Best Scuba Diving in the World: my Top 20

From ice diving to wreck diving – diving is no longer an extreme sport for elite adventurers. Thanks to better equipment, it is no more dangerous than swimming, sailing or surfing. The prerequisite, of course, is that you follow the generally accepted rules that are drilled into every novice diver during training.

best scuba diving in the world

Diving has always fascinated people. The mysterious world hidden underwater and its inhabitants, the soothing and sometimes frightening murmur and roar of the water beneath the surface, and the infinite depth of this unique world – all this makes diving so appealing.

From the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, here is an overview of the 20 most beautiful dives in the world(my list):

1. South Africa: Sardine Run

Every year between June and July, millions of sardines go along the coasts of South Africa and head towards Mozambique: it is the Sardine Run.

The spectacle is incredible, gigantic silvery waves are assaulted by predators that come from everywhere: dolphins, whale sharks, sea lions, gulls and fishermen have a great time, while birds dive at a breathtaking speed.

Adventurers taking part in the Sardine Run are likely to see humpback whales.

Marine life in this place will surprised you.

reef sharks

2. Bonaire: the 1000 Steps

Your diving trip to Bonaire will be different from your other diving trips. Here diving rhymes with freedom. Most of the dive sites are accessible from the shore. They are indicated by a sign on the side of the road.

Go ahead! All the equipment is in the car and you can dive as you want… inflating stations will allow you to inflate your blocks as many times as you want!

The 1000 Steps dive site is located at the bottom of a cliff, you will have to go down 64 steps to reach it. The superb coral formations make the reputation of the site. Underwater life is everywhere and throughout this dive, you will be accompanied by sergeant majors, lutjans, rays and hawksbill turtles.

Watch out for the blue, sharks and manta rays have often been spotted there.

Best scuba diving in the world

3.Cayman Islands: Little Cayman-Bloody Bay Wall

Little Cayman, the smallest of the three Cayman Islands, is a small paradise for a diving trip. The island, which has more iguanas than inhabitants, offers very high quality dives! Even if there are many dive sites around the island, the trips are mainly done in the Bloody Bay Marine Park.

Bloddy Bay Wall is a huge wall that goes down to a depth of more than 2,000 meters. It will make you dizzy! The fixed fauna is extraordinary, and the protection of the reefs as well as the limitation of fishing allow all the species to flourish.

underwater photographers

4.Costa Rica – Cocos Island – Bajo Alcyone Dive Sites

At 550 km from the coast of Costa Rica and almost 36 hours of navigation, Cocos Island is only accessible by diving cruise. Underwater, Coco is a real animal sanctuary! Here, every extraordinary encounter is ordinary.

Few sites in the world can offer such a concentration of pelagic species: huge schools of hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, tuna and other tropical fish, sea turtles, manta rays, marlin, and often whale sharks.

Bajo Alcyone is the most gorgeous dive in Coco and even in the world You will quickly descend to 25 meters, in a crevice that will serve as an observation site. The show will start with a few dozen hammerhead sharks, then little by little they will fill your field of vision.

Photographers will have a great time. Keep your eyes open for eagle rays, mantas, mobulas… they are there, but it will be difficult to see them. Silky sharks and Galapagos sharks will also be present. A sensational scuba dive that you will not forget.

best dive sites

5.Dominica: Soufriere- Scott’s Head Pinnacle

Dominica’s diving spots are among the best in the Caribbean. The richness of the natural heritage rivals the beauty of the underwater world. With its 365 rivers, its national park, its history and its legendary hospitality, the island of Dominica is one of the most magnificent scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.

Scotts Head Pinnacle is surely the most spectacular dive site in Dominica. Every time you will meet someone, you will be there. The underwater topology of marine life is impressive.

As soon as you enter the water, you will observe rock formations, with faults sheltering a large number of little soldier-fish. Then you will arrive on an arch located at a depth of 13 meters. The fauna is everywhere and the visibility is excellent.

best dive sites

6.Egypt: The SS Thistlegorm

The SS Thistlegorm is one of the most incredible wrecks and dive sites in the world. It is located in the South-West of Sinai in Red Sea on a vast set of reefs: Shaab Ali in the Gubal Strait.

You can dive on the wreck of the Thistlegorm, either from Sharm El Sheikh or on a diving cruise.

The Thistlegorm sank in 1941 and was discovered in 1956 by Captain Cousteau. The wreck is in excellent condition, that’s what makes it so successful.

I recommend a dive cruise, which will allow you to plan several visits to the site and to dive before or after the crowd of divers coming for a day trip.

best dive sites 1

7.Egypt: Ras Mohammed– Shark Reef

Ras Mohammed National Park is located at the southern tip of Sinai. The exceptional beauty of its reefs makes Ras Mohammed the most popular scuba diving spot in Egyptian Red Sea. The underwater world with spectacular marine life is characterized by unique coral formations where an exceptional fauna evolves.

Shark Reef is often referred to as one of the most amazing dives in the Red Sea. Coming from Anemone City, we follow a vertiginous wall, with a sometimes very violent current. It is in July that you will have the best chance to see whale sharks.

The concentration of species is impressive: schools of lutjans, big barracudas, platax, tunas, jacks or thazars will delight you if the sharks were not present. Shark Reef is a real aquarium.

most fish species

8.Ecuador: Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos

On a diving trip or cruise, the Galapagos Islands offer the most beautiful dive site in the world! Nowhere else on the planet has such biodiversity been observed. The rate of endemism is very high and many species are threatened. Underwater there are 2,909 marine species listed, of which 18% are endemic.

Diving around Darwin’s Arch is especially famous for the abundance of pelagics. Here hammerheads seem to be even more numerous, they will occupy your field of vision so much that it will be difficult to see turtles, eagle rays, manta rays, Galapagos sharks or silky sharks.

Whale sharks (between June and October) patrol in numbers around Darwin’s Arch and sea lions might come to tease your fins.

This island is mythical, it is the Grail of the diver. The most stunning scuba diving area in the world.

caribbean reef sharks

9.Fiji Islands: Taveuni dive site- Great White Wall

The best dive sites in Fiji are in Taveuni. It is the destination for divers looking for vibrant coral reef. It is not for nothing that the island is nicknamed “the soft coral capital of the world”.

The famous Somosomo Strait between the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni is a home to perhaps the most pretty concentration of Octocorallia (also known as Alcyonaria) in the world.

Great White Wall, part of Great Barrier Reef is a must dive in Taveuni. The dive usually starts with a tunnel covered with hard and soft corals, gorgonians and crinoids. This tunnel leads to a wall and you will quickly understand why it is called the “white wall”.

The dizzying drop-off is covered with white coral. Bunches of orange, green and red corals are scattered on this wall, but white remains the dominant color. An impressive amount of anthias can be seen here and sometimes you can admire a manta ray gliding in the current or tiger sharks. You will not forget this scuba dive.

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10.Indonesia: Bali- USS Liberty Ship Wreck

The USS Liberty is an American cargo ship sunk during World War II near Tulamben beach. It is the most popular dive in Bali.

Accessible directly from the beach, the wreck of the USS Liberty lies between 5 and 28 meters deep on a volcanic sand bottom. The ship is lying on its side and has become a beautiful artificial reef, illuminated by gorgonians and corals with rich marine life. 

One can say that this wreck is overpopulated, the marine life is swarming everywhere: humpback parrotfish, groupers, batfish, eagle rays, turtles. The night dives are extraordinary, the hunting show is fascinating.

Under the beam of your lamp you will discover nudibranchs, seahorses, morays and a multitude of small creatures. The bow and the cannons are still visible. The site is accessible to all scuba divers. The water is warm and the visibility is excellent. It is also an excellent site for snorkeling.

manta night dive

11.Indonesia: West Papua(Papua Barat) – Raja Ampat

Belonging to Indonesia, the northern part of New Guinea is home to the province of Papua Barat, formerly Irian Jaya. This province is divided into several regions, some of which, like Raja Ampat, are now famous for scuba diving.

It is here, in the heart of the coral triangle, that the largest variety of coral reefs in the world is found.

The 75% of the all corals are found in Raja Ampat. The currents that flow through the reefs provide a lot of nutrients to the myriad of fish, and you will be surprised to see how much more varied and dense the fauna is than elsewhere.

The tunnel is without a doubt one of Papua Barat’s most well-known attractions. Between the islands of Waigeo and Gam in the archipelago’s north, there is a tiny canyon that looks like a salt river.

Multiple yellow gobies, multicolored nudibranchs, shrimps, toadfish, pygmy seahorses, sponges and another reef fish make this a macro diver’s heaven. Beautiful humphead parrotfish, barracudas, napoleons, manta rays and white tip sharks can also be found at this location. This dive is only for experienced divers due to the current.

marine iguanas

12.Malaysia: Borneo- Sabah- Sipadan- Barracuda Point

Borneo and South Sabah with the Sipadan region has long been considered a must-see destination of dive travel. It was Captain Cousteau who first introduced it to the general public with his film “Borneo, the spectre of the turtle” (1989) which takes place on the fabulous Sipadan reef.

The island of Sipadan has the particularity of being beyond the continental shelf. It is a rocky outcrop surrounded by a fabulous coral reef, which goes down to a depth of more than 600 meters. All the pelagic fauna of the area converges on the drop offs for the greatest pleasure of the divers.

Barracuda Point, as its name indicates, is the meeting place of barracudas. It is the most beautiful dive site of Sipadan and it has been ranked in the Top 5 of the best dive sites in the world. You will dive in the middle of hundreds of barracudas that swirl in very large group.

The site is not deep, only about 10 meters.The wildlife is abundant because to the abundance of plankton. In one dive, you can also see turtles and white tip sharks. Going down along the wall, you can see parrotfish, triggerfish and napoleons.

Impossible to describe them all, the biodiversity is impressive. Here everything is possible, from the nudibranch to the hammerhead shark.

tropical fish

13.Maldives: Ari Atoll- Maaya Thila dive site

Divers can choose from a vast range of dive locations and methods of diving in the Maldives. The seabed is diverse, with hard and soft corals covering the reefs and colored drop-offs. There is something for everyone in the marine life, whether you favor giant fish or small critters.

You’ll do your diving in the passes, on dry land or on big coral reefs. The underwater terrain is unique and far from repetitive; you’ll explore tunnels, slide down drop-offs, and marvel at the stunning overhangs that line the walls.

Maaya Thila in Ari Atoll is perhaps the most well-known dive in the Maldives. This dry, 4/5 m round atoll, with a diameter of 100-150 m, is bordered on all sides by small coral spats. The show is provided by the resident grey sharks, which swim around.

Fed by divers in the not so distant past, they have remained accustomed to humans and are very familiar without aggression. However, in addition to sharks, many schools of big eye fish, blue ray wrasse, jacks or tunas hunting in the schools of fusiliers, offer themselves to the amazement of the divers.

You can finish your dive on the plateau, home to a whole range of small fauna, from groupers to octopuses, passing by leaf fish and numerous morays. At night, this dive site is also famous for its population of white tip sharks that hunt small fusiliers.

sea snakes

14.Malta: Gozo and marine life in the Blue Hole

With clear waters, stunning underwater architecture and wrecks galore, the Maltese archipelago is a paradise for a diving trip. South of Sicily are the jagged coasts of Malta, Gozo and Comino.

These islands offer to the travelers the discovery of monuments, fishermen’s villages set in tiny bays, medieval cities and a certain sweetness of life. More quiet and rural than Malta, Gozo is the second island of the archipelago.

What characterizes scuba diving in Gozo are the excellent visibility, the wrecks and the underwater architecture of caves, canyons and grottoes. Many of the dives are done from the shore, with sometimes very difficult access, with many steps and very steep approaches. Some dives are done by boat.

The Blue Hole and The Chimney. The dive site here is accessible from the shore, but the access is difficult; steps have been dug in the rock to facilitate the access. It is a beautiful natural formation, a huge hole that ends with a vaulted passage to the open sea.

At a depth of 26 m, we discover a chimney which gives access to a large cavity. On this site, you can see a multitude of fish, such as damselfish or morays, and you can observe starfish. This beautiful underwater atmosphere, created by the rays of light that illuminate the different rock formations, is very sought after by photographers.

bull sharks

15.Mexico: The Yucatan Playa Del Carmen- Cenotes Dos Ojos

Go to Mexico to discover the Mayan civilization by diving in the Cenotes of Yucatan. The Cenotes are a vast network of rivers and underground caves, the largest in the world.

They are found mainly in the Yucatan Peninsula. The Spanish word cenotes has its origin in a Mayan word “Dzonot” which means “sacred well”.

Most of the dive sites are in the middle of the jungle, so access is often the beginning of the adventure. These are generally shallow dives, you will like the special atmosphere, the calm of the fresh water, the cave scuba diving aspect, the incredible play of light between stalactites and stalagmites, and the unlimited visibility.

Dos Ojos is a Cenote located 48 km from Playa Del Carmen. It owes its popularity to the movie Amazing Cave and also because it is one of the 10 largest underwater caves in the world with a length of 500 m.

The first dive, the Barbie Line, reveals a large cave with stalactites and stalagmites. The second dive, Batcave Line, offers less light.

bull sharks 1

16.New Caledonia: Hienghène – Cathedral

With the second largest coral reef in the world and a lagoon of 24,300 km2 listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is no myth that diving in New Caledonia is exceptional! A seasoned diver will certainly have heard about the diversity of the sites, and the countless species that populate its waters.

The Cathedral is a spectacular and very famous dive: the immersion starts with a fault and continues in a tunnel that ends in the blue, where pelagics are often present.

It continues along a vertiginous drop off, with magnificent gorgonians and a rich fixed fauna. Keep your eyes open to avoid missing the passage of humpback parrotfish, tuna, kingfish, grey and albimarginatus sharks…

red sea

17.Papua New Guinea: Kimbe Bay- South Emma’s Reef

Papua New Guinea has some splendid dive sites. It is located in the heart of the Indo-Pacific and benefits from a huge variety of fish and coral like nowhere else. The particularity of Kimbe Bay is that the dive sites are protected, and the bay is extremely deep; this influences the quality of the reefs and the fauna.

Thus, you will be surprised by the extreme liveliness of the corals, and especially by their size. The tables of acropora and stag horn corals are huge, it is quite unusual. The gorgonians and sponges are also very large, without forgetting the trees of soft corals which are spectacular. The fauna is just as varied, from the small porcelain crab to the orca, you can see everything there.

South Emma’s Reef is one of the most varied sites in the world. The place is original with a cave and an underwater tunnel. The scenery is planted with superb gorgonians, sponges, splendid hard and soft coral, a dry area covered with very beautiful hard corals, anemones. The inhabitants of the site are schooling jacks, fusiliers, and sometimes barracudas.

shark diving

18.Philippines: Palawan- Tubbataha Reef

The Philippines archipelago is the ideal destination for a diving trip. The 7,107 islands of the archipelago, all more paradisiacal than the others, offer an impressive underwater biodiversity. Biologists all agree to qualify the Philippines as one of the most beautiful diving destinations in South East Asia.

The Tubbataha Reef is located in the Sulu Sea in the province of Palawan. It is a vast coral atoll, protected as a marine park since 1988 and classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1993.

More than 600 species of fish, 374 varieties of known coral species (90% of the corals listed in the Philippines), 14 species of sharks, 12 species of dolphins and whales have been recorded. Green and hawksbill turtles nest on the beaches.

The drop offs are magnificent, the fauna is composed of pelagic fishes including grey sharks, white tips, hammerheads, manta rays, turtles, dog tooth tuna, barracudas, etc.

popular wreck dive

19.Sudan: Shaab Rumi Precontinent II

Sudan offers the best of diving in the Red Sea. Virgin sites, dizzying reefs, superb visibility, splendid alcyonarias and multicolored sponges. We find all the fauna of Egypt with a very large variety of sharks.

Shaab Rumi is the most popular reef in Sudan, located north of Port Sudan. It is characterized by its large protected lagoon in its center. Between plateaus and drop offs, the fauna is everywhere: humpback parrotfish, jacks, snappers or barracudas.

But its particularity is Précontinent II. It was in 1963 that Captain Cousteau carried out an impressive underwater experiment called Précontinent II. Five men lived for a month at a depth of 10 meters and two others for a week at 25 meters. A documentary film, The World Without Sun, retraces this extraordinary adventure.

A dive on Précontinent II will have the taste of a pilgrimage. You will visit the saucer hangar, the shark cages or the scooter garage. Nature has taken back its rights and everything is now covered with coral and alcyonium.

In addition to the emotion of this dive, you will be accompanied by a myriad of fish, hammerheads, jacks, parrotfish, humphead wrasse, etc. Great dive in perspective.

great blue hole

20.St.Eustatius: Double Wreck Dive Site

St. Eustatius provides the best diving in the Caribbean. This amazing dive sites are protected by a marine park. The particularities of diving in Statia are the quantity and diversity of the fauna, and the very colorful sloping drop offs.

You will dive above superb lava flows, evidence of the volcanic origin of the island. The waters of St. Eustatius are home to many wrecks and old anchors covered with gorgonians and corals.

Even if ships have sunk here, there is almost nothing left, except for 2 anchors covered with coral species and sponges. It is the playground of many fish.

The 2 wooden ships have totally disintegrated. The largest anchor shelters a large colony of blennies. There are not a wreck dives as such, but a beautiful dive for the variety and density of fauna.

great blue hole 1

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