One of the many cool things about scuba diving is that you can have an amazing experience almost anywhere in the world. I thought I should qualify that because there are so many landlocked places—like Utah, for example. I’ve seen some stunning sights in Utah, but never considered diving there, so out of curiosity I looked it up, and even Utah has some pretty outrageous dive spots. So we’ll stick with amazing diving “almost anywhere.”
The problem with writing about the world’s best scuba spots is that there are so many of them. And what makes a spot the best depends on the diver and what they want, so we’ll narrow it down by taking a look at the best diving locations for different kinds of dives.
Big Stuff and Tons of Fish—Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
If you get a thrill from diving with cool fish and mellow sharks, Barracuda Point on Sipadan Island was made for you. Thousands of barracuda make up a school that swims through and swirls like a tornado. There’s also a huge school of jacks that is thick enough to block out the sun when they swim over you. Grouper, turtles, whitetip reef sharks and bumphead parrotfish are also commonly seen here.
Eerie Wreck Dives—Thistlegorm, Red Sea, Egypt
Wreck dives are always intriguing, but Thistlegorm seems even more so because of its cargo. It was a British ship carrying war supplies when it was sunk by an air attack in 1941. The wreck was discovered in the 1950s by Jacques Cousteau and has since become one of the most popular dive sites in the world. The ship is 430 feet long and divers can swim inside and see the motorcycles, trucks, rifles, and other cargo, still recognizable, and representing the Great War. This online 3D model doesn’t show all the interior details, but gives you a great sense of what the wreck is like. Fortunately, there were survivors when the ship sunk, so if you have a chance to go, be sure to read up on it first to get even more out of the experience.
Deep Diving in a Cavern—Great Blue Hole, Belize
Just seeing a picture of the Great Blue Hole will make you want to grab your gear and go diving. It’s a sinkhole in the ocean about 62 miles off the coast of Belize. The hole is almost 1,000 feet across and over 400 feet deep. Thanks to the remote location, the area is pristine and uncrowded, but there are other great dive spots around the atoll it is located in. It wasn’t always under the sea, and divers can get up close with rock formations, including stalactites and stalagmites that are up to 600,000 years old. Another fascinating thing about the Great Blue is that it is fed by fresh water springs, so after your get down about 45 feet, you hit fresh water.
Survive a Dive with Very Scary Looking Sharks—Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA
Shark diving has become very popular, and while there are a lot of cool sharks you can dive with, sand tiger sharks, also known as ragged tooth sharks, look a heck of a lot like great whites when they are swimming overhead and you’re in their home territory. That’s a dose of instant adrenaline, for sure. Fortunately, the species is actually pretty docile. There are a lot of wrecks along the Outer Banks, which create the habitats that attract the sharks, so your chances of diving with them are really good. One diver reported seeing almost 75 at a time on one trip. The sharks are used to people and come up pretty close, which is what makes these dives so exciting, but you’ll want to be very confident about keeping your cool before you go into any enclosed spaces on the wrecks, just in case one comes to see what you’re up to while you are in there.
Night Dive with Giant Manta Rays—Kona, Hawaii, USA
Manta rays don’t have the poisonous barbs, and are some of the most graceful, gentle creatures in the ocean, and can be up to about 12 feet across. They eat plankton, which is attracted to light, so some enterprising diver figured out that by being under water at night with a bunch of lights, you could attract enough plankton to draw in the mantas that feed on it. There are a bunch of dive companies that take people out to the area off Kona where the mantas are known to feed, and the way it works is that they head out around sunset, and when it gets dark, they go down to the bottom, which is only about 25-35 feet deep. Then everyone shines a light upwards. Here’s a video that shows how big they are and how close they get to the divers. “Magical” is a word that’s often used to describe the experience, and it’s totally newbie-friendly. Kids can even go, and for those who don’t want to dive, separate snorkeling trips go out and watch the mantas from above—but this dive is so safe and easy, it’s hard to imagine not wanting to be down there with the giant mantas, don’t you think?
Where’s the most amazing dive spot you’ve been to? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.