Central America offers some of the best scuba diving in the world. With the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, you’re literally surrounded by beautiful waters filled with aquatic wonders. Whether you’re looking to swim with whale sharks or gaze at beautiful coral reefs, Central America has it all. Here are some of the best spots.
The Bay Islands, Honduras
Each of Honduras’s Caribbean Bay Islands (Roatan, Utila, and Guanaja) is a world class Scuba diving destination in its own right. The Airport Caves in Utila are a great place to explore rock formations and caves filled with a variety of marine life that scuba divers can swim through. Visitors to these islands can expect to see dolphins, sea turtles, nurse sharks, manta rays, and whale sharks. While the diving is world-class, it’s also one of the cheapest places to get scuba certified making this a great place to start.
Coco Island, Costa Rica
This is perhaps the best of all Central American dive spots with 27 endemic fish species, white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, manta rays, giant moray eels, green sea turtles, and the occasional whale shark. The one drawback: it is located 300 miles offshore, so it will require a day and a half on a live-aboard dive boat just to reach it. It’s well worth it though, and it’s not just me saying that — Jacques Cousteau called Coco Island the best in the world as well.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
From Ambergris Caye, divers can reach the amazing dive spots of Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the Great Blue Hole. The Blue Hole is created by the atoll formations of Lighthouse reef and the Turneffe Islands. This circular sinkhole 1000 feet across and nearly 500 feet deep is the main reason so many divers travel to Belize as they’re able see a variety of marine life from midnight parrotfish to the Caribbean reef shark.
The Corn Islands, Nicaragua
The Corn Islands are composed of Little Corn and Big Corn. Little Corn was rated a 9 out of 10 by National Geographic in terms of dive spots. The reef and island itself is largely unspoiled as there are no cars or large high-rise resorts. There are many caves and caverns for divers to explore off the island as well. Big Corn is a great place for a glass bottom boat trip with the Nautilus Dive Center, but in terms of scuba diving, Little Corn is tops.
Scuba diving in Central America is exceptional as there are places for all levels of experience. Typical visibility in this region ranges from 50 to 100 feet, but when you venture further out to the atolls, visibility is usually excellent, often above 100 feet. For the best weather and visibility, head out there between April to June when water temperatures will be in the low to mid-80s.