The Isle of Youth is one of the most picturesque sites in Cuba, specially for those who are fond of natural beauties, because more than a half of is territory virgin, with a host of endemic species.
On its Southern coast, surrounded by the most pure Caribbean Sea, there are coral reefs of incredible beauty, with wonderful landscapes, and on the Western part you can find a breath-taking paradise in the Punta Frances Marine National Park.
El Colony diving zone is located within the limits of this Park, comprising 6 km. (4 miles) of coast, between Punta Pedernales and Punta Frances, this zone is very well protected with a remarkable environmental stability, thus having an exuberant reef development.
There are 56 attractive diving sites, some of them in areas of dense and colorful populations of corals, gorgonians and sponges. Others are located where the drop-off falls sharply, also more than 20 caves, passages and tunnels, coral hillocks and valleys are included.
The kind of fish varies from one site to another, so we can find schools of tarpons, spadefish, jacks, grunts, schoolmasters and yellowtail snappers. Nassau groupers, black groupers and barracudas are frequently found, also there are turtles, eagle rays and sometimes sharks. Among the most spectacular sites you can find are: Pared de Coral Negro, Tunel del Amor, Cueva Azul, El Pasaje Escondido, Cueva de los Sabalos, Piedra de Coral, EL Salto, Ancla del Pirata, Paraiso de las Levisas and Pequeno Reino.
Others diving zone are Los Barcos Hundidos, which are remains of sunken ships scattered on an extensive are between 6 and 9 meters (20 or 30 feet) deep, with many school of fish, including barracudas and stingrays, and a numerous sessile fauna attached to the ships. Los Indios, known for its vertical walls and big coral hillocks with sand beds, and Fuera de Limite, a peculiar place where the coral reef grows from the coast and falls into 15 meters (49 feet) deep, with big rocks full of corals, gorgonians, sponges and many coral fish.
The Diving Center is located on a small Marina in Ensenada de la Siguanea, 24 km. (15 miles) from diving sites, so the typical daily program consists in two morning divings, lunch in a cozy restaurant on the sea, and enjoyment of a near beach between divings.
A multi lock hyperbaric chamber is available at the Diving Center. A physician specialized in hyperbaric medicine is ready to provide preventive services and diving diseases treatment.
El Colony Hotel is the lodging place with 77 air conditioned rooms, bathroom and TV. Restaurants, snack bar, sea bar and night club. Swimming pool, sport areas and waster sports. Medical services. Telephone and international fax: Rent a Car. Horse riding and other activities are available.
Best Diving Sites
Pared de Coral Negro Dept 35 meters
This site is famous for its black coral found at a depth of 100ft.. Brightly colored tube and small basket sponges as well as magnificent coral formations including elkhorn, staghorn and brain are spread out throughout the wall. These waters are inhabited by tarpon, snappers, hamlets and queen parrotfish, yellowtail and gray angelfish. Moray eels can also be found in wall crevices
Cueva Azul Dept 40 meters
Descending to a depth of 130ft. you find a hole in a rock about 10ft. diameter covered with small silver glassfish. This is tarpon territory. From the hole you head out to the outer wall fascinated by the contrasting blues. The water in the gully appears as grayish blue; within the hole it has a dark blue hue, almost black, and looking out past the wall the sea turns into a bright turquoise tone.
From this point you ascend up the face of the drop off where you see all kinds of gorgonians.
Marine life becomes more abundant when you approach the top of the wall. The excellent visibility of this site may encourage novice divers to be overconfident and take a deeper dive than they are mentally ready for. A dive this depth is only recommended for advanced divers.
Jibacoa/Sparta Shipwrecks Dept 8 meters
The Jibacoa, a cargo ship, and the military ship Sparta lay in the bottom of the sea at this dive site. Sunk about twenty years ago, the ships were used for military target practice becoming eventually a favorite haunt for divers. The Jibacoa is visible from the surface and the Sparta lies on its side complete with guns, ladders and anchor ropes. Schools of snappers are common sight here. Both wrecks are covered with colored corals, algae and sponges. Crabs and sea urchins inhabit the wrecks as well. Colorful gobies, blennies and wrasses to add to the beauty of this site. Barracudas are usually seen roaming the waters surrounding the wrecks.
It is possible to enter both ships but your buoyancy control must be excellent to avoid damaging the corals and encrusting sponges. The low depth of this site allows for a lot of light to filter through making for a fantastic photo opportunity.
El Cabezo de las Isabelitas Dept 8 meters
This site is a photographer's delight. There is so much marine life in this site you will be overwhelmed with choices. Marine Life just waiting to be fed or photographed.
Moving down directly from the buoy, you reach a large number of coral outcrops surrounded by sand. A multitude of tropical fish swim around star, lettuce leaf and brain coral heads.
As you approach the wall, the topology of the underwater terrain becomes more rugged with a greater density of marine life such as snappers, goatfish, parrotfish, hamlets, angelfish and trumpetfish. The colorful green tip anemones share the coral heads with tube and vase sponges.
Small sandy channels sloping sharply to the end of the wall and searing their way through bright coral formations make this dive memorable.