Argentina: Puerto Madryn, scuba diving capital


Argentina: Puerto Madryn, scuba diving capital

Puerto Madryn, Argentina, is a mid-size city on the Atlantic coast of northern Patagonia. In the summer months, the city attracts thousands of porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) seeking to enjoy the white sandy beaches while escaping from the heat and humidity of the capital. In the winter, Puerto Madryn attracts a different type of traveler. Beginning in May, approximately 2,000 southern right whales begin to migrate from the icy Antarctic Ocean and make the waters around the Valdes Peninsula their seasonal home and breeding ground. These two factors – marvelous beaches and magnificent whales – combine to make Puerto Madryn a top year-round Argentina travel destination.

Southern right whale, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Southern right whale off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Argentina. The callosities (thick white callouses) on each whale’s head are unique and help to identify individuals.


The Valdes Peninsula protrudes from mainland Patagonia and forms two gulfs, Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San Jose. Both gulfs have waters that are relatively warm, calm, and crystalline – perfect for scuba diving. Northern warm water currents from Brazil and the nutrient-rich cold water Falkland Current mix around the peninsula and create excellent conditions for the flourishing of all sorts of marine life, from microscopic phytoplankton to 40-ton whales. For its richness in marine wildlife, the Valdes Peninsula was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and today functions as a natural reserve replete with seabirds, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, orcas, and Magellanic penguins, as well as herds of guanacos and the mara, also known as the Patagonian hare.

Peninsula Valdes, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

NASA satellite photo of Peninsula Valdes.

Puerto Madryn Attractions

Whale-watching: The best time to see the southern right whale is from August to October when they are present in larger numbers. On some days, whales can be seen from the beach and the pier as they swim through the bay. Boat trips depart from Puerto Piramides across the bay from Puerto Madryn and are a great opportunity to get a close up view of these giants of the sea on your Argentina travel experience.

Scuba diving and water sports: Informally known as the national “Capital of Scuba Diving,” Puerto Madryn is indeed an outstanding destination for diving, snorkeling, and other water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and kite-boarding. Divers will find a varied underwater environment that includes natural reefs, shipwrecks, man-made parks (including sunken school buses), and caves and caverns.

Beaches: Puerto Madryn has 7 beach resorts spread out along a 3-mile-long (5 km) coastline. The summer season runs from December to March and the bay is always busy with activity. During the winter months, visitors can cycle along the tranquil coastal boulevard.

Puerto Madryn Bay, Argentina travel

A view of the Golfo Nuevo and the pier that extends into the bay of Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

For travelers interested in marine wildlife or beach relaxation, a Puerto Madryn tour makes a great addition to any Argentina vacation package and is an ideal stopover for travel between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia. Contact one of our travel experts at Argentina for Less to start planning your dream vacation.


About Author

Anabel has been exploring the length and width of South America since 2010. Ditching preconceptions, settling into the local pace, and embracing the unexpected are the tenets of her philosophy of travel - and life.