If lying on a beach sipping cocktails and soaking in the suns rays doesn’t satisfy the adventurer in you then keep reading for the list of a lifetime. Here you will find 11 must-dive locations from around the world!
1. Underwater Sculpture Park, Caribbean
British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor is the man behind the underwater environmental project designed to combine art and environmental conservation. The project encourages growth for coral and sponges and provides a new space for other marine life to inhabit. As the first of its kind, the Molinere Bay Underwater Sculpture Park has attracted international attention. Since it’s beginning in 2006 other artists have followed suit, contributing to Taylor’s underwater conservation efforts by adding to the sculpture collection, which is now home to over 75 sculptures. Located off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies, this underwater ecological contemporary art collection certainly is a sight for divers, environmental lovers and art enthusiasts!
2. Ribbon Reefs, Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Everyone has heard of the Great Barrier Reef. And with it being such a huge area to explore, trying to decide where to dive is no easy feat. Which is why number two and three on this list are two of Australia’s top dive locations.
First, the Ribbon Reefs! Located in the Northern Great Barrier Reef, the Ribbon Reefs stretch over 50 miles. Within the Ribbon Reef region there are about 10 famous dives designed to suit any level, from beginner to expert. Throughout the Ribbon Reefs you can observe a variety of sea life from Potato Cod to Clownfish to Leopard Morays. But just remember no matter how brilliant the photo opportunity (especially renowned with the potato cod), always put the animals first.
3. The S.S. Yongala, Queensland, Australia
Now to Australian dive spot number two! The S.S. Yongala is a passenger ship that sank off the coast of Queensland on 23rd March 1911. As one of the largest, predominantly intact historic shipwrecks, the S.S. Yongala has become an increasingly popular dive spot over the years. With a fascinating history behind the wreck and marine life like no other, the S.S. Yongala is the perfect place to explore and an exciting place to get your PADI dive certificate.
4. Silfra Gap, Iceland
Ever wanted to be in two places at once?! The Silfra Gap is where divers can float between the American and Eurasian continental plates. In some places it’s even possible to touch both continents at the same time. The underwater landscape is a unique phenomenon created from lava rock, sand and algae with some of the clearest waters in the world. It’s unlikely you’ll see many fish here as they don’t usually venture into the Silfra fissure. However, bright green “troll hair” algae grows throughout giving a unique and spectacular view. For those not keen on the cold… be warned.
It’s definitely cold (2 – 4 year-round!). But don’t let the cold stop you from experiencing the Silfra Gap, just pop on a full body wetsuit and away you go!
5. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
There are two places in Indonesia not to be missed. Each with their own unique marine life. The first is Raja Ampat. The area is home about 75% of the world’s species including pigmy seahorses, manta rays, sharks and massive schools of fish. If that doesn’t tick all your boxes (and I’m sure it does) a little extra enticement would be in the warm soothing waters. The best way to explore is to jump aboard a “liveaboard” (basically the term used for a boat you live on and dive from). There is an unbelievably diverse flora and fauna to explore!
6. Komodo, Indonesia
Another diving heaven in Indonesia is World Heritage Site, Komodo. Here the reefs are heathy and show off a diverse colour palate. There are sharks, dolphins, manta rays and turtles. Just like Raja Ampat, a “liveaboard” is the best option when exploring Komodo, not only because you can dive as often as you like but because it will take you further away from overpopulated dive spots in the area such as Crystal Rock or Castle Rock.
Nearby, Komodo Island is home to the famed Komodo Dragons, the largest lizard in the world. So, as much as you are exploring the world under the sea make sure to keep an eye out above it as well!
7. Shark and Yolanda Reef, Northern Red Sea
Located within the Ras Mohammed National Park in the Northern Red Sea is Shark and Yolanda Reef. The two reefs are close together, making it easy to explore both. Many divers claim their favourite path to journey between the reefs is to begin with the saddle between Shark and Yolanda reef.
The shipwreck that Yolanda reef was named after left behind a cargo one wouldn’t expect. The cargo now lies at the bottom of the ocean and has been a drawcard for tourists. Its cargo, before sinking in 1980, was toilets, sinks, baths and wallpaper which certainly makes this quite a sight to see. The wreck along with the vibrant marine life is beyond spectacular. It’s a dive not to be missed.
8. The S.S. Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
For the more advanced divers, the S.S. Thistlegorm in the Egyptian Red Sea, is a brilliant spot to stop and explore. The S.S. Thistlegorm was a ship that went down after two bombs were dropped on it during WWII on October 6th, 1941. Because one of the bombs hit the ships ammunition stock the explosion sent two Stanier 8F locomotives stored on deck into the air and ripped the ship in half. This sent it down into the depths of the ocean. During the 1990’s the wreck become a popular diving destination.
The sheer size of the ship and its ample contents will require more than one dive to fully appreciate the site. Everything from the propeller to the vast cargo of automobiles and artillery draw countless divers to the wreck. Combine that with schools of marine life and you have one hell of a dive.
9. Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia
Blue Corner Wall is one of the best dive destinations in Palau, Micronesia, especially for novices (although, only if there isn’t a strong current). The reef hook, which was invented in Palau is your friend here. It will help you stay in one place, which can be tough with currents in the area changing at any given moment, reduce your air consumption and save reefs from being damaged. The animals are sure to put on a show for you, with sharks, turtles, butterfly fish and the very popular Napoleon wrasse all swimming in the area.
10. Riviera Maya, Mesoamerica Reef
The Mesoamerica Reef runs from Yucatan Peninsula right down to Belize. Riviera Maya sits within that reef and is a destination not to be overlooked. The reefs in the area are in top condition which encourages lots of local marine life to make this their home. Divers often swim with sharks, turtles, whale sharks and an abundance of fish.
The coast of Rivera Maya is a nesting area for loggerhead turtles during the months May through to September. As such, a great many of this endangered species have been spotted by divers. For certified open water divers, a little bit of cave exploration through the cenotes of Riviera Maya, is an exciting opportunity. For spectacular reefs, stunning marine life and underwater caves, a trip to Riviera Maya needs to be booked ASAP!
11. Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole in Belize is a deep blue chasm forged from solid rock thousands of years ago. The underwater sinkhole lies off the coast of Belize and is situated near Lighthouse Reef.
Lighthouse Reef is a small but diverse atoll, home to giant groupers, reef sharks and nurse sharks. For people wanting to dive the Blue Hole, set aside a full day as most expeditions will aim to dive in the Blue Hole as well as at least two dives in nearby reefs. Charles Darwin remarked on the Belize atolls and reefs, saying it was “the richest and most remarkable coral reefs in the entire western Caribbean.” I don’t know about you but if its good enough for Charles Darwin then it’s certainly good enough for me!
For anyone who loves underwater adventures it won’t be as simple as picking just one dive, but instead I recommend you work your way through the list. What are you waiting for? Time to pop on that wetsuit and those flippers and hang out with the fish for a while.