Where to dive in Chile

Chile is a spectacular scuba diving destination. With so much coastline, it offers many diverse dives and wildlife watching, from penguins around Punta Arenas to the deep blues of Easter Island. Jump in.

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Easter Island

Easter Island (also known as Rapa Nui) is one of the most remote islands in the world and offers excellent diving due to its volcanic landscape. Divers here will find caves, arches, cliffs, and plenty of lava platforms underneath the calm waters that surround Easter island. On most days, visibility can reach up to 60m and while you won’t find much coral reef, there are plenty of colourful tropical fish swimming around. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a whale or green sea turtle.

A PADI scuba diving license is not required for basic diving but is advisable for accessing more interesting sites. The two main scuba diving centres — Mike Rapu and the Orca Diving Centre — are in capital Hanga Roa, which is also the jumping off point for most dive sites.

Easter Island scuba diving sites
All of the dive sites are close to Hanga Roa Harbour and you’ll spend no more than 10 minutes on a boat before diving into Easter Island’s waters.

Acantilado (The Cliff) is a great spot to start, with volcanic limestone and young coral growing on it. Try the Moai Site, which features a submerged 25-feet-tall moai statue, or The Cathedral, a famous lava tube where you can explore structures and caverns that mimic a cavernous cathedral.

Antofagasta

This small port town in the north of Chile might not sound like an ideal first choice for a holiday, but Antofagasta has some hidden underwater wonders. If you like cooler waters and the chance to see whales, dolphins, sea lions and other wildlife, then Antofagasta could be your destination. The best conditions for diving are early in the morning, as this avoids plankton blooms, with most dive sites close to the shore as the drop-off is quite severe.

Antofagasta diving sites
There are more than 17 dive sites along the coast of Antofagasta. Start with the Maria Elizabeth Shipwreck, a small artificial reef that's filled with colour and lots of sea life. The Anemone Wall is a longer, 45-minute dive to a 70ft wall, with sea lions and the occasional gill shark for company. For those looking for something more challenging, the interestingly-named Cauldron of Death is suitable only for experienced divers.

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Coquimbo region

Coquimbo’s coastline offers a number of dive spots that are worth visiting. You’ll find 58km of calm, warm waters waiting to be explored, with visibility reaching 30m in most dive locations. This is a perfect place for beginner divers who want to get their PADI certifications, with many dive centres, instructors and beach hangouts. La Serena — Chile’s second oldest city — is a good place to base yourself. Coquimbo’s coast is laidback, offering few activities besides beaches, diving and some of the freshest seafood you’ll find in the country.

Coquimbo diving sites
First up, try the dive resort of Las Tacas, a short drive from La Serena. Start with Las Catedrales, an underwater mountain range offering lava tunnels and walls. The marine life here includes giant jellyfish (December to February), sea lions and schools of fish. If you’re looking for something more advanced, try the 15m tunnel crossing of La Caverna.

Next, try Guanaqueros. This fisherman’s cove offers year-round diving at Barnes Bay, with six diving points suitable for all levels. Finish your diving tour in Pichidangui, where you can see corals, starfish and dolphins.

Juan Fernandez Archipelago

Known internationally as a diving location, the volcanic origin of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago has created an unparalleled underwater experience, with mountains, oases and a huge variety of sea life. Located just a two hour plane from Valparaiso, these islands are filled with sea lions, tropical fish and Magellanic penguins. Head to Robinson Crusoe island for tour operators and dive experts.

The archipelago’s water temperature reaches a balmy 20C between December and March, which is the best time to visit.

Juan Fernandez diving sites
There are several excellent diving points all located around Robinson Crusoe island. For most divers here, the big attraction is the sea life. Look out for the Juan Fernandez fur seal, scorpionfish, sea urchins and many more.

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