Top 6 Dive Sites in South America

With the glittering Caribbean coast in easy reach, South America calls itself home to some of the most stunning diving and snorkelling sites in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a tentative beginner, you’ll discover there are plenty of places where you can embrace the mysterious beauty of life beneath the waters. Read on to find out more about six of the most wonderful dive sites around the continent.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

For many divers, exploring the Galapagos Islands is the trip of their dreams – and for good reason. 1,000 km from the mainland of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are a group of 13 major islands, which were catapulted to the world’s attention by Charles Darwin and his exploration of the enormous variety of species across them. Today though, divers are attracted to the unique oceanic conditions that have given rise to a wealth of marine life, including schools of rays and sharks, turtles, seals, penguins, coral and so much more! You can even see an active volcano bubbling off the sea floor, while for beginners, the clear waters around Sante Fe provide perfect conditions for novices.

Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole off the coast of Belize is one of the most widely renowned diving sites in South America, with dazzling underwater sights and incredible displays of wildlife. Named after the almost perfect circular hole at the centre of the Lighthouse Reef System, the 480 ft hole is a deep, dark blue against the turquoise waters around it. One of the more challenging dive sites, the Great Blue Hole is not one for first timers – you’ll need to develop your experience and have plenty of preparation before tackling this one!

Peninsula Valdes, Patagonia – Argentina

If you want the chance to see some of the most magnificent of marine animals in their native environment, then the Peninsula Valdes will certainly not disappoint. Attracting a host of animals through the year, it is a rich and vibrant spot for lovers of wildlife – attracting whales, elephant seals, penguins and more. Diving is best between November and March – though the waters are a little cold, it’s still a fantastically rewarding experience. If you’re not planning to dive but would like a close-up view of the dolphins, whales and orcas that come each season, the period between June and November is the best time to catch them.

Mochima National Park, Venezuela

Warm, crystal clear waters, a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and a rainbow of underwater marine life all await you at Mochima. Well-suited to both beginners learning to dive as well as seasoned experts, Mochima is a popular spot for divers who would like to see some of the many delights beneath the waves, including beautiful colourful tropical fish, birds, coral and amphibians. Newcomers to diving can accompany a diver with a snorkel, or take professional lessons to build practice. As well as scuba-diving and snorkelling, you’ll also want to take advantage of the delicious local seafood cuisine – including fresh fried fish and oysters.

Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

The Isla del Coco, otherwise known as Cocos Island, is a spectacular island 500km off the coast of Costa Rica, and its rich, azure waters teem with an array of marine life – most notably, large groups of distinctive Hammerhead sharks that any diver in the area is bound to encounter. With a warm tropical climate year round, it’s possible to dive at any time of the year – although if you’d like to come close to the sharks, then the rainy period between June to December is ideal. While Hammerhead sharks are the most common form of wildlife in the area, divers can also expect to see many other species enjoying the nutrient-rich waters, from a variety of rays, eels and fish. To make the most of the Isla del Coco experience, a professional liveaboard offers the best way to explore the area, as well as giving you the advantage of expert insight from local guides.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

One of the most popular diving sites in Brazil, Fernando de Noronha is often described as ‘paradise on Earth’, and the title is no exaggeration. Composed of an archipelago of islands, the area is characterised by warm turquoise waters and soft white sands, with some of the most beautiful and well-preserved beaches in the country. Divers can enjoy visibility up to 50 metres, with a diverse selection of marine life, including tuna, sea turtles, manta ray, barracuda and snappers, as well as dolphins further off the coast of the islands. As an important ecological sanctuary, visitor numbers are restricted to 460, ensuring a wonderfully intimate and private experience!

Beach holidays Venezuela

When I left England Venezuela was the first country on my list, flights were cheap and it seemed like a good “starting point” for me so I bought a one-year open ticket and off I went.  I arrived with my brand new ruck sack, walking boots, pillow case (!!!)…the lot, nervous yet excited to find out what was in store for me. I had no plan, no time limit I just knew that when my money started to run out I would need to work, but I’d been working since I was 14, I had worked in Greece, in Copenhagen so I wasn’t worried!

The Venezuelan Caribbean and surrounding islands are still home to some of the most unspoilt beaches in the Caribbean, aswell as being some of my favourite places in the World.  Beach holidays in Venezuela are the perfect holiday for those looking for long white sandy beaches, backed with coconut groves and fishing boats bobbing in calm oceans. Venezuela beach holidays can be a dreamy experience for anyone looking for a “unique” holiday that doesn’t break the bank.  Accommodation ranges from large chain hotels to small family run Posadas.

Isla de Margarita

Unless you fly from Caracas  (1 hour direct fight), the Ferry to Margarita Island departs from Puerto la Cruz, and takes between 2-4 hours depending on the service.  Isla Margarita, does cater for high-end travellers, however it is not known for being an expensive resort destination and has many small B&B’s and “casas del playa” that rent rooms by the week.

I spent four months on Isla Magarita, it was the first place I visited in Venezuela – I literally made a bee line for it as soon as I arrived on the Latin continent! The beaches are long white and sandy, lined with palm trees, the water crystalline and warm and the climate is almost perfect, as such it was the perfect place for me to hang out and acclimatize!

The most popular beach is Playa del Agua on the North of the Island.  It is loved by both tourists and locals and enjoys some great beach parties! There is a boulevard, restaurants, hotels & shops! Playa Parguito and Playa El Yaque attract young people for the sports – surfing, windsurfing & kite surfing. Playa Galera, Playa Manzanillo and Playa Juangriego, are calm beaches with pretty sunsets whereas Playa Caribe is know for its parties & caves! Playa Zaragoza with its shallow, gentle waters is great for swimming. Playa Puerto Cruz & Playa Puerto Viejo attract mainly the hotel guests.

Los Roques

Around 350 islands make up the archipelago of Los Roques, which is situated 128 km from the mainland of Venezuela. It was declared as National Park due to the wild variety of birds, and aquatic life.  Los Roques attracts many divers from all over the World, primarily Europe.  There are two barrier reefs, 1500km of coral reefs and a lagoon. Accommodation is in luxurious lodges, Posadas and Inns.

Mochima National Park

This National Park extends along the North West Venezuelan coast line from Barcelona, Puerto la Cruz y Cumuná covering a total of almost 95,000 hectares.

The beauty of this whole area is breathtaking.  The coast line hides some of the most untouched beaches in the region, with many islands still in their virgin state.  Playa Colorada is one of the best known beaches, famous for its’ golden sands that give the beach it’s name.

Morrocoy National Marine Park

Located on the central west coast, it is an area of natural beauty with mangroves, islets and spectacular white sandy beaches.  There are numerous species of birds amongst a tropical dry forest. It is an extraordinary landscape rich in biodiversity and beauty attracting visitors from all over.

Coro

Santa Ana de Coro, was the first settlement by the Spanish conquerors and is steeped in culture, history and colonial architecture (it has some 602 historic buildings), for which it was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.   Coro has a semi-arid climate with only 382mm of rainfall per year.  One hour North of Coro are the World Famous beaches for windsurfing in the Paraguaná Peninsula.

Choroni / Puerto Colombia

Choroní is one of Venezuela’s best Caribbean beaches, the hamlet itself sits slightly inland, boasting some fine colonial houses around a quiet central plaza.

The neighbouring fishing village of Puerto Colombia just beyond Choroni is where the palm tree-lined beaches lie and most accommodation is found. Framed by the tropical rain forest of Parque Henri Pitier, the beaches around Puerto Colombia are some of the most stunningly beautiful in the country.

Paría Peninsula

Stretching out towards Trinidad and Tobago and reachable by road from Caracas, the Paría Peninsula is an unspoilt and lush area of palm forested hills that tumble-down to long, sheltered golden beaches.

Calm, clear and warm seas are perfect for snorkelling, while accommodation is in simple Posadas and guesthouses.

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Venezuela Travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/venezuela

Weather: http://www.timeanddate.com/weather/venezuela/caracas

When to travel: The tourist season runs year round. For beach holidays the dry season is preferable, which is fromNovember/December to April/May. The rest of the year is the wet season.