Did you know that the third largest barrier reef as well as the second most famous carnival are located in Colombia? Or that, moreover, Colombia is the second-largest producer of emeralds? This is a country rich in history, an extraordinary culture and a wide variety of wildlife. Its environment makes for perfect conditions for diving. Colombia is washed by two oceans and traveling from her capital to one of the coasts is possible less than 1.5 hours. But where is the place where can one see mantas and turtles, swim with sharks and where most dive centers are situated? We know the answers to these questions and should like to share them with you.
This island is far removed from continental Colombia and deserves an honourable mention as one of the best place to holiday in the Caribbean Sea. Here the border between the sea and the sky is erased, beaches look like postcards and the sincere kindness and hospitality of the locals break down any stereotype about the supposedly ubiquitous criminality within this country. But just what diving is available in San Andres? More than 30 different dive sites are present with wrecks, caves, untouched coral reefs and perfect visibility levels (sometimes more than 40 meters).
The dive site at Bajo Bonito in the northeast is good for novice divers. Depths here range from 5 to 16 meters. It’s possible to come upon some unusual species of the underwater world like flying gurnards on the sandy bottom, lobsters and moray eels dwelling inside the reef. The Blue Wall dive site is a slope at a 60 depth of 60 meters and is perfect for deep diving. There is a big chance of encountering grey reef sharks and huge parrot-fish. If you prefer to explore sunken ships and wrecks, the Diamond is just what you need. In 1990 it was confiscated from its drug trafficking owners and then sunk down to 12 meters below the surface, giving this ship a second life as a diver’s attraction.
If you don’t have a diver’s certificate, you can take a course at one of the local dive centers or explore the underwater world by snorkeling. Be sure not to forget to bring special water shoes as there can be rather sharp sea urchins on the bottom.
Providencia is the choice for those who just want a relaxing holiday. There are less tourists than on the nearby island of San Andres but the local infrastructure is well-developed nonetheless and you can find everything for a perfect vacation. The unique topography of the sea’s bottom and the incredible effect of the underwater light shafts piercing into the depths will leave you surprised at the variations of colour this water can take on.
Providence has about 20 dive sites, some of which are good for newbies and others better suited for experienced divers. Turtle Rock is one of these: It’s a great circular stone sat at a depth of 35 meters, the top of which can be found 15 meters below the surface.. This stone surrounded by a sandy ring and, from the surface, thus looks like a huge turtle. This dive site is good for divers of various levels. Diving here, schools of colorful fish will surround you and, on the surface of the stone. you’ll find a variety of marine life hiding inside corals and seaweeds. Like San Andrés, Providencia is a part of the third largest coral reef and this water was declared a UNESCO reserve biosphere. This fact ensures an incredible variety of marine life, including sharks, rays and turtles.
This archipelago in the Caribbean Sea is made up of 28 small islands and, 30 years ago, was made a National park of Colombia. Since then, all of its marine life has been under the protected by the government and its underwater world is exactly nature intended and not at all despoiled by man. The beaches here are protected against big waves by mangrove forests and, in the water itself, there are about 400 species of fish, 200 species of sponges, 150 species of shellfish and more than 60 species hard corals. Divers who come to Colombia can’t but help enjoy this wonderful place. You can come here for one or several days and find any manner of waters and other activities to suit your tastes.
Travelers never forget Santa Marta and there is reason for that. This place boasts close proximity to the mountains, the sea, the country’s largest national park and also is a prime port of Colombia. The Tayrona National Park, located just 30 minutes away, is one of the major places among divers. Pristine coral systems filled with different marine life sprawl over 500 square kilometers. At every dive site you will find a great deal of corals, sponges, anemones, angel-fish, lionfish, morays and octopuses. The majority of dive sites are appropriate for beginner divers and located at a slight depth of no more than 12 meters while experienced divers can dive at sites where depths range around 40 meters and are washed by strong currents that make for perfect conditions for drifting.
On the border between Colombia and Panama, sits the tiny city of Capurgana, accessible only by boat. The absence of mass tourism and the city’s inaccessibility have had a positive effect on its nature. The coral reefs are in excellent condition and are home for lobsters, groupers, pipe-fish and turtles. The dive sites available here are so incredibly varied! There are vertical walls, which reach down to great depths as well as shallows for beginners.
Capurgana offers a unique opportunity to dive off San-Blas Island in Panama. Capurgana’s beaches are surrounded by lush jungles and hiking there with a guide is sure to round-off any holiday.
At first glance this is completely undistinguished rock but actually it is a capital of shark diving. In the clear blue water with 30 meters visibility you can meet variety of marine giants: whale sharks, schools of silk sharks and hammerheads, tunas hunted on barracudas and also mantas. Even one look on underwater photo of Malpelo make heart of every diver beats faster. Before you are going to Malpelo you should get an authorization from the Ministry of Ecology and you should get a diving certificate not less than Advanced Open Water Diver. According to the rules, only one dive boat (with no more than 20 divers on board) may be on Malpelo. So serious limitation allows save this unique marine environment and makes diving there even more desired.
It clearly goes without saying that Colombia is a country that’s seemingly tailormade for diving. You won’t be sorry for lugging your equipment out there yourself. Regardless of whatever place you choose here; tropical islands, tourist areas, coastline villages or national parks, you’ll always be surrounded by the smiles of the locals and the sound of music. That’s why Colombia is known as happiest country in the word and is ready to prove it.