We’ve asked around, and here are 15 of your best dive sites from around the world – in no particular order! Agree/Disagree? What would be your best dive site? Leave your preferences in the comments!
Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Barracuda Point can be an intimidating experience. Fish stream along like traffic here, as if the streets of New Delhi have descended underwater. During these chaotic scenes, you may find yourself in the centre of a giant barracuda tornado, while hammerhead sharks and flapping rays nonchalantly cruise past.
The sea turtles here are three-meter beasts, and jackfish swim in swirling balls in their hundreds. It’s home to the weird and wonderful too; look out for the strange-looking bum head parrot fish and eerie batfish.
Depth: 5-40 meters.
Visibility: 30 meters.
Location: North East of Sipadan Island only five minutes by boat from the beach.
Yongala, Queensland, Australia
Considered the best dive site for a wreck on the planet, the century-old SS Yongala shipwreck is an impressive 110 meters in size and sank after a devastating tropical cyclone in 1911 with 124 passengers onboard.
The spooky wreck was found in the 1950s and is not only surrounded by history but also two-meter giant groupers, trevallies, manta and eagle ray — plus rare bull, tiger and leopard sharks.
However, the main attraction has to be the winter sightings of graceful minke whales and up to 16-meter-long (and 30-50 ton) singing humpback whales to push it’s way to being one of the world’s best dive site.
Depth: 25-30 meters.
Visibility: 10-15 meters.
Location: Three hours by boat from Townsville or 30 minutes from Ayr, Queensland.
SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea, Egypt
This is the most popular wreck dive in the world, and for good reason. The SS Thistlegorm was a 128-meter-long British transport ship, which was attacked and sunk in 1941 on its way from Glasgow to Alexandria.
The ship was carrying a variety of rifles, motorbikes and trucks, plus armoured cars, trailers, vehicle parts, radios and rubber boots. All of this sits at the bottom of the ocean, including the ship itself complete with the large hole where the German bomb hit.
Dive groups now swim around and inside the silty wreck with flashlights to peer at its rusted machine guns, a railway freight car, torpedoes and more. You may even spot a few crocodile fish hiding in the sand by the wreck.
Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters.
Location: Around three hours from Sharm el-Sheikh, on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia
This spot is what screensavers are made of, and in reality, a swim here does actually feel like you’re in a computer game. Reef sharks will hover above you as schools of bigeye jacks work their way through the strong current making it a strong contender for being one of the best dive sites.
Below you’ll find a sizable colony of soft coral and gorgonian sea whips growing in a canyon — there’s a good chance you’ll see spotted eagle rays, huge tuna, snapper, wrasse and bass and even hawksbill and green turtles too.
The electric blue red-toothed triggerfish can reach up to half a meter in size in this spot, while the pyramid butterfly fish, with their yellow outer bodies and white bellies, gather in their hundreds.
Depth: 8-30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 40 meters.
Location: One hour from Koror by boat.
Richelieu Rock, near the Surin Islands, Thailand
There is nothing quite as exhilarating as swimming next to a whale shark. Divers spend their lives looking for these huge yet gentle beasts that can reach the length of an articulated lorry.
Sightings in this spot are so regular the locals have called it a “whale magnet.” Even if you don’t see a whale shark you’ll still spot myriad pelagic schools of giant trevallies and dogtooth tuna making this another contender for the best dive site.
Depth: 10-25 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters.
Location: Off Khuraburi Island, 14 kilometres east of the Mu Koh Surin marine park.
Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The surge and current can be strong here, so come prepared, but this means the marine life is directed straight into your path.
Here you’ll find so many sea lions, fur seals and clusters of hammerhead sharks you’ll probably forget about the tropical fish, manta rays, octopi marine tortoises and moray eels all around you.
Depth: 6-40 meters.
Visibility: 5-18 meters.
Location: A one-hour boat ride from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
Formed during the last ice age, this submarine sinkhole is 300 meters wide and makes the list of best dive sites due to its pure beauty – not to mention also being a dizzying 124 meters deep. It’s made up of karst limestone formations, which, over the years, have evolved into ledges that fall away into the chasm of darkness beneath. We’re glad that the Paralenz Dive can go down to 200m / 656ft meaning you can explore one of the best dive sites in the world without any worry for limitations.
In the clear water — best for advanced divers only — you’ll find multi-coloured stalactites and stalagmites, submerged caves and fish sheltering between the steep-walled depressions and dark blue shadows.
Expect to see schools of giant groupers, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks swimming in this natural wonder.
Depth: 124 meters.
Visibility: 15-30 meters.
Location: Two hours away from Caye Caulker Island or San Pedro by boat.
Tubbataha, Palawan, Philippines
Super-size your dive experience at Tubbataha where everything comes in giant form. The main advantage to diving at Tubbataha is that the water is exceptionally clean, so the marine life lives much longer, making it grow to silly proportions.
These two small atolls like reefs in the middle of the ocean offer an inner lagoon with overhangs, slopes, crevices and caves with more than 300 different types of coral and 379 species of fish.
Expect kaleidoscopic colors combined with guitar sharks, black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, gliding blue-spotted lagoon rays, unicorns, boxfish, scorpion fish and more.
Depth: 5-60 meters.
Visibility: 5-45 meters.
Location: 182 kilometres south of the capital of Palawan, liveaboard trips leave from Puerto Princessa.
Big Brother, Red Sea, Egypt
Beneath the waters surrounding the small island of Big Brother, you’ll be greeted by Aida II, a 75-meter ship that crashed into the land in 1957, en route to deliver lighthouse staff to the island.
Surrounded by huge shoals of fish and covered in an explosion of colored coral, it sits at an angle between 25-65 meters in the ocean. Divers can play captain by swimming inside the engine room at around 35 meters or snap incredible shots of the large-lipped Napoleon wrasse fish in the area (the species can reach a staggering two meters in size).
This is a double-whammy dive; you’ll find whitetip and hammerhead sharks congregating at the century-old Numidia wreck nearby, around a junkyard of sunken train carriages and large wheels a mere 12 meters down.
Deep divers looking for a challenge can also go in search of the boat’s rounded stern, complete with rudder and propeller at 75-80 meters into the abyss.
Depth: 15-80 meters.
Visibility: Up to 35 meters.
Location: 60 kilometres from land in the Egyptian Red Sea. It takes eight hours from Hurghada, meaning a liveaboard is the best option.
Maaya Thila, Maldives
The Maldives’ incredible cluster of 1,192 paradise islands offers some serious diving opportunities. A good place to start is our favourite — Maaya Thila — dubbed the “White Tip Reef Shark Capital of the Maldives.”
Its diverse range of tropical fish includes angel, butterfly, clown, parrot and triggerfish, plus captivating schools of the perfectly formed Moorish idol. You’ll need multiple dives to take it all in.
Depth: 15-30 meters.
Visibility: 6-40 meters.
Location: 20 minutes by boat from Maayafushi Resort Island or Banyan Tree Madivaru.pagebreak
Sistema Dos Ojos, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Famous for being the site of a record-breaking 150-meter free dive (the diver swam this distance using only one breath), this spooky, flooded, freshwater cave goes on for 80 kilometres.
It’s made up of affectionately named passages and rooms, including The Next Generation Passage, the Wakulla Room, Bat Cave and Jill’s Room. Each offers fascinating, distinctive shapes and marine life.
But you won’t be alone on a dive here: more than 100 tourists a day descend on Dos Ojos’ waters to see the blue, green and purple rooms filled with candle-drip stalactites.
Depth: 119 meters.
Visibility: 91 meters.
Location: Drive straight to the cave by road. It sits between the towns of Akumal and Tulum.
Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa, Polynesia
Divers often descend at Shark Cave and make their way through a narrow channel between Avatoru and Tiputa islands to face strong currents that whiz along the path. Here pelagic animals often include mating dolphins, which come here especially to play on the standalone waves created by the current going out of the lagoon and the weather coming in from the open sea.
Watch dolphins playing, leaping and synchronizing on the surface and swim with hundreds of sharks below — the deeper you go the more you’ll see. Turtles, manta rays, leopard rays and whales (between July and August) can also be found.
Depth: 45 meters.
Visibility: 50 meters.
Location: A 10-minute boat ride from shore.
Point Murat Navy Pier, Australia
Fishing from the pier is illegal; you have to bring your passport to even get near it, but this is great for divers as the ocean life has thrived in this eco-site, making it one of the few worthy manmade dive sites.
Take a swim to the end to spot octopi, freaky carpet-patterned Wobbegong sharks and cod the size of toddlers swim by. Lionfish, scorpion fish, frog fish, moray eels and schools of barracuda and trevally also occupy the area.
Depth: Up to 20 meters.
Visibility: 3-10 meters.
Location: 300 meters from Exmouth shore.
Shark and Yolanda Reef, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
Yolanda Reef is one of the more bizarre scuba experiences on our list. Here you’ll swim past toilet bowls, bathtubs and other bathroom objects, the cargo of the eponymous wreck that sank here in 1980.
This is also where the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez meet, so currents are washing machine-strong and nutrient-rich, creating a flawless breeding ground for marine life.
Depth: Up to 50 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: 30 minutes by boat, just off of the Ras Mohamed coast.
Silfra, Thingvellir, Iceland
This incredible and slightly chilly dive is the only place you can swim between two continents — North America and Europe. From above it looks like a regular lake, but submerge yourself in the water and you’ll be hovering in the gap where two tectonic plates meet.
The chasm leads into a 600-meter cave with off-the-chart visibility. Make your way through -4°C water, created by glaciers melting some 20 miles away, through the cave and under the road you just drove in on.
In the other direction, you’ll reach what they call the toilet — a small tunnel where divers must descend 16 meters head first down a narrow passage. On the other side, there’s Silfra Hall, filled with overhead boulders and protruding rocks.
From here remember to hold onto your regulator as you enter Silfra Cathedral — your jaw will drop. It’s got a clear view from one side of the 120-meter lagoon to the other. Thirsty? Take a sip of the water around you, it’s as pure as water gets.
Depth: 10-45 meters.
Visibility: 90 meters.
Location: Find the entrance in Thingvellir National Park.
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