The Best Dive Sites in the Western Caribbean: Cabo Francis and the Santa Rosa Wall
The Santa Rosa Wall; Cozumel, Mexico: In the western Caribbean lies the Belize Reef which stretches from Isla Mujeres to the Bay of Honduras. The island of Cozumel is an excellent place for the diver to explore the reef as it has many dive shops for equipment rental and the shops also provide information about entry points. Although coral banks surround the island, the islands west coast is by far the most popular for divers because of its lower tide, making it easier to swim over banks to the drop off point.
One of the most popular spots on Cozumel's west side is the Santa Rosa Wall, which is accessible by boat. At a depth of 30 to 40 feet this area separates the coral plateau from the open sea and descends to a depth of 90 feet and beyond to the deep blue. The wall itself is covered with various colorful types of sponges, wipe corals and water gorgonians. At 70 feet it is possible to see green morays slithering through crevices; spiny lobsters, giant black groupers, angelfish, midnight parrotfish, squirrelfish and nurse sharks. Also there is a large stripy, colorful fish, called the coral toadfish, that is only found at Cozumel, Mexico. The diving visibility at Cozumel of up to 133 feet, is one of the best in the Caribbean and with the islands warm waters divers are often tempted to go deeper. The Santa Rosa Wall is recommended for expert divers as good buoyancy is needed and the currents get stronger the further a diver is out from the wall.
The diving visibility at Cozumel of up to 133 feet, is one of the best in the Caribbean and with the islands warm waters, divers are often tempted to go deeper. The Santa Rosa Wall is recommended for expert divers as good buoyancy is needed and the currents get stronger the further a diver is out from the wall.
Above; a swim through at the Santa Rosa Wall and below a sergeant major fish.
Cabo Francis: Isla De La Juventud, Cuba.
To the west of Isla de La Juventud begins the continental platform, descending to a depth of 1,400 feet. Cabo Francis, also known as Cabo Punto Francis marks the boundary of the platform and a meeting place for novice and expert divers. There are over 50 marked dive sites at Cabo Francis and it is thought that Spanish and pirate galleons were once shipwrecked in the area.
Huge sponges and corals line a long wall to a depth of 50 feet which is intermitted by deep grottoes and caves. Here many divers and guides enjoy feeding the large groupers which are very approachable. The area is known to feature large schools of silvery scaled tarpon, although they can be found in most parts of the Caribbean. The reefs are home to violet colored sea fans. The fans always grow at right angles which allows them to maximize their surface area to the warm current. Hiding amongst the anemones one can see transparent shrimps that clean fish of their parasites.
Isla De La Juventud, Cuba.
All images from flickr.com with creative commons licence.