Given the fact that the Caribbean is made up of thousands of islands, it’s no surprise that it is one of the premier regions in the world for people who are looking to go diving during their holiday.
Whether you are looking for the full on scuba diving experience or simply want to pop on a snorkel to take a peak below the surface, the warm and clear waters of the Caribbean are a true divers delight and here, we take a look at just a few potential options if you’re keen to head underwater.
Lighthouse Reef is one of the best places you can look to dive, although it’s far from the most straightforward to reach - given it is located around 50 miles from Belize and right on the fringes of the Caribbean.
Comprising of several islands, the atoll of Lighthouse Reef is well visited by tourists who want to explore one of the healthiest reefs in the area, with clear and welcoming blue waters that are ideal for both expert divers and total novices alike.
There are also various islands, including Half Moon Caye - which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Belize Barrier Reef and is home to a range of wildlife. During the summer months, it isn’t uncommon to see turtles nesting on the beach, which is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences of any holiday.
The surrounding waters feature a dramatic 'wall' where the atoll suddenly drops away. More experienced divers will head here to enjoy tackling various swim-throughs; small tunnels within the walls that are waiting to be explored whilst under the surface.
Arguably the most famous attraction however is the Great Blue Hole, which was made famous by the explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s, when he described it as one of the best diving sites in the world.
More than 1,000ft in diameter and going down to a depth of over 400ft, the Great Blue Hole is very much a 'bucket list' destination for any diving fan.
Bonaire National Marine Park
The island of Bonaire is something of a hidden gem in the Caribbean but one that you’d be well advised to consider if diving is to be be a key part of your holiday plans.
The Dutch island - found close to both Aruba and Curaçao - is home to more than 80 official dive sites and a large number of those can be accessed with relative ease from the shore.
Because of that, Bonaire is a fantastic option for the more novice divers, who can walk into the water from the beach and explore the shallow waters in order to gain the experience and knowledge required to tackle the more difficult and deeper dives.
All of the dive sites are part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, which surrounds the coast of the island having been founded to help protect the coral reefs and the marine life that lives within them.
The Cayman Islands
The three islands that make up the Cayman Islands are the peak of an underwater mountain and as a result, diving off the shore provides a unique experience beyond simply heading underwater to explore a reef.
Devils Grotto - located near to George Town - is a popular choice with divers who will love the opportunity to explore the network of tunnels and caves that are found around the coast. Imagine you’re tackling a maze full of fish and you’ll not be far wrong, with beginner, intermediate and expert divers alike enjoying the chance to join the marine life as they make their way through the impressive rock formations.
On the other side of the coin, Grand Cayman is also home to Stingray City; a series of sandbars that are situated in the North Sound area.
As the name would suggest this is where you are able to get up close and personal with southern stingrays, either in shallower waters where it is possible to pop on a snorkel to look under the surface and then a deeper section where you’ll need to dive down to swim alongside them.
For complete diving rookies, Casuarina Point Reef is easy to access and not too deep, with a wide range of different fish and colourful coral waiting to be discovered.
St Lucia may be well known for the two towering Pitons that look down across the island, but it’s also a great destination for those who want to head deep underwater to explore.
The same volcanic activity that created the two Pitons have also shaped the landscapes that are located under the seas around the coast, with well protected reefs packed with marine life that you can explore alongside local experts.
Shallow waters close to the coast are great for beginners who might be trying out diving for the first time but if you have more experience behind you, there are various wrecks in the waters off St Lucia that are waiting to be explored.
Butler Bay is located off the coast of St Croix and is a fantastic place for expert divers to to explore no fewer than six different wrecks that are all located relatively close to each other.
The Suffolk Maid trawler, the Northwind tug and the Virgin Island - a huge oil barge - are all to be found in relatively shallow waters that mean they are more accessible, whilst divers with greater levels of experience can explore the three ships that are found deeper below the surface,
The Coakley Bay and the Rosaomaira are slowly being reclaimed by the sea and covered with live coral, and have previously been voted amongst the best diving sites in the Caribbean.
Those who don’t quite have the experience to explore the larger wrecks can instead spend their time diving around the Aegir, an underwater habitat that you can swim through from one end to the other.
Diving in the Caribbean doesn’t have to all about coral reefs or ship wrecks and the is certainly true if you decide to pay a trip to Tiger Beach in the Bahamas.
As the name might suggest, this is the place to go if you fancy getting close to the impressive tiger sharks that are found in the water off the coast. The warm and clear waters are a great place to go and take some underwater photos, whilst the fact that the dive sites are shallow also mean you don’t need to be an expert diver in order to take part.
For obvious reasons given that you are dealing with wild animals, this is a dive experience that should only be booked with an experienced company who will help to guide you through the correct protocols and ensure you are safe - but it’s certainly something that will live long in the memory.