One of the most thrilling water activities in the world is scuba diving, which brings those who try it closer to nature in a whole new way. Think about it: over 70 percent of the planet is covered in water, which means that to see all that’s really out there, you need to go deep. While some people like to scuba dive to explore ship wrecks and find unique items, others simply like viewing the animals, plants, and formations that can only be found underwater.
In many ways, scuba diving is like going to a vast aquarium where you can get up close and personal with everything around you. While scuba diving in any location is generally awesome, there are a select few spots in the world that provide an amazing experience that’s incomparable to anything else on the planet.
Here are ten of the top scuba diving spots in the world.
1. Koh Tao, Thailand
This is a good place to go scuba diving no matter how much experience you have. Beginners will appreciate the shallow, calm waters that make Koh Tao learner friendly, while advanced divers will find a wealth of exciting things to see. In addition to the tour dive spots, natural beauty of the area, and proximity to Koh Pha-Ngan, this is one of the few places in the world where you can see whale sharks during the springtime. Rays, colorful tropical fish, and reef sharks are common in other parts of the year.
2. Utila Island, Honduras
Towards the south point of the 450 mile Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System is Utila Island, which has a number of excellent places to dive surrounding it. Many visitors come during the fall and spring to get a look at the whale shark. While the name sounds intimidating, and it certainly is a breathtaking experience to witness the largest species of fish on the planet, they eat small sea life and plankton so divers can swim near them without fear of becoming lunch. Even if you don’t want to swim alongside the creatures, you can get a good look from a distance or take an underwater zeppelin.
3. The Visayas, Philippines
Those who want to see as much sea life as possible while scuba diving should head to the Visayas, which is located in the middle of the coral triangle, hosts thousands upon thousands of different animals and plants, and is ideally situated for diving. There are luxurious resorts nearby, the incredible Apo reef, wonderful beaches, and you can even see thresher sharks there. Best of all, it’s possible to dive in the Visayas year round and have a great experience anytime you choose to go.
4. Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
One of the best places to go scuba diving in Malaysia is Barracuda Point, which contains massive coral walls that hold a number of different sea creatures. This spot often draws more adventurous divers and is best for those who aren’t scared to get near sharks, barracuda, or other large species of fish. In addition, you’ll see plenty of parrotfish, turtles, and white tips, and there’s no shortage of exotic resorts and lovely beaches in the area.
5. Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos has been known since its discovery as a haven of wildlife and magnificent scenery, and its archipelago Santa Cruz is perfect for scuba diving. This is a location that’s suitable for beginners and veteran divers alike — Puerto Ayora is good for novices, and you can try Gordon Rocks once you gain more experience. In addition to diving, many like to cruise the area and go on nature tours. Rays, rare turtles, hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas, and sea lions are just some of the animals you’ll see.
6. The Yongala, Australia
Off the coast of Queensland, Australia is a shipwreck site called the Yongala. This is an ideal place to go if you want to go scuba diving to search a wrecked ship, as it’s not only easily accessible but has a large number of different animals that swim around it such as octopuses, bull sharks, manta rays, tiger sharks, vibrant fish, and much more. The Yongala also hosts gorgeous coral.
7. Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
Many know Bikini Atoll as the site of nuclear weapons testing in the mid 1900s, but now it’s a popular spot for those who want to explore wrecks while deep water scuba diving. The area is a veritable graveyard of different ships that you can swim around, including naval ships from World War II. The waters are clear enough to search what’s below, and even today those who dive there commonly find well preserved historical artifacts and other items.
8. Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu
There are two main draws to scuba diving at Port Vila: the chance to search the SS President Coolidge and amazing coral reefs. The former is one of the most sought after wrecks in the world, while the coral provide a chance to see a ton of unique species. You can get certified to dive on nearby Santo Island, and it’s easy to find world class resorts in the area.
9. The Manta Ray Night Dive, Kona, Hawaii
For a unique scuba diving experience, this spot in Kona is a must-try. What makes it so special is the fact that underwater lights are strategically placed on the floor of the ocean, which not only highlights the sea life down there but attracts some of the most beautiful Hawaiian rays that you’ll ever see. The rays typically swim close to divers, so don’t be startled and be prepared to take in the memorable experience.
10. The Great Blue Hole, Belize
This famous scuba diving site is so named because it does look like a big blue hole. In this very wide and deep spot is a large coral reef, sharks, and sights like nowhere else on earth. Octopuses and other large creatures are very commonly seen. In addition, there are a number of ancient caverns underwater to explore.