Caribbean yellow headed jawfish soft shutterstock 16855252 opt

globe th CopyThe luscious Caribbean region consists of more than 700 islands, islets, reefs & cays in the Caribbean Sea.  These form island arcs which delineate the northern & eastern edges of the region. The mainland countries of Belize, Guyana and Suriname are often included as Caribbean nations.  Some of the islands have flat, non-volcanic terrain while others possess rugged towering mountain-ranges, some of which are still volcanically active. The region enjoys year-round sunshine, divided into 'dry' and 'wet' seasons, with the latter six months of the year being wetter than the first half.

Crystalline Caribbean & Cuba

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Caribbean & Cuba diving ... the essentials

The Caribbean has far more to offer than many serious divers think.  Consider the following:

  • simply spectacular weather - pretty well all year round
  • beautiful corals in a full rainbow of hues from pastels to deep reds and oranges
  • colorful reef fish, turtles & morays & octopus everywhere
  • critters hiding in walls - seahorses, pipefish, trumpetfish, scorpionfish, blennies
  • really fine shark action at certain sites & awe-inspiring humpback whales & their calves in the Dominican Republic
  • sailfish chasing baitballs & humongous whale sharks at Isla Mujeres
  • perfectly pristine, other-worldly conditions at Gardens of the Queen in Cuba

Far more than white-sand beaches

The Caribbean.   We all know it as a great getaway destination which can offer long hours spent luxuriating in the sun's rays, and revelling in turquoise waters enjoying fabulous corals and brightly colored fish.  And, while that sounds pretty terrific ... does the Caribbean have any hidden charms which might tempt the serious adventure diver?

On one hand, while it's true that these waters lack the extreme diversity of Indonesia or the Philippines or Papua New Guinea ... the remote, exotic call of the Solomons .... and the manta ray playgrounds of the Maldives .... but in addition to glimmering beaches &  moonlit evenings, the Caribbean has more to offer than its sheer tropical allure, warm weather and crystal clear waters.When you look at the shark action it offers, it's definitely worth considering as a destination ... even for the most experienced of divers!

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Liveaboard diving - a zestier Caribbean experience

Plus, by carefully choosing a liveaboard trip, you can find wall dives & drift dives, channels & canyons, tunnels & caves; there are string rays & eagle rays, octopus & squid; you can see impressive nurse sharks & reef sharks - not to mention a blue hole or two .... and I'm sure your know that the Caribbean offers some very nice wreck diving.

All in all, in spite of its reputation as a superb spot for debutant divers, this region also offers experienced divers some challenges and excitement.

And with Cuba opening up, there's a whole new and imminently exciting world to explore.


Cuba: a wonderland now open to all

Protected by the Cuban government, the pristine Jardins de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) is an underwater paradise reflecting the beauty that was once all of the Caribbean.  Thanks to a ban on commercial fishing in the park, marine life is plentiful and healthy.  Very importantly, the protection in the park ensures healthy wetlands where mangroves & seagrass provide an ample and healthy habitat for juvenile and small fish, supplying eventual nourishment for all of the big guys in these waters.

You’ll be amazed by the immense gorgonians and barrel sponges, the large & healthy black coral colonies, beautiful staghorn & elkhorn corals …. and the rest of the colorful coral life, in general.  With all of this healthy coral, of course you see big schools of fish: jacks & barracudas & tarpons, large French angelfish, big hog fish, parrotfish, black groupers & nassau groupers and immense schools of grunts.

There are gigantesque Goliath groupers (weighing up to 200 pounds) and black groupers which can be as much as 100 pounds ... and natuarlly, you’ll encounter eagle rays, stingrays, spiny lobsters, green morays, and a variety of turtles.

But, probably the biggest excitement is the variety and plenitude of the shark population. The silky sharks are absolutely ubiquitous but you’ll also (depending on the season) get lots of reef sharks, lemon sharks, black tips, nurse sharks …. the occasional great hammerhead and from July to November, whale sharks.


Caribbean diving adventures  ... the choice is yours

Caribbean Belize sponge colony shutterstock 449583 CopyBelize  ... marine variety from juvies to pelagics, from gorgonians to mangroves
Belize probably offers the greatest marine variety of any Caribbean destination.  From massive sponges to mangrove forests, from juvy fish to large pelagics, from seagrass beds to the great Blue Hole … read more

Enormous crimson gorgonians, large baffel sponges, giant deep water sea fans, long, lilac rope sponges, giant elephant ear sponges, yellow tube sponges and azure vase sponges, lettuce leaf coral and elkhorn coral and black coral trees all contribute to the incredible color of Belize's waters.

On its immense barrier reef and nearby atolls, you find dive sites that vary from shallow, clear reefs to spectacular drop offs, steep coral-covered walls, impressive canyons, channels and swim-throughs.

The marine creatures are varied also with plenty of octopus, squid, crabs, flaming scallops and colorful reef fish – including parrot fish & and several varieties of angel fish - plus reef sharks, big black groupers, swirling schools of horse eyed jacks, hawksbill or green sea turtles. You can also expect scorpion fish, blennies, several varieties of eels and silver sides and exotic Spanish dancers which are sometimes sighted on the night dives. Even dolphins and hammerheads make an appearance on most cruises.

Turneffe Atoll, being a series of mangroves is a haven for juvenile species. There are some great drift dives here featuring larger marine animals. Ambergris Cay promises mangrove cayes, coral reefs, seagrass beds and lagoons, all offering something different.

For many divers, the high-point is a visit (weather permitting) to the world's largest blue hole, made famous by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970's. The first shelf of this collapsed underground cavern begins at 110'. Here stalactites descend from the ceiling. A healthy reef exists around the edge of the blue hole and is home to an abundance of juvenile sea life, as well as. These shallows are great for diving or snorkeling.

And for wreck enthusiasts, there should be at least one good wreck dive on the itinerary.
A trip to this Central American paradise isn't complete without a visit to Belize's Mayan ruins or a cave tubing ride through the jungle. The Aggressor trip which we recommend will usually offer an opportunity for a land tour on Friday afternoon, but an extended stay is recommended to fully enjoy the wonders of Belize.

Belize Aggressor III is our preferred liveaboard in these waters.  See Availability and Aggressor Special Promotions

Caribbean Shark Striped fish Christopher Bartlett Fololia CopyCuba  ...  Gardens of the Queen ... pristine, untouched, the Caribbean of yesteryear
This remote marine park lies 60 miles southwest of Cuba. The coral reefs here are pretty much the same as when Cristopher Columbus sailed in and the visibility has to be seen to be believed.  If you're looking for the latest "buzz" in the diving world .... this is it  ... read more

Fish & sharks & colors everywhere !   Imagine diving a region of the Caribbean - or anywhere - where no commercial fishing is allowed and the number of human inhabitants is zero!

It's a marine wilderness where you'll dive plunging vertical walls covered with brightly hued sponges and corals ... all filled with active marine life.

The biggest population of adult fish in the Caribbean hang out here — sharks, snappers, groupers and loads more - plus sharks circle around divers absolutely everywhere. You will encounter silkies, reef sharks, lemon sharks, black tips, hammerheads and nurse sharks.   You'll even encounter some old Spanish galleons from the 17th century.   If you travel July to November, whale sharks are added to the mix.

And, your diving will include caves & canyons & tunnels … fantastic walls & deep drop-offs …. plus plenty of stretches of white sandy-bottom.

The new Jardines Aggressor I is offering dates in 2016 starting in March.  See details .... And, the Jardines Aggressor II is coming in 2017 ... But we're also offering a big, comfy, cozy "houseboat" as accomodation the Tortuga.  See details ....

Add a Havana land excursion .... Above water, this is a dreamy remote location with mangroves to explore and more than 68 species of migratory birds.   Take time on our own to explore, ride some of those cool old vintage cars, hear some music, have a mojito or two and relax in Caribbean style.

Caribbean Cayman Hawksbill turtle high5 shutterstock 190114964 CopyCayman Islands  ...  corals, passages & wrecks
The Caymans offer excellent visibility and calm, crystal clear warm waters, colorful corals, plentiful fish, some nice swim-thrus & excellent walls .... with a few sharks & rays thrown in along the way ... read more

There are some excellent walls, perhaps the most dramatic is the "Great Wall" which is covered with gorgonians, soft and hard corals and all types of rope sponges.

On certain sites, in addition to soft corals and sponges, both elkhorn and staghorn corals are prevalent.

Passages and swim-thrus are typical of the entire region and there are several wrecks from varying eras, all of which support fish and critters in addition to corals. It's common to find crab, lobster, squid, octopus and Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks and eagle rays around the wrecks.

And, in general there is plenty of life ... ranging from turtles, morays, tarpon, sharks and rays to the ubiquitous angelfish and butterflyfish ... to smaller creatures such as jawfish and seahorses and the timid batwing crab.

Finally, at the mysterious catacombs and pinnacles of Pedro's Castle, you'll explore huge pinnacles which sprout straight upward from the bottom of the sea. Be careful to monitor your depth gauge and you will find this most enjoyable around 80-90ft.

See Availability and Aggressor Special Promotions Cayman Aggressor IV

Image2 Exp Vent TandC CopyTurks & Caicos Islands  ...  abundant pelagics & great walls with a dash of macro
The idyllic islands of the Turks & Caicos are surrounded over 1,000 square miles of living coral reef.   You'll find expansive underwater visibility, high-voltage wall dives, & a profusion of marine life of all sizes ... read more

Located  only 575 miles southeast of Miami, the Turks & Caicos Islands offer a dive experience for everyone ... with spectacular walls filled with huge gorgonian fans, barrel sponges, hard-coral arches and macro life.

Low annual rainfall and reliable ocean currents contribute to the remarkable visibility, as well as provide nutrients for the many large pelagics common in these waters.

Caribbean reef sharks are common, as are spotted eagle rays, jacks, grouper, and turtles. Also spotted on a frequent basis are blacktips, tiger sharks, hammerheads, and manta rays.

The sheer walls of Providenciales begin at 40 feet, plunging into the deep blue abyss and include crevasses and ledges that are decorated with huge orange Elephant Ear sponges, Gorgonians and Crimson Rope Sponges.

In addition to the magnificent corals, you'll see Caribbean Reef and Nurse Sharks, barracudas, Eagle Rays, lobsters, crabs, turtles, eels and an abundance of colorful Caribbean reef fish.

Our liveaboard of preferences for this Caribbean destination are Turks & Caicos Explorer & Turks & Caicos Aggressor.

UW St. Kitts 33 Exp Vent CopyThe Leeward Islands (Saba & St. Kitts)  ...  pinnacles, massive sponges, sharks & rays
Saba, the top of a dormant volcano, is known for its submerged offshore pinnacles and is surrounded by volcanic sand. St. Kitts offers offers finger reefs, recent wrecks, and a variety of dropoffs into the blue ... read more

is the 5 square mile island which is the top of a dormant volcano towering 3,000 feet above the surface and

The Northeastern Caribbean, comprised in diving terms of the Leeward Islands of Saba & St. Kitts & St Maarten, is an intriguing area offering a blend of Dutch, British, French and native cultures on some of the most scenic islands of the Caribbean.

The Northeastern Caribbean itinerary, combining diving & optional island access, is unique in the liveaboard industry. The abrupt topography above the sea is mirrored below and the profusion of marine life attests to the early institution of the Saba Marine Park in 1987.  

The dive sites range from pristine offshore pinnacles to near-shore coral ridges, all encrusted with corals, sponges and sea fans and populated by the usual cast of characters in the Caribbean: reef sharks, groupers, horse-eye jacks, sting rays, patrolling barracuda and the omnipresent hawksbill turtles …..oversized tube sponges, barrel sponges, orange elephant ear sponges, anemones and encrusting corals … plus all the typical, colorful, mesmerizing Caribbean reef fish and the surprising presence of exotic frogfish, arrowline shrimp & other critters.

Wreck divers will enjoy at least a couple of nice wrecks in this regions.

St Kitts adds coral canyon formations and gullies, plus amazing flying gurnards, typical spotted morays, blue tang and goatfish.

Humpback Australia Tummy Shot Arching Downwards shutterstock 167931833 CopySilver Bank, Dominican Republic  ...  those majestic humpback whales
January through March each year, a vast majority of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale population gathers here by the thousands to court, mate, calve, and rear their young. It's an experience of a lifetime.

You can have the rare opportunity to swim with majestic humpback whales, ranging in length from 40 to 50 feet and weighing in at 35-40 tons.

Humpback whales are found in all the world's major oceans and most populations are highly migratory. In fact, theirs is one of the longest known annual animal migrations on the planet.

With thousands of whales gathering every year in the Silver Bank to mate and calve, you will see a dazzling display of behaviors from the deck of custom whale boats, as well as having eye to eye encounters as you slip quietly into the sea to interact with the graceful giants in their ocean home. 

The infrastructure for these trips is superb.  It's relatively easy to access the Carribean from most corners of the globe and the trips are highly professionally run, respecting the animals at all times, guarding their safety and yours at the same time.

There are several operators, but we have chosen to work with the three operators we believe to be the most professional and environmentally "correct": Aquatic Adventures, Conscious Breath Adventures and Aggressor.

Caribbean Honduras Reef Shark on Blue Perfect dreamstime m 18045868 CopyRoatan / Utila, Honduras  ...  variety is the name of the game from walls to wrecks to sharks
Honduras waters offer diving which comprises caverns, wrecks, fantastic walls, atolls, swimming with whale sharks & Caribbean reef sharks ... all in balmy waters with excellent visibility and very mild currents.

Located near the second largest barrier reef in the world, which extends from the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico south to the Bay Islands of Honduras encompassing over 600 nautical miles of ocean and coral reef,   The surrounding waters offer sandy bottoms and beautiful purple coral gardens in crystal blue waters.

Virtually all the marine species found in the Caribbean, including schools of blue tangs, southern sennetes and dozens of other brilliantly colored reef fish can be seen here. The variety ranges from intriguing juvenile fish all the way up the ladder to the whale shark!  Manta rays, spotted eagle rays, and moray eels are all relatively frequent visitors to many of the sites.

The North side of Utila is best known for its drop-offs, which are considered deep dives – suitable for more experienced divers but the novice diver will find shallow to medium coral reefs with plenty of fish life.   Divers love a dive known as Mary’s Place, which has a lush reef with crevasses and tunnels running through it that provide great photo opportunities.

Honduras is also home to three good wreck sites at varying depths.

And, macro lovers, don't despair.  With beautiful corals littered all over this marine environment, many of the dives include great critter specimens such as yellowline arrow crabs, channel clinging crabs, bearded fire worms, long snout seahorses, large-eye toadfish, flying gurnards.

As a little « extra » Honduras is one of the very few places worldwide where whale sharks can be reliably found year round. While this doesn't guarantee that you'll see one on your cruise, there's usually at least one sighting per month. A little frosting on the cake should it happen to you!

The Roatan Aggressor is based in Roatan ... just minutes from the international airport ... with access to the

Caribbean Isla Mujeres Sailfish Isla Mujeres ...  whalesharks & sailfish
Isla Mujeres offers, at one end of the spectrum, the pleasure of captivating Caribbean corals and reef fish .... while at the other end, some of diving's ultimate adventures – swimming with whale sharks or sailfish and diving in cenotes.

You can enjoy effortless diving in clear, Caribbean water off the coast of Mexico, with eagle rays, moray eels, lobsters, spadefish, parrotfish, creole wrasse, trumpetfish, puffers, scads of angelfish and most the rest of the typical caribbean reef fish and critters ..... OR .... just north of Puerto Aventuras, near the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, you can swim with whale sharks during their annual migration mid June to early September.

The whale shark presence here has only fairly recently been discovered but it seems that the animals gather from June to September to enjoy the nutrients in the plankton bloom in the waters where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet.

In spite of habitually being loners, during this period the sharks are quite social and gather in groups of up to 20 animals .... making this an extraordinary opportunity for multiple shark encounters each day you're in the water.

From January to March, the possibility of swimming with sailfish exisits.  A bit like the sardine run off the coast of Africa, these are not guaranteed encounters. 

The sailfish follow and feed on immense baitballs of sardines .... and if the sardines aren't there .... the sailfish are nowhere to be seen.   However, the event has been remarkably consistent over the past few years and the opportunity to experience this is well worth the risk!

The sailfish is probably the world's fastest fish, making the experience of being in the water with them, particularly when they are in hunting mode, an exhilarating experience.

The process of finding the fish is part of the adventure.  Your guides will be watching for the frigate birds, who actually function as "spotters".  When the guides see hundreds of birds swooping & diving into the water, it's a sure sign that a group of sailfish has cornered a baitball at the surface and they are feeding.

That's the signal to get the boat over to the spot and join in the melee!

Finally, Isla Mujeres also offers access to cenote diving opportunities on the Yucatan Peninsula.

A unique eco-system in Mexico's Yucatan, the cenotes are filled with crystal clear, fresh water and they open onto a vast system of underground caverns, tunnels and chambers.   For thousands of years, these caves had been dry, forming stalagmites & stalactites and in certain places, the land above has collapsed allowing access to the underground systems.

Since the 1980's divers have been exploring the cave systems and it's said that more than 300 miles of caverns have been discovered.

The caves and tunnels are not for novice divers. You'll need special certification. But many of the cenotes are open to certified divers and are highly recommended as a very special life experience.

Please note that the diving here is land-based.  Your accommodation will be on land and you will be taken by day-boat to the diving sites.

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