The Chinchorro Reef was known to sailors who dreaded it as early as the colonial period. Traveling from Cartagena, Colombia, to Spain by way of Havana, Cuba required ships to pass close to the bank. The winds and currents of the region worked against them, and many vessels went down at the reef. The remains of at least 18 ships that sank between 1600 and 1800 have been discovered. The reef has proved just as treacherous to modern ships. Near Cayo Centro there is a wreck called the Glenview, a British cargo ship with a 120-meter draft that went down in 1960 not far from the Ginger Scout, which preceded it four years earlier. The list of ships that have ended their days on the reef is long: the Cassel, the Far Star, the Tropic, the Huba, the San Andres, and others so torn up, only their canons and the river rocks they used for ballast are left. At one spot a line of anchors, obviously dropped one after the other in a desperate attempt to save the ship, is all that remains.
Currently the wrecks cannot be dived. This has been requested by the The Banco Chinchorro Biosphere and is followed by the diving schools. Most of the wrecks are very shallow and can best be explored snorkeling.