With hundreds of islands, countless species of fish and a variety of preserved shipwrecks, the Caribbean is a dream destination for divers from all over the world. There’s an excursion for every kind of diver, from beginners to seasoned experts, shark-chasers, wreck photographers and cave divers.
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix is a key tourism and diving hotspot. With a diverse ecosystem of 500 marine species, visibility of up to 100 feet and perpetually balmy waters, St. Croix is the perfect place for beginners, seasoned divers and underwater photographers alike.
Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands
Bonaire is a favorite among divers, due to the fact that 100 percent of the island’s waters are designated natural parks. More than 400 species of fish, smooth weather and protected waters result in pure and seemingly untouched diving spots, making Bonaire especially popular among beginners and conservation and shore divers.
Little Cayman, Cayman Islands
This island of less than 200 people was originally called Las Tortugas due to its dense population of turtles. Diving is the main attraction on Little Cayman, whose waters are thick with marine animals including lobsters, moray eels, sharks and of course turtles. It is popular for beginners looking to gain valuable yet relatively risk-free experience.
Saba, Caribbean Netherlands
Once considered the highest point in the Netherlands, Saba is a potentially active volcano, and its landside views therefore differ greatly from other Caribbean diving spots. With a rocky terrain, the island is typically frequented by more seasoned divers, but still welcomes beginners to its diverse sites.
The largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, Roatán is supremely popular among divers and non-divers alike. Its West Bay has one of the best beaches in the world, and the island is also home to the globe’s second-largest coral reef, the Mesoamerican, which spans more than 600 miles and whose diverse sites make it a pleasure for every kind of diver to explore.
Mexico’s largest island in the Caribbean, Cozumel is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations, enticing inexperienced divers nervous about exploring isolated waters. With stunning beaches and a reputation for easy drift dives, the island is also popular for photographers. When diving here, make sure to visit the C-53, a sunken ship built during World War II.
Though Andros is the largest island in the Bahamas, a significant portion of it has remained unexplored. Home to a large concentration of blue holes—as well as the lusca, a mythical 75-foot half octopus/half shark—Andros is as intriguing as it is picturesque. With more than 164 species of fish and coral, as well as the third-largest barrier reef in the world, the island is a popular diving spot.
With dense rain forests, mountainous locales and hot springs, Dominica has much to offer in and out of the water. Though it is home to many dive spots, the most popular is Champagne Reef, named for its streams of bubbles arising from volcanic thermal springs. Explore the Toucari Caves if you are an experienced diver, and L’Abyme if you’re a beginner. Make sure to stay alert for whales and giant barrel sponges.