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World | Caribbean | Cuba:

Cuba overview


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Scuba Diving in Cuba, Caribbean

Water temperature:

Sea temperatures vary from around 22°C (72°F) in December to 29°C (84°F) in July


3mm shortie or full length wetsuit


20 to 40 metres (65 - 130 feet) can be expected at most sites

Type of diving:

Steep walls cut by tunnels and caverns and shallow reefs plus a few wrecks

Marine life:

Jewfish, nurse sharks, stingrays, green morays, turtles, Atlantic spadefish, jacks, tuna, tarpon, barracuda, grunts, snappers, red hinds, parrotfish, squirrelfish, triggerfish, lobsters, crabs, shrimps

When to go:

In theory diving is possible all year, although there is a risk of hurricanes around October and the rainy season (June to October) can blow dives our regularly. If you want to a chance of seeing a whale shark, November is the best month to visit

How to get there:

From the UK - Iberia and Air France fly to Cuba from major UK airports, but a changing require a change in Paris or Madrid. Alternatively Cubana Airways fly from Gatwick direct

Cathederal square Havana, Cuba

Cuba is a fascinating place with a turbulent history. Famous for its cigars and rum, Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands at 760 miles long. It lies only ninety miles south of the Florida coast, however due to political differences it has been isolated from Americans for the last forty years. Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 during a revolution that turned it into a socialist republic. It spent centuries as a Spanish colony meaning there are many Spanish buildings and a rich Latin American cultural heritage. The capital of Cuba is Havana, which is the countries cultural Center. In Havana there are many 16th century buildings that are slowly being restored and a massive fort at Moro Castle overlooking harbour. The Cuban currency is the Peso, but US dollars are preferred in some hotels and restaurants and most people deal in cash.

The island is beautiful and varied, with high mountain ranges and low-lying plains that grow sugar cane and tobacco. Air temperatures range from 28 to 32°C and water temperatures are 26 to 29°C. The warm, clear, calm diving conditions are consistent throughout the year but visibility is best from December to May. Diving is available all around the archipelago at an extensive range of dive sites, where you will find some of the richest corals of the Caribbean. The reefs form fissures, chimneys walls and canyons and are filled with over fifty species of coral and over two hundred species of sponge including rope, tube, vase and ear sponges. In August, September and November you may be lucky enough to see whale sharks. More dive sites are being discovered each year and most sites are only a short boat trip from the coast. Diving is perhaps best in southern Cuba at the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) and the surrounding area, but getting there takes a lot of forward planning. Almost as good and easier to get to is the Isle of Youth and Maria la Gorda, both in western Cuba. The southern coast is comprised of mangrove forests divided by rivers. It sustains a shrimp fishery that provides food for predatory fish and there are even crocodiles there.

Matia la Gorda, Cuba

The Cold War, fuel rations, poor quality boats and no GPS have all meant there has been less pressure on the reefs than elsewhere in the Caribbean, which has no doubt allowed them to be preserved in the pristine condition in which they are found today. Access has previously been limited to European divers, however American-Cuban political barriers are now breaking down and things are beginning to change. Cubans are using tourism for capital and building more hotels, inevitably leading to the destruction of the reef environment. Hopefully the government will be able to understand how important the high quality of the reefs could be in attracting people to Cuba now and in the future.

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