As one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year, the Caribbean is renowned for the variety of unforgettable experiences on offer. Thankfully, the local dive industry is no different, catering to guests of all experience levels – from absolute beginners to more advanced underwater explorers, and even technical divers. 

What’s more, the Caribbean Sea is famous for its favourable conditions. Boasting with warm water, mild currents, and easy access to numerous shallow, sheltered dive sites, many of the islands here are perfect for learning to dive. As a result, local dive centres are well-versed in helping tourists try their hand at scuba diving for the first time, meaning new and nervous divers can relax knowing they’ll have access to first-class facilities and top-quality tuition.

But, while the entire region is the perfect playground for beginner divers, some destinations stand out above the rest. Whether it’s their shallow, sheltered sites, expert dive centres, or abundance of topside activities, these destinations all feature key characteristics that make them well-suited to less experienced underwater explorers. 

Keep reading to discover the best places to learn to dive in the Caribbean. 

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is one of the very best diving destinations on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, offering world-class underwater experiences and a choice of atmosphere on land. With huge swathes of its landmass left almost entirely untouched, the island itself is relatively peaceful, while nearby Playa del Carmen provides plenty of energy, ensuring visitors of all kinds can find their ideal ambience. The popularity of this dive destination also guarantees an abundance of operators, all of which are well-versed in the needs of new divers.

Wrapping around the island’s western and southern coasts, the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park is renowned for its impressive coral structures and outstanding underwater scenery. Delightful coral gardens start relatively close to shore here before dropping quickly into dizzying walls peppered with swim-throughs. Some of this region's top cenotes can also be found near Playa del Carmen, and you don't have to be an advanced diver to enjoy them. Many are suitable for divers of all skill levels, and even snorkelers, providing you keep the sunlight visible overhead. 

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye is the beating heart of island tourism in Belize, combining its well-developed infrastructure and easy-going atmosphere to deliver quintessential Caribbean escapes. The irresistible charm of this destination emanates from its eclectic collection of cultures, welcoming locals, and gorgeous coastline lapped crystal-clear waters. And, with ample beaches, bars, and watersports to enjoy, visitors looking to try diving for the first time during a classic beach getaway can’t go wrong with Ambergris Caye.

With the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef located just a stone’s throw from the shore, Ambergris Caye is particularly well-suited to less experienced divers. Whether already certified or undertaking their first open-water training dives, visitors here can expect to enjoy sun-soaked coral reefs and dramatic topography within easy reach of the dive centre – and often at relatively shallow depths.

Turks and Caicos

Though technically lying outside of the Caribbean Sea, the Turks and Caicos islands are viable alternatives to many of the more popular tourist spots in the region. While this British Overseas Territory certainly sees its fair share of visitors, the numbers pale in comparison to some of its closest neighbours, promising unique, personalised experiences and slightly fewer crowds. Best of all, the Turks and Caicos islands also feature the same sought-after characteristics as more iconic Caribbean getaways, including warm waters, inviting beaches, and captivating culture.

The Turks and Caicos islands are known for their favourable diving conditions, ensuring divers of all experience levels can enjoy this biodiverse underwater world. Home to both shallow banks and a deep ocean trench, this island chain plays host to a stunning variety of marine species, from macro to megafauna, and everything in between. The Turks and Caicos islands also welcome an annual humpback migration, meaning visitors can combine underwater exploration with world-class whale watching.

Dominican Republic

Home to the oldest city in the ‘New World’, the Dominican Republic boasts some of the richest documented history of the entire Caribbean, making it a must for culture-vultures and history-buff alike. This country is also one of the more geographically diverse in the region and boasts more Blue Flag awarded beaches than any other island in the area. Throw in an abundance of all-singing-all-dancing oceanfront resorts, and it’s easy to see why the Dominican Republic is a dream destination for travellers of all kinds, regardless of their interests.

When it comes to diving, the country is arguably best-suited to less experienced divers, offering plenty of stress-free sites within a reasonably short distance from shore. What’s more, visitors can also partake in other water-based activities alongside their dive outings. The east coast features some decent surf breaks while some of the world’s most impressive humpback whale encounters can be enjoyed in the waters north of the island.

Cayman Islands

Once the realm of swashbucklers, pioneers, and pirates, the Cayman Islands are a popular Caribbean holiday destination yet can still deliver a sense of solitude, should it be desired. Beyond the bustling cruise ship terminals, life moves at a markedly slower pace – with ample eateries, museums, and breathtaking beaches to while away the hours. These islands also feature their fair share of untouched natural scenery where birds and reptiles can be found. 

Widely regarded to be the birthplace of recreational diving, there are few places better prepared to help novice divers explore the underwater world during their vacation. All-in-all, these three islands offer over 365 individual dive sites waiting to be explored, many of which are accessible enough for the newest underwater explorers – even the famous Kittiwake wreck lies within reach of Open Water divers. Other marquee attractions here include unfathomable walls plummeting into the depths, along with gentle Southern stingray encounters which can be enjoyed with or without scuba equipment. 

St Lucia

Despite its small size, this island nation offers a surprisingly broad spectrum of experiences, allowing visitors of all kinds to cultivate the holiday of their dreams. From limitless luxury and scenic seclusion to top-quality cuisine and rhythmic evening revelry, St Lucia proudly showcases a full range of iconic Caribbean characteristics. As a result, the island is ideal for combining underwater exploration with other enticing pastimes, including hiking, partying, swimming, and shopping.

In the same vein, St Lucia’s scuba diving is equally diverse, with around 25 individual sites that incorporate a variety of walls, pinnacles, drifts, and wrecks. A network of marine protected areas along the island’s western coast have helped local reefs to flourish, providing newer divers with an enticing introduction to the underwater world. And, best of all, St Lucia offers several shore entries – including Anse Cochon and Anse Chastanet – guaranteeing stress-free exploration of these healthy reefs in safe and shallow waters. 

St Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a string of 32 exquisite islands, only nine of which are fully inhabited. The rest are either reserved for private resorts or left entirely as nature intended. As you might expect, each island offers its own allure, providing plenty of choice for travellers of all types. The islands of St Vincent, Bequia, Union Island, and Mayreau provide access to some of the country’s best sites, with plenty of gradually sloping reefs allowing safe exploration by less experienced divers.

Coined the “critter capital of the Caribbean”, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines deliver some of the best macro diving experiences outside of the Coral Triangle. Sought after species that can be seen here include flying gurnards, frogfish, seahorses, pipefish, and more. And, while hunting for some of the oceans most cryptic creatures is often the pursuit of more advanced underwater explorers, the experienced guides in St Vincent and the Grenadines are sure to help even the newest divers get in on the excitement.


Though named after its main island only, the country of Grenada also includes several smaller satellite islets, as well as Carriacou and Petite Martinique in the southern Grenadines. Long prized for its prolific nutmeg production, every aspect of this nation's cherished culture continues to pack plenty of spice. From its fascinating history and energetic festivals to the zesty cuisine, sun-soaked beaches, and endless outdoor adventure, Grenada is about as quintessentially Caribbean as destinations come.

Fuelled by nutrient-rich currents, Grenada's volcanic coastline harbours some spectacularly diverse and healthy reefs. And, the islands’ proximity to different shipping routes has resulted in an abundance of shipwrecks – giving rise to Grenada’s title as the wreck diving capital of the Caribbean. While many of these vessels lie at depth, sites such as the Veronica L are well within the reach of scuba students and try-dive experiences. Another highlight for less-experienced divers is the famous Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park created by Jason deCaires Taylor, which features around a hundred underwater artworks at depths of less than eight-metres.


Bonaire is a well-established tourist hotspot in the Caribbean, yet the island hasn’t lost its laid-back tropical charm. Restrained tourist development has helped prioritise the protection of nature, with large wildlife preserves and nature parks taking centre stage and few of the large-scale resorts seen elsewhere in the region. In fact, over the years, Bonaire has created a rather unique atmosphere that promotes organic experiences at almost every turn. This includes an array of self-catering accommodations and an extensive tourist infrastructure that facilitates self-guided adventure.

The dive industry here is equally empowering, allowing certified divers to organise their own underwater exploration. Out of the 89 different dive sites on offer here, 54 are accessible from the island’s sandy coast – all of which are clearly marked both on maps and the roadside. Local operators also encourage self-guided scuba diving, allowing certified divers to collect their gear and drive off in search of a suitable site. That said, many of Bonaire’s dive centres are incredibly well-equipped, and can happily accommodate less-experienced individuals as well as those looking to learn.

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