the availability of diving in the area.

Club Acuario, Marina Hemingway

The Marina Hemingway is an exciting place in Havana where you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and disco, as well as docking for ships and yachts, port, the international diving center and hotels. One of our favorite hotels at the Marina Hemingway is Club Acuario, recently renovated and a perfect piece of Cuban post-modernist architecture. The hotel features a spacious lobby with beautiful views, a game room and an oversized swimming pool. You’ll find there’s plenty of refreshments at the hotel’s buffet restaurant and indoor bar, or venture to the poolside bar and cafe to relax and mingle. A nearby complex provides visitors with many essentials, including a pharmacy and beauty parlor, as well as several shops.

Hotel Copacabana, Miramar

The Hotel Copacabana sits on the water in a residential district of Havana. Close to the airport, this hotel is a luxurious stay for any visitor, and the family-friendly atmosphere with child-care services will keep you coming back year after year. The hotel features a complimentary travel service to escort guests to a plethora of areas and activities. The hotel also features an abundance of amenities, including a swimming pool, disco, bar, shops and boutiques, restaurant and fitness center.

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