Scuba diving has quickly become one of my favorite activities ever since I got my certification earlier this year. While I’ve only been to a few places, I wanted to reach out to other travel bloggers to see what amazing places they’ve visited. Check out this list of some of the best places to scuba dive around the world – they’re all on my list now!
Christine and Adam at Fins to Spurs
Sustainable, eco-friendly, cost-effective, and beautiful! What more could you want from a dive vacation? The island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean is definitely one of our top dive destinations!
Bonaire is extremely eco-minded with dive centers encouraging low-impact diving and supporting ongoing reef cleanups. The water is crystal clear and the conditions are perfect for playing underwater 360 days of the year. The reefs in the protected marine park are colorful and healthy and there are millions of fish, tons of turtles and amazing marine life everywhere!
Most dive sites around Bonaire are accessible from shore! The island is set up for you to be your own dive guide. You simply show up at a dive center, rent a pickup and tanks, and drive around the island looking for yellow rocks that mark dive sites. There is freedom to spend 80 minutes underwater watching octopus, tarpon and barracuda if you like! The best part is that you can get in as many dives per day as your dive tables allow on pristine dives that are more affordable than paying to be on even one boat charter per day!
Avichai at X Days In Y
A designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the remote tropical atoll of Fakarava in French Polynesia is one of the best-kept scuba diving secrets in the world. Accessible via two ‘passes’, these gateways in-and-out of the lagoon are a haven for reef sharks, who patrol the reef in large numbers during the tides in phenomenon known as ‘shark-walls’. With hardly any pollution, coral in all shapes, colors and sizes thrive on the atoll’s reef – making every single dive a memorable experience even in the rare absence of large ‘surprises’. But this is hardly the best part.
To get back to shore, divers must rendezvous with the incoming current and ‘ride it like Superman’ back into the lagoon in a thrilling drift dive. Unlike neighboring Rangiroa – the official scuba diving ‘Mecca’ in French Polynesia – Fakarava offers way more than just fancy diving. Its isolated shores are home to dreamy beaches with powdery white sand and coconut trees bending in impossible angles. There’s hardly anyone around, and if you’re lucky – you might even bump into Robinson Crusoe!
Vanessa at Vanessa Gibbs
Nestled in the Indonesian archipelago, Komodo National Park is listed as one of the best dive sites in the world. And for a good reason too! It’s got warm waters, strong currents and a marine life that overflows with colour. Expect to see the big favourites like whale sharks, manta rays and hammerheads. As well as small finds like cuttlefish, nudibranchs and pygmy seahorses. And with over 1,000 species of fish in the area, there’s always something to see.
Stronger currents make it a playground for more advanced divers. Head to ‘The Cauldron’ for a high-speed drift dive that whizzes you over sharks, coral bommies and a cauldron shaped rock formation. ‘Batu Balong’ is great for fish lovers. As you submerge you’re hit by what feels like an impenetrable wall of marine life. Keep an eye out for hunting trevally and schools of barracuda as well tiny critters hiding in the rocks. Another favourite site is Manta Point, the best place to spot, you guessed it, manta rays. With a number of cleaning stations in the area, you can simply slow down and watch these mighty creatures at play.
Many of the dive sites can be reached from land, with the nearest island being Flores. But for the good stuff, jump on a liveaboard and head out on a 3-4 day tour of the more remote, wild and pristine dive spots.
Oksana & Max at Drink Tea & Travel
If you are looking to scuba dive in one of the best dive sites in the world, Komodo National Park is an incredible choice! Divers in Komodo are able to explore over 30 different sites, many of which are located within just 1-2hr boat ride away from the pier in Labuan Bajo (the gateway to Komodo National Park). The dive sites range in difficulty from intermediate to advanced and in depth, varying from 5 to 40m. Visibility can range dramatically from 5m on a bad day to 30m on a good day, as can the currents, which add to the challenge of diving in Komodo.
Juliette at Snorkels to Snow
As a bull shark the size of an SUV appeared to make eye contact with me, I draw on my Catholic upbringing to utter a few Hail Marys for a peaceful death, not a bloody death by shark. Fortunately, the wheelie bin in the ocean filled with tuna heads was a good enough distraction to turn the shark around.
The Fiji shark dive in Pacific Harbour is one of the most famous dives in Fiji. At one point we were surrounded by close to 50 bull sharks in a feeding frenzy, just metres in front of us. Divemasters wearing chainmail hand fed the sharks, but not before dragging the piece of fish out to the side so us scuba divers had full view of the shark’s open mouth swallowing chunks of meat whole.
A wheelie bin on a pulley system was controlled by another divemaster who would occasionally tip the bin to release a tuna head, sending the sharks into selfish chaos, head-butting each other to get first dibs on the fish. The power of these magnificent creatures was so great I could feel a current pass over me with every thrust of the caudal fin. The experience left adrenalin running through my body for weeks – even now, my heart races when I describe the thrill to others.
Mimi at The Atlas Heart
I was a ball of nervous energy when I signed up for my PADI Beginner Open Water Course in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The course took place on the little island of Koh Rong Samloem, off the southern coast of Cambodia. The side of the island I stayed on was owned by two local dive shop, and most tourists don’t get to experience that side unless they’re a part of one of the dive programs. The sparkling turquoise water, island puppies, hearty Cambodian food, and friendly locals alone were enough to sell me on this as a memorable diving destination. When it got to the diving itself, my experience was just as impressive.
Because it was low season (i.e. rainy) and Cambodia is not the most popular destination for PADI certifications in Southeast Asia, I had one-on-one instruction. I had long days of exploring colorful coral, discovering local fish, and becoming one with the stormy ocean. My only complaint was that the water wasn’t as clear as it could’ve been due to the constant rainy weather that would start in the late afternoon with thunderstorms. But even with the rain, there were still glimmers of great visibility and colors that came alive as you swam toward them. I never thought of Cambodia as a tropical destination until I did scuba there.
If you’re wanting a more personal, local, and unique dive experience in Southeast Asia, look into the dive shops operating out of Sihanoukville. It was a true slice of remote paradise that I’ve yet to find again in my scuba journey thus far.
Henar at Wanderwings
Lanzarote is a well-known place among divers due to its warm transparent waters and its awe-inducing underwater landscapes. Dives around the island are not only suitable for seasoned divers, but they are also a great place for beginners to get started, and chances are you will be catching a glimpse at some friendly fish from day one.
Most dive schools are located in the Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca areas. They offer a wide range of tours and courses. From try-dives in the pool to underwater photography workshops, and PADI certification courses. And let’s not forget visits to the recently inaugurated Museo Atlántico. A 2500 sq meters eerie underwater museum and marine biosphere conservation project by Jason de Caires Taylor. It will be a wonder in a few years when the reef starts growing.
Ling Ge at Linger Abroad
Diving around these sculptures was really cool and interesting, but at times it felt a little creepy looking at these statues up close. The best way I can describe the dive is like seeing objects being trapped in time, sort of like the underwater version of Pompeii, and slowly nature takes over these objects. At least the aquatic animals don’t mind, as they appear to be thriving around the museum. Near the museum is also boat wreckage and coral reef systems where there were huge congregations of fish and various other species!
If you don’t scuba dive, you can also view this museum by snorkeling and also take boats with glass floors. If you’re visiting Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and other nearby resort cities, check out the MUSA Underwater Museum for a unique diving experience!
Angelina at Bacon Is Magic
I learned to scuba dive in La Paz, Mexico with the Cortez Club which is a 5 star dive centre. I had heard horrible stories of dive companies around the world and I wanted to make sure I went with a reputable company.
La Paz is the capital of the Baja state and on the west coast of Mexico and has a desert climate, although it’s also known for great fishing, scuba diving and whale watching. There are many areas and little coves to explore and curious sea lion colonies that want to play in the water – they are like the puppies of the sea!
It’s a well established area for scuba diving so there are many reputable dive companies and opportunities to take PADI open water courses. Be honest with your level of experience as there are some great areas for beginners where you will see lots of underwater life like hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, giant Pacific manta rays but there are also some areas that are best left for experienced scuba divers.
Kassie at The Flyaway Life
Jaclynn at The Occasional Traveller
Anilao in Philippines is a famous scuba dive site where you can see lots of weird tiny creatures, though they are also famous for the giant Anilao seahorse. Just 3 hours away from Manila in the south of Luzon island, it is a macro photography haven and a must-go in you are an avid scuba diver and lover of muck diving. It is quite similar to Indonesia’s Lembeh Straits located in Manado. In my recent trip, I saw lots of nudibranches, various shrimps, crabs and even a rare Rhinopia, a type of scorpionfish.
Keri at Keri Mau
Semporna, once a tiny fishing village off the coast of Borneo, Malaysia, is now a bustling hub for beginner and avid divers alike. It is the gateway to visit the top islands, such as Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai, Sibuan, Bohey Dulang, Pom-Pom, Mataking, and Mantabuan, just to name a few. While diving at these islands, one can see an infinite amount of underwater life ranging from nudibranchs, to frogfish, to sea turtles, to eagle rays.
Each island has a unique topography ranging from gentle slopes to steep drop offs and offers a variety of hard and soft corals to admire. Divers can visit year round as the conditions are quite good no matter when you go (unless you’re unfortunate and get the tail end of a typhoon that is battering the Philippines!). Choosing who to dive with can be tough as there are a large range of dive operators as well as budget and mid-range hotels to stay at. Take a day dive trip and come back to enjoy some nasi lemak, roti canai, or char kway teow to fill your hungry stomach!
Where’s your favorite place to scuba dive?
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