17 of the Best Destinations for Scuba Diving
Scuba diving has become one of the greatest and most enjoyed water activities in the world. People are learning how to scuba dive almost on a daily basis. With the increase of interest in scuba diving, finding the right diving destination has been a priority for new and experienced scuba divers. This list has some of the most beautiful and exotic diving destinations.
The Red Sea, Egypt
The Red Sea has hundreds of miles of coral, a wealth of sea life, and crystal-clear waters. It is one of the best dive destinations on the planet. The water is warm, reaching 75 to 82 degrees, with great visibility, and availability of excellent instructors make this a good spot to learn how to dive. Most scuba activity here is based out of Dahab, Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Safaga, and Sharm El-Sheikh.
Turks and Caicos, Caribbean
Since the 1970s Turks and Caicos as been a popular scuba destination. The Turks and Caicos islands are home to calm water and colorful marine life. Many of the islands are uninhabited, so this is a good place to get away from the crowds. It has the world’s third largest coral reef system. You’ll find some dramatic wall diving here, with drops that plunge hundreds of feet into the deep. Snorkelers have easy access to the underwater world due to the reefs being shallow and close to shore.
The visibility is exceptional, and contact with whale sharks are not uncommon in these waters. The Mu Koh Similan National Marine Park is an underwater playground where you’ll find coral in every color and rare marine creatures. The 2004 tsunami had a considerable effect on some of Thailand’s dive sites, but many are open for visitors. The best time to go diving is for November to April when the seas are at their calmest.
The islands of Hawaii has fewer fish species than other dive sites due to its isolation. On the flips side many of the fish that are here exist nowhere else in the world. You can do a night dive with manta rays on the Big Island, swim in the waters around the forbidden island of Niihau, or explore the luminous underwater caverns of Lanai. From December through April, keep your ears tuned; you might hear the haunting song of the humpback whale.
Belize is famous for its Blue Hole. Its an underwater sinkhole that descends more than 400 ft into the deep, making Belize a great choice for adventurous divers. The barrier reef here is the second largest in the world. It attracts a variety of sea life, from tiny damselfish to the more substantial sharks and manatees. Belize is also home to three of the Western Hemisphere’s four atolls, whose shallow waters and deep walls offer diving for all skill levels. The best time to go is late spring and early summer.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,430 miles along Australia’s northeastern coast. It’s so large you can see it from space. The Great Barrier Reef encompasses more than 4,000 separate reefs, cays, and islands. Equivalent to the Amazon Rainforest in its diverse wild life, the reef is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 1,500 shipwrecks, and countless other things to discover. From June through August is when visibility is best and be careful of the jellyfish if you go between November and May.
Cozumel was made famous decades ago by Jacques Cousteau, making it one of the world’s premier diving destinations. There are more than 100 dive operators on the island, offering everything from deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, and underwater photography dives. 600-miles of Maya Reef offers a plethora of colors sand fish that stretches from Cozumel to Central America.
Roatan and the Bay Islands Honduras
The Bay Islands are located roughly 37 miles off the northern coast of Honduras. The Bay Islands have attracted divers with their shipwrecks and colorful corals for years. You can swim with spotted eagle rays. The island of Utila is widely known in the diving world as the Caribbean’s whale shark capital. This is a perfect diving destination for experts and beginners, rates here are reasonable.
This Southern Caribbean island is a scuba haven. Its considered to be one of the top diving destinations in the Western Hemisphere. The water surrounding Bonaire was protected as a marine park in 1979, so you can expect clear water, pristine corals, and lots of sea life. Easy beach access to dive sites makes for great shore dives, and night diving is popular here as well. Stay away during October and November, any other time is great for visibility.
The continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef stretches 5 miles offshore of the Florida Keys. It is a teeming backbone of marine life, ranging from brilliant corals to neon-colored fish. You can explore coral-encrusted shipwrecks, some historic, others sunk by design to attract divers and provide protection for marine life. On land, check out the History of Diving Museum on Islamorada. Hurrican season in Florida is from June 1 to November 30.
Maaya Thila, Maldives
Maldives is a very popular dive site with exotic underwater flora, fauna and beautiful coral reefs. Its isolated from large landmasses, so it has seasonal sea currents that pass through new channels to form different atolls which are teeming with rich marine life. You will see fish species that you didn’t know existed such as wahoo, tuna jacks, dogtooth tuna, butterfly fish, trevally’s and other rare species like the giant Napoleon Wrasse. There are also whale sharks, anemones, eels, manta rays and turtles.
Puerto Galera, Philippines
The Philippines is made up of seven thousands plus islands and today, making it a must visit destination to go scuba diving. Puerto Galera is the best place to see bounteous marine life and magnificent coral reefs, making it a favorite among underwater photographers.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Nicked named the ‘turtle capital of the world’, Gillis offers amazing underwater visuals with plenty of plant and marine life. Exotic species like the bumphead parrot fish, manta rays, black and white tip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and a wide range of hard and soft corals. It is also near Bali, so you can easily have the best of both worlds.
Yap Island is just 6,000 miles from Los Angeles or just an hour’s flight from Guam, yet very little people know about this little island. Scuba divers will love its clear waters and the abundance of marine life. It is also popular among explorers, ecologists, and those who are into nature.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
For advanced scuba divers who like to travel, Mozambique offers four secluded islands with great coral reefs and clear waters. It also offers ship wreck exploration and night diving where you can swim through sunken ships or swim along with curious dolphins
Galapagos Island, Ecudor
Originally made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapogos Island is now famous for its diverse underwater marine life. This is perfect for divers who want to experience wildlife creatures such as sting rays, golden rays, whales, white tip reef sharks, pelagic fish, marine iguanas and so much more.
Beqa Lagoo, Fiji
Fiji is renowned for its many diving sites, though the Beqa Lagoon is the most famous of them all. Its about an hour boat ride from the main island of Viti Levu. What sets this diving site apart is its unique colorful, underwater soft corals. Once underwater, you can request your tour guide to take you to the Side Streets, Nisici Rocks, and Caesar’s Rocks for their cool formations, blue ribbon eels, and tropical fish.