If you’re a diver, there’s nothing better than discovering new coral reefs to explore; especially ones where the water is crystal clear, the coral healthy and the sea life varied and unusual. Whether you’re an experienced diver or completely new to it all, the excitement of finding a spectacular spot never goes away. To help you find that magic, I have curated my list of the very best coral reefs in the Caribbean.
These diving spots are so sensational due to the good health of the ocean in each particular area, so let’s help them stay that way. There are a multitude of ways to practice more eco-friendly diving habits, but eliminating single-use plastics is a good place to start, with 8 million tonnes of plastic finding its way into the ocean each year. Reducing our use is something we can all attempt.
One of the things I love about diving is that it attracts people from all walks of life, from those doing it on a shoestring budget to those splashing out on a private yacht charter. What we all have in common is a desire to protect our oceans and the incredible species that live within them. For those who are lucky enough to be reef-hunting by luxury yacht, consider using a eco-conscious yacht charter broker like Y.CO, pioneer of environmental initiative Project Clearwater.
Here are my three all-time favorite scuba diving spots in the Caribbean – enjoy!
Three of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean
Gardens of the Queen, Cuba
Just 60 miles off the Cuban coastline lies this extraordinary marine sanctuary, formed of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands. Swim amongst reef sharks, swirls of schooling fish, large grouper and turtles on this stunning piece of coast, which has been a protected area ever since it was declared so by Fidel Castro in the 1990s. Hardy divers can even seek out the apparently unaggressive North American crocodiles that are said to frequent some of the corals here.
Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen national park is undeniably one of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean in terms of vibrancy and pristine preservation. Open to the public for limited dive tourism, this sanctuary is certainly worth the journey.
The Soufriere Marine Reserve, St Lucia
The Soufriere Marine Reserve in St Lucia starts near Anse La Raye and extends 12 miles south to Soufriere and the Pitons. Alongside a colourful and extremely diverse range of fish, coral fans will be delighted to see that the reefs here cover over half of the marine life, with the sunken shipwrecks of Lesleen M and Daini Koyomaru also acting as artificial reefs.
However, it has to be said that the sight of the majestic Pitons cutting 500 m deep into the water is what keeps divers coming back time and time again. With several fascinating dive sites around the reserve, the ‘Superman’s Flight’ site is a particular of interest for many visitors, made popular by its appearance in Superman 2. Be sure to hold the iconic Superman pose as you drift through the kaleidoscopic array of underwater activity.
Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman
Another site incorporating dramatic rockface into the diving experience is Bloody Bay Wall in Little Cayman. This combination of crystal-clear seas and a coral-covered cliff is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit. Always wanted to perch weightlessly at the top of a near-vertical wall that descends into the depths of the earth? Desperate to navigate your way around a underwater maze? Bloody Bay is for you.
In addition to all this excitement, the coral here is home to many microscopic bioluminescent creatures and the living wall fluoresces in the sunlight, making Bloody Bay Wall one of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean for sheer natural beauty.
These reefs are just three of so many amazing diving spots in the Caribbean. However you plan your diving excursion this year, I hope this list helps you decide where to go and how to dive in more eco-conscious ways. Happy exploring!