Diving in Chile, South America

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Chile

Chile is a country with almost 6000 km of coastal line on the Pacific and is a paradise for all kind of water sports. Thus, it is rather surprising that diving here has become popular only recently. It might have to do with the water temperature: the cold Humboldt current from the Antarctic is responsible for temperatures between 10 and 16 degrees nearly all along the coast.


The marine wildlife, and fantastic under water sceneries make up for the unconvenience of a thick wetsuit or even a dry suit. Some of the islands, i.e. Easter Island and Juan Fernandez have been known as rewarding dive sites for some time, but now also the mainland is getting discovered and new dive centers start operating all along the coast from Punta Arenas in the far South up to Arica in the North.

 
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Diving

Chile offers many popular dive sites. Being a non-tropical diving paradise, colder waters persist but the reefs are teeming with abundant sights of flora and fauna. For the warmer waters, there is the stretch of La Serena to Arica which is popular for beginners.

One of the most popular dive sites found in Easter Island is Hanga Roa sporting underwater giant stone statues built many centuries ago and seen only by very few divers. During winter, superior visibility makes for easy diving conditions and usually there are no other divers in the area. Another popular dive site is around the three small rock islands known as “The Motus,” found off the southwest coast also sporting underwater structures such as lava tubes and caverns. “The Cathedral,” another dive site, boasts interesting rock structures and corals and a number of marine life such as butterfly fish, piranha, parrot fish, and tuna.

For advance divers, “The Cauldron of Death” awaits. Aside from the thrilling wall dive in a cave with heavy surge at times, perfect visibility allows for viewing abundant marine life.

Another popular site is the Juan Fernandez archipelago boasting perfect visibility for seeing plentiful marine life such as moray, cod-fish, pampanito, breca, and corvine. This is also the resting place of the popular Robinson Crusoe Island.

The stretch of La Serena to Arica boasts an abundant marine biodiversity comprising of nudibranchs, crustaceans, starfish and an occasional sighting of seasonal whales, sea lions, and dolphins. Advanced divers can also enjoy “The Cavern” which is a 15 meter cavern swim-through rich with beautiful sights of cliffs, rock formations, and underwater tunnels.

The wreck of El Falucho can be found in Valparaiso just 115 kilometres northwest of Chile's capital city, Santiago.

For both advanced and novice divers looking for deeper dives up to 47 meters, Roca Chungungo entices with playful resident otters and sea lions.

Marine Conservation

In 2010, Chile created a large marine reserve around tiny and remote Sala y Gómez island in the Pacific ocean to protect diverse marine life surrounding the island.

Climate

Chile has a temperate climate and has an all year round diving season. However, the water temperatures are low requiring good wetsuits or drysuits.

Eastern Island waters are coldest during July and August (18°C/64°F) and warmest in February (28°C/82.4°F).

The general water temperatures are low from July to September (15°C/61°F) and warm from January to March (21°C/79°F).

Natural hazards include severe earthquakes and tsunamis because of the presence of active volcanoes.

How to Get there

Chile's largest international airport is Santiago Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (ACL) just 15 kilometres northwest of its capital city, Santiago. As one of South America's key transport hubs, ACL offers easy access for domestic flights within Chile.

There are 2 bus companies linking the airport to city-centre destinations namely, The Centro Puerto bus and The Tur-Bus.

Travelling by bus to the Juan Fernandez Islands is known to be difficult so it is preferable to travel by airplane and only Lan Airlines flies to the Eastern Island.

There are also ferries from Valparaiso to many dive sites.

Very soon, a metro rail link will connect ACL to the main city of Santiago easing transportation woes.

Use the following links for more information about;

- Decompression Chambers in Chile

- Foreign Travel Advice for  Chile (UK Government)

- More about Chile (Wikipedia) 

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