Diving in San Andres Colombia
This Colombian Island, which is actually 1 hours flight from the capital Bogota, is one of the most western Caribbean Islands and is actually located some 150 miles from the Nicaraguan eastern cost.
San Andres is a popular holiday destination for Colombians and can become particular busy in their holiday season that runs from June to July and December to January, whilst the rest of the year the island will remain the best time to visit for those looking for a bit more quiet.
From a diving perspective, we discovered that most divers came from Canada and Argentina, both of which have direct flights to the island.
Much of the reef areas, which span around most of the southern and western parts of the island remain in excellent condition. The diving is simply beautiful, with a divers mix of Caribbean fish and some of the best maintained coral. There are 4 or 5 dive shops on the island but with so many excellent dive sites we never found ourselves have to share a dive spot during our 1 week stay.
We dived with Sharky Divers and were impressed by how friendly and organised they were. Have a look at the interactive dive map from their website.
Diving Colombia's Caribbean Coast
Colombia has a Pacific and Caribbean coast, along the Caribbean Coast there are two stand out places, Cartagena which features an old classic Spanish town and a modern sea front and is worth visiting for the culture and simply for the beautiful old city and food. We only did two dives in Cartagena and were expecting to see more, maybe we got unlucky but we didn't see much, although the contours and shapes of the coral presented us with an underwater city, which was unusual and enjoyable to navigate through.
Travel three hours north east along the beautiful coast line by car or public transport and you will arrive in Santa Marta, which is less touristy but offers a lot of outdoor adventure beyond diving, with the back drop of the Colombian mountains for quad biking (we strongly recommend this (ATV Rentals), and some spectacular walks through the beach forest at Tayrona park (entrance costs around $10 each), there is more than enough to keep you busy.
We dived with Tayrona Dive Centre and found this small outfit really very friendly and they really new their dive sites very well. We were lucky enough to have only our group of 5 diving and we didn't encounter any other dive boats. We saw a number of dive shops in the town, which is usually a sign of good diving but maybe because we had gone in the off season we dived alone.
To avoid confusion, the diving actually takes place in and around Tayrona National Park, some 20 minutes away from Santa Marta, so make sure the dive shop has access to Tayrona Park as some may not have the correct permits. The diving in Tayrona National Park was exciting, not simply because their was a great mix of crustaceans, fish and Moray eels, but simply because the views from the dive boat of the national park are simply stunning. Diving here is certainly a must for anyone who is looking to go off the beaten track and to dive in an unspoilt and quiet destination.
Diving Colombia's Pacific Coast
Colombia's Pacific coast line stretches over 1,300 km (800 miles) and as such there are plenty of places to choose from. It's worth pointing out that Colombia is a vast country, so don't be surprised to fin yourself taking a flight from the capital Bogota and then a further flight to Cali and a 4 hour journey by road just to reach the pacific.
But this journey is worth it, the Pacific coast of Colombia in unspoilt and yet to be exploited by major tourism. Unlike the Caribbean Sea the Pacific coast line is full of palegics, sharks and at the right time of year, whales, the latter of which are most easily seen from the island of Gorgona, which sits some 5-10km off Colombian coastline. There is so much do and sea and even hardened divers will find challenging dives.
If you really want to go to the extremes, then you may wish to consider Malpelo Island, which we only recommend for experienced divers.