The 7 Top Dive Sites in Colombia – Detailed Guide

Drone photo of Rosario Islands

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My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

Sharks, whales and a multitude of coral reefs are some of the attractions that await us in the Colombian oceans.

Isla Gorgona

Department: Cauca
Difficulty level: medium / high
Depth: 12 to 33 meters (39.37 to 108.26 ft)
Water temperature: depending on the season between 20 and 28 ° Celsius (68-83°F)
Website: https://www.islagorgona.co/

Gorgona Island is a place full of history. Centuries ago it was home to indigenous communities. In 1960 the island was turned into a terrifying prison. Similar to the famous Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco, you could not escape from there because you were surrounded by an ocean. In 1984 the island underwent a transformation from hell to paradise. The prison was closed and the island became a beautiful national park where you can relax and of course go diving.

Today’s national park is located in the department of Cauca and, together with Malpelo, is the only Colombian island in the Pacific. Gorgona offers the opportunity to interact with magnificent marine life. For example, you can find turtles, white tip sharks, groupers, octopuses and at certain times of the year you can even see the impressive humpback whales.

Note: If you want to dive on Gorgona, you have to show a diving certificate.

When is the best time to dive on Gorgona Island?

Thanks to the calm conditions on site, both beginners and experienced divers can dive without risk.

December to March
During this time, migratory animals are visiting. During these months, however, you also have more visibility in the depths of the ocean and it is ideal for lovers of underwater photography.

May and June
During these months you can swim with the whale shark, the largest fish in the world. This gigantic creature reaches a length of up to 12 meters.

July to October
These are the busiest months for tourists as the imposing humpback whales visit this area. These large mammals grow up to 16 meters long. They can be observed under water, but also from boats or even from the beach.

Prices
The following prices are from 2020. A minimum duration of 2 nights applies to divers.

High season
2 nights including 4 day dives:
Single room: $ 1,829,000 (approx USD 513)
Double room: $ 1,678,000 (approx USD 471)
Triple Room: $ 1,645,000 (approximately USD 461)
Two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners per person as well as transport to the dive sites are included. In addition, the necessary equipment is provided.

3 nights including 6 day dives:
Single room: $ 2,540,000 (approx USD 713)
Double room: $ 2,313,000 (approx USD 649)
Triple Room: $ 2,264,000 (approximately USD 635)
3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners as well as transport to the dive sites are included per person. In addition, the necessary equipment is provided.

4 nights including 8 day dives:
Single room: $ 3,251,000 (approx USD 912)
Double room: $ 2,948,000 (approx USD 827)
Triple Room: $ 2,883,000 (approximately USD 809)
4 x breakfast, 4 lunches and 4 dinners per person as well as transport to the dive sites are included. In addition, the necessary equipment is provided.

Low season
2 nights including 4 day dives:
Single room: $ 1,747,000 (approx USD 490)
Double room: $ 1,630,000 (approx USD 457)
Triple Room: $ 1,605,000 (approximately USD 450)

3 nights including 6 day dives:
Single room: $ 2,417,000 (approx USD 678)
Double room: $ 2,241,000 (approx USD 629)
Triple Room: $ 2,203,000 (approximately USD 618)
3 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners as well as transport to the dive sites are included per person. In addition, the necessary equipment is provided.

4 nights including 8 day dives:
Single room: $ 3,087,000 (approx USD 866)
Double room: $ 2,852,000 (approx USD 800)
Triple Room: $ 2,802,000 (approximately USD 786)
4 x breakfast, 4 lunches and 4 dinners per person are included as well as transport to the dive sites. In addition, the necessary equipment is provided.

How to get to Gorgona Island

There are two ways to get to Gorgona Island:

From Guapi

The first path leads to the community of Guapi. There are flights from Cali.

From Buenaventura

The island can be reached from Buenaventura in around 4 hours by boat. Buenaventura can be reached by plane from Bogota or by bus from Cali.

Isla de Malpelo

Buceo en Colombia
Juan Parada / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Department: Valle del Cauca
Difficulty level: high
Depth: 9 to 42 m (29.52 to 137.79 ft)
Water temperature: depending on the season between 15 and 28 ° Celsius (59-83°F)
Website: https://www.parquesnacionales.gov.co/portal/es/ecoturismo/region-pacifico/santuario-de-flora-y-fauna-malpelo/

Price: Prices are around USD 2,500.

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If you are thinking about a diving trip to Colombia, then you have to put the island of Malpelo on your travel plan. Besides the island of Gorgona, this is the second possible diving destination in the Pacific. The island of Malpelo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006. The national park currently covers 857,150 hectares of marine environment and has a unique attraction. The habitat is one of the largest hammerhead shark reserves in the world.

This diving destination is reserved for experienced divers.

When is the best time to dive on Malpelo?

January to May
Most hammerheads are found on site during these months. However, the visibility during these months is not the best. The water temperature varies between 15° C and 20 ° C (59 and 69° F).

May to July
Visibility is slightly better during these months. You may also encounter silky sharks. The water temperature fluctuates between 26° C and 28° C (78.8 and 82.4° F).

July to September
Visibility during these months is significantly better than in January. You may also come across whale sharks. The water temperature fluctuates between 26° C and 28° C (78.8 and 82.4° F).

How to get to Malpelo Island

The island is located around 500 kilometers west of the Colombian coast. You can therefore only get there with organized tours. The journey takes between 30 and 40 hours.

Requirements to dive in Malpelo

To dive in Malpelo you have to meet some requirements:

  • You have to have a guide.
  • Group size maximum 6 people.
  • You need an Advanced Diver Certificate and at least 35 previous dives.
  • Maximum depth is 140 feet.
  • Minors need written permission from their parents.

Providencia y Santa Catalina

Department: San Andres and Providencia

Surrounded by beautiful sunsets, tall palm trees and an incredibly white beach, we find one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean. The third longest reef in the world can be found on the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina. Diving in this place is a spectacle.

Providencia & Santa Catalina

View from El Pico Providencia

Department: San Andres and Providencia
Difficulty level: low, but high in some sectors
Depth: 3 to 42 m (9.84 to 137.75 ft)
Water temperature: 29° C (84.2° F)

These two islands are separated by the huge Puente de los Enamorados (Bridge of Lovers), which is about 150 meters long. These are the most ideal places for diving. There are no recommended diving months.

Some recommended places to dive are:
Nick’s place
Sponges and many reef fish can be found here at a depth of 15 to 30 meters.

Felipe’s place
Depth from 10 to 24 meters (32.80 to 78.74 ft). The water currents are gentle. Here you can find the statue called Christ underwater.

Stairway to heaven
This is one of the most complicated dive sites in the area. This is only recommended for experts and you can only stay here for 5 minutes.

Diving schools

There are several schools in San Andres where you can take various courses and hire guides.

How to get to the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina

From San Andreas you can either fly over in 15 minutes or take the ship. I definitely recommend the flight.

Where to stay in Providencia

Some excellent options you can find are:

Bahía Solano

Drone shot of Bahía Solano

Department: Chocó
Difficulty level: Low, ideal for experienced divers and beginners
Depth: 9 to 42 m (29.52 to 137.79 ft)
Water temperature: depending on the season between 18 and 28° C (64-83° F)

The municipality of Bahia Solano is one of the most beautiful places to connect with nature and rest. This place is surrounded by huge trees and great beaches where you can snorkel and see humpback whales at certain times of the year. All year round it is possible to find beautiful fish such as angelfish, mojarras, cabrillos, coliamarillos. In the deepest sectors you can swim with snappers, manta rays, tuna and sharks.

Some great spots to dive are:
Ship Sebastián de Belalcázar
This is undoubtedly the most popular place for tourists. This ship sank in 2004 and is famous for sunk the ship called El Karina which carried weapons for the Colombian guerrilla known as the M-19. The depth ranges from 24 to 40 meters (78.74 to 131.23 ft).

Los Vidales Hundidos
With a depth of 6 to 27 m (19.68 to 88.58 ft), this location has relatively mild currents. At Los Vidales it is noticeable that there are mountains sunken in the water.

When is the best time to dive in Bahia Solano?

July to November
You can find beautiful animals all year round. Humpback whales are seen from July to November.

Diving schools in Bahia Solano

Playa de Oro Lodge: It is an excellent hotel that in addition to accommodation also offers a diving plan for USD 544. The plan includes equipment and the ability to do 5 day dives and one night dive. It’s important to note that this plan applies to at least two people.

  • Ankla Azul: In this shop you can book various diving courses.

Requirements:

  • At least 12 years old
  • Diver certificate
  • Last dive less than a year old

How to get to Bahia Solano

There are two ways to get to Bahia Solano:

Plane from Medellin to Jose Celestino Mutis Airport in Bahia Solano.

The other option is to go to Buenaventura, which is in the Valle del Cauca department, and take a boat from there. But you need at least 12 hours for the trip.

Hotels in Bahia Solano

Some excellent options for staying in this place are:

Nuquí

Beach at Nuquí Colombia

Department: Chocó
Diving Difficulty: Medium / High
Depth: 4.5 to 42 m (147.63 to 137.79 ft)
Water temperature: Vary between 20 and 28 ° C (68-83°F)

Surrounded by an imposing landscape in which beautiful beaches and lush jungle stand out, we find this paradise in the middle of the Chocó department. This dive site does not offer good visibility while diving. However, this disadvantage is compensated for, because you can find an incredible variety of large animals. Mantas, a wide variety of sharks such as the tiger or bull shark, octopus, devil fish and lobster are just some of the animals that we can find in this place.

Some recommended dive sites are:
La Roñosa
This place is used by beginners when the current is not too strong. Here it is possible to see large snapper and tarpon as well as some coral.

La Parguera
At this location you can reach a depth of 14 to 27 meters. This dive site requires a lot of experience as it is one of the best places to interact with white tip and black tip sharks. If you are lucky you may encounter the exotic giant whale shark and manta rays.

El Amargal
This dive site is also suitable for experienced divers, as you can reach a depth of 18 to 42 m (59.05 to 137.79 m). Here you can find a beautiful bluestone plateau. In addition, there are animals such as octopus, crabs, lobsters and trumpet fish, lemon sharks, tiger sharks and white tip sharks.

When is the best time to dive in Nuqui?

December to February
Since the waters are colder during these months, it is easier to find sharks and devil rays.

March to April
During these months the sardine gills are abundant, so it is possible to find large fish hunting them.

July to October
Without a doubt, the best time to visit as it is possible to see humpback whales during these months.

How to get to Nuquí

There are two possibilities:

You can fly there from Medellin. The other option is to take a boat from Buenaventura in the Valle del Cauca department. The journey takes around 8 hours.

You can also take a boat from Bahía Solano, but it is a bit complicated.

Hotels in Nuqui?

Some good options for staying in this place are:

Las islas del Rosario

Drone photo of Rosario Islands

Department: Bolivar
Difficulty level: low / medium
Depth: 0 to 40 m (0 to 131.23 ft)
Water temperature: 29 ° C (84.2 ° F)

Cartagena and the surrounding area are considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of Colombia and the Nuestra Señora del Rosario archipelago is not far away. The archipelago is made up of 27 coral islands that are part of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park. These islands are dominated by beautiful ecosystems like the iconic coral reefs. Here you can interact with animals such as crabs, lobsters, sea urchins and octopuses. Night diving is also possible. The phenomenon known as bioluminescence can also be observed.

Some ideal places for diving are:
Ship San Martín de Pajarales
It used to be a fishing boat. At the moment it is surrounded by hard corals and sponges. You can find animals like crabs and lobsters. The depth of this location varies between 15 and 18 m (49.21 to 59.05 ft).

Cantil de Isla Pavitos
Here you can find barrel and elephant ear sponges and a large amount of corals. The depth of this location varies between 4.5 and 40 m (14.76 to 131.23 ft).

When is the best time to dive in the Islas del Rosario?

The conditions are good all year round.

Diving schools on Islas del Rosario

In Cartagena there are several providers where you can take different courses and hire guides.

  • Diving Planet
  • Cartagena Divers

How to get to the Rosario Islands

You can either take a boat in Cartagena or go to Baru and cross over by boat from there.

Hotels in the Rosario Islands

Isla Fuerte

Buceo en Colombia
Juan Camilo Trujillo / (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Department: Bolivar
Difficulty level: low / medium
Depth: 5 to 30 m (16.40 to 1oo ft)

The island earned its name because it has withstood many attacks from pirates and the conquistadors in the past. Nowadays, the island is part of the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park and is one of the best places for diving. You can find fire and brain corals, sponges and algae here. You can also swim here with nurse and white tip sharks, turtles, barracudas and other species.

Some dive sites that are worth visiting are:
Bajo Bushnell
It is considered to be one of the best reefs in the Caribbean. Here you dive between 12 to 106 m (39.37 to 347.76 ft). You can admire beautiful corals and incredible animals like turtles, schools of barracudas, jacks and pompano.

El Canal del Ingles
The place is for advanced divers. Here it is possible to observe and interact with turtles, octopus, sharks and reef fish. You can also get to know different coral structures. The depth is 4.5 to 21 m (14.76 to 69.89 ft).

When is the best diving time on Isla Fuerte?

The course has good conditions all year round.

How do you get to Isla Fuerte?

You can go to the municipality of San Bernardo Del Viento in the department of Córdoba and from there take a boat that goes to Isla Fuerte in 20 minutes.

Hotels on Isla Fuerte

On this island is the Hotel Isla Fuerte Ecolodge & Dive Center, which meets the necessary requirements to offer diving services.

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