The 10 Best Scuba Diving Locations in the World

There is no better way to explore the underwater world of marine animals, shipwrecks, fascinating coral towers, limestone formations and schools of colorful fish than scuba diving. Whether you are a beginner or an expert with decades of experience, the amazing underwater world you can discover around the planet is absolutely mind-blowing. From hammerhead sharks to manta rays to ancient cenotes; these 10 locations around the world are the best of the best.

10. Cozumel, Mexico

Divers will certainly have their choice of dive operators on this island as there are more than 100 offering everything from deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, and underwater photography dives. This world-class diving site offers everything from swim throughs to tunnels to walls of coral to cenotes to sharks to rays. It is best to dive here in the summer when the water temperature is warmer and the hotel prices are cheaper. Cozumel is also known for its incredible visibility and deep dives. Divers can expect up to 100 feet of visibility. There are plenty of dives both for the beginner and advanced but visitors should be aware that the current can be especially strong in some sites and diving experience is recommend for these. With the 600-mile long Maya Reef that stretches from Cozumel to Central America, and boasts an abundance of colorful fish and coral, it is easy to see why Cozumel is a premier diving spot.

Cozumel, Mexico

9. Hawaii, U.S.A

This Pacific paradise attracts divers from all over the world, both beginners and experienced. The remoteness of Hawaii means fewer fish species than waters like the Caribbean, but offers the chance to discover marine life found nowhere else on earth. One of the most popular dives in the world occurs off the island of Kona, the manta ray night dive. Divers descend into the darkness while giant manta rays swim overhead, most describe it is as truly magical. Diving off Lana’I is popular amongst those looking to discover new fish and rare invertebrates while Moloka’i offers divers the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare Hawaiian monk seal and hammerhead sharks. Kaua’i is home to an abundance of collapsed lava tubes and huge green sea turtles that aren’t afraid to get their pictures taken. Divers who are in the water from December to April may be able to hear the song of the humpback whales as they migrate through these waters.

Kauai Sea Turtle

8. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is so large that one can actually see it from space and has been known over the years for being one of the world’s most premier diving spots. It stretches 1,430 miles along Australia’s northeastern coast and offers over 4,000 separate reefs, cays and islands. It could truly take more than a lifetime to explore this entire reef which features over 1,500 species of fish and shipwrecks. It is the world’s largest and healthiest coral reef system that teams with biodiversity and an array of species you won’t find anywhere else. Divers here will come face to face with large sea turtles, reef sharks, sea snakes, barracudas and dolphins. The size and variety of this reef makes it perfect for any type of diver and visitors won’t be hard pressed to find an operator in one of the many seaside towns.

Great Barrier Reef

7. The French Polynesian Islands

It has long been known as a destination for honeymooners and other species of lovebirds, but besides the gorgeous white sand beaches over the water bungalows and framed palm trees lays a world to discover under the water. There are over 118 islands and atolls throughout this vast area and with 11 of them offering diving centers; it is easy to be overwhelmed with choices on where to dive. Fortunately there is an array of varied dives, from the shallow lagoons for beginners to the drop-offs and passes for the advanced divers. Moorea Island is also known as ‘Shark World’ and is famous for its hand-fed shark and stingray dives. The atoll Rangiroa is also known for both its calm lagoon that teems with marine life and it’s thrilling passes that feature sharks, big fish species and turtles. These waters explode with colorful coral, fish, sharks and other marine species that proudly show themselves off. No matter where you dive, this promises to be unforgettable.

Diving French Polynesia

6. Roatan and The Bay Islands, Honduras

This popular diving spot has been attracting divers for decades as it feature amazing shipwrecks and endless colorful coral. It is here that the world’s second largest barrier reef is located and divers will be privy to swimming with eagle rays, schools of colorful fish and the all mighty whale sharks. Utila is where divers will head if they want to swim with these majestic creatures and it is one of the only places year round that the whale sharks can be seen. This destination is inclusive for all levels of divers and whether you are just getting your feet wet, or you have been diving for years, there is an experience here for you unlike anywhere else in the world.

Whale Sharks -Honduras

5. Malaysia

It is blessed with some of the richest waters and diving here offers experiences unlike any other in the world. Sipadan, the little island off the east coast of Borneo is what most divers come to experience. It lies in one of the richest marine habitats in the world and boasts an extremely high number of turtles, grey and whitetip reef sharks, and large schools of bumphead parrotfish, barracuda and trevally. Layang-Layang is another reason to dive in these waters as this little speck of an atoll is fringed by some of the best coral fields in the world along with its huge schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks. Where you want to dive and what you want to see will determine the best time of year to visit these waters as different seasons bring different water conditions.

Diving in Sipadan

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

It is where Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, a place where countless mammals, reptiles and birds thrive and its waters are some of the most pristine areas left to dive in this world. These waters work best for experienced divers as currents are strong and conditions are often choppy. The tiny Darwin Island is an excellent choice for divers as the waters are full of fur seals, sea lions, whales, marine turtles, marine iguanas and schools of sharks. Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos is home to penguins that shoot by you, sea lions, sea turtles, and a challenging underwater volcano that is swarming with Galapagos sharks, along with schools of hammerheads and barracudas. July to November is when divers choose to head here as the sharks tend to be the most active and plentiful. These waters deserve at least two weeks to explore and promise to surprise you at every twist and turn.

Diving Galapgos Islands

3. Turks and Caicos

It boasts some of the clearest water in the world and with so many islands that are uninhabited; it makes for a perfect place to escape the crowds of the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos is not only known for its brilliant turquoise water but also for its incredible wall diving. It is here you will dive into the world’s third largest coral reef system and find drops that plunge hundreds of feet into the deep. The Columbus Passage, a 35-kilometer channel that separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands is a water highway for migrating fish, rays, turtles, dolphins and Humpback whales from January through March. With incredibly calm waters and an abundance of marine life, every dive here promises to be thrilling.

Turks and Caicos

2. Belize

Belize is most widely known for its famous dive spot the Blue Hole, an underwater sinkhole that descends over 400 feet. To dive the Blue Hole it is recommend that you are an experienced diver and you are well prepared for this magical experience. The Blue Hole doesn’t teem with colorful fish or coral; in fact the only marine life you might see deep in the depths of this hole is a hammerhead or reef shark. Instead you will dive into an ancient geographical phenomena complete with an array of limestone formations and bizarre stalactites. If you want colorful fish and coral, Belize offers plenty of that along the reef and is home to many species of sharks, rays, barracudas and many species of fish. Belize is known as a destination for the more adventurous divers and you will certainly benefit if you have some experience under your belt before you travel to this country.

Pete Niesen / Shutterstock.com
Pete Niesen / Shutterstock.com

1. The Red Sea, Egypt

For many people, Egypt is known for its incredible above the water attractions and although one should not discount the ancient monuments and pyramids, it is below the water that is the real jewel of the country. Divers here are privy to hundreds of miles of coral, millions of fish, warm water, great visibility, sheltered reefs, walls, coral gardens and wrecks. This destination is also known for having an excellent availability of instructors which makes the Red Sea a perfect spot for learning how to dive. Drift dives are quite common in the Red Sea due to currents as are night dives amongst towering coral and schools of fish. Whale sharks, moray eels, barracudas and tuna are all spotted throughout these waters. The warm water temperature year round makes diving here at anytime an unforgettable experience.

Diving Red Sea, Egypt

10 Best Galapagos Island Cruises

The Galápagos Islands with their unique wildlife and their historical connection with Charles Darwin are now a national park administered by the government of Ecuador. Cruising is the only way to see most of the Galápagos, and special rules regulate the size of ships that can use certain anchorages, their itineraries and the size of party that can land.

The absolute maximum number of passengers that Galápagos cruise ships can carry is 100, but the vessels of this size that operate in the Galápagos cannot visit certain areas. Smaller ships will cover more of the area, but with less of the luxury of their larger sisters. Whatever their size, the ships are required to carry a certified naturalist and to limit landings to groups of 16 and periods of 2-4 hours during daylight.

* Ships near the 100 passenger limit (slides 1 to 5)

These large ships may be limited in itinerary, but their luxury is unsurpassed.

1. National Geographic Endeavor

National Geographic Endeavor’s 56 outside cabins accommodate 96 guests. It carries wet suits, snorkels, kayaks and Zodiacs, as well as its own glass-bottomed boat. A full staff of naturalists, a library and facilities for films and presentations enhance the curious explorer’s experience.
Cruise Ship 1

2. Silversea Galápagos

This recently renamed ship is still occasionally advertised as the Galápagos Explorer II. The 100 passenger vessel delivers exciting wildlife viewing coupled with delightful cuisine and luxury accommodation in ocean view suites.

Cruise 2

3. Galápagos Legend

This 100 passenger Legend offers three, four and seven night excursions. Its restaurants feature world class cuisine with both international menus and Ecuadorian specialties. The vessel is advertised as having the most advanced safety systems in the islands.

Cruise 3

4. Celebrity Xpedition

Carrying 92 passengers, the Celebrity Xpedition offers passengers the choice of nightly lectures by certified naturalists in its Discovery Lounge or relaxing conversation in the Blue Finch Bar on the Panorama Deck, as well as hot tub and sauna facilities on the Sunrise Deck.

Cruise 4

5. Galápagos Santa Cruz

The Galápagos Santa Cruz is advertised as the only ship purpose built for Galápagos cruising. Carrying 90 passengers in 48 staterooms on cruises ranging in length from 4 to 13 nights, the 237 foot Santa Cruz offers northern, eastern or western itineraries.

Cruise 5

Smaller cruise ships (slides 6 – 10)

A more intimate experience and access to anchorages that will not accommodate larger vessels characterize cruises on these mid-sized ships.

6. Abercrombie & Kent’s Eclipse

The 210 foot Eclipse carries 48 passengers in 23 outside-facing staterooms. The ship follows environmental best practices, and has received ecotourism awards from Rainforest Alliance and cruise awards from Condé Nast Traveller.

Cruise 6

7. National Geographic Islander

With 28 ocean view cabins capable of accommodating 48 guests, the 164 foot Islander’s twin hulls give her the ability to visit parts of the Galápagos normally off limits to ships of her size. Islander carries a Splash-Cam and a video microscope as well as wet suits, kayaks and snorkeling gear.

Cruise 7

8. Grand Odyssey

Launched in 2011, Grand Odyssey carries 16 passengers in nine suites complete with panoramic windows, private facilities, climate control and minibars. Cruises range from four to fourteen nights.

Cruise 8
Lakeview Images / Shutterstock.com

9. Mary Anne

The 24 passenger barquentine Mary Anne offers luxurious accommodation on board a picturesque motor sailer with climate controlled cabins featuring private facilities and wood paneled lounge and library as a retreat from the sun deck.

Cruise 9

10. Ocean Spray

With only 16 passengers on a 113 foot mega-catamaran, Ocean Spray is truly a luxurious vessel. Her shallow draft allows her to use anchorages that would otherwise be inaccessible, and her five, six and eight day itineraries offer enough time to get to know the Galápagos.

Cruise 10

10 Must-See Things On Your Galapagos Island Vacation

The Galapagos Islands are fascinating volcanic islands that are home to several unique species. They are famed because of the work that Charles Darwin did there, which contributed to his development of the evolution theory. These days, the Galapagos Islands remain a popular tourist destination for biology enthusiasts as well as those who simply want to take advantage of the beautiful beaches. Here are 10 things to see if you decide to visit the Galapagos.

1. Tortoises

The famous symbol of the Galapagos Islands is the enormous tortoise. Reaching weights of nearly 900 pounds and living over 150 years in captivity, these truly are magnificent creatures, and seeing them in their own territory is an absolute must if you’re going to be in the Galapagos.

Galapagos Island Tortoise

2. Charles Darwin Research Station

If you have an interest in science, you’ll certainly want to visit this and learn some of Darwin’s observations and how his work continues on the islands today, particularly in regard to preserving the many species that are unique to these islands. Based on Santa Cruz Island, the site is usually included in tours of the islands.

Land Iguana at Charles Darwin Research Station Galapagos Island

3. Birdwatching

While tortoises are the islands’ most famous residents, many fascinating winged creatures reside there as well. Cormorants, frigatebirds and albatrosses are among the types of birds you can see, along with 13 species of tanagers. Bring your binoculars and see how many different kinds you can spot.

Frigate Bird Galapagos Islands

4. Scuba Diving

If you are more interested in the water than the air, suit up to take a peek below the ocean surface. The marine life is abundant and eye-catching, and scuba diving is a popular pastime in this natural haven. The water in this largely untouched part of the world is clear down to a depth of 80 feet in some places, making for excellent viewing. However, diving here is recommended only for those who are already experienced.

Scuba Diving

5. Lava Tubes

Santa Cruz Island boasts these fascinating structures, which were formed from lava. These long cave-like channels have an eerie beauty all their own. Visitors are free to explore them by themselves, but for some insight on how they were formed and a look at some of the most interesting structures, you can take a guided tour from a knowledgeable guide.

Lava Tubes Galapagos Islands

6. Chinese Hat

Part of the appeal of this island near Santiago lies in its tiny size, which is less than a tenth of a square mile. The volcanic formations are impressive to behold, and you can swim and snorkel there if you so choose. It’s also a great place to catch a glimpse of penguins, iguanas and sea lions.

Chinese Hat - Galapagos Penguin

7. Tortuga Bay

If you love beaches, you won’t want to miss Tortuga Bay, one of the most popular destinations in the Galapagos. Crystal-clear water and soft, bright sand combine with abundant wildlife to make it perfect for sight-seeing, and the swimming in calm areas is outstanding as well.

Tortuga Bay Galapagos Islands

8. The Wall of Tears

This landmark in Puerto Villamil is best explained by a local tour guide who can regale you with information along the pathway that leads to it. While the wall itself is interesting, most visitors enjoy this primarily for the trail leading to it and the variety of animals that they see there, ranging from turtles to flamingos.

Flamingos

9. Las Loberias

If watching sea lions with their pups is something that interests you, then Las Loberias is the destination of choice. Spend the day on the beach watching the babies interact with their parents, or go swimming with the friendly sea lions. Be careful, as the larger male sea lions can be aggressive to humans. You should keep a safe distance to sea lions making aggressive movements and sounds. This is a great beach just to enjoy watching the scenery.

Sea Lions

10. Los Gemelos

Also on Santa Cruz are these twin sink holes, which are surrounded by a lush wooded area. Getting there can be a challenge, so be sure to ask for precise directions, but the view is worth it, especially since you may also get to see such fascinating wildlife as the vermillion flycatcher.

Los Gamelos