SCUBA DIVING @ THE BAY OF PIGS
SPECTACULAR WINTER DIVE IN THE BAY OF PIGS
It was a beautiful December day in Havana and two long-time clients contacted me to do a double dive in Havana, and then head to Varadero for another dive. But as is typical of December in Cuba, a cold front moved in the next day and ruled out a dive on Cuba’s north coast. Northerlies stir up the water along the northern coast and ruin what are usually the best days for diving in Cuba. I offered to take the couple to the calm and warm waters of the Bay of Pigs on Cuba’s southern coast, and they accepted.
Known us here as Playa Giron, and infamous for the failed American lead invasion of Cuba in April 1961. I prepared our equipment and we departed Havana the next day at 7:00am, and a little over two hours later were at our destination. Known to some as el cenote and to others as la cueva de los peces, it is one of the area’s busiest and most beautiful dive spots. We arrived at the dive shop and learned that the water temperature was a comfortable 27 degrees and opted for shorties, and were informed that the conditions were optimal, with great visibility and calm seas.
Our plan was to complete a deep dive first, of nearly thirty meters, then a short surface interval, and a second slightly shallower dive. (I personally love diving deep, but in The Bay of Pigs you can see everything in shallow waters.) We checked and re-checked our equipment and completed a short briefing. We scheduled a one-hour interval between dives and programmed the second dive to be six meters shallower. All of us were anxious to get in the water, and finally doing so was a relief. The husband soon wrote me a note saying that he was amazed at the amount of life and the visibility, and especially the amount and variety of corals and sponges. After reaching a depth of almost thirty meters we moved slowly over and through the coral and after forty minutes started to work are way up. Most divers are noticeably impressed by the local barracudas, who are so used to our presence who seem to take no notice of divers. At about thirty feet we came across a small wreck, at which point my clients displayed an unexpected level of experience and dexterity and wove their way through the small ship with great ease and skill. We then held at five meters for three minutes and our second dive was more relaxed and the “old man,” as I was lovingly referring to him, let me know when it ended that the dive had provided him with the opportunity to meditate on the idea of spending a couple of more days in the Bay of Pigs.
They canceled a scheduled trip to Varadero and Viñales and asked me to accompany them on their added days. “What could I do?” I said yes, went back to Havana that night, and was back early the next day.
By Pedro Leal