First of all, in Patagonia, Wind is the Landlord!
Wind direction can change several times during the day, or... not (who knows?). Dive locations are planned upon wind speed and direction, currents, etc. Our captain will choose the best and safest place, based on these weather and seas conditions.
Fortunately, windy days are not frequent in winter, when the sea is calmer and the water is clearer (and colder!!!... well, it is clear because it is cold. In summer, when water temperature rises, plancton growing lowers visibility).
Water temperature in winter is about 2-4ºC (36-40ºF). In summer, it can easily reach 8-10ºC (46-50ºF). You definitely need a drysuit to dive here. We provide the equipment needed (see Services).
Most of dive sites are close to Ushuaia, and can be reached by car or boat. Diving trips typically consist of two tank dives with a surface interval of about 30-45' (depending on diving schedule), where divers warm up and the boat moves to the second dive site.
Usually, we try to visit Isla de los Lobos, and during the interval, move to Puerto Karelo, in the Bridges Islands, where the AFASyN (*) has constructed a shelter. There, we have some lunch and make the second dive.
Boat departs at around 9 AM and returns at around 2 PM.
If necessary, we make a first shallow shore dive, so divers can check buoyancy and adjust amount of weight. Also, for divers that seldom or never have done drysuit diving, this is a great opportunity to learn or to refresh those forgotten skills. No rush here!
Below there is a list of some diving sites. You can open a map in a second window here, so you will easily locate them.
ESTANCIA TUNEL (Tunel farm)
Tunel is an old farm, located on the southern coast of Tierra del Fuego, some 30' boat trip east from Ushuaia. The now abandoned house is on a small bay, with a pebble beach in front of it. This bay is surrounded by rocks and used as shelter for our diving boat. We dive in a small wall that goes to 10 meters/30 feet, makes a plateau, and then continues deeper to about 23 meters/75 feet. There is a beautiful kelp forest and lots of macro creatures on the rocks. Sealions frequently visit the place.
ISLA DE LOS LOBOS (Sea lions island)
Next to Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, and about 1hr. from Ushuaia, this is one of the few sealions colony nearby. The island is surrounded by a huge kelp forest, where diving is done. Sometimes, some of these playful animals approach us, making the dive an unforgettable experience. Depth around the island is about 23 meters /75 feet.
ISLAS BRIDGES (Bridges islands)
This is a group of four islands, located no more than 20' from Ushuaia. They form an outstanding natural harbor that offers protection against the strong winds of the channel. Is our favourite place to go with novice and students. Depth varies between 10 meters/30 feet and 14 meters/46feet.
Small island also named "Hache" (for the letter "H"), as it is actually two islands joined by a small and thin istmus. We dive the kelp covered wall. Depth is about 18 meters/59 feet, and is one of our best places to go for night diving.
PUERTO CUCHARITA (Little Spoon harbor)
It is a small bay, next to the National Park, very well protected from the winds. It is a stepped wall, that forms plateaus covered by kelp. Diving is like swimming through green tunnels. There is a lot of fauna to observe. Maximum depths goes to 35 meters/115 feet.
Access is only by boat, from Bahía Ensenada, after a short 20' boat trip.
ISLA REDONDA (Round island)
This small island is located in the heart of the Beagle Channel, in front of the Tierra del Fuego National Park. After arriving at Bahía Ensenada, we board a small boat that takes us to the island. In it, we find a small base for the Prefectura Nacional (Coast Guard), and the World's End Post Office.
The island is surrounded by deep walls that go to 27 meters/88 feet. There is a dense kelp forest with the tipical channel fauna, and sometimes, some sealions come and join the divers.
ISLA ESTORBO (Hindrance island)
Small island next to Puerto Cucharita and Isla Redonda. Diving is done in the northeastern part of the island, in a shallow wall that goes no deeper than 12 meters/40 feet, in a progressive slope. Lots of kelp, small fish and octopuses (specially at night). Access is the same as Isla Redonda.
BAHIA ENSENADA (Ensenada Bay)
Located in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Beautiful sightview of the Beagle Channel, facing Isla Redonda and Isla Hoste (Chile). Access is by the Park's roads. Diving is done from the coast. Great place to dive all year around. Easy place for novice, but also attractive for experienced divers. Nice spot for night diving. Lots of small octopuses.
There are lots of shipwrecks around the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego. Storms, strong winds, currents, all have made the zone a place full of ship remains. The same conditions that wrecked the ships are the reasons that make diving them almost impossible.
However, a few shipwrecks are good for diving, and the experience is unforgettable.
A small wooden boat, the "Mañana", collided with the coast near the tip of the penninsula where the current airport is located. The masts, the cockpit and the stern are easily spotted. Sunken in no more than 12 meters/40 feet of water and partially covered by kelp, sponges and ascidias. Some fish and king crabs find a safe hideout inside it.
Near Almanza, in the eastern part of the Channel, the "Sarmiento", an old steel steamer that run ashore near the coast, is partially submerged and easily dived from the beach nearby. It is surrounded by kelp, and divers can penetrate to access some submerged compartments.
We need to depart early in the morning, as the place is far from the city. However, the landscape and the wreck, well worth the effort.
When the water is calm and clear, it is possible to dive the exciting wreck of the "Monte Cervantes", located next to Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. This huge cruiser is the star of the channel. It is divided into two parts. The hull is sunk at about 80-100 meters/262-330 feet deep and is beyond sport diving. The deck, masts, cabins and many other easily recognizable parts are located at no more than 40 meters/130 feet. This is a dive reccomended only to advanced divers. Weather in the zone is unpredictable and there are no natural shelters nearby to seek for protection. It is not uncommon to start the dive in pristine conditions, only to get back to the surface in strong currents and heavy weather.
Learn more about this exciting wreck and the history of her sinking, here.
(*) AFASyN: Asociación Fueguina de Actividades Subacuáticas y Náuticas (Tierra del Fuego Association of Underwater and Nautical Activities).