Scuba Diving in Varadero

Varadero –

This post is part of the summary-article 2-Week Itinerary Cuba on a Budget . You can either use the links in the summary to get detailed information about each place in the itinerary, or the floating bar at the botton of the page to navigate through each day.

cuba varadero beach sunrise backpacker backpacking travelGnaaah – why do I have to always get up so early on vacation? I get dressed and get going. Calle 46… Calle 45… Calle 44… Gosh. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning and I’m sweaty on every part of my body. It is already quite humid – just how will that be later in the day? I repeatedly look over my shoulder – maybe there is a taxi driving in my direction… Bad luck. But I see an open snack bar. Coffee to go & a big empanada… I’ve almost walked about 10 blocks when I see a cocotaxi coming my way on the empty road… I have both wands, jump around like a monkey, hoping the driver stops for me – and a few seconds later I’m sitting in the back seat with my backpack and fins. “Buceo, Amigo?”. You betcha! I just want to get into some refreshing water now. 2 CUC (2.00 USD) are totally worth not having to walk all the way to the Baraccuda dive center. The dive guide, with whom I had spoken yesterday is already waiting for me. I show him the receipt I got yesterday and all the formalities are done. As we’ll get going soon I can wait outside – well… it’s just as warm and humid inside or outside .

cuba varadero beach road backpacker backpacking travelThere is a guy with a backpack is sitting on the sidewalk next to a bus on the other side of the road. Should I wait here or… go to the back of the base? That’s where the beach is, right? The guy next to the bus notices me: “Gonna dive the Caribe too, mate?”. Definitely from Kangaroo Country . The wreck is called Caribe? I heard something about “B threehundred… something” yesterday and… “Neptuno”? We’ll probably get a real briefing later. I do not really get to talk to Paul (the Aussie) – the dive guide and the bus driver get out of the base: “Vamos!”. We get on the bus. Okay… it seems the boat we will be using is not here .

cuba varadero beach house backpacker backpacking travelWe get going: About every hundred meters we stop at a hotel and some divers enter the bus. Dammit, I could have saved myself all the walking today. The first guys are quite on time… but as we get to the more fancy hotels, we have to wait for the folks to get picked up. Some hangover party tourists seem to be diving with us… We have to wait about a quarter of an hour in front of the hotel “Blue Varadero” for two slept-in, yawning guys in muscleshirts to stumble into the bus. Great, this looks just like a diving accident about to happen – no need for CSI Varadero – case closed. Our last stop is right next to the marina at a fancy-schmancy resort… The guide gets into the building, looks around… nobody in the lobby. Through the glass front you can see how he talks to the lady at the reception. She’s having a phone call. Both are waiting. We are waiting. 10… 15 minutes. She picks up the phone again. It takes another 15 minutes for “my father’s a lawyer” in his pastel pink shorts and his mom in a beach dress, summer hat and XXL sunglasses to appear. “Nah, naaah… that’s not what we were waiting for…riiigh… oh, oh. It is?!?!” . The stereotypical high-snobiety broad seems to have forgotten her manners, now shrieking at the poor guide as he probably told her to hurry. Wow, this guy has probably taken quite a few valium pills this morning – how could he otherwise bear such “customers”? The guide walks towards the bus, Junior having his hands in his pockets and mommy clacking with her stilettos follow up. Everyone’s getting in… and … the Mexicans from Yucatan sitting in front of me, with whom I had been chatting in the meantime, start to golfclap slowly and ironically. The mocking applause spreads through the bus, putting a thankful smile on the guides face and making the two specimens of the crème de la crème sit embarrassed on their seats. Finally! We can go scuba diving!

cuba varadero beach backpacker backpacking travelThe bus turns around, drives about 300 meters and stops at the marina in front of a shack. I wonder if the chick on her high heels could have walked all the way here…

The Check-in at the base here is very chaotic. Somehow I have the feeling that too many cooks spoil the broth – divers are standing on each other’s way, and the distribution counter for equippment you get constantly asked for your  license, but nobody really takes a looks at it – instead people are frantically running back and forth to get equipment. At some point I have everything I need (and I’m glad to have brought my own ABC equipment… Some people are still trying on stuff). Time to get on the boat… Oh! We’re going to use steel flasks. That is something different. Some folks are already on the boat, which is quite big – we seem to be quite the big group also. However, I have no idea who I will dive with and whether there are beginners with whom more experienced divers should form a buddy team. After all, the equipment looks great compared to the diving center in Playa Ancon.

cuba varadero beach scuba dive boat backpacker backpacking travelWe drive off – slowly past the yachts and mangroves… towards the open sea. I get into conversation with the two Mexicans from Tulum who brought all their scuba gear along on their trip. They have noticed that today we are not going to dive at the “Patrol Boat 383”, but visit the wrecks “Neptuno” and “Caribe” – because we also have quite a few inexperienced divers with us. Fine with me, a wreck’s a wreck, isn’t it?*

Eyyyyyo! Buceeeeeo in Varadeeeeero! Y después un bucaneeeeero!

cuba varadero beach scuba dive neptuno wreck backpacker backpacking travelFeels like we’re quite a while on the boat before we get to the spot. I have enough time to get tons of info about the cenotes in Mexico – I have to really go there one day… The wrecksite “Neptuno” is our first dive. We get divided into two groups, and a smaller third one for absolute beginners having a personal guide. There doesn’t seem to be a real buddy system. Since I’m sitting next to Paul who also came alone to the trip, we join the group with the 2 Mexicans.

cuba varadero beach scuba dive neptuno wreck backpacker backpacking travelWe have a quick equipcheck and are off into the water! The dive should be quite simple: The remains of a German steamship are scattered at a maximum depth of 10 meters, which sank during the 20ies because of anaccident. A strange but relaxed dive. 10 meters? It almost feels like snorkeling. Incidentally, it is difficult to grasp the sunken ship as a whole – the remains of this ship are way too scattered on the seabed. Only the big boilers indicate that the ship must have been huge. Countless schools of fish gather in the holes of the wreck, going back and forth with the current. Some isolated parrotfish and barracudas are the biggest fish I get to see – the main attraction is the wreck itself. It almost feels like at this depth I don’t consume any air at all…

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Back on board, we have a short break before moving on to the next spot: The wreck “Caribe”. We swap the empty flasks for full ones and off we go. This wreck lies also at just about 10 meters depth, but you can easily recognize it as a tugboat. You can even enter the control cabin here. At one side of the ship I discover a school of small Barracudas, which seem to have taken cover from the current. Also a pretty easy dive.

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As for my way back to Varadero I decide to get out at the Parque Central. I get my logbook entry done on the ride back to the marina and get a stamp at the equipment hut – no way I’m walking all the way back from the divebase .

cuba varadero beach oldtimer backpacker backpacking travelI meet Vicky, Jannis and Frank at our “favorite bar” – they are already having some cocktails on the beach. They had a lot of fun on their trip – snorkeling, visiting the small archipelago in front of Varadero… and having lobster for lobster . Right, I should also get something to eat. Once again hamburguesas & cerveza wiedermal. Oh well…

On the way back to our casa we get past the Viazul office: Shit, we should have come here earlier. The office is closed, and tomorrow is our flight, so to be on the safe side we should rather take the first bus. Alternatively, we could take a taxi – which will be more expensive.

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*You should really try to dive the B 353, as this dive is really worth it – I’ve seen some pictures…


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Scuba Diving in Varadero

by Mario time to read: 6 min