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!