Diving in Colombia, South America

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Strategically located at the geographical center of the American continent, Colombia occupies a little part of the tropical zone with all the marvels of the waters belonging to the biggest oceans on the planet, the Caribbean and the Pacific. It sports more than 2,900 km of coastline and islands whose waters are filled with abundant marine life, cays, and coral reefs.

Providence Island, located some 140 miles off Colombia's coast has the clearest waters perfect for diving from beginner to advance divers. Most visitors often regard it as nothing sort of a magical place because of its crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. It boasts of unspoiled waters due to a few numbers of annual visitors so take advantage of these last virgin paradises on earth. Because of its walls, middle reefs, and sub-aquatic biological richness rivalling that of Little Cayman, it earned the status of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Some of the dives include exploring the caves and fissures at NX and Tete’s Place and swimming along the steep walls cascading with sponges at Blue Hole and Contour. Bajo de San Felipe and Left Channel sport shallow coral gardens that simply gleam with the sunlight.

Shipwreck diving is also available such as the popular wreck of Planchon, a World War II German tanker that already became an artificial reef filled with very rich marine life.

San Andres Island is also part of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Diving varies from exploring caves, walls, cliffs, shipwrecks, to reef diving. For beginner divers, the crystal clear waters of San Andres island in the North-East is perfect for seeing typical reef marine life such as frogfishes, pipehorse, spotfin gobies, butterfly fish, shorttail snake eels, parrot fish, snapper, grouper, barracudas in some places, and occasional encounters with dolphins and sharks. For advance divers, the South-East side of the island has a reef plateau that extends a few hundred yards from the shore and dives 6m to 9m deep. The dive is challenging because of strong currents but you'll find plenty of shipwrecks and marine biodiversity in the area.

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Both Providence Island and San Andres Island belong to a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The islands have a combined coral reef area that belongs to the third largest coral reef in the world teeming with marine life. Divers are encouraged to participate in marine conservation by not touching or stepping on the corals. Visitors are also discouraged from buying items made of shells or corals.

The general climate of Colombia is tropical and isothermal because of its geographic location near the Equator. Dry season is from December through April. The rainy season is on October while June and July are often windy with occasional storms.

The water temperature is around 27°C/80F to 30°C/86F with great visibility of more than 30m except during the rainy season.

The air temperature is around 17°C/63F to 33°C/91F with high humidity.

Colombia has year round diving season but the specially recommended months are between February and May because it's the mating season for Green Turtles and the black crabs descend en masse from the mountains to lay their eggs on early May.

The easiest way to get to Colombia is through El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia. Some of the airlines that offer flights to Bogotá are Avianca, American, Continental and Delta airlines.

Inter-island flights are provided by Avianca or Copa/Aero Republica going to San Andres Island and Colombian regional airline Satena going to Isla de Providencia.

There are also boat rides going to the islands but is not advisable because of considerable amount of shipping traffic and they only go to Isla de Gorgona.

Bus system is the main means of transport in the major cities of Colombia as there are no passenger trains available. There are taxis for hire plying the main cities.

The general transportation state in Colombia is excellent given the convenience of public transport but plane travel is still the fastest and safest way to go to the islands.

Use the following links for more information about;

- Decompression Chambers in Colombia

- Foreign Travel Advice for Colombia (UK Government)

- More about Colombia (Wikipedia)

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