Here Are The World’s 21 Best Dive Sites

If you’re planning your next vacation, you should consider the option of trying one of the most exciting aquatic sports in the world: scuba diving! What could be more exciting than diving in the depths of a clear sea with thousands of creatures and hidden treasures? The following list will show you the best dive sites in the world for you to visit and discover the secrets hidden under the sea. Keep on reading, you don’t want to miss #18, #9 and #1!

#21. French Polynesia

French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the Republic of France and has more than 118 dispersed islands. It’s divided into five groups of islands which offer different amazing views and hundreds of places to go to. The blend between the French and the native cultures adds to the islands’ uniqueness. The traditional sport of Polynesia is the va’a, which is the traditional outrigger canoe. Every year there is an international race between Tahiti, Huanine and Bora Bora that is called Hawaiki nui va’a.

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Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The islands offer you more adventurous sports too, like surfing through the enormous waves in Teahupo and kitesurfing in Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. But French Polynesia is also extremely known around the world because of its amazing diving spots. The best places to go diving are Rangiroa and Fakarava in the Tuamotu islands.

#20. Kona, USA

Kona is a district on the Island of Hawaii and it’s considered the largest town on the island. Kona is the home of the Ironman World Championship, the famous international triathlon tournament. There are also a lot of fascinating parks and places to visit, such as Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, Honokohau Settlement and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Kona is particularly famous for its manta rays since you can see and swim with them in most of the nearby beaches! With different sizes and colours, manta rays will join you through your expedition. Many companies offer daily trips to the deep sea of Kona where you can see more than 240 resident manta rays that feed on plankton. So if you are looking for an incredible experience, Kona is the perfect destination.

#19. Raja Ampat, Indonesia

There are many places in the world to go scuba diving but the Raja Ampat archipelago is one of the most privileged ones. Located in Indonesia, to the northeast of the coast of the island of New Guinea, it is quite a unique region mainly because of its marine biodiversity. In fact, Raja Ampat has been ranked as one of the top ten most popular places for diving in several travel blogs.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

According to recent research carried out by Conservation International, Raja Ampat has the highest marine life diversity on Earth. The area is full of coral colonies, fish species, and mollusks. Maybe the reason that it is so well conservated is that it is not close to any human settlement or big metropolis. In fact, to get to this archipelago you need to take a six-hour flight from Jakarta to Sorong and only then can you take a boat to the island. But one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely worth the effort!

#18. Marshall Islands

If your thing is History and Social Sciences, you need to visit The Republic Of The Marshall Islands. The country and island is part of The United States and hides some of history’s most incredible treasures. There are not as many fish and coral species as in other South-Pacific islands, but in spite of this, the country offers several unique diving spots. If you’re in for an intriguing adventure, explore the depths of the Bikini Atoll lagoon.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic

But what’s so special about the Bikini Lagoon? If you go diving in this site, you’ll realize that part of the world’s history is buried under the sea. On the depths of the ocean, you’ll find the remains of enormous sunken battleships and nuclear weapons from The Cold War. What’s more amazing than touching with your own hands 50-year old sunken weapons that were once performed for nuclear tests?

#17. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico offers the most variable landscapes in the Caribbean. But not only does it have stunning beaches where you can rest and relax, but it also has amazing cities with a great historical and cultural heritage, such as its capital city of San Juan. But if you’d rather lay all day on the beach, you should know that this country has more than 360 miles of coastlines. And if you’re into scuba-diving, the island of Desecho is the place where you wanna go, since it features striking coral reefs.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

As in most diving resorts, you need to book a tour with a company, and professionals will join you on your trip. But even though Puerto Rico is home to diving spots that are ideal for beginners, there are also interesting options for those more experienced divers. For instance, cave divers can visit the underwater caves near Desecho Island. The toughest area to go diving is probably Mona Island, where the surface waters are usually choppy and strong.

#16. Yucatan, Mexico

The Yucatan Península is located in Mexico and it mixes adventure, culture, and local cuisine. Both its culture and its food witnesses the blend between Mexican, Caribbean and European influences: you’ll find from European colonial architecture to ancient Aztec ruins, and from classic Italian pasta to spicy enchiladas. But what’s more important is that Yucatan is filled with startling diving spots.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The Riviera Maya is the best holiday option for divers. This place is famous due to the fact that it is full of cenotes, which are deep underwater sinkholes. The underwater cave system makes this place a must visit if you’re into diving, and you’ll come across mesmerizing sites like the one shown in the picture above. There is also a lot of marine life like bull sharks, sailfish, and nesting turtles. You just can’t miss it!

#15. Antarctica

Maybe some of you are thinking that diving is just those sunny beaches located in the Caribbean or in the South Pacific Ocean, but if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, Antarctica will be your best option. If you’re not afraid of the continent’s cold waters and icebergs, you should know that there are few places where you can camp for a couple of nights, while doing other activities such as kayaking. What could be more exciting than diving underneath an iceberg surrounded by penguins?

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The fauna in Antartica is truly one of a kind. As to its fauna, you’ll have the opportunity of interacting with penguins and encountering several species of octopus. Of course, going to Antartica is not easy and you can’t do it without professionals and an expert team. But if you’re looking for a new experience, we highly recommend this unique adventure. Keep on reading the most incredible diving spots around the world!

#14. Los Jardines De La Reina, Cuba

If you want to drink a mojito, lay all day on the beach, while at the same time having the opportunity of diving in one of the most amazing natural reserves of the Caribbean, then Los Jardines De La Reina will probably be your favorite place in the world. This natural reserve is located to the south of Cuba and to the north of the Cayman Islands but belongs to Cuba. The name of the reserve is in honor of the Queen Of Spain in 1492, the year when Colombus first discovered the Caribbean.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The archipelago is known as “The Galapagos Of The Caribbean” and it is composed of more than 200 small isles and it’s the most extensive protected area at the Caribbean. If you really want to see nature, this place is perfect as there are no human settlements and commercial fishing is prohibited. You’ll need a special permit in order to enter this area, and on top of that, there is a very limited amount of people that can visit the reserve each day. Los Jardines De La Reina is famous because of the Caribbean reef sharks and the American crocodiles, so if you’re brave enough, then don’t miss it!

#13. Cayman Islands

f you’re a diving fan, then there’s another place in the Caribbean that you can’t miss: I’m talking about the Cayman Islands, especially the area of Little Cayman. These tiny islands are known because of their amazing wall dives and beautiful corals. There are two places in particular that are a must-visit: the Grand Cayman which has underwater places deeper than 1800 meters, and Little Cayman, which is home to the Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The amazing marine life, extensive coral areas, and crystal-clear sea make Grand Cayman and Little Cayman excellent diving spots. The temperature of the water and the local hosts will make you want to stay forever. And if go for a dive, if you’re lucky you may have the chance to meet the most famous local resident: the sea turtle! 

#12. Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

The Thingvellir National Park is located in Iceland, more specifically in the area of Silfra, a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This fissure was created by a series of earthquakes that took place in 1789. This is the most famous place for diving in Iceland, where you can literally swim between two continents, and it is home to some of the clearest waters in the planet. You should definitely give this a shot!

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Even though this site isn’t characterized by the diversity of its marine life, we are completely sure that the underwater landscapes in Silfra are amazing and unprecedented. The fissure changes every year as a result of the movement of the tectonic plaques, so the site constantly changes and as the years go by you will find new tunnels and caves to explore. There are many diving companies that can take you to the deepest places of Silfra.

#11. Revillagigedo Archipelago

Located in the eastern Pacific Ocean and close to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, Revillagigedo Archipelago is a group of amazing islands that offers plenty of interesting activities. Socorro Island has become one of the most popular diving spots within the archipelago. They are sometimes considered as the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” because of the amount of fauna that can be found.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

So if you’re interested in marine fauna, you should know that this archipelago is home to species such as giant mantas, humpback whales, playful dolphins, tuna and more than 7 shark species! Some visitors have said that they have seen orcas and false killer whales too! Furthermore, the archipelago is composed of four islands which you can visit: San Benedicto, Socorro Island, Roca Partida, and Clarion. They are all worth a visit! Keep on reading our list, you don’t want to miss the top 10 diving hot spots!

#10. Fiordland, New Zeland

The Fiordland in New Zealand is an extraordinary place since it encompasses mountains, lakes, fiords, waterfalls, and rainforest environments. Whatismore, visit this site and you’ll have the opportunity of encountering some of the most uncommon marine animals in the world. But there is something else that makes this place so special.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The rainwater that comes from the forests are fresh and dark but when it touches the seawater of the fiords, something magical happens. These two types of water don’t mix; instead, a dark layer of water forms on the surface, the reason for which the depths of the sea are darker than average. As a result, the submarine animals that are sensitive to the light come up really close to the surface. The divers will have the chance to see rare species like red and black corals!

#9. Galápagos, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are famous for being the inspiration behind the Theory Of Evolution by natural selection of Charles Darwin. Located at the Pacific coast of Ecuador, it is the home of a variety of marine species that are only found on this island and nowhere else. Darwin Island is the most popular island in the area where you can dive through the Arco, considered one of the best dives in the world.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

On Isabella Island, you can find animals like sea lions and penguins and in Roca Redonda, you will see sharks around the underwater volcano. Don’t miss the chance to swim with schooling hammerheads and marine iguanas! There is a variable climate but the rainy season is from December to June and the season of cold winds is from June to November. Luckily, diving is possible throughout the whole year!

#8. Bonaire National Park, Netherland Antilles

The former Netherlands Antilles, which is comprised of the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, are a perfect place for relaxing and scuba diving. Unlike other sites of this list, the former Antilles are not as touristic and are way less expensive. If you are looking for a quiet and nice place, Bonaire is your next destination! Besides, it offers scuba diving during the 365 days of the year, where you can choose to do it from the shore but also from the middle of the ocean.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Bonaire is the perfect place for every skill level, from beginners to advanced. Surrounding these three islands there is a variety of coral reefs, different species of fish, incredible walls and pristine drifts. Bonaire is also the home of frogfish and Seuss-like nudibranchs. As is this wasn’t enough, these islands feature a blend between Caribbean and European cultures, which is witnessed in the local cuisine and architecture. Keep on reading, you don’t want to miss what comes next!

#7. Barkley Sound, Canada

As we said before, not all of the best diving spots are located on a Caribbean beach. On the contrary, some of them can be found in the Earth’s most unexpected corners. This is the case of Barkley Sound, which is located in the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. It’s a triangle enclosed by Bamfield, Ucluelet and Port Alberni. You will find yourself in the middle of an incredible landscape and amazing view, which makes this place unique for diving. In fact, Barkley Sound is considered as one of the best locations for cold-water diving in the world.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The marine life in Barkley Sound is unique: you will find different species of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals, and the waters are surrounded by a kelp forest. Don’t miss the salmons, rockfish, herring, squid and giant octopus. The area is also known because of its wrecks and reefs. The best seasons to go for diving are summer or autumn. Don’t miss it!

#6. The Bahamas

If you’re looking for an intrepid experience full of adrenaline, then diving in the Tiger Beach in The Bahamas is your best option. We have to say that swimming next to the patterned tiger sharks is not for everyone but if you’re up for it, you’ll witness one of the most thrilling experiences ever: witnessing a shark prey on other marine animals. Everything in the company of a group of experts, of course. 

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

There are a dozen shark feeder circles where these sharks go to. Experts will make you kneel behind the feeder and see how these amazing animals swim next to you. But if you’re not interested in adventures like this one, you have many diving options around the archipelago; you just need to choose your next destination from the more than 700 nearby islands!

#5. Maldives

The Maldives has become a recent popular place for scuba diving lovers. There are more than 300 isolated and deserted islands to explore, all of them surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Like a hidden treasure, you will see pearls and a variety of mantas rays, whale sharks and colourfull reef and fishes. In addition, imagine these amazing islands surrounded by coconut palm trees and white sandy beaches.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Many islands feature fascinating atoll lagoons, and if you dive through them you’ll come across rock pinnacles, the famous thilas, and infinitive caverns. The Maldives offers a variety of activities apart from scuba diving, though; you have also many luxury resorts to relax in, where you can also sign up for easier options such as snorkeling or kitesurfing.

#4. Julian Rocks, Australia

Located in the most easterly point of Australia, close to Byron Bay, Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is one of the most incredible places to visit. The Marine Reserve is considered as a “Mini Galapagos” and one of the best dive locations in Australia. The indigenous marine life is unique in the area as a result of the current meeting of warm and cold water, where you can see an amazing mix of tropical and cold water fish.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Julian Rocks is home to big sharks, manta rays, large shoals of pelagic fish, turtles, and nudibranchs. In fact, over 500 species of animals inhabit the Reserve’s waters! But if you don’t have any diving skills, don’t you worry, because instructors will give you a beginners’ lesson before heading towards the Marine Reserve. Keep on reading, don’t miss the last 3 amazing places for diving!

#3. Key Largo, USA

The Coral Restoration Foundation is located in Key Largo, Florida and it’s one of the diving hot spots of the United States. So if you ever visit Miami, bear in mind that just some kilometers away you will find many options for diving adventures under the sea. In Key Largo, there are plenty of coral reefs, artificial reefs, wrecks, and centuries-old shipwrecks. The National Marine Sanctuary is one of the place’s many landmarks!

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

A traditional place to explore in Key Largo is the iconic Christ of the Abyss statue in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The bronze statue is covered in soft corals and fans and it’s only 25 feet meters underwater. There is also a volunteer dive program that is offered by the Coral Restoration Foundation. So, if you have time, don’t miss this big opportunity!

#2. Navy Pier, Australia

Located in Western Australia, the worldwide famous Exmouth Navy Pier is considered as one of the top 10 dive sites in Australia. If you are looking for adventure, we can assure you that Navy Pier is the best option! The place is used by the Navy of Australia and is not open to the general public, that’s why you need a license to go diving. The best time to go so is during slack tide.

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

The marine life that inhabits this amazing place is often described as an oasis in the middle of the desert. The waters are packed with corals and sponges, colourful reef fish, as well as butterfly, angel, Moorish idol and parrotfish. The best time to go is between 3 to 10 pm, but no matter the time of the day, you’ll definitely see a huge amount of marine life! See the best place on our list to go scuba diving! 

#1. Aliwal Shoal, South Africa

The last place of our list is located in South Africa and hosts an incredible variety of nudibranchs and whale sharks. Aliwal Shoal was first discovered a hundred years ago by a group of scuba divers and is now considered the best place for diving in the globe. The small town of Umkomaas is really close to this unique diving area where you have a lot of shops to buy or rent the perfect equipment for diving. You will discover reef life, an abundance of sharks, and sub-tropical waters. 

Photo: Courtesy of National Geographic.

Aliwal Shoal is also well-known because of the annual sardine run. There are also many marine animals that visit this shore every year, like dolphins, whales and different species of sharks, mainly tooth sharks. And if you enjoy adrenaline and excitement, you need to try the Cage Shark Diving, a steel cage where any person can enter and have the experience of swimming only meters away from sharks.

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