Cartagena is a Colombian city known for its rich history, impressive walled city, and world-class scuba diving locations. One unique thing about diving in Cartagena is that there’s a lot of shipwrecks and pirate ships to discover! With an insane amount of marine life, shipwrecks, and underwater sculptures, just about anyone who visits Cartagena is drawn to its Caribbean waters.
Whether you’re a first timer or a full-blown diving enthusiast, I have good news…
Colombia has a plethora of trust-worthy scuba diving schools to pick from. Many of the best dive schools in Colombia are based in Cartagena. All of them are reputable and boasting decades of experience. What’s more, because your dollars stretch out far more in Colombia, these schools give you access to knowledgeable instructors and top of the line equipment for almost half the price of renown dive schools in other parts of the world. Affordable and reliable…
Let’s take a deep dive into Cartagena’s 5 best scuba diving schools.
La Tortuga Dive School
This is a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Dive Resort with over 25 years of experience diving in Cartagena. Focused on the Baru and Rosario Islands, La Tortuga Dive School reaches over 30 different dive sites, all rich in fauna, flora, landscapes, and corals. If you want to go diving specifically in Rosario Islands, this is probably the best scuba school to go with.
La Tortuga’s services include different options depending on your level of skill. Some of the courses they have available are Open Water Diving, Rescue Diver, and Advanced Diving to name a few. A beginner’s dive (no certification) here goes for about $130.
Buzos de Baru Dive Center
Buzos de Baru is another PADI resort with extensive experience in the area. It has earned its place as one of the best diving schools in Cartagena due to its continuous presence in Cartagena’s Caribbean waters for the last 20 years.
This particular school offers qualified PADI instructors, and trained personnel for teaching and diving guidance.
You can also count on their reliable diving equipment, compressor, boats, training pool, and an excellent team ready to help and accompany you in your first steps.
If you’re looking for a full PADI course, this one consists of 3 parts and starts from $330.00 which is a bargain given that a scuba certification elsewhere usually ranges from around $500-$1,500. Buzos de Baru includes:
- Online Knowledge Development: this is meant to teach the basic fundamentals of autonomous diving. You’ll be sent digital study material; you should watch some videos and then participate in a class with the instructor to clear out any questions. Normally this takes 1 to 2 full days, but if you buy the course with enough time, you can receive your study material beforehand.
- Immersions in Confined Waters: here you’ll learn basic diving skills in a practice pool, you will not be taken out to sea until you feel fully comfortable.
- Open Water Dives on Baru Island: here you’ll put your skills to work. Two days of diving, 2 dives per day, 4 dives in the sea in total.
Diving Planet Cartagena
For more than 27 years, Diving Planet has been dominating the Cartagena diving market.
The diving school is a team of marine biologists, PADI diving professionals, local guides, enthusiasts of socially and ecologically responsible tourism… all willing to share their love and passion for scuba diving.
They offer many courses from PADI basic to advanced. If you don’t have the time for a course that spans over several days, they offer a mini course. This option allows you to dive accompanied by a professional in the Rosario Islands and the Coral Reef National Natural Park.
Best of all, for the cost of the course ($126) includes:
- Park entrance tax.
- Mandatory diving insurance.
- Roundtrip transfer to the Rosario Islands by speedboat.
- Training and open water dive with a PADI professional.
- All the necessary diving equipment for the practice.
- Surface interval at the hotel on the islands.
Cartagena Divers Centro de Buceo
This is a 5-star rated PADI diving school equipped with certified divers in every training level. Whatever your level, you’ll be able to find a course suited to your needs here. Cartagena Divers seems very trustworthy and has even won awards with TripAdvisor. If you’re looking for a specialized course, Cartagena Divers has that too. Cartagena Divers specialized course covers:
- Underwater video and photography
- Multi-level currents
- Deep dives
- Nocturnal dives
- Search and rescue
Their most basic course will only set you back $380 and anyone over 10 years old is eligible. This dive school seems to have a good mix of different diving opportunities and types of diving.
Diving and Adventure Cartagena
The last school on this list is another outstanding choice. Diving and Adventure Cartagena is a dive center that specializes in personal experiences. They’ve got PADI certified instructors, as well as top of the line dive gear and marine logistics. I couldn’t find a website for the company, but they’re pretty active on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Diving and Adventure Cartagena’s courses include:
- Scuba diving for beginners
- Tour for certified divers
- PADI courses:
- Open Water
- Advanced Open Water
- Emergency First Response
What’s cool about Diving and Adventure is they try to have most competitive pricing in the market. You can probably negotiate with them a bit. They offer an array of services, education, and experiences.
Is Cartagena a Good Place to Learn How to Dive?
Whether you’re looking to try deep water diving for the first time, or if you’re experienced and looking to expand your diving certifications, Cartagena’s scuba diving will not disappoint. Cartagena has so many different spots and diving locations that you’ll never get bored. Diving in Santa Marta is good too, probably one of the cheapest place in the world to get scuba certified. It makes sense that Cartagena is a little bit for more expensive, because Cartagena is a much nicer and more international city than Santa Marta. Cartagena also has a better airport and flight connections. If you are in Cartagena, there’s no need to head to Santa Marta for diving. Cartagena is a world class diving city. Cartagena’s schools offer experience, affordability, and a heck of a lot of fun.