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What Are The Best SCUBA Diving Destinations?

   April 17th, 2023   Posted In: Articles   Tags:

Top SCUBA Diving Locations & Destinations

The excitement begins once you become SCUBA certified. The search is on to find the best places to go diving. So what are the best SCUBA diving destinations? This is a very tough question as this could change based on what type of diving you want to do. However, we made a list on what is thought of as the 10 best places to SCUBA dive in the world.

1) Raja Ampat Islands

In Raja Ampat Islands, Cape Kri is one of the most popular dive sites. Cape Kri is known for having the largest number of fish species counted on a single dive! Head for a stunning drift dive in Komodo at Batu Bolong. Here, you’ll see reef sharks, turtles, and tuna, along with the beautiful, colorful coral as you sweep around in the current.

2) Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands aren’t just famous for Darwin’s finches, they are also one of the most spectacular SCUBA diving destinations in the world. The famous rock arch, Darwin’s Arch, unfortunately collapsed in 2021. However, the underwater world remains as diverse as it has always been! In particular, Wolf and Darwin Islands are often rated as the best for shark diving. Hammerheads and silky sharks will often grace your presence in these waters. You can also see whale sharks there. Marine iguanas, penguins, and sunfish are some other animal highlights in the Galapagos Islands.

3) Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

The French Polynesia is another great dive spot with sharks, particularly in Tumakohua Pass. Here you will find hammerhead sharks, but also lemon and white-tip sharks, amidst an underwater valley. Moorea and Rangiroa also offer spectacular diving in the French Polynesia where you can encounter humpback whales.

4) Palau, Micronesia

Palau is rich in WWII history and full of underwater life. It is considered a shark sanctuary. The German Channel and Ulong Channels are popular dive sites for the manta ray encounters and best drift diving in the world, respectively. Blue Corner Wall offers steep drop-offs and a variety of fish. You can spot barracuda and many types of reef sharks here. Off the wall you can potentially see eagle rays, manta rays, turtles, tuna, and sometimes whale sharks.

A diver checking out a spot in Micronesia

5) Indonesia

Indonesia offers many beautiful SCUBA diving destinations. One in particular is Anemone City in Alor. This is one of the places in the world that you can see clownfish swim in and out of their anemone homes. The huge field of anemones is also a sight to see!

6) Thailand

Thailand has some of the most diverse sea life! Catch a glimpse of some huge pelagic fish at various dive sites. One of the most popular dive sites in Thailand is Richelieu Rock in the Andaman Sea. It’s common to see manta rays, whale sharks, and tuna here, along with the many other species of fish with the backdrop of beautiful coral.

7) Maldives

The Maldives are best known for their overwater bungalows. The numerous atolls that make up the Maldives are best seen via live-aboard boat to make the best of your trip. Manta rays, whale sharks, and reef sharks are some of the highlights to see. Perhaps some of the best diving in the Maldives is located in North Male Atoll, Baa Atoll, Hanifaru Bay, and Ari Atoll.

8) Cocos Islands, Costa Rica

Reachable by liveaboard boat diving, Cocos Islands is a nice remote place for tranquility. At Cocos Islands in Costa Rica, hammerhead diving is popular.

9) Socorro Island, Mexico

Out in the Pacific Ocean, for divers willing to take the long (~24 hours) trek from mainland Mexico to Socorro, spectacular diving awaits! With strong currents and colder water intended for those thicker SCUBA Diving wetsuits or even dry suits, this dive site can be challenging but also the reason for the variety of animals experienced. Numbers of sharks can be seen here. From silky, hammerheads, Galapagos and Oceanic whitetip sharks, you are sure to see several.

Additionally, dolphins and whale sharks (seasonally) can be seen along with schools of jack and barracuda. You can even watch manta rays glide over the reefs and twist and turn over the bubbles created by SCUBA divers.

10) Philippines 

As part of the Coral Triangle, the Philippines top off our list of the best SCUBA diving destinations in the world. The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park near Palawan in the Philippines offers the most turtles, rays, and sharks that you could ever imagine seeing in one place. Malapascua, a teeny tiny little island, is world-famous for potential sightings of thresher sharks.

Our Top Diving Destination Spots

It’s hard to pick just 10 top SCUBA diving destinations in the world. There were several other locations that could easily make this list. These include Fiji, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Red Sea. To answer ‘what is the best SCUBA diving destination in the world?’, you should really start with what animals you want to see. 

It seems some of the best SCUBA diving destinations are centered around sharks. Even if you don’t care to see sharks or are maybe scared to dive with them, they are a sign of a healthy reef. It makes sense that some of the best SCUBA diving destinations in the world would be places where you can see many sharks!

Candace is an avid scuba diver and freelance writer with a PhD in Biomedicine. She has been diving since 2002 and is currently a PADI IDC Staff Instructor. When she is not instructing, she enjoys writing about scuba and volunteering at the local aquarium where she dives with the sharks!

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