There’s no question that South America has some of the world’s most diverse and beautiful diving spots. For those travelers looking to get the most out of their South American diving trip, first you’ll want to decide what type of experience you’d like to have.

The waters surrounding South America offer a huge variety of diving options. Maybe you’re looking for an epic whale spotting experience in the colder waters of the Atlantic. Or perhaps you’re looking for more tropical vibe with colorful fish and reefs and submerged volcanic ridges. No matter what type of dive you’re looking for, there’s definitely something for everyone. And that includes all types of divers from beginners to professional.

So where are the best places to dive in South America? Here’s a look at some of the most popular dive spots to consider when planning that South American diving excursion…

Galapagos Islands – Ecuador

Sea lions resting under the sun, Galapagos

While you should definitely consider exploring the actual islands themselves, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador also host some pretty amazing diving spots. Of course the islands are well known for their unique biodiversity. And its underwater treasures are no exception. In fact, the Galapagos Islands are one of the most sought after destinations for diving because of the potential to spot many intriguing species of marine life.

Tijeretas Hill

is a great place to start. It’s located off of San Cristobal Island and is a great place for all experience levels of diving to explore. Here you’ll have the chance to see a variety of underwater creatures such as rays, green sea turtles, Galapagos garden eels, and large schools of fish like grunts and angelfish. And don’t forget to say hello to the many sea lions that call the area home.

Shark Point

is located off of Wolf Island. Here you’ll come across the huge whale sharks as well as other larger marine species like hammerhead sharks, dolphins, and Galapagos sharks. This dive is best reserved for more experienced divers though, as there can be limited visibility at times and harsh currents.

Daphne Minor

can be found on Santa Cruz’s northern coast. Beginners as well as experienced divers will find this dive fun and unique. With a smooth current, you can explore underwater caverns. You’ll also find white-tipped reef sharks, eagle rays, and Galapagos sharks. If you’re lucky, you may even spot Manta Rays too.

Camano Islet

can be found off of Santa Cruz Island and is great for those who are just beginning their diving experience. It’s a shallow dive spot, and offers divers the opportunity to come across seahorses, sea lions, sea groupers, and batfish. You may also get lucky and spot a few eels and marine iguanas as well.

Gordon Rocks

is where you’ll want to dive if you’re looking for the hammerhead sharks that put the Galapagos Islands on the map as a diving destination. But also be on the lookout for green sea turtles, sea lions, stingrays, eagle rays, white and black tip reef sharks, and schools of snapper and barracuda.

The Galapagos Islands have plenty more diving options to consider aside from the ones listed here. So be sure to do plenty of research before travelling to Ecuador so that you’ll be sure to get the most out of your diving experience.

Peninsula Valdes – Argentina

This diving destination definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because this Argentinean location is one of those cold dives mentioned in the introduction. But diving this UNESCO World Heritage Site will definitely be worth enduring the colder waters.

The marine life here migrates during different seasons, so it’s important to do your research and figure out what you’d like to see versus when the best time to go for that type of marine life viewing would be.

October is the peak month for Southern Right whales. While they gather in June-December, the best time to hopefully catch a glimpse would be in October. Peninsula Valdes is most well-known for its Magellan penguins. These cute creatures can be seen from October through March. Orcas in the region can be seen in March. And those looking for sea lions, will find that their calving time is typically December through January.

Fernando de Noronha – Brazil

Cacimba do Padre beach – Morros gemeos, Fernando de Noronha island, Pernambuco (Brazil)

This Brazilian gem of a dive site is not relatively well-known. But it boasts some of the best visibility in the region. Not only that, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Brazil’s first marine park.

Brazil’s largest spinner dolphin colony can be found in the waters of Fernando de Noronha. The waters off of this small island are also home to various tropical fish species, sea turtles, manta rays, and reef sharks. Brazil’s largest seas turtle colony can also be found her. So there are definitely plenty of great marine life opportunities awaiting here.

Keep in mind that this area is a protected site and preservation is important to the locals. A limited amount of tourists are allowed on the island at a time. And expect a fairly large tourism tax. The experience with definitely be worth it in the end though.

Isla de Providencia – Columbia

View of Caribbean Sea and Providencia as seen from the top of Crab Caye in San Andres y Providencia, Colombia

This Columbian island holds plenty of diving options…with over forty dive sites to choose from. This is also the area to choose if you’re looking for a more secluded, less busy type of diving experience. It’s a relatively sparsely populated area that hasn’t quite caught on where mass tourism is concerned. So Isla de Providencia is a great destination for those wanting a truly unspoiled look at marine life.

Adventure seekers should look no further than Isla de Providencia, as this is a popular dive spot to explore shipwrecks, including a World War II German tanker. The area is also a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, with some of the most beautiful corals you’ll find in South America. It’s also home to the third longest barrier reef in the world. Be on the lookout for parrot fish, butterfly fish, snapper, grouper, and in some locations, barracudas, sharks, and dolphins.

Abrolhos Marine Park – Brazil

The waters surrounding the five volcanic islands that make up Abrolhos are teeming with marine life waiting to be discovered. Keep in mind though, that this diving location can only be reached by liveaboards. The islands are uninhabited aside from a lighthouse crew and a few gamekeepers.  So if you’re looking for a secluded, scenic dive, this might be just the location you’re looking for.

The marine life around Abrolhos Marine Park is rich and diverse. Here you’ll have the opportunity to see over 270 different species of reef and shore fish. Green sea turtles, loggerhead sea turtles, manta rays, and dolphins also call the area home. Between the months of July through November, Humpback whales are here for their calving season. So that’s definitely something to consider if you’re planning on making Brazil your diving destination.

Other popular South American dive sites include Columbia’s Malpelo Island, Venezuela’s Los Roques, and Chile’s Easter Island. And while these are just a few of the best places to explore your diving options while in South America, there are definitely plenty more waiting to be discovered. All you’ll need is your sense of adventure and a passion for diving!