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The Best Reef Sites for Diving in the Caribbean

By Valentin Fuentes

From TravelPulse

Cozumel, Mexico

Here are some of the favorite spots for divers from around the world looking to enjoy the underwater natural beauties of the select Caribbean region. This 30-mile-long island in the Mexican Caribbean is a paradise for expert divers or visitors eager to enjoy marine life by snorkeling. Its crystal-clear waters give divers more than 30 yards of visibility to enjoy extraordinary sea landscapes and a large ecosystem that lives on fabulous coral reefs.

Here divers find the second largest coral reef in the world, including the Colombia Reef, Palancar, Punta Sur, Santa Rosa, and Paso del Cedral, among others. El Cielo Bay is one of the most spectacular places to admire a large colony of giant starfishes.

Among the great diversity of marine life that divers and snorkelers can see in Cozumel are puffer fish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, barracuda, ray and even nurse sharks. Divers must be accredited, and those who are not can apply for certification courses from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It is essential to know that Cozumel reefs are protected by authorities to prevent damage to the ecosystem, so they are sometimes closed to visitors. In addition, sunscreens and tanning oils used by some tourists are toxic elements for the coral itself and species such as anemones, among others.

Saona Island and Catalina Island, Dominican Republic

In addition to having beautiful beaches, these great islands of the Dominican Republic are ideal for divers and snorkelers who find a series of fun tours throughout the year to enjoy the tremendous underwater nature that lives in the surroundings of beautiful coral reefs of which the majestic Wall of Catalina stands out.

This place, with an average temperature of 87.8 degrees, is home to beautiful species of flora and fauna, such as sponges, turtles and a variety of tropical fish of intense colors, such as seahorses, starfishes, lionfish, parrotfish, porcupine fish and thousands of sponges, among many others. Isla Saona has options for experienced divers and beginners with different experiences. The island’s western side has shallow reefs, ideal for families looking to snorkel. On the other hand, the eastern side is more profound, allowing more experienced divers to find much larger fish species.

This fabulous area has sea pastures, mangrove forests, wrecks, cliffs and caverns with tunnels for the fun of divers with complete preparation. PADI Adventures offers excursions to the most exciting sites with expert guides who guarantee the enjoyment and safety of visitors.

Cayman Islands

This splendid Caribbean spot has traditionally been one of the favorite places for divers worldwide. However, it should be noted that many places to enjoy the marine world in the Cayman Islands require the most excellent skill and knowledge, so dive visitors require an Advanced Open Water certification.

However, for beginners, there are also accessible places to have family fun snorkeling and enjoying coral reefs where they can observe friendly giant rays, especially in Stingray City, which is a group of sandbanks located about 35 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman where visitors swim in shallow crystal clear waters.

Jamaica

While on the beach, people enjoy one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful views while listening to the rhythm of reggae; the depths of the Jamaican Sea offer one of the best experiences for divers, experts, and beginners, as well as families, in fun snorkeling sessions.

The marine fauna of the place is very extensive. However, it highlights fabulous species such as sharks, sea turtles, barracudas, and giant rays, as well as the most comprehensive diversity of fish of all colors that live in beautiful reefs and marine walls of medium and high depth. Places to have fun scuba diving or snorkeling abound; however, Montego Bay stands out, where the visibility is impressive, and visitors enjoy fun dives to see a sunken plane and underwater caves, as well as countless shallow coral reefs.

Throne Room, on the coast of Negril, is a large underwater cavern located about 60 feet below the surface and about 25 feet long, where giant elephant sponges live in the shape of a throne. Here divers find a paradise of marine corals and a great diversity of animal species, such as barracuda, eel, shrimp, octopus, turtle and even dolphin, as well as thousands of fish of all colors.

In Ocho Rios, Devil’s Reef is one of the most popular destinations for experienced divers. This reef, located on the high seas, is well known for the great variety of life in its ecosystem, which includes scorpion fish, barracuda, swordfish, corals of different colors, and nurse sharks, among others

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