Are you looking for some of the best sites for scuba diving that are also incredibly affordable? If so, South America should be your first port of call. Latin America is home to some of the most beautiful reefs and the second biggest reef in the world is actually in South America, following the shores of Honduras and Belize. You may have heard of some of South America’s dive sites, and there are others which are a lot more obscure but nonetheless are amazing to explore. Even if you’re a complete beginner to scuba diving, you’ll find South America an amazing place to begin your diving experience, to start experimenting underwater and to get certified. If you’re an expert, however, you’ll also find South America one of the best places in the world to discover challenging dive sites.
Here are ten of the very best that South America has to offer.
1. Ambergris Caye, Belize
Belize is home to a barrier reef which measures 185 miles in length. It is just off the shore of this small Caribbean island and there are some amazing sites to discover here including the Hol Chan Marine reserve, the Turneffe Islands and Lighthouse Reef.
2. Great Blue Hole, Belize
While we’re looking at great dive sites in South America, we should definitely consider Belize’s Great Blue Hole as a top contender. Perfect both for snorkelling and scuba diving, this hole has been perfectly named. As a perfectly round sinkhole made from limestone, it measures a quarter of a mile in depth with amazing sealife flourishing on the outer rim.
3. Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
Honduras is home to many tiny caves and shallow reefs which can be easily accessed from the coast. Its waters are also vigorously protected, making them an ideal home for seahorses, rays, squid and octopus.
4. Little Corn, Nicaragua
If you’re looking for some really diverse diving experiences, head to Nicaragua’s Little Corn island. It may be tiny, but it has plenty to offer keen scuba divers at all levels of ability. There are plenty of reef fish to discover here along with sponges, corals and caves. There’s also the opportunity to encounter sharks here.
5. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island may be tiny and 300 miles from the Costa Rican coastline, however it is home to no less than 27 endemic species of fish. It’s also home to many exciting sea creatures including hammerhead sharks, white tip reef sharks, green sea turtles, giant moray eels, manta rays and even occasionally whale sharks!
6. Malpelo Island, Colombia
Sea caves and steep cliffs are prominent here at this UNESCO world heritage site marine sanctuary which is located 300 miles off the coast of Colombia. Although this isn’t a cheap destination, its isolated location offers a once in a lifetime diving experience if you’re an advanced scuba diver with a passion for adventure.
7. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Where else in the world can you swim alongside marine iguanas and sea lions? You’ll also find lots of different endemic species here, and while the Galapagos Islands are famous for their wildlife watching opportunities, if you head to Darwin and Wolf islands, you’ll find there are even more amazing creatures to discover underwater.
8. Utila, Honduras
If you’re looking for an affordable yet amazing dive resort in Central America, Utila in Honduras is the perfect choice. It’s one of the most affordable dive sites anywhere in the world to become certified and it’s also one of the top places to see the whale shark.
9. Los Roques, Venezuela
If you’re looking for a truly pristine diving resort, Los Roques is the one for you. Untouched and unspoiled, this beautiful resort boasts mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs which are home to a world of beautiful fauna and flora.
10. Sea of Cortez, Mexico
There are over 850 different types of reef fish living in the Sea of Cortez and you’ll find such exciting species as hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, whales, orcas, dolphins and sea lions living here between the mainland coast of Mexico and Baja.
Any of these South American resorts would be a good fit for anyone looking for a more unusual diving vacation.