For some, submerging yourself underwater for inhuman lengths of time is something of a nightmare. For others, it’s a journey into a whole new world; one of brilliant colours, powerful predators and natural wonder.
If you fall into the second category of people (or if you’re just intruiged by the idea of diving), then travelling to Colombia will offer a world of opportunity that, best of all, has barely been discovered by the underwater roaming clan.
There are several major destinations for diving in Colombia, in this post I’ll take a look at some of them and break them down.
Santa Marta & Taganga
While Cartagena’s diving opportunities are considered by many to be overrated, nearby Taganga and Santa Marta are quickly gaining a reputation for being a great spot thanks to the low prices, excellent beginner courses and great selection of underwater wildlife.
In the area you’ll find batfish, squid and turtles among other tropical fish and some huge coral formations.
This is a great area for beginners since costs are so low that, if you don’t take to diving, it’s not much of a commitment. Moreover, the dives themselves are all relatively easy but very rewarding.
San Andres & Providencia
This, dear friends, is the Caribbean. Locals are relaxed, rum is available in abundance, the beaches are perfect and, of course, the diving opportunities are superb.
Both San Andres and Providencia offer deliciously warm waters all year round, as well as great visibility and an abundance of diverse sealife. Particularly of note in these areas are the walls, reefs, caves and sea wrecks that line the ocean floors, although various tropical fish also roam.
The main spots in San Andres are the Blue Wall which is a wall dive on the island’s east coast; The Pyramids, which are found in the north and great for beginners looking to see fish (French grunts and more abound); and Nirvana, which is a huge reef dive that advanced divers will love.
In Providencia, be sure to check out Turtle Rock (the island’s main attraction), a 35-foot-wide rock that starts around 75 feet; Spiral, often considered the best place to find fish in Providencia; and Nick’s Place, where you’ll find Creole wrassle, parrotfish, eels and black grouper.
The best thing about these islands is that, after the diving, you’ve got the whole place to explore. A true tropical paradise.
Pacific Coast and Gorgona Island
Colombia’s Pacific Coast is one of its most underexplored regions. It boasts a mind-blowing amount of biodiversity and diving opportunities in the area are incredibly rich – 70% of the marine species of the Tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean can be found in these waters.
One of the most amazing sights in Colombia is the humpback whale emerging from the pacific waters near Gorgona Island (only on show between July and October). Although this is only viewed by boat, a trip to the former-prison island offers great diving opportunities, too.
The area boasts seawolves, sharks, hammerheads (occasionally) and much more, as well as stunning, wild beaches when you’re not diving.
Other great areas for diving on Colombia’s Pacific Coast include Bahía Solano and El Valle, where you’ll find giant rays, snappers and much more.
Malpelo (Off the Pacific Coast)
This one is strictly for experts only!
Malpelo is a kind of crag of rock that’s found at the extreme west of Colombia. It juts out from the ocean surrounded by 11 smaller crags, intimidating in its stature but nothing compared to what lurks beneath the ocean’s surface.
Schools of up to 300 hammerhead sharks skull around the rocks, as well as huge groups of tropical fish and the extremely rare smalltooth sand tiger. Deep-sea species also inhabit the area, including the Sunray Shark – otherwise known as ‘The Monster’. This is one of the best opportunities in the world to get close to sharks living in the wild, and for that diving enthusiasts from all over the world visit.
Malpelo is one of the most unique and overwhelming diving experiences on earth and for those that dedicate themselves to underwater exploration, it’s an absolute must.
The only down side to diving Malpelo is the difficulty getting there. The cost alone can put many off, with prices running beyong $3000US for an 8 day excursion. The island is only reachable by boat, and is a 378km journey from Colombia’s Pacific Coast. Indeed, most journeys don’t take place from Colombia, but rather start from Panama or Costa Rica.
If you do go from Colombia, the starting point will be Buenaventura.