Gliding past rainbow-colored corals and swimming alongside giant manta rays and languid turtles: scuba diving gives us a chance to acquaint with the deep realms of nature. In this world where nature is overrun by tourism, scuba-diving provides that rare peek into a different galaxy. Whether you are a novice to the scuba diving world or an expert, this list of best places to scuba dive in the world will make you want to book your next diving trip now!
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World’s Top Scuba Diving Destinations
1. Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat is often ranked the #1 best diving spot in the world, based on the marine life diversity, visibility, and the availability of dive resorts and Live-aboards. There are more species here than anywhere else in the world; and in 2012, a world record of 374 types of fish were documented in just one dive.
On the main island of Waigeo, you can dive in crystal clear waters, with magnificent and undamaged coral growth, billions of different marine species, from the smallest crustaceans to full sized Oceanic Mantas.
2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
For underwater lovers, the highlight of any trip to Australia is a plunge into the world’s biggest coral reef. The Great Barrier Reef is teeming with thousands of species of marine life, a massive area of multi-hued coral reefs and miles and miles of turquoise waters. But the barrier reef is shrinking thanks to human interference, so make sure you get there during your Australia holidays in 2010!
3. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is studded with freshwater underwater caves called cenotes – an intriguing natural phenomenon that makes for an extraordinary diving experience.
One of the best known is the 48-foot-deep Cenote Taj Maja, just south of the vibrant beach town of Playa del Carmen. Its 60-foot-wide sinkhole is made up of an immense network of underwater stalagmites and stalactite in the extremely calm and clear freshwaters.
Off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is Cozumel Island, another superb scuba diving destination. It’s fringed by the Mesoamerican Reef (second biggest in the world) and dotted with spectacular dive sites including the Palancar Cave. Check out my list of things to do in Cozumel.
4. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Undoubtedly one of the best scuba diving spots in the world, the Galapagos Islands is teeming with some of the world’s most unique wildlife, be it on land or underwater. Gordon Rocks is an excellent dive site for spotting schools of hammerhead sharks and torpedoes of barracudas. Mingle with the playful sea lions or swim with the penguins – there are tons of aquatic life to see here!
5. The Blue Hole, Belize
This submarine cave is legendary. If you’re a diver, diving the Great Blue Hole is one of the best things to do in Belize. From the air, the round patch of dark blue waters surrounded by shallow turquoise sea looks unbelievable. It was formed when the roof of a limestone cave system collapsed during the ice age. A natural phenomenon as it is, submerging as deep as 45m amongst stalactites is wild. Warning – not for beginner divers!
6. Red Sea, Egypt
A hot favorite among Europeans, the Egyptian Red Sea is easy and cheap to get to from Europe. Bursting with a proliferate marine life, the Red Sea is also littered with hundreds of ship wreck sites such as those at Sha’ab Abu Nuhas and Ras Mohammed. For affordable diving, this is the place to go.
7. The Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea
In the coral triangle bordered by the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, marine biodiversity is at its best – with over 800 marine species identified in just one single area. For expert divers, the Bismarck Sea offers superb diving with micro-marine animals. Interesting creatures like the squat lobsters, sponge crabs, dwarf scorpion fish and pygmy seahorses can be found here.
8. Sipadan, Borneo
Another favorite of mine, Sipadan wins my vote as the most well-preserved dive destination bursting with a variety of marine creatures and a sprawling coral garden. Visitors are not allowed to stay overnight on the island, so interference is kept to a minimum. The hanging gardens breeding below the island plunge deep into the endless depth, attracting schools of barracuda, hawksbill turtles and horse-eye jacks with aquatic plants.
9. Taveuni, Fiji
Nicknamed the Garden Island, Taveuni is known for its colorful soft coral gardens that sprawl across the Somosomo Straits. Its highly popular Rainbow Reef and the Great White Wall were voted by U.S. Divers Magazine as one of the top dive sites in the world. Here, expect to find big pelagic fish as well as torpedoes of barracudas, reef sharks and manta rays.
10. Andaman Sea, Thailand
Further north are the Surin Islands, less known than the Similans but also excellent with the world famous Richelieu Rock dive site with good chances to spot a whale shark! Closer to the mainland you have very good diving opportunities around the Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket Islands.
That’s it for this list of the best places to scuba dive in the world. Did I miss out any of your favorite dive sites in the world? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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