There are plenty of opportunities to go scuba diving in Havana; you don’t have to go to any of the beach resort areas far away to experience great diving in Cuba.
Just twenty minutes out of Havana, at Playa Bacuranao, there is a wreck site that is also connected to a beautiful cave system you can explore on the same dive.
I had the pleasure of doing this dive with Blue Dive Cuba while living in Havana, even mid-pandemic!
Scuba Diving Havana Del Este From Playa Bacuranao
The Blue Dive Dive-Mobil picked me up at my casa particular in Old Havana, packed to the brim with gear, taking us out to the start point for today’s dive at Bacuranao Beach, 25 minutes outside the city.
Immediately appearing as we turn off the highway is a magnificent view of the sea and blue sky, only disturbed by palm trees before the fine sandy beach starts.
To scuba dive in Havana, you need to get a bit out of the city, and today’s scuba dive is at the city district called Habana del Este, East Havana.
Arriving at Playa Bacuranao, the starting point for today’s adventure feels really great. After months stuck in the city during the pandemic, a day out is exactly what I need. This dive site is said to be really good.
Gabriel from Blue Dive Cuba picked me up at home this morning in Old Havana.
The dive center Blue Dive Cuba has managed to keep open for business despite the pandemic, but all precautions are taken in preparations and transport.
I went to the dive shop and tried and tested all the equipment a few days before the dive day, so all was ready and set to go this beautiful morning.
Also read: Best scuba diving locations in Cuba!
Scuba Diving In Havana & Safety
The car is loaded with a couple of other divers as well. In total, we are a group of nine people heading for today’s target, a small wreck a few hundred yards outside Playa Bacuranao.
I feel the tranquil chill that sandy beaches with turquoise seas and infinite horizons tend to provide. I really do miss going to the beach! (All beaches were closed during the pandemic).
Although I am still a Padi Advanced diver, in recent years, it has been a while between dives.
Therefore, it was very useful that Gabriel went through all the gear and safety regulations before we entered the water.
You never know if some detail is lost in the mist for people like me who go on dive adventures only now and then!
A great reminder of personal fallibility.
Pre-Dive Briefing In The Waves (And A Long Surface Swim)
After all the gear was assembled and checked, correctly attached to my body, and approved by Gabriel, we headed for the beach.
In the small waves, everyone gathers, and Gabriel goes through today’s dive, including security and dissemination of diving partners for safety.
I feel informed and ready, although there was a small detail that my level of Spanish did not pick up. The length of the surface swim!
In Cuba, there are intricate rules for who can enter what type of boat where (long story), so launching from boats is not an easy option.
Most Cubans are not at liberty to enter any boat without permission. I don’t know if that was why, but the surface swim was quite a distance.
Also read: 33+ Legendary Things To Do In Havana Cuba!
Beautiful Descent Onto The Small Wreck
With a few current-related issues and increasing wave size, the surface swim provided me with more than sufficient salty sips, and my face had a bright sun-kissed tomato look the next day.
But! Finally, we were there, and I could see the frame of the wreck below.
Descending on the stern, we slowly landed over a bright sandy bottom with lots of light at about 15 meters.
Do you keep thinking you should have had a GoPro?
Going diving in Cuba is a perfect opportunity to get one! Unlike other great diving destinations, the dive guides here often do not have cameras to help you out, so maybe this is the reason you need to finally get it!
From my Norwegian (not very visibility-spoiled) point of view, the visibility was very good!
The sun is finding its way and hitting all the right light and dark places, providing playful golden waves on the sandy bottom!
The wreck outside Playa Bacuranao is not very big and quite open, so you can also enjoy swimming without the danger of getting lost or stuck.
An extra treat I did not know beforehand was that the rock formations around the wreck site consist of a labyrinth of natural tunnels and open caves.
The swim through these formations was absolutely beautiful! The natural path of the labyrinths was a bit up and down and around and under, and at one point through!
This is the kind of natural experience that makes scuba diving so incredibly amazing.
On a day like this, when the sun peers through the waves and lands on all the little stones and cracks and boulders around, the world consists of just air and light, and scuba diving is the best zen activity ever!
The Return Swim To Shore Was Luckily Easier
Our way back to shore was a lot easier, swimming at around 5 meters deep after the natural labyrinth. When surfacing after the security stopped, the surface swim distance, luckily, was almost done.
Although it took about two hours in the water in total and the swim a little longer than I prefer, this day was worth it. The wreck was quite tiny but absolutely interesting.
Yet, for me, it was the natural caves and labyrinth that made this dive extraordinary!
The sun rays hitting the boulders and bridges of stone are so beautiful, making a brilliant, shiny sub-marine day!
Wrap-Up Scuba Diving In Havana
Apart from the Blue Dive scuba diving shop, there are several centers for scuba diving in the capital of Cuba, listed below.
I have no personal experience with these centers, so I am not able to give you my personal opinion, but visit their pages and see for yourself!
Best Scuba Diving In Cuba
There are plenty of astonishing opportunities for scuba diving in Cuba; in almost all destinations on the Cuban shores, there are dive shops and centers helping you out.
For anyone looking for Cuba dive trips, the best-known Cuba scuba diving spots are Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Santa Maria.
The Cayos, or the Keys, are resort islands outside of the main island of Cuba.
In addition, there are several options for Cuba scuba diving liveaboards if you are a passionate diver with the submarine world as your main objective for exploration.
The international diving adventure company Bluewater travel is hosting Cuba scuba diving liveaboards on different dive locations in Cuba.
Or you can check out this guide from Katy Jane Dives, comparing different liveaboard options in Cuban waters.
And, of course, wherever you can go scuba diving, you can also go snorkeling in Cuba. The Caribbean waters are beautiful, and without a tank of air, they are also beautiful!
FAQs Cuba Travel
Why are US citizens not allowed to travel to Cuba?
This is NOT correct. US citizens ARE ALLOWED to travel to Cuba.
Americans can choose a reason for Cuba travel among 12 pre-approved reasons for traveling to Cuba, determined by the US Government.
Can US citizens travel to Cuba as a tourist?
Technically, US citizens are NOT allowed to travel to Cuba as a tourist. Americans choose between 12 pre-approved reasons for Cuba travel, among which the most common one is “to help the Cuban people”.
What are the 12 requirements to travel to Cuba?
You can read about the 12 pre-approved reasons to travel to Cuba for US citizens here.
The easiest and most common reason for Cuba travel is “to help the Cuban people”. There is no paperwork or application process connected to this, you just choose your reason and state that reason if anyone asks.
What happens if a US citizen travels to Cuba?
Nothing happens if a US citizen travels to Cuba apart from, hopefully, the US citizen will have a fabulous holiday and encounter Cuban culture.
Selected airlines sell this visa/tourist card, or you can buy one online.
What documents do I need to travel to Cuba?
You need the following documents to travel to Cuba:
- Passport valid for 6 months after the date of entry
- Cuban tourist card / tourist visa
- Proof of travel insurance, including health insurance
- Fill out the d’viajero.cu digital document before your journey
Do Americans need to be vaccinated to enter Cuba?
No, there is no requirement for specific vaccines prior to entering Cuba.
Your country’s health department probably has recommendations for what vaccines you should consider before entering Cuba.
How Do I get a tourist card for Cuba?
You might also be able to buy a Cuban tourist card from your airline or at the airport prior to departure.
It is possible to buy a Cuban tourist card at Miami International Airport at the check-in counter with American Airlines and Delta Airlines.
How Do I Get A Tourist Visa For Cuba?
- Buy one online from Easy Tourist Card
- Buy one from your airline if they offer this
- Buy one at the airport of departure if they offer this
- Buy one from the Cuban Embassy in your country
Is Travel To Cuba Allowed Right Now?
Yes, Cuba travel is allowed right now. There are no COVID or health restraints from entering Cuba right now.
There are no political constraints from entering Cuba right now for most international travelers.
American citizens need to, in addition, choose one of the 12 pre-approved reasons for traveling to Cuba (Americans can not travel as “tourists”) and follow some simple guidelines for traveling in Cuba.
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