Scuba diving is one of the best ways to experience a world that is completely different from everything that we know. Similar in some ways to going into space, the ability to explore a rarely seen underwater environment and to interact with the sea life is a unique and exhilarating experience. It is one of the reasons why diving is such a popular pastime for all kinds of people.
Once you have learned to dive, the world is your oyster. But, which are the very best places to go to enjoy your favorite sport? Everyone has his or her own opinion, and many destinations around the world claim to be the top diving spot. Here, however, are 10 of the top places you should definitely make an effort to dive.
1 – Indonesia – Cape Kri, Raja Ampat
Divers who explore Cape Kri can experience a coral garden that is truly out of the ordinary. Here, you can see some amazing marine life, from giant trevallies and barracudas to sharks and manta rays. With a record-setting number of 374 species of fish living here, you’re sure to be able to capture some fantastic images and get up close to unique creatures.
2 – Sipadan Island – Barracuda Point
The beautiful, clear waters around Malaysia make Barracuda Point an amazing dive site that will impress any diver, no matter how experienced. With an 800-meter drop off, this world-class site is best for those who have had plenty of experience because, occasionally, there can be very strong currents, which can be challenging for newer divers. The marine life here is also exceptionally diverse and includes the coconut crab, the buffalo fish and sea turtles.
3 – Palau, Micronesia
Palau is described as “one of the most bio-diverse and unspoiled dive destinations on the planet” by PADI. It is indeed one of the most beautiful diving spots anywhere. A chain of rocky islands located in the western Pacific Ocean, this dream setting is home to more than 1,500 species of fish. There is an enormous breadth of underwater features that can all be seen clearly. You can see airplane wrecks, World War II vessels, coral gardens, lakes, caverns, and blue holes. There is even an amazing Jellyfish Lake where it is possible for you to swim alongside jellyfish that don’t sting. Blue Corner is another wonderful spot famous for allowing divers to get up close and personal with sharks.
4 – The Egyptian Red Sea
For something completely different, there is nothing quite like Thistlegorm. A wrecked cargo ship that sank in 1941 after it was bombed, this spectacular dive site is full of trucks, train carriages, and motorbikes and represents an amazing exploration opportunity at a depth of 29 meters. Although this site is best known for its wrecked vehicles, some divers have encountered giant moray eels. Because this is an especially popular site for night diving, it offers something very unusual for any diver who wants something a little more from their experience. The Big Brother site, which is a volcanic cone with steep sides, is another popular Egyptian Red Sea location but is only suitable for the most experienced open-water scuba divers because its currents are unpredictable and wild. Sharks are common here and often interact with divers.
5 – Norway
Although Norway may not have the spectacular tropical setting of the other dive sites on this list, it is no less stunning. These waters, which were explored by the Vikings, offer an exceptional diving experience together with astounding fjords and opportunities to view a variety of marine life. Yes, it may be cold, but it is a unique location, and one of the only places anywhere in the world where you can have the magical experience of diving alongside the ocean’s biggest predator, the killer whale. The Lofoten Islands are a wonderful spot where you can go diving with the orcas during the day and, when the night comes around, you can witness the amazing natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights. Alternatively, head to Narvik and discover some World War II shipwrecks, as well as forests of kelp and fantastic wall dives.
6 – Queensland, Australia – The Yongala
The Yongala is a protected shipwreck, and although you can’t actually enter the ship itself on this spectacular dive, you can get close to the 190-meter wreck. There is also plenty of beautiful sea life to enjoy while diving here, including tiger sharks, turtles, bull sharks, and manta rays. There are also some incredible formations of coral that you can enjoy in this stunning location.
7 – Belize
Beautiful Belize is a fantastic spot to get away from it all and to experience romance, adventure, and, of course, some spectacular diving opportunities. Belize is still an incredibly affordable destination, and yet its abundant marine life and clear turquoise waters are sure to impress. The 143-meter-deep Blue Hole is a World Heritage Site and is the perfect place to experience stalagmites and stalactites that are millions of years old, as well as reef sharks and mako. Incredibly deep, the hole has coral reefs around its edges and boasts excellent visibility. Alternatively, head to Glover’s Atoll and see sea fans, schools of barracuda and jack, as well as eagle rays and Loggerhead turtles. You can swim with nurse sharks if you head to Shark Ray Alley, and when you aren’t in the water, you can go cave tubing, explore Maya ruins and watch the toucans flying in the rainforests.
8 – Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
These Ecuadorian islands were the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s research into evolution, and they have become a legendary diving destination. Widely reputed to be an ultimate diving experience, the Galapagos Islands are a protected marine reserve and are teeming with a wide range of wildlife. You can swim alongside some amazing species, including marine iguanas, penguins, whale sharks, sea lions, turtles, hammerhead sharks, rays, and dolphins. Cabo Marshall and Darwin Island are an education in underwater life that is sure to amaze you.
9 – Hawaii, Kailua Kona – Manta Ray Night Dive
Who doesn’t love manta rays? You can dive alongside them at night at this stunning spot in Hawaii. Lights have been set into the floor of the ocean to attract plankton, which in turn attracts the beautiful manta rays. You can get up close and personal with these stunning creatures for a one-of-a-kind experience. Although the currents can sometimes be quite wild, you will enjoy a show unlike anything you have ever experienced.
10 – The Maldives
Known as the jewel of the Indian Ocean, The Maldives is a dream location with sandy white beaches and clear waters. The ideal spot for leisure scuba divers, this is a tropical paradise with 26 atolls, reefs, and a host of tropical fish that are sure to dazzle you. The Vaavu Atoll has swim-throughs, as well as overhangs and rocky pinnacles that are patrolled by stunning reef sharks. You can see invertebrates and sponges that live here. Alternatively, head to Lhaviyani Atoll and get close to mantas, eagle rays, turtles, parrotfish, and clownfish.
Head to these stunning dive spots and experience an underwater adventure that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
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