As a country with both Pacific and Caribbean coasts, it’s no surprise that Colombia has many outstanding places to go scuba diving. Here are some of the best places to go – and some tips on what to do once you get there.
Five Great Places to Dive
San Andrés and Providencia Island
Located northwest of Colombia’s mainland, this island is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that was created to support and sustain the incredibly diverse marine life surrounding the island. In addition to plants, fish, and shipwrecks, the island also boasts comfortably warm water throughout the year – so there’s no problem visiting whenever you’d like.
San Andrés is the larger of the two islands, and offers plenty of modern goods and services in addition to the easy access to dive spots. Providencia Island, a short trip over the water away, offers a similar quality of diving – but with more of a small town feel, since it has considerably fewer permanent residents than San Andrés.
For a quieter location than either of the islands above, you might want to consider Carpuganá. Located in the Chocó region (which connects Colombia and Panama), this town is almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the world – and it houses one of the most gorgeous coastlines in the country between April and November, when waves largely disappear from the area.
Located just off of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, the thirty Rosario Islands are home to one of the largest and most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean – and the entire area is protected as a National Park. As a result, the Rosario Islands have become one of the safest and most attractive sites for diving in all of Colombia – and the variety of activities available make it a particularly good choice for all kinds of visitors.
For divers that want more of a thrill, it’s hard to beat Malpelo Island – the only permanent inhabitants of this eastern Pacific island are members of the Colombian Armed Forces, but diving expeditions (the only practical way to get there – you can’t go on your own) head out to the island throughout the year. Aside from some truly tremendous cliffs to jump off of, Malpelo Island is host to truly incredible numbers of sharks. As such, this island is best for experienced divers only.
There’s something about former prison islands that makes them great for diving, and Gorgona Island is no exception. This area is especially popular between July and October, when it serves as a breeding ground for whales and offers outstanding opportunities to watch them. The island also has a fairly large population of turtles (though, as always, visitors are usually asked to keep a respectful distance).
Don’t Forget Your License!
In many cases, to either rent equipment or dive solo, you’ll have to prove that you’re a certified diver or have more than ten years of experience. The latter can be hard to prove (although dated pictures from past diving trips might work), so bring your diving license if you have one. Otherwise, you may have to hire a local expert for the day – that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if they can show you some of the best spots in their area, but not everyone wants to be reliant on a guide.
Looking for Long-Term Access?
If you’d like to live near a dive spot, or at least have a home so you can visit a few months each year, you may want to talk to a local real estate agency. They can help you figure out if there are any homes to buy, rent, or timeshare that match what you’re looking for.