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El Colony Scuba Diving Center

Dive at the Colony

The Colony International Diving Center, located in the Isle of Youth

The Colony International Diving Center is in the Isla de la Juventud, Cuba’s special municipality off the south coast, 42 kilometers from the island’s International Airport and less than 2 km from the Hotel El Colony.

The Isle of Youth is enchanting with its history full of buried treasure, and especially for its largely untouched marine life. The Colony diving zone is located within the limits of the breath-taking paradise of a National Marine Park in Punta Frances. The zone is very-well protected, with remarkable environmental stability resulting in exuberant reef development.

The annual international Photosub underwater photo competition is hosted here. A hyperbaric chamber is available at the Diving Center, with a physician specialized in hyperbaric medicine ready to provide preventive services and diving disease treatment as required.

Cueva Azul. “Blue Cave”: Depth: 40m. Descending to a depth of 130ft. you find a hole in a rock about 10 ft. in diameter covered with small silver glassfish. This is tarpon territory. From the hole you head out to the outer wall, fascinating to view with its contrasting blues.

The water in the gully appears as grayish blue; within the hole it has a dark blue hue, almost black, and looking out past the wall the sea turns into a bright turquoise tone. From this point you ascend up the face of the drop-off where you see multiple varieties of gorgonians.

Marine life becomes more abundant as you approach the top of the wall. The excellent visibility of this site may encourage novice divers to be overconfident and take a deeper dive than they are mentally ready for. A dive this depth is only recommended for advanced divers.

El Cabezo de las Isabelitas. “Cabezo de las Isabelitas”: Depth: 8m. This site is a photographer’s delight. There is so much marine life in this site you will be overwhelmed with choices. Marine life is just waiting to be fed or photographed.

Moving down directly from the buoy, you reach a large number of coral outcrops surrounded by sand. A multitude of tropical fish swim around star, lettuce leaf and brain coral heads.

As you approach the wall, the topology of the underwater terrain becomes more rugged with a greater density of marine life such as snappers, goatfish, parrotfish, hamlets, angelfish and trumpetfish. The colorful green tip anemones share the coral heads with tube and vase sponges. Small sandy channels sloping sharply to the end of the wall and searing their way through bright coral formations make this dive memorable

Pasaje Escondido. “Hidden Passage”: Depth: 38m. The dive begins at a depth of 15 meters, presenting inclined abrasive plain; dissect with coralline bottom – rocky, ridges, buckets and solid coralline and accumulations of sand to the foot of the scarp. It escarps with passages and two tunnels.

The first one is of very difficult, featuring intricate paths to a depth of 34 meters, a circumference 1.50 meters and a longitude 4 meters. The second is just 40 meters long with a maximum depth of 38 meters and similar characteristics.

Here you may observe great diversity of Stegastesps (Damsels), Chaetodonsp (Butterflies), Lachnolaimusmaximus (Fish dog), Sphyraena barracuda (Barracuda), Lutjanusps (Pargos), Gymnothoraxsp (Brown), Scorpaenasp (Scorpio), Mycteropercaps (Aguajis), Ocyuruschrysurus (Rabirrubias), Dasyatiscentroura (thorny Rayalatigo), Strombus jigs (rosy Cobo), Heterocongerhalis (garden Eagle), Lutjanussp (Snapper), Epinephelusstriatus (Creole Cherna) and Carettacaretta (Caguama).

Reino del Sahara. “Sahara Kingdom”: Depth: 13m. This dive begins at 8 meters, presenting accumulative abrasive plain with rocky bottom – coralline, ridges and buckets, scattered large and small summits. Their bottom features a small wall that descends to a depth of 12.5 meters where most of the rest of the dive is carried out.

At this depth you can observe breakwater and lapels as well as diversities of fish including Ocyuruschrysurus (Rabirrubias), Sphyraena barracuda (Barracuda), Epinephelusstriatus (Creole Cherna), Scomberomorusregalis (Sierra), Mycteropercaps (Aguajis), Acanthuruscoeruleus (Blacks), Strombus jigs (rosy Cobo), and Panulirus Aarhus (Lobster common to the Caribbean) and more.

Pared de Coral Negro.“Black Coral Wall”: Depth: 35 m. This site is famous for its black coral found at a depth of 100ft., brightly colored tube and small basket sponges, as well as magnificent coral formations including elkhorn, staghorn and brain coral spread out over the wall. These waters are inhabited by tarpon, snappers, hamlets and queen parrotfish, yellowtail and gray angelfish. Moray eels can also be found in wall crevices.

Valle de los Guacamayos.“Macaw Valley”: Depth: 35m. We enter at a depth of 15 meters and proceed to an abrasive inclined plain, with coralline bottom – rocky, ridges and buckets and solid coral to the foot of the wall. At a depth of 30-35 you can observe a great diversity of sponges such as Pseudoceratinacrassa (ramified tube), Aplysinafistularis (yellow tube), Aplysinaarcheri (of pipe), Aplysinacauliformis (lineal porous rope), Aplysinafulva (irregular porous), coniferous (of Carmelite tube), Agelas, Mycale laxissina (of glass), Cribrochalina vasculum (hollow Carmelite), Ectyoplasiaferox (of Carmelite octopus), black coral as Antipanotariassp, and diversity of fish like Holocanthusciliaris (Angel reigns), Pomacanthusparu (French Angel), Scomberomorusregalis (Sierra), Sphyraena barracuda (Barracuda), Lutjanusanalis (Creole Pargo), etc.

Tunel del Amor.“Tunnel of Love”: Depth: 35m. This dive site is 15 meters at its shallowest, and 33 meters at its deepest. It is formed by an inclined abrasive plain that dissects with a coral bottom – rocky ridges, buckets and solid coralline at the foot of the scarp and a tunnel at 33 meters deep. The tunnel is just 4 meters long with a circumference of 1.5 meterss, and as the bottom of the tunnel is sandy, it’s recommended to kick smoothly to avoid suspension of particles/reduced visibility.

One can observe  diversity in sponge varieties including Pseudoceratinacrassa (branched tube), Aplysinafistularis (yellow tube), Ectyoplasiaferox (of Carmelite octopus), Iotrobotabirotulata (of green fingers), poliquetos like Spirobranchusgiganteus (Christmas tree), Pomatostegusstellatus, Notaulaxnudicollis, Bispirinabrunnea, plus nudibranquios such as  Glossodorissedna, Phyllidiopsispapilligera, Hypselodorisedenticulata, and cartilaginous fish including the Ginglymostomacirratun (Shark nurse), Dasyatiscentroura (American Rayalatigo).

El Barco Hundido.“Jibacoa/Sparta Shipwrecks”: Depth: 8m. The Jibacoa, a cargo ship, and the military ship Sparta lay in the bottom of the sea at this dive site. Sunk about twenty years ago, the ships were used for military target practice, eventually becoming a favorite haunt for divers. The Jibacoa is visible from the surface and the Sparta lies on its side complete with guns, ladders and anchor ropes. Schools of snappers are common sight here. Both wrecks are covered with colored corals, algae and sponges. Crabs and sea urchins inhabit the wrecks as well. Colorful gobies, blennies and wrasses enhance the beauty of this site. Barracudas are usually seen roaming the waters surrounding the wrecks. It is possible to enter both ships but your buoyancy control must be excellent to avoid damaging the corals and encrusting sponges. The low depth of this site allows for a lot of light to filter through, making for fantastic photo opportunities.