With coastlines bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Colombia offers divers the best of both worlds. Diving in Colombia combines a colorful culture and colonial towns with laid-back beaches and excellent dive sites. For real diving enthusiasts, the Andes Mountains offer further opportunities to discover Colombia underwater in one of the many mountain lakes.
Only 10 minutes away from the picturesque town of Santa Marta, Colombia’s oldest remaining colonial city, lies the tiny fisherman’s town Taganga. Hidden in a beautiful bay surrounded by mountains, this place is real backpacker hotspot with attractive prices for diving. For diving Taganga, visibility is best between the months of December to April, when water temperatures are coolest and around 21 degrees Celsius. The rest of the year the water temperatures rise between 24 and 28 degrees.
Traveling to San Andres Island to dive the San Andres-Providencia archipelago is rewarded with outstanding diving on walls and wrecks. As a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve covering reef, dunes, mangroves and sea grass beds, this group of islands attracts an abundance of marine life, including bigger fish. The water here is exceptionally warm throughout the year and with a constant temperature around 28-30 degrees Celsius; a 3mm wetsuit is usually sufficient.
Located 35 km from the Pacific Colombian coast, Isla Gorgona is a former prison island turned in to a national park. Underwater, Gorgona is a diver’s heaven, attracting a multitude of interesting marine life. May to October is the best time to dive Gorgona Island, with comfortable water temperatures of around 28 degrees Celsius. From January to March water temperatures go down to 15 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Malpelo Island is the highlight of Colombia diving and even offers some of the most spectacular diving in the world. Located far off the Colombian coast and only accessible by liveaboard, this volcanic rock structure has walls that drop down to 4000 meters, and is also nicknamed ‘the Mount Everest of sharks’. Attracting different shark species, this site is highly unpredictable and diving conditions change all the time. Water temperatures range from 16 degrees around January to 27 in summers.
Colombia is easy to reach from International as well as other South and Central American destinations. Bogota and Medelin are the two main cities, which have great connections to smaller cities and airports across the country.
Colombia diving has opportunities in both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Both areas sport very different dive sites, with calmer and tropical waters in the Caribbean and exciting action in the Pacific.
Diving in Taganga, Colombia offers coral gardens and tropical reef fish, including angelfish, butterfly fish, yellowtail snapper, and green moray eels. Dive sites are protected and shallow, making this Taganga ideal for training dives. El Torrin is an 18-meter deep dive site with good visibility and a healthy population of brain corals. For experienced divers, Morrito Largo is a deep dive around a small steep rock covered in black coral.
San Andres and Providencia dive sites include reefs, wall, drift and wreck dives. The archipelago is home to all the usual Caribbean tropical reef fish and larger fish like barracuda, grouper and snapper. Trampa Tortuga is a popular San Andres dive with an average depth of 15 meters and excellent visibility. San Andres wreck dive ‘Blue Diamond’ is an easy and fun dive with lots of little holes to peek in and a couple of swim throughs.
As one of the most developed coral reef formations in the Tropical East Pacific and protected as a national park by Colombia and UNESCO, Isla Gorgona has some of the best diving in Colombia. Divers have a chance to see turtles, white-tip reef sharks, groupers, mantas and whalesharks. From June till October, Humpback whales are often spotted breaching out of the water. La Tirburonera is a popular drift dive to spot large fish.
Shark capital of Colombia diving, or maybe even the world, Malpelo Island is teeming with all kinds of sharks. From May to September, Silky sharks gather around the island in large groups. When the water is colder, from January to March, the hammerhead sharks come to shallower waters and can be seen en masse. This is also the time for the sand-tiger shark or ragged tooth shark to pay Malpelo a visit. The eight dive sites surrounding the island are very exposed and can be challenging.
Safety and professionalism should be the two main factors in choosing a dive center in Colombia. With stories going around about scams and dodgy equipment, it is worth it to pay a little extra for your Colombia diving experience.
Poseidon Diving Center in Taganga is a PADI Gold Palm diving resort and instructor development center. With many good reviews and a commitment to safety, this resort is an excellent choice when diving in Taganga. Another trustworthy and professional dive center in Taganga is Aquantis, a small operation with personal service.
Blue Life Dive gets the best online review for San Andres diving. Offering boat dives and dive courses from beginner to professional level and technical diving, this dive center has everything one needs to dive the San Andres-Providencia Archipelago. Both a NAUI and PADI dive center, Felipe Diving on Providencia Island comes well recommended.
Gorgona island diving is accessible by liveaboard or by land-based diving operations. Gorgona national park has its own PADI dive center, which offers not only fun dives, but courses on the island as well. The vessel Maria Patricia is a local liveaboard operator that offers dive trips to Isla Gorgona. Although the boat may not be up to international standards of luxury as many other liveaboards, the owner of the boat is one of the pioneers in Colombia diving and knows the waters there like no one else. For the serious diver who doesn’t care much about luxury, this is an excellent option to explore diving in Gorgona.
To dive Malpelo, Coiba Dive Expeditions organizes a liveaboard trip from Panama, on the vessel MV Yemaya. Named after the river Goddess, the Yemaya carries a maximum of 16 guests and is equipped with all the latest safety and comfort amenities. The Undersea Hunter is a high quality liveaboard operation, offering technologically advanced and unique expeditions to Malpelo and Cosos Island.
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Great team, great experience, great diving, great quality people. I would recommend CUE to anybody who likes to dive and who likes to interact with amazing people. Whenever I go back to Colombia, I will absolutely be diving with CUE! Highly recommended!