World’s Top Scuba Diving Destinations

Posted on June 19, 2010 by

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 top scuba diving destinations will make you want to book your next diving trip now!

World’s Top Scuba Diving Destinations

1. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

A quintessential part of most Queensland holidays 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!

top scuba diving destinations Flickr photo by brewbooks

2. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Mexico’s Yucatán 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 Caribbean coastal 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.

top scuba diving destinations Flickr photo by Lance Gardner

3. The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Undoubtedly one of my favorite spots in the world, the Galapagos 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!

top scuba diving destinations Photo by 88rabbit

4. The Blue Hole, Belize

This submarine cave is legendary. If you’re a diver, you’re not leaving Belize without diving the Great Blue Hole. 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 beginners!

top scuba diving destinations Photo by MFS

5. 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.

top scuba diving destinations Photo by Tom Weilenmann

6. 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.

top scuba diving destinations Photo by Tom Gruber

7. 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.

top scuba diving destinations

8. 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.

top scuba diving destinations


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

17 Responses to “World’s Top Scuba Diving Destinations”

  1. Akila June 19, 2010 4:39 pm #

    Unfortunately, the only one of these that we have been to is GBR though we were *this close* to going to Sipadan. How many of them have you been to?

    • admin June 19, 2010 11:19 pm #

      I wished I’d been to the Great Barrier Reef, but never made it there while we were in Australia! In the list, I’ve only been to Sipadan (the Hanging Gardens were absolutely stunning!), the Galapagos, Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula (cenotes are extraordinary). I can’t wait to go diving in Papua New Guinea, must be incredible..

  2. Sabai_Sabai June 22, 2010 1:44 pm #

    The Blue Hole in Belize looks amazing and terrifying at the same time!
    I'm not a diver but I would like to try it one day.
    Re: the Great Barrier Reef, it certainly is a shame that we don't have much time left because human activity is slowly killing the largest living organism on earth.
    Ashamed to say that I am an Aussie and haven't even been there yet ;(

  3. Abhijit June 22, 2010 4:29 pm #

    Wow! Amazing photos!

  4. Ayngelina July 9, 2010 1:19 pm #

    I'm surprised Honduras, Thailand and Vietnam weren't on the list but these are great sites.

    • admin July 12, 2010 11:30 pm #

      Thanks for your input, I’ve never dived in those areas, but have heard abt the incredible dive sites in Honduras. Thailand’s diving scene is slightly over touristy, but need to find out for myself. Cheers!

  5. Gavin burnett July 13, 2010 5:37 am #

    Been to a few of these sites Belize, gbr, red sea, sipadan. The great barrier reef was disappointing after coming from Bali and sipadan. We went from port douglas on a 3 dive trip, saw lots of dead coral. Then did a dive on whitsunday islands, the worst dive I’ve ever done, maybe a liveaboard is a better bet in aus. Sipadan is still our favourite place we have dived, turtles and sharks everywhere and great value for money. Dived thistlegorm in redsea last year, amazing wreck dive a must do dive. We didn’t dive blue hole we were only openwater at the time, you go down to 40m we snorkelled it instead but the other dives were great lots of nurse sharks and rays. My advice head to sipadan.

    • admin July 14, 2010 3:24 am #

      Great to hear from your experiences! Whitsundays was the worst dive u’ve had? Wow, good to know. Sipadan is definitely stunning, for me, it was mainly how the bottom of the island looked, almost mushroom shaped. Amazing! There were so many turtles, we would see one after another.

      • gavin burnett July 14, 2010 3:14 pm #

        the Whitsunday dive experience was a disaster mainly due to visibility at about 3m, but also the dive only lasted 20mins, think liveaboard to the outer reef in australia would be the best way to go. Recently came back from diving in the andamans, loved it, 8 dives cost 1100 indian rupees.

  6. Connie September 24, 2010 12:40 am #

    AWESOME article! I'm going to bookmark this and use it as my diving guide! Luckily, I can already check Egypt's Red Sea (amazing beyond belief!) and Mexico's Yucatan (I had some sinus trouble and didn't enjoy the dives as much as I could have) from the list! And I'm looking forward to the GBR in Oz next year!

  7. Nisha October 19, 2011 6:23 pm #

    Astounding pictures!

    In fact I may just try my hand at Scuba diving this christmas in Borneo :)


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