The 10 Best Places to Scuba Dive in the Caribbean

As a friendly singing crab named Sebastian once said, everything’s better under the sea. Or something along those lines, we might be paraphrasing.

Whether you’re an amateur or a seasoned diver, there are no doubt a few places that will immediately come to mind when you think of bucket list scuba diving trips. The Great Barrier Reef, The Galapagos Islands, and The Maldives all come to mind. Another bucket list destination on every diver’s list is The Blue Hole in Belize, as stunning from above as it is from below.

While we’re certain most divers reading this list have seen, or at least heard of the famous Blue Hole, we’re here to open your minds (and oxygen tanks) to some of the other wonders of the Caribbean. For those living in North America, it’s much closer to visit than Australia, Indonesia, or The Maldives, and we’re sure you’ll find the waters more than enchanting.

Before we reveal our top 10 destinations to scuba dive in the Caribbean, let’s talk about some of the frequently asked questions, including best times to visit, skill level requirements, and conservation efforts.

The best time to scuba dive in the Caribbean

Head south early in the year, the diving in the Caribbean is definitely best from December through to April. This period, often referred to as the dry season, is marked by less rainfall, lower humidity, and clearer waters – all of which contribute to better visibility and more enjoyable diving conditions.

No one likes a storm, but divers are at the top of the list when it comes to who’s rooting for calm weather. December to April also fall outside the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June to November, reducing the likelihood of rough seas and storms that can affect visibility and diving plans. The last thing you want to see on your forecast when you visit the Caribbean are those little thunder and lightning bolt icons on your phone. No bueno. Stick to the first quarter of the year for your best shot at calm waters.

scuba diving in the caribbean

A few exceptions to the rule

If you need to visit outside of these months, your best bet is to head south. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are located in the Southern Caribbean where the risk of hurricanes impacting diving conditions is much lower.

Off-season certainly offers fewer tourists, and there are spots like the Cayman Islands where the summer months also offer decent visibility. And if it’s a certain species of shark you’re out to spot, we’d recommend taking a closer look at seasonality. Whale Shark encounters in Belize, for example, take place in a tighter window from February to April, while certain shark species in the Bahamas are only viewable in the winter months. So while we recommend December to April as a rule of thumb, there are a few exceptions to be aware of when you visit.

Skill level requirements

Most of the destinations on our list below offer sites for both beginners and advanced divers, but within each destination, we’ll discuss skill level requirements so you know when you’re out of your depth…literally. Don’t be discouraged, there’s something for every skill level in the Caribbean waters.

dive in the caribbean

Conservation efforts in the Caribbean

The diving community plays a pivotal role in marine conservation efforts, recognizing the crucial need to protect the region's unique and diverse underwater ecosystems. These efforts encompass a range of initiatives, from establishing marine parks and protected areas to engaging in coral reef restoration and species protection programs. The diving community often collaborates with local governments, NGOs, and environmental organizations to foster sustainable diving practices.

This collaboration includes educational programs aimed at both divers and local communities, highlighting the importance of preserving marine life and habitats. Additionally, many dive operators and resorts in the region adopt eco-friendly practices, such as reducing plastic use, supporting clean-up dives, and actively participating in research and monitoring activities. These collective efforts are vital in ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of the Caribbean's marine environments, benefiting both the local ecosystems and the future of recreational diving in the region.

And now, without further ado, let’s get to our list. This ranking is of course subjective, however we ranked the destinations based on several factors, including uniqueness of the dive experiences, marine biodiversity, and the overall quality of dive sites.

The 10 Best Places to Scuba Dive in the Caribbean

1. The Great Blue Hole in Belize

If you read the intro, you probably could have guessed that we would start here. Some might think it’s cliché, to those we’d say hold your opinion until you go.

Belize's Great Blue Hole is a top-of-the-bucket-list destination for many divers. This massive underwater sinkhole, alongside the rich Belize Barrier Reef, offers a unique and diverse diving experience.

A visit is akin to exploring a different world, a geological marvel that stands as one of the most astounding underwater sites on the planet. The Great Blue Hole is a massive submarine sinkhole measuring over 300 meters across and 124 meters deep–unique is an understatement. Formed during the last ice age, it's renowned for its circular shape and deep blue color, visible even from space.

Photo: Jaxa, ESA

Descending into the Blue Hole, divers are enveloped in a serene environment, distinct from typical reef diving. The walls of the sinkhole are lined with ancient limestone formations, including stalactites and stalagmites, offering a glimpse into the earth's geological past. These formations, some of which are several meters long, were formed in caves above sea level before the end of the ice age, and they create an eerie and otherworldly landscape that fascinates geologists and divers alike.

Aside from its geological allure, the Great Blue Hole is also a destination for encountering diverse marine life, although it is less about colorful coral reefs and more about the thrill of the depths and the species adapted to this unique environment. Divers might spot Caribbean reef sharks, hammerheads, and the occasional bull shark, adding an element of excitement to the dive.

The deeper areas of the Blue Hole lack oxygen, creating a unique habitat. The dive is often considered a rite of passage for experienced divers, offering both a challenging descent and a surreal underwater experience.

Diving in the Great Blue Hole isn't just a dive; it's an adventure into one of the earth's most intriguing natural phenomena, combining the thrill of exploration with the awe of witnessing ancient geological formations.

2. The Shore Diving Paradise in Bonaire

Bonaire, a diver's dream, offers an unmatched shore diving experience with over 50 easily accessible sites. The island's commitment to marine conservation ensures vibrant coral reefs and an abundance of sea life, including parrotfish, angelfish, and turtles. The clear, calm waters make it ideal for both beginners and experienced divers.

Every visit is a remarkable experience. Bonaire is widely celebrated for its exceptional accessibility and ecological diversity, something you’ll notice both on land and in the water. Known as a diver's paradise, its greatest allure lies in the truly extensive shore diving opportunities, allowing divers unparalleled freedom and flexibility to explore its underwater marvels. The island's surrounding waters are part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, ensuring the preservation of the marine environment and making it a sanctuary for a wide array of marine life. This dedication to conservation means that the reefs and waters around Bonaire are some of the healthiest and most vibrant in the Caribbean. Divers here are treated to clear, calm waters with visibility often exceeding 100 feet, providing an excellent view of the stunning coral formations, sponges, and marine species from exotic fish to gentle sea turtles.

sea turtles in bonaire

Bonaire's diving scene is for everyone, with sites suitable for all levels of divers. Whether you are a beginner taking your first plunge or an experienced diver looking for challenging dives, Bonaire will provide you with an incredible trip. The island's reefs are easily accessible from the shore, with many dive sites located just a few steps into the water, eliminating the need for boat travel. This ease of access allows divers to dive at their own pace and on their own schedule, making it perfect for those who prefer a more independent diving experience.

3. Drift Diving Amongst Vibrant Reefs in Cozumel, Mexico

Diving in Cozumel, Mexico, is an extraordinary experience, marked by its vibrant underwater landscapes and world-class drift diving conditions. The island, nestled in the Caribbean Sea, is a jewel for divers, thanks to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef that passes near its shores. This reef system, the second-largest in the world, bestows upon Cozumel an incredible biodiversity and a stunning array of coral formations.

puffer fish underwater

The clear, warm waters offer excellent visibility, often extending up to 100 feet or more, allowing divers to fully appreciate the beauty of the reef and its inhabitants. The marine life in Cozumel is a dazzling display of nature's splendor, with divers frequently encountering colorful tropical fish, turtles, eagle rays, and nurse sharks, among other species. The reefs are teeming with life, from the tiny, vibrant creatures residing in the coral to the majestic pelagic fish that roam the blue waters.

What sets Cozumel apart and makes it a top destination for divers globally is its renowned drift diving. The island's location creates a natural flow of currents that gently guides divers along the reef, allowing for an effortless and exhilarating exploration of the underwater world. This unique drift diving experience enables divers to cover more ground without exerting much energy, making it both relaxing and thrilling.

The island's dive sites cater to all levels, from shallow, gentle reefs perfect for beginners and snorkelers to deeper, more challenging environments for advanced divers.

Thinking of visiting Cozumel on your honeymoon? Here are a few of our favorite honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean.

sunset in cozumel on a boat

Cozumel's underwater landscape is also dotted with intriguing features such as caverns, tunnels, and dramatic wall dives that drop off into the deep blue. These aspects, combined with the island's professional dive operations and conservation efforts to preserve its marine environment, make Cozumel a top-notch diving destination, good enough to break into the top three on our list of top scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.

4. A Dive into the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Roatán, Honduras

Diving in Roatán offers an exceptional underwater experience as it's part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. This magnificent reef stretches along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, with Roatán being one of its most prized locations.

The reef's health and biodiversity in this area are astounding, offering divers a kaleidoscope of colorful coral species, sponges, and an abundant array of marine life. The waters around Roatán are crystal clear, providing excellent visibility often exceeding 100 feet, allowing divers to fully immerse themselves in the vibrant underwater spectacle. Divers in Roatán are frequently treated to encounters with a diverse range of marine inhabitants, including various species of sharks, rays, turtles, and a multitude of tropical fish. The reef's structure, with its enchanting coral formations, overhangs, and swim-throughs, creates an underwater landscape that is both mesmerizing and exhilarating to explore.

scuba dive in honduras

Beyond the sheer beauty of its coral reefs, Roatán offers a variety of dive sites that cater to all skill levels, from shallow, calm waters ideal for beginners to deeper, more challenging sites for advanced divers. The island's unique topography includes not just the barrier reef but also seagrass beds, mangroves, and a number of shipwrecks, adding to the diversity of diving experiences available.

Roatán is particularly famous for its wall dives, where the reef dramatically drops off into the deep blue, providing an awe-inspiring backdrop for divers as they glide along the reef's edge. The island's commitment to marine conservation and sustainable diving practices further enhances the quality of the dive sites, ensuring that the reef continues to thrive and remain a vibrant habitat for marine life. This commitment, combined with the natural beauty and diversity of the underwater world, makes Roatán a standout destination for divers seeking both adventure and the serene beauty of an unspoiled marine environment.

5. A Stingray Paradise in the Cayman Islands

Diving in the Cayman Islands is a premier experience, renowned for its stunning clarity of water, abundant marine life, and an impressive array of dive sites. The islands boast a diverse underwater landscape, including dramatic wall dives, thriving coral reefs, and fascinating shipwrecks, appealing to divers of all skill levels.

The waters around the Cayman Islands are famed for their exceptional visibility, often extending over 100 feet, allowing divers to fully appreciate the vibrant hues of the coral and the myriad of creatures that call these reefs home. This clarity also makes it an excellent spot for underwater photography. The marine life in the Cayman Islands is diverse and abundant, featuring a rich variety of tropical fish, stingrays, turtles, and occasionally, larger species like sharks and eagle rays. The coral reefs are teeming with life, from small, colorful reef fish to larger pelagic species, offering a dynamic and engaging diving experience.

stingray city

One of the most unique aspects of diving in the Cayman Islands is the variety of dive environments available. The islands are particularly famous for their deep sea walls, which start at shallow depths and drop off into the abyss, providing a thrilling experience for divers as they explore the edge of the underwater precipice. Moreover, the Cayman Islands are home to several iconic dive sites, such as Stingray City, where divers can interact with and feed friendly stingrays in their natural habitat, and the Kittiwake shipwreck, a former US Navy ship intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef.

These dive sites not only offer exciting and memorable underwater experiences but also play a crucial role in the conservation of marine life by providing new habitats. The Cayman Islands' commitment to marine conservation and the protection of their reefs ensures the continued health and vibrancy of their underwater ecosystems. This commitment, combined with the sheer beauty and diversity of the dive sites, makes the Cayman Islands a top destination for divers seeking an unforgettable underwater adventure in a pristine marine environment.

6. Turks and Caicos: Majestic Wall Dives and Whale Encounters

Diving in Turks and Caicos is an exceptional experience that captivates divers with its pristine conditions and abundant marine life. The islands are renowned for their extensive and vibrant coral reef systems, part of the third-largest barrier reef in the world, offering an underwater spectacle that is both diverse and beautifully preserved.

The waters here are known for their remarkable clarity and turquoise hue, providing excellent visibility that often exceeds 100 feet. This clarity allows divers to fully appreciate the intricate coral formations and the multitude of marine species that inhabit them. The marine life in Turks and Caicos is abundant and varied, with divers commonly encountering an array of tropical fish, turtles, lobsters, rays, and even sharks. The reefs are teeming with activity and life, creating a dynamic and colorful underwater landscape that is both enchanting and exhilarating to explore.

turks and caicos beach

Apart from the vibrant coral reefs, Turks and Caicos, like several of the other destinations on this list, are famous for their wall dives.

Additionally, the islands occasionally provide opportunities for whale encounters, particularly during the migration season, adding another layer of excitement to the diving experience.

7. Shark Diving and Blue Holes in the Bahamas

The Bahamas, with its clear, warm waters, boasts an extensive array of dive sites that cater to a wide spectrum of interests and skill levels. From the mysterious allure of blue holes and extensive underwater cave systems to vibrant coral reefs teeming with life, the Bahamas presents a world of exploration beneath the waves.

diving in bahamas

The Bahamas is particularly famous for its shark diving experiences, where divers can encounter a variety of shark species, including reef sharks, hammerheads, and the iconic tiger sharks, in their natural habitat. These encounters provide both an adrenaline rush and a unique opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures up close.

tiger shark underwater

Beyond the excitement of shark diving, the Bahamas is also home to a multitude of wrecks, some of which are historical and others intentionally sunk to create artificial reefs. These wrecks, each with its own story, have become thriving habitats for marine life and offer fascinating dive experiences. The diversity of dive environments in the Bahamas ensures that there is always something new and exciting to discover, whether it's swimming through the colorful inhabitants of a coral garden or exploring the caverns of a sunken ship.

8. The Wreck Diving Capital of the Caribbean in Grenada

Diving in Grenada offers an enthralling experience, particularly known for its abundance of historic shipwrecks and vibrant marine life. The island, sometimes referred to as the "Wreck Diving Capital of the Caribbean," boasts over a dozen wrecks, each with its own unique story and charm.

The most famous of these is the Bianca C, known as the "Titanic of the Caribbean," a luxury ocean liner that sank in 1961. Exploring these wrecks provides a fascinating glimpse into history, as they have transformed into artificial reefs teeming with marine life.

grenada waters

The wrecks are encrusted with colorful corals and sponges, and inhabited by a myriad of fish and other sea creatures, making them dynamic ecosystems that offer divers a captivating experience.

Beyond the allure of its wrecks, Grenada’s underwater landscape includes beautiful coral reefs and an abundance of healthy marine ecosystems. The island's marine biodiversity is impressive, with divers frequently encountering a diverse array of tropical fish, rays, turtles, and occasionally nurse sharks. The coral gardens in Grenada are vibrant and well-preserved, providing a colorful backdrop to the island's underwater topography. Additionally, several of the dive sites feature interesting underwater sculptures, part of an underwater sculpture park, which add an artistic element to the diving experience and serve as an important tool in coral reef conservation.

9. Unspoiled Beauty in Saba

Known as the "Unspoiled Queen" of the Caribbean, Saba's volcanic origins have created a unique underwater landscape that is a diver's paradise. The island's waters are part of the Saba National Marine Park, a protected area that ensures the preservation and health of its marine ecosystems. This protection has resulted in vibrant and thriving underwater habitats, featuring spectacular pinnacles, steep drop-offs, and seamounts that rise from the ocean floor.

The clarity of the water around Saba is remarkable, making it an ideal destination for photographers and nature enthusiasts. The marine life in Saba is diverse and abundant, with divers frequently encountering colorful tropical fish, sharks, rays, and turtles. The coral formations are diverse and robust, hosting a myriad of sea creatures in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes, offering a mesmerizing spectacle for divers.

What sets Saba apart from other diving destinations is its relatively untouched and less commercialized nature, providing a more serene and intimate diving experience. The island's dive sites are less crowded, allowing for a more personal and immersive experience with nature. Saba's dive sites cater to a range of skill levels, from shallow, calm waters ideal for beginners to challenging dives for more experienced adventurers. The island’s topography also includes underwater lava tunnels and hot springs, adding to the uniqueness of the dive sites.

10. The Nature Island's Underwater Wonders in Dominica

Known as the "Nature Island" of the Caribbean, Dominica's dive sites are a testament to its geological richness, featuring underwater hot springs, bubbling vents, and dramatic drop-offs. The island's waters are a haven for an impressive array of marine life, thriving amidst the nutrient-rich volcanic soil.

This unique underwater terrain creates an enchanting environment for divers, with colorful reefs and a diverse range of sea life. Divers in Dominica are frequently greeted by vibrant coral gardens, sponges of various shapes and sizes, and an array of tropical fish, along with larger species such as turtles, dolphins, and occasionally whales.

whale in dominica

In addition to the natural wonders, what makes diving in Dominica truly special is its commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly diving practices. The island's dive sites are well-preserved and responsibly managed, reflecting a deep respect for the marine ecosystem.

The diving community in Dominica is actively involved in conservation efforts, ensuring that the beauty of the underwater world remains unspoiled for future generations.

Each of these Caribbean destinations offers a unique and unforgettable scuba diving experience. We hope it will help guide you to your next dive, whether it be your first or your 100th trip into the deep blue sea.


The Caribbean is renowned for its exceptional scuba diving spots, each offering unique experiences with vibrant marine life and stunning underwater landscapes. In this article, we’ll unpack the 10 best places to Scuba Dive in The Caribbean.