Sharks coral head - Varadero

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Sharks coral head - Varadero

At a maximum depth of 16 metres, this site is one of many that are perfect for the newly qualified diver, or indeed the experienced diver looking for something that is relaxing, yet delivers a great dive.

A maze of canyoned coral reefs, with a sandy bottom, this dive site provides small caves, overhangs, and grottoes, stuffed to the brim with marine life.

Whips, giant barrel sponges, tunicates by the thousand, fans and feathers satisfy the soft coral fanatic, and the number of nudibranchs that cling to these is substantial. Large lobsters walk the sea bed in front of you, or hide in their crevices all around, seen by their antennae stretching out into the gentle currents that flow through this reef system.

Hard coral formations are mounted and suspended everywhere and it is always worth hovering over a gorgonian to see what appears – coral shrimp, minute cleaner wrasse and the like soon come out if you stay still enough, and arrow crabs can be found in just about every barrel sponge too. Leaving your camera on the dive boat is a big mistake!

Have a peep under the overhangs, and you will be surprised at what you see! Barracuda of 6' in their resting places, butterfly fish, parrot fish and even a large moray or two are all there, and don't forget the sea bed – big hermit crabs having moved into a large conch shell are common sights on every dive on this reef. If you are really lucky, you might get to see the dive sites namesake – nurse sharks often lie on the sand between the canyon walls and are relatively happy to let you get close and take that photograph!

As you move to the outer fringes of the labyrinth, it becomes more of a traditional reef dive – a long shallow system that stretches for as far as the eye can see. Currents and surge tend to pick up a little here, but not beyond the capability of a newly qualified diver. As a result, schools of fish use the reef as shelter, a cleaning station, and as a feeding ground. Goatfish and yellow tailed snapper in their hundreds, if not thousands, spadefish, French grunts, coneys, glass-eyed snapper, squirrel fish and hogfish are everywhere, but keep an eye out to the seaward side too – schools of juvenile barracuda that number 50+ patrol the fringes, together with the odd ‘daddy' – 5'+ in length.

This dive site is approximately 20 minutes away from the marina in one of the fast dive boats. Good weather is required to see it at its best, as a larger swell can churn the seabed and impact the visibility, but the sunlight at this depth makes it a really clear and bright dive, full of colour. Often combined with the PB 383 wreck dive, this one again delivers. It has to be one of the best ‘second dive' sites we have ever done.

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