The first time I was in Cuba was in 1992. I spent 2 weeks on the north-east coast of Cuba in a small Hotel complex at St. Lucia. As no americans could come to Cuba and scuba diving just began here, the corals were all intact and lots of fish were around.
The main attraction at this site was (and is still) a trip to a channel more in the west. There we could see BULLSHARKS, sized about 2.5- 3m. Sometimes you saw only one, sometimes you were surrounded by 7 or 8 of them. Many soft corals and many many stingrays were ther at this time. Apart of the shark dive all others were done from a boat within a reach between 10min and some hours of cruise. Many angelfish some spotted eaglerays and big big Barracudas.
Worth a trip!
The divebase was a joint venture between German operators and the Cuban governement. Good dive guides and fair prices.
In 1997 we revisited Cuba. this time we explored the western part, starting at the Pigs Bay.
This was a very promising destination as the drop-off could be reached from the shore....
Unfortunately there were only very very few fish around and as the staff and the people in the hotel were not really willing to work we decided to leave 2 days later. A very disappointing place but we did not dive in the famous "cenotes", freshwater sources with incredible visibility and stalagtites and stalagmites. This could be worth a dive for experienced divers.
We now left for Havanna from where we tried to go to the far west end of Cuba the very famous "Maria La Gorda". Following the cubans this should be an even better place than the "treasure island" (where we could not go!).
No phone, no adress.. but we managed to go there, organised by the hotel Capri/ La Havanne.
When we arrived there it looked beautiful. Tropical vegetation, only 10 bungalows and 2 coconut trees in front of every bungalow with a hamock between'em.
The dives were mostly at the outer barrier and so we always had to take the boat. A very good visibility and more fish than at the pigs bay but not what we expected. We saw some spotted eagle rays, lots of single big (1,2m) and banks of small barracudas. Some groupers ~1m approached us close enough for nice portrait fotos. But when you're diving at a real big drop off you want to see BIG.
The most interesting things were the dives through caverns and tunnels from the inside of the reef at about 15-20m to the outside between 30 and 40m. Very impressive and thanks to a good guide (Vladimir) very safe. These were strange dives. You entered the tunnels in the middle of the sand through a small (max 1m ) entry hole, had to dive head down some meters and the you could finally turn horizontally and see the exit 10-20 m further on. There you came out right in the drop off wall.
All over you could find the typical carribean sponges and coral.
The only thing we missed were real big fish, especially sharks. The rumour that whalesharks were around seems to be only a rumor. Saying this the staff only wants you to go to a spot where they can do some better spearfishing.
Overall impression: nice but maybe not worth the stress of travelling.