A Dive into Neptune's Garden
Text and Photos by Roberto Campos
Strapping air tanks to their backs and exploring the magical serenity of life below the surface, more and more people around the world are enjoying scuba diving as the perfect antidote to the stresses of daily life on dry land. Cuba is no stranger to this pastime and it is a growing sector for the country's tourist industry. Canadians and Europeans are increasingly choosing to go diving on their trips to Cuba and thanks to its island location, the country could soon be one of the premier diving destinations in the Caribbean.
A recent Cuban Tourism Ministry report identifies more than five hundred well-studied diving sites around the island, including a variety of undersea features to explore from exotic underwater seascapes, to caves, vertical walls and tunnels.
Divers can enjoy cliffs and canals ideal for both day and night diving. Sunken Spanish vessels with undiscovered secrets rank amongst the most popular sites.
Those in the know particularly recommend dive sites on the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth,) Cayo Largo and María La Gorda in the province of Pinar del Río, the coastline north of Havana, and the artificial underwater park in Varadero.
The Zapata Peninsula is famed for its cave diving, as are the waters off Cienfuegos which boast six meter high Notre Dame coral in places.
Fascinating historic shipwreck sites are found off the coast of eastern Santiago de Cuba, the northern coast of Camagüey, Holguín and Jardines del Rey, as well as the Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo resorts to the north of Ciego de Ávila province.
Divers will also relish the excellent visibility offered by crystal clear Caribbean waters close to the historic city of Trinidad.
For those with a taste for something wilder, the Queen's Gardens marine sanctuary off Cuba's southern coast will satisfy a lust for adventure.