"Ascent" by Peter Liu Photography via Flickr Creative Commons

Many of the most affordable and best dive and snorkel sites on earth can be found in Latin America. Nearly the entire Caribbean coast has some sort of reef nearby, including the world’s second largest that follows the shores of Belize and Honduras. Many of these sites you have heard of, while some of the others are just popping into itineraries such as Malpelo Island and Los Roques. If you’re a beginner this is the place to experiment and get certified. If you’re an expert this is the place to tackle some of the most challenging dives around.

  1. Ambergris Caye, Belize Belize’s 185 mile barrier reef sits just minutes off shore from this small island. Famous sites include Lighthouse reef, the Turneffe Islands, and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
  2. Great Blue Hole, Belize Part of Lighthouse Reef, this dive and snorkel site is exactly what it says it is: a big, blue hole. The perfectly circular limestone sinkhole is a quarter of a mile deep and aquatic life flourishes on its outer rim.
  3. Cayos Cochinos, Honduras Miles of easily accessible shallow reefs and tiny caves that are perfect for exploring surround the coast of Honduras. These vigorously protected waters are home to rays, seahorses, octopuses, squid, and much more. Stick around and sign up for an expedition with the HCRF Marine Research Center.
  4. Little Corn, Nicaragua Shark encounters, caves, and loads of Caribbean reef fish, corals, and sponges are all to be had from this tiny island without cars off the Nicaraguan coast.
  5. Cocos Island, Costa Rica Apart from the 27 endemic fish species found on this tiny island 300 miles from the coast, there are white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, manta rays, giant moray eels, green sea turtles, and the occasional whale shark.
  6. Malpelo Island, Colombia Steep cliffs and sea caves dominate this marine sanctuary, declared a UNESCO world heritage site, 300 miles from the Colombian coast. Pricey and isolated but a one of a kind diving experience for the advanced dive enthusiast.
  7. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador Apart from sea lions and marine iguanas that you’ll swim alongside, there are countless endemic species. The world’s premier wildlife watching site gets only better underwater, especially around the far Wolf and Darwin Islands.
  8. Utila, Honduras The largest of the Bay Islands and a backpacker paradise is the best place in the world to see the elusive whale shark and one of the cheapest places to get certified.
  9. Los Roques, Venezuela Unspoiled. Untrodden. Untouched. However you want to call it, Los Roques is nothing less than pristine. Coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grass beds attract a mÈlange of bright colored flora and fauna.
  10. Sea of Cortez, Mexico More than 850 species of reef fish, whale sharks, hammerheads, Orcas, whales, dolphin and sea lions in habit this body of water between Baja and the mainland Mexican coast.

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