whale shark in the ocean surrounded by small fishes

The best diving spots in the world

In DIVING, FROM THE WORLD by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

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If you love scuba diving you have landed in the right place.

This is a guide on the most beautiful places in the world where to scuba dive, both for beginners or experts.

No, I haven’t been there myself, in case you were wondering. I wish!

I have asked fellow travelers and divers to share their best diving experience during their wandering on this beautiful planet and exploring the underwater world and I collected all their amazing words and pictures into this post.

So below every diving experience and description of the place you will also find my suggestion on the best liveaboard diving cruise in the area, besides hotel suggestions.

I hope it helps.

Feel free to ask should you have any question or if you want to add your own experience.

As for myself. I haven’t been diving for such a long time although I am a  certified rescue diver.

My latest life events inspired me to go back underwater and refresh my diving skills.

Hence, this post.

The reason why I stopped was a stupid accident which was not actually an accident at the end, but was bad enough to scare the hell out of me.

But because I believe in the sign of the universe, I think all the planets have aligned for me to go back into diving and swim with those colorful funny creatures.

This is going to be the first post of many others on underwater adventures.

For now, enjoy what follows!

a man and a woman diving and a giant turtle on the sea floor

DIVING WITH HAMMERHEAD SHARK IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS – ECUADOR

By  Lora @ EXPLORE WITH LORA

hammerhead sharks at the bottom of the ocean

Since learning to dive, I haven’t been able to stop the addiction and have been diving all over the world. But one of my favorite diving experience to date is diving with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos Islands.

You can dive all over the islands, but one of the best tours in the Galapagos is diving at Gordon Rocks, near the island of Santa Cruz. Gordon Rocks is special because it’s one of the best places to see Hammerhead Sharks, as well as the beautiful Oceanic Sunfish. I also saw Galapagos sharks, white tip reef sharks, giant sea turtles, stingrays, moray eels, Galapagos eels, and barracudas. All in one dive!

Diving is available in the Galapagos year-round but there are two distinct seasons: wet and dry.

The better season for diving is wet season from January to June when the weather pattern is mostly sunny days interrupted with a brief but intense rain.

During the dry season, from July to December, the water temperatures are cooler and visibility is lower because of increased nutrients in the water.

I was diving at Gordon Rocks in mid-June and had excellent visibility and incredible sightings of marine life.

Diving in the Galapagos does not come cheap. I paid $225 USD for a two-tank dive.

But it is well worth every penny as diving with hammerhead sharks was a memory I’ll never forget.

You might be also interested in the following articles.

DIVING WITH BULL SHARKS AT BAREFOOT KUATA, FIJI

By Vivien & Aaron @ THE DARMA TRAILS

Diving with Bull-Sharks- Fiji © The Dharma Trails

In July 2017 I took the plunge with some of the most terrifying, but beautiful creatures I have ever seen.
The three-meter (10ft) bull sharks cut through the water and circled around our heads with an unparalleled force.
But there is something so majestic about them, it was hard to look away. 
Sitting on the seabed (approx. 12m/40ft deep) between beautiful outcrops of tropical coral, we observed a dozen Bull Sharks fed fish by a fearless dive instructors.
You don’t actually need to be certified to do this particular dive (as it is so shallow). However, there are two shark dives per day & the other one is at 22m/70ft.
The operator can’t guarantee that Bull Sharks will come every day, but there are a few other varieties that make their way to site on most days. 
If you feel like getting an adrenalin rush underwater, this is the tour for you. 
The best time to go is between July and November when the water is slightly cooler, and visibility is best. Between November and February, the sharks are less frequent due to their mating season. But you can dive all year round in Fiji in above-average conditions. 
The bull shark dive will set you back $USD 140 (if you stay on the island) but it is well worth the experience, and one I am sure that you will never forget. 
While it is not ideal to see animals being fed in the wild as an attraction, there are marine biologists studying the effects.
It’s thought that by only giving out small amounts of food, the sharks themselves continue to hunt.
The experience is exposing people to an animal they would never otherwise meet or even think about which may result in more positive shark awareness. 

DIVING IN VANUATU – SOUTH PACIFIC

By  Eloise  @ MY FAVORITE ESCAPE

I went to Vanuatu a couple of years ago for the Easter Break. Most divers in the South Pacific know the island of Espiritu Santo. It offers a fabulous shore dive on a wreck that sunk during WWII, the SS Coolidge. I’m not particularly interested in wrecks.

There are many things to do in Vanuatu other than diving, so I didn’t have time to research much about the dive when I planned our trip. There was no need really as it was a must-do, so we booked with a reputed dive shop and decided to rely on the guide.

That’s how diving the SS Coolidge became one of my best diving experience. I had no expectations, and everything was a surprise. I had asked for a night dive because we always like night dives. It may have been the best idea I ever had diving-wise. The night dive was surely my highlight.

I had no idea it was one of those rare places where you can see flash fish! In the total darkness, our torches turned off, we quietly looked at a light show that I didn’t know was even possible. It was fascinating.

Even during the day, the SS Coolidge is fun to dive. Looking at the relics (like medicines and helmets, but also vehicles!) and interacting with History felt different than any other dives I had done. Bonus: the coral garden where we did the safety stop was beautiful too!

It cost us about 7,000 vatu for a guided dive with the equipment (approximately 60 USD).

DIVING WITH MANTA RAYS –  HAWAII 

By  James @ TRAVEL COLLECTING

Dive with Manta Ray – Hawaii © James @ Travel collecting

My all-time favorite dive experience was diving with manta rays in Hawaii.  There is a spot near Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island where huge spotlights have been set up on the ocean floor.

At night, the spotlights are turned on, which then attracts plankton.

These, in turn, attract manta rays, which feed on them.

Divers sit in a circle around the flashlight, almost like sitting around a campfire.  Snorkelers cling to rafts on the surface to enjoy the show from a different angle.

As I sat there on the ocean floor, my anticipation built.  Suddenly, an enormous, alien-like creature glided gracefully out of the darkness and swooped overhead, missing my head by mere inches, with its huge maw wide open to take in as many tiny planktons as possible.

It was a little frightening and totally amazing.  More manta rays joined in, gliding and swooping all around.

Manta rays are incredible.  With a wingspan of about 20 feet, seeing these creatures swim around is truly awe-inspiring. Read more about the night dive/ snorkel with manta rays here.

I was there in June, but because the spotlights attract plankton throughout the year, the manta rays are there all year round.

However, the ocean swells tend be bigger in January and February, so there is the greatest chance of a trip being canceled during these months.

A single dive costs about $120 and it is about $110 to snorkel.

DIVING IN KOTA KINABALU – MALAYSIAN BORNEO

By  Penny Fernandez @ GLOBAL TROVE

Kota Kinabalu

One of the most unforgettable dives that I have ever been on was in Kota Kinabalu, a small oil town on the coast of Malaysian Borneo.

This was for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons was the site that we were taken to. The dive school took us to Tunku Abdul Rahman park a protected reserve that lies just off the coast.

This includes a number of gorgeous islands that are popular for both day trips as well as water sports. While many people chose to snorkel (and we did snorkel too on a different day), diving off these islands is simply mind-blowing.

My favorite site was off the coast of Sapi Island. The coral was pristine and so dense that it was like a whole different world. A coral garden means loads of fish and clear waters.

It was like diving in paradise. We saw a number of different species from huge eels to ray fish and the colorful clownfish which everyone loves to spot.

The other reason why I loved the dive was because my diving buddies and instructor were calm and patient with me. For a hydrophobic person, the calm reassurance that they gave me through each one of the three dives that we embarked on was more valuable than words can convey.

JERVIS BAY – AUSTRALIA

By  Jessica Pascoe @ JESSICA PASCOE

Hyams Beach – Jarvis bay – © Jessica Pascoe

The best diving experience I’ve had was easily at Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
I’m lucky to live about a 4 hour drive from Jervis Bay, home to the whitest sand in the world, and one of Australia’s highest rated diving spots after the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s actually the deepest bay in Australia, with plenty of beautiful marine life to discover.
We booked a half day dive cruise with Dive Jervis Bay during a weekend trip in April 2018, who are located in central Huskisson, so a great spot to head out to plenty of dive sites and has lots of decent lunch spots to eat at once you’re done with your dive.
Scuba dives on a double dive start from $175 plus gear hire, which was roughly $50 for certified divers.
My husband Will went on a Discover Scuba experience, which was a little more, at around $250.
The staff were both friendly and professional, and made the whole experience really relaxing and enjoyable for him.
The highlight of diving at Jervis Bay was the incredible visibility in the turquoise water and the fact that there’s a colony of seals who have made this piece of paradise their home.
Within 10 minutes of our first dive, a seal came swimming up to me so close I could see their eyelashes, it was absolutely incredible.
If you’re making a trip to go diving in Jervis Bay, I recommend visiting in Sydney’s Summer and Autumn when the water is warmer, so from November until April.
Booking.com

DIVING WITH BULL SHARK – COSTA RICA

By  Demi Johnson @ AROUND THE WORLD WITH HER

Diving in Costa Rica @ Demi Johnson

I spent 6 months in Costa Rica in 2017 doing my Divemaster course, which means I got to know a lot about sea life! Perhaps not as well known as other destinations for diving, Costa Rica offers the opportunity to dive with various big species of marine life, but perhaps the most impressive is the Bull Shark.

Just off the coast of Guanacaste lies an incredible place where you can dive with Bull sharks in Costa Rica – Bat Islands. They are only reached by boats, many dive operators offer trips out to Bat Islands, with the boat journey taking around 1 hour.

The journey alone can be memorable, with whales, dolphins and turtles spotted regularly.

At Bat Islands, the best place to spot the Bull Sharks is at the interestingly named dive site – “The Big Scare!”.

Here, the boat will drop you and you will descend straight down to around 25 metres. Due to the generally rough conditions and close proximity to the rocks, it usually involves a negative entry and quick descent so as not to become separated in the current. This, coupled with the depth of the dive, means it is only suitable for advanced divers.

Once you have descended, your dive guide will slowly swim with the group at around 30 meters of depth, with everyone staying calm and close together. If you are lucky, you will see the unmistakable silhouette of Bull Sharks as the circle you at a distant.

If you are really lucky, they may come very close, however, they are generally shy creatures.

During the season of May to November, Bull Sharks are regularly spotted here, sometimes 1, sometimes 10. As with all things in nature, it can be hard to predict! A two-tank dive trip to Bat Islands costs around $160.

WRECK DIVING IN UTILA – HONDURAS

By  Lexi @ SCUBA MIND

Scuba diving in Honduras

Scuba diving in Honduras © Lexi

I did a shipwreck dive on Utila Island in Honduras a couple of years ago as part of my advanced open watercourse, and it was the first time I dived in a wreck. It was one of the best diving experiences I’ve had due to the cheap price, the great visibility and lack of current.

The best time to go diving on Utila Island are the months of April and May.

This is when the weather is the best, the seas the calmest and the island sees the least rain. The only alternative to this is if you want to see whale sharks which can be seen near the island between February and April.

The highlight on Utila Island is definitely the shipwreck dive.

While you don’t get to enter the ship, you can swim around it and there’s lots of sea life to see.

Being one of the cheapest places in the world to dive, you can get your open water certification here for around $350.

You can also do fun dives for as little as 60 US dollars. It’s also a popular place to get your Divemaster qualification and there’s lots of celebrating to do when your training has finished.

DRIFT DIVING IN COZUMEL – MEXICO

By Jenn and Ed Coleman @ COLEMAN CONCIERGE

DRIFT DIVING IN COZUMEL © Jenn and Ed Coleman

If you’ve never tried a Cozumel drift dive, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Cozumel is a little island off the coast of Playa Del Carmen on the Yucatan Peninsula.

What makes it extraordinarily special is that it sits right in the middle of the Mesoamerican Reef.

The same strong currents that form the reef wash around the island offering divers a “free ride” as they drift past the towering coral pillars.

We went in early January, and the experience absolutely blew us away.

The reef is massive, stretching all the way down to Belize.

It’s the second-largest reef in the world.

The size of the entire reef doesn’t really matter; what counts is how high the coral grows off the seafloor.

The coral pinnacles reached up so high that they were filled with caves and swim-throughs.

Florida has about the same tropical fish as Cozumel, but down there, they grew to enormous proportions. 

Big fish. Big coral. Big fun.

Unlike the Great Barrier Reef, the dive sites of Cozumel are just a short ride offshore since the island is already in the current.

Cozumel is a mid-priced dive destination.

Two tank dives average about $100 with hotels in all prices ranges.

Food and drink in Cozumel are reasonably priced with lots of great Mexican options.

However, the best way to save money is to come in the fall shoulder season.

The summer heat and rain end at about the same time as summer break is over.

You’ll have the island to yourself with the best weather of the year and discount pricing to boot. We went around Christmas Break, which is one of the peak times to visit.

For accommodation in Cozumel you can look on my favorite site, booking.com  

DIVING IN BELIZE BARRIER REEF RESERVE

  by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett @ GREEN GLOBAL TRAVEL

 Thanks to the country’s significant marine conservation efforts, the Belize Barrier Reef was removed from the list of endangered World Heritage Sites in 2018, as many other reefs around the world continue to succumb to the acidification of oceans caused by global warming.

Comprising around a third of the MesoAmerican Reef (second only to the Great Barrier Reef among the largest coral reef systems in the world), this reef stretches 190 miles along the Central American country’s coastline.

This is Belize’s #1 tourist attraction, with Scuba diving attracting nearly 50% of its annual visitors.

It’s easy to see why: The outstanding assortment of holes (including the world-renowned Blue Hole), pinnacles, reef flats, are walls are home to an incredible array of marine life (including 500 species of fish,  hundreds of invertebrates, 70 hard coral species, and 35 soft coral species).

During our two dives (at depths ranging from 15 to 60+ feet), we had great visibility and saw a Nurse Shark, Moray Eel, several Spotted Rays, a Sea Turtle, Seahorses, Lionfish, Pufferfish, Lobsters, and thousands of colorful fish. 

SCUBA DIVING FROM PLAYA LARGA IN CUBA 

By  Gemma @ TWO SCOTS ABROAD

Scuba Diving in Cuba Playa Larga Sunset

Playa Larga Sunset © Gemma Armit

During our three weeks in Cuba back in 2015 (May), diving was top of the bucket list. There are a couple of things that I loved about the dive.

Firstly, turquoise waters.

Yes, postcard-perfect greeny-blue water for days.

Secondly, the price! Where else can you dive for $25 per person?

The price is so reasonable because at Playa Larga you walk into the sea.

No boat is required like at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia so this keeps the cost down which is ideal because Cuba is not as cheap as people think.
If you dive in the likes of Varadero you will pay more as it is touristy.

There were two types of dives. More established divers with PADI certificates were taken to the second dive site which included an underwater visit to a wreck.

Novice divers, like myself, used dive site one which was next to a stony beach.

Although I do recommend the dive, do be aware that instructors do not speak English. We got by with hand movements.

Readers ask us how to book before traveling to Cuba but there is no way.
Cuba’s WiFi  is not freely accessed so many companies work on a word of mouth/Cuban commission basis.

Just make your way to Playa Larga and ask for diving. Honestly!

WRECK DIVING IN BARBADOS 

Laura & Charlie @ THE TRAVELING STOMACH

Barbados has been created as a scuba divers haven with numerous reefs and purpose sunk wrecks.
Carlisle Bay is one of the most iconic spots on this Caribbean island. At one end of the bay you will find the island’s capital, Bridgetown, and then the sweeping beach as it runs for several kilometers along.
The beach is super convenient for those of you who want to just come and chill, with shallow warm waters and beautiful golden sand. However, if you are also looking for something more adventurous such as to dive, this is also a great place to come.

The bay has been designated a marine park by the island, with multiple purpose sunk wrecks to support marine life and, of course, provide a great diving destination.

With an array of colourful fish and growing coral life in the vicinity, you’ll be wowed by the sights you can see below the water – what’s more diving is good all year round with no specific season, although maybe avoid June-October, which is hurricane season!

One of the top dives on the island has to be the wreck of the Stavronikita – unfortunately not one for the inexperienced diver as the shipwreck sits 35m down! This Greek freighter measuring over 350 feet long was sunk deliberately in the 1970s and now provides multiple relatively easy penetrations and is teaming with fish and corals.

Divers wishing to explore the wreck should liaise with a dive company prior to arriving as most will visit the Stav once a week on a set day (and it’s one day you shouldn’t miss!) – Barbados Blue is a good option with a double tank dive starting at US$135 and various multiple dive packages available.

SCUBA DIVING IN GILI TRAWANGAN IN INDONESIA

Sam @ RTW BlOGGER

A turtle on the bottom of the ocean and two divers behind

In July 2019 I did a couple days of diving in Gili Trawangan, a small island near Lombok in Indonesia.

Being on a round the world trip, I’ve done a fair bit of diving this year and Gili T was by far the best!

The dive sites, marine life, visibility, it was all absolutely perfect. All dive sites are within a 10-20 minute boat ride, meaning you can mix and match which dives you want to attend that day.

You could do a lunch and evening dive one day, then a morning and evening dive the next. It’s the ultimate flexible dive destination.

The waters surrounding the Gili Islands are known for being absolutely full of turtles.

We usually have the worst luck with ‘things you can’t miss’, but we weren’t let down – we saw turtles on every single dive.

As well as turtles we saw a couple of sharks, sting rays, an octopus and hundreds of fish.

The dive sites we visited were Turtle Heaven, Manta Point, and Shark Point. I’d recommend these as the best sites for marine life around Gili T.

Peak season for diving in Gili Trawangan is May – October, but the diving is of a high quality all year round.

Dive shops on the island are all members of the Gili Indah Diving Alliance, meaning they all adhere to agreed prices for dives. This is ideal as you don’t need to shop around for the best price.

Fun dives cost 540,000 IDR per dive. On top of this, all divers must pay a one-off payment of 150,000 IDR towards conservation in the area.

DIVING KOMODO – INDONESIA

By Campbell and Alya @ STINGY NOMADS

Moray Eel at Batu Bolong © Stingy Nomads

About 17 000 islands form the country of Indonesia, home to some of the world’s best diving and it does not get much better than diving on the reefs in Komodo National Park.

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located within the Lesser Sunda Islands between Sumbawa and Flores and includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones.

Most diving is done from Flores Island on day trips or on liveaboard boats.

The amount and variety of fish are unreal, millions of reef fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes, plenty of massive pelagic fish and sharks hunting in crystal clear water on the pristine coral reefs.

The park is divided into 3 diving zones: Central, North, and South.

In Central Komodo, Manta Point, a shallow drift dive floating over a manta cleaning station is the most famous dive and being surrounded by more than 10 massive mantas here is not unusual.

Castle Rock and The Cauldron in North Komodo is fantastic with plenty of sharks, turtles, and massive Giant trevallies.

Batu Bolong in the Central part of the park is seen by many as the best dive in the park resembling a massive aquarium with clouds of fusiliers, massive napoleon wrasse, giant sweetlips, hawksbill turtles, white tip reef sharks, barracudas and tunas swimming around this fantastic pinnacle dropping from just below the surface into the deep.

Komodo has some of the best diving in Indonesia and the world with beautiful colorful, healthy coral reefs; plenty of pelagic species; like barracudas, Giant Trevalleys and many reef sharks; interesting critters and amazing colorful tropical reef fish.

You can dive Komodo all year, and enjoy the spectacular marine life but January to March can have rough surface conditions and is not always great.

Visibility is best from November to January when the water is clean and warm while the wet season from December to February is manta season with plenty of mantas around.

Average cost: for $100 you can go out for a full day of three dives all-inclusive.

DIVING WITH GIANT MANTAS IN MANTA POINT – KOMODO – INDONESIA

By  Alejandra @ UNIVERSO VIAJERO

manta point komodo indonesia

Komodo is undoubtedly one of the best places to dive in Indonesia and perhaps on the planet.

Many get to see the famous Komodo Dragons, giant lizards that measure several meters long and are extremely poisonous.

However, the underwater life of the national park is also a must in this area.

Unlike other places, the conservation of corals and underwater life is surprising, in this place it is required to dive responsibly .

We dive here in August 2015. It is said that the best time is between November and January, however, this is only because of the currents that can be a little moved the rest of the year… but nothing terrible if you have a little practice scuba diving.

Manta Point is undoubtedly the favorite of divers.

Throughout the whole year, you can see giant manta rays passing through a sandy bottom.

The place is also known as “Manta Alley” and it’s easy to spot groups of small mantas and giant ones passing through.

We could see 3 of the big ones (approx. 3 meters wide!), one very close, and it was one of our best experiences diving.

There are few places in the world where you can dive so sure that you will see some of them as they are pretty difficult to spot. The soil is sandy, the dive is done at approximately 20 to 25 meters deep and you can encounter some current (especially in July and August).

To get to this place it is necessary to do a dive tour for the day. The cost of the tour with equipment rental is around $ 100 per person, and it includes two or three dives, a small snack, and lunch.

However, I recommend a liveaboard.
Ours covered all our food, transportation, accommodation, and 14 dives spread over 4 days.
A liveaboard this size cost around $1,000.

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DIVING IN RAJA AMPAT – INDONESIA

By  Oksana & Max @ DRINK TEA AND TRAVEL

Raja Ampat Indonesia © Oksana & Max

One of our best diving experiences was a recent trip to Raja Ampat in Indonesia.
We traveled to Raja Ampat in February 2019 for a week-long liveaboard around Central Raja. 
The best time to dive in Raja Ampat is between October and April when visibility is at its best, so we were lucky to have been able to visit during the best time. 
Raja Ampat is a unique destination for scuba diving. The 1500 islands of Raja Ampat are teeming with life from small fish to large pelagic life such as sharks, rays, and turtles. The region is also known for beautiful coral, in fact, 75% of the world’s coral species are found in Raja Ampat. 
Every dive in Raja Ampat is different and unique in its own way. Some dives featured amazing coral gardens, others were all about spotting marine life. The highlight of our visit was an opportunity to swim with oceanic mantas, majestic creatures that gracefully swam around us on a number of dives. 
Diving in Raja Ampat is not cheap, but the experience is worth it.
Land-based diving can be done from a number of resorts located on some of the islands in Raja Ampat, but liveaboard cruises are by far the most popular way to experience the area.
Liveaboard cruises to Raja Ampat start at $175/per person/day but can go up to $500-600/day depending on the comfort level of the boat. 

DIVING IN PHI PHI ISLAND – THAILAND

By Ben @ HORIZON UNKNOWN

Diving Phi Phi Island, Thailand © Ben from Horizon unknown

 

Thailand is home to plenty of unforgettable scuba diving spots for every skill level.

Phi Phi Island is one of the best, with perfect visibility and plenty of marine life to search for under the waves around the chunk of land.

During January 2018, I visited Phi Phi Island and loved my 6 dives around the uninhabited island of Koh Phi Phi Don.

Bida Nok is one of Phi Phi Islands most renowned diving location.

With a massive variety of marine life, constant great visibility and caves and swim-throughs to explore – it’s my personal favorite in the area.

Koh Phi Phi Islands rainy season makes for lower visibility and rougher seas from June to October.

Dry and hot conditions usually mean higher visibility of the underwater world your plunging into – the best time to dive Koh Phi Phi Island is January to April.

The common cost for two dives around Koh Phi Phi Island is around 2,500 Thai Baht, or THB, ($81 USD).

For a full, 5 dive PADI certification for open water diving, you’re looking around 13,800 THB ($448 USD).

Scuba Diving was always a bucket list item and while I’ve dived in a number of other countries since Koh Phi Phi is home to such diverse marine life and stunning visibility that creates a memorable experience under the surface.

DIVING IN THE SIMILANS ARCHIPELAGO – THAILAND

By  Stephen @ A BACKPACKER’S TALE

The Similans are one of the best dive spots in Thailand and known for the variety of different dives sites.
The best way to take advantage of this diving mecca is on a liveaboard. What makes the Similans archipelago so great is that lies in a marine protected park. And aside from the dive boats is untouched by man.
There is a lot of underwater wildlife from Whale Sharks to Barracudas.  The water has fantastic visibility (which is usually 30 meters).

There are also a lot of different dives from swim troughs to wreck dives.

The worst time to dive is before the start of the rainy season. We were on our 3rd dive of the day and came up to find ourselves in the middle of a tropical storm.

Lifeboats were sent out to collect us. It took a good 45 minutes before it was able to pick us up.
During this time we fought massive waves rolling us, sending us closer to the rocks of a nearby island.

By the time the lifeboat could get to us, the waves were massive. The raft started filling with water and sinking. Halfway back to the boat, the dive crew had to bail out and swim for the boat.

Meanwhile, I was losing my mind. The storm raged for almost 24 hours throwing out boat around the entire night. Yep, right before the rainy season is not the best time to visit. But I would visit again in a heartbeat. Just at a different time of the year.

Elephant Head, Christmas Point, Boulder City are all great dive sites.

There are day dives in the Similans.

However, I recommend a liveaboard.  Ours covered all our food, transportation, accommodation, and 14 dives spread over 4 days. A liveaboard this size cost around $1,000.

DIVING IN KOH TAO – THAILAND

By  Carine @ WE DID IT OUR WAY

Scuba diving in Koh Tao © We did it our way

Back in March 2018, we were on our long-term trip and spent quite a few weeks in Koh Tao, Thailand. This is one of the cheapest places on earth to learn how to scuba dive. So we did what any traveler on a budget would do – we got our Open Water certification. Your open water course will set you back about $360 USD, 10 fun dives cost $260, while your advanced course will be about $330. 

Koh Tao, an island in the Gulf of Thailand, is mainly known for 2 things: its nightlife and scuba diving. Koh Tao is also home to a ton of different dive sites, quite close to the island, which is great.

You’ll find a scuba diving school on every street corner. If you’re looking for a great one, with fun but a very professional staff and high standards, be sure to head to Roctopus

Considering this was the first time we ever spent more than our lung capacity underwater, we were mesmerized by everything we saw.

Certain dive sites are home to some beautiful corals, like the Japanese Gardens and Twins. But it’s the marine life in Koh Tao that left us speechless! 

We felt so tiny swimming under schools of over 1,000 barracuda. We saw so many fish, that each dive was so different and such a surprise. But the best surprise of all came in the shape of a whale shark. The biggest fish in the ocean! We saw this guy while we were at one of the most popular places to dive, Sail Rock. 

Most of the waters around the island are quite calm, with minimal current, making it the perfect place to learn to scuba dive.

Although the water here is always warm (between 28-29 degrees Celcius), the best time to go diving is from March to September. Just know that July and August are the busiest time of the year, so crowds are to be expected.

While monsoons will reduce visibility in October and November, the rainy season from November to February will also make the diving less enjoyable.

As for the fish you can hope to see, September is the best time to see big pelagics, like whale sharks (but we saw ours in March, so it’s still possible year-round!). 

Beyond being an affordable place to learn to dive, Koh Tao is a great place to be.

The food is good and cheap, the beaches are lovely, the people are sweet and there’s always a party going on! 

DIVING IN KOH HAA – THAILAND

Pubali and Indranil @ PARADISE CATCHERS 

Man diving next to a huge live coral

Diving at Koh Haa, Thailand

Would you ever jump into water in the middle of a sea if you do not know how to swim properly even in a swimming pool? Well, that is exactly what I did three years ago! In 2016, the husband and I had planned our wedding anniversary celebrations in Koh Lanta, an island district of Thailand.

With anticipations of relaxing dreamy sunsets over the Andaman Sea, we decided to fill our days with adventure activities. Thus, we signed up for ‘Discover Scuba Diving‘!

Koh Haa, our dive site, is a group of 5 different islands with 12 different dive sites on offer. Only a 45 minutes boat ride away from Koh Lanta, the region is blessed with crystal clear turquoise waters, stunning reefs and karst landscapes. The sites usually have a visibility of 25m+ almost all year round. No wonder that both first time divers and experienced ones find this region a favorite of theirs. Moreover, an extremely interesting aspect of this region is diving into a chimney system that has both horizontal and vertical tunnels.

I vividly remember my fins making the first steps into the water.

It was scary as hell. I questioned myself why I had signed up for this!

However, in a few seconds, I got the answer to my ‘why’.

After the initial adjustments to the underwater air pressure and visibility, my eyes marveled at what they saw. Wading through the waters amidst a color burst of marine life, I sensed a feeling of ‘out of the world’.

We had for company many diverse creatures ranging from clown fish (Nemo!), puffer fish, sea snakes, lion fish to moray eel.

It felt like a dream!

At the end of our originally planned two dives, we were given the option to go for a third dive.

The husband and I looked at each other, grinned widely and took the plunge. Again!

DIVING IN YAP, MICRONESIA

By  Mar Page @ ONCE IN A LIFETIME JOURNEY

I visited Yap in 2017 for New Year’s because I love exploring some of the least visited countries and always loved the Pacific. Yap is one of the four main Micronesian islands that make the Federated States of Micronesia and is a relatively young country.

Most people have never heard of Yap before and if they have, what the island is most famous for is its stone money, large stone disks used as money in the past and now still in use and placed across the island.

Dive fanatics will also know that Yap is famous for its diving, especially with mantas that live inside the lagoon and which are almost a guaranteed sighting, and with the sharks at Vertigo point.

The mantas are found a short boat ride away from the shore and you just need to lay down, take position and wait for them to come to the cleaning station.

Night dives and mandarin fish dives are also possible and we even spotted a whale shark.

The best time to visit Yap is March when the water is calmer, visibility better and the weather dry. It is also the month for Yap Day when you have a chance to see the cultural festival and dances.

You can stay on the shore at one of the couple of hotels there, Manta Ray Bay resort where Yap Divers dive shop is located is one of only a couple of places to stay.

Prices in such a remote place are not cheap and despite the island being quite basic in infrastructure, expect to pay relatively high prices.

Hotels can be $100-200 a night, diving is of international level ($150 for two dives) and renting a car can be $100 a day.

DIVING IN MALAPASCUA – PHILIPPINES

By  Rose  @ WHERE GOES ROSE

For those who haven’t heard of Malapascua, this Filipino island is truly a slice of paradise.

If the white sandy beaches and colorful local life don’t reel you in, the dive opportunities certainly will.

The chance to dive down to 30 meters with rare thresher sharks attracts dive enthusiasts from all over the globe.

I spent a couple of days diving in Malapascua in 2016 and it remains one of my favorite travel experiences to date.

Thresher sharks exist around the world but this island is known as the only place you can see them feeding and cleaning on a daily basis.

Their distinctive long tails make them look different to other sharks, and they were fascinating to watch flitting about.

Threshers can be seen all year round in Malapascua but the best times are winter and spring.

Dives are very affordable at around $20 per dive but those who do not have an advanced qualification allowing them to dive to 30 meters will need to take the deep dive module of the qualification.

This can be arranged at any Malapascua dive school for around $50.

To see the sharks you have to visit very early in the morning, ideally before 7 am.

These means getting up at 5 am and taking a sunset boat ride out to sea. This only added to the magical experience!

DIVING IN MAHE – SEYCHELLES

By  Nabiha  @ VERSES BY A VOYAGER

Beau valon Seychelles

Beau Valon Seychelles © Verses by a Voyager

My first diving experience was at the Beau Vallon Beach of Mahe Island. Home to some most beautiful beaches in the world, Seychelles has a mesmerizing marine life to offer. Beau Vallon is one of the calmest and serene beaches in the capital city of Seychelles.

I went diving during the month of August which is the best time to visit Seychelles. The visibility and the temperature was perfect for diving during this time of the year. Generally, the Seychelles Sea is an excellent place for diving and there isn’t any bad time to dive there.

Although it was my first experience, the conditions were pretty calm and excellent for a first-timer.

Seychelles has an incredible marine life, very vibrant and has a lot of variety to offer.

Even at shallow diving distances, marine life is beautiful to watch. Variety of colorful corals, fishes, and even turtles can be seen easily.

There are many companies which offer a diving experience for first-timers at Beau Vallon beach, either from the shore or the cruises.

I opted for shore diving as it was my first time. These diving experiences aren’t very expensive also. The price for an introductory dive with all the accessories and a certificate costs around 90 USD.

NIGHT DIVING WITH SHARKS IN THE MALDIVES 

By  Chris Stevens @ BACKPACKER BANTER

DIVING IN THE MALDIVES © Chris Stevens

If there’s one marine creature I LOVE sharing some time with in the water it’s sharks.
Crazy I know – but I honestly find these creatures incredibly majestic and beautiful and I’ll take any opportunity to swim with them and change peoples minds about them too!
So when I was out diving in the Maldives on Fulidhoo Island (my favourite Maldives local island, I highly recommend it!) and heard about the famous shark night dive at Alimatha it was a no brainer!
Cruising through the Vaavu Atoll from Fulidhoo to the dive site as the sun begins to set is a beautiful as it sounds – with palm tree lined islands dotting the horizon and crystal clear waters beneath the boat.
The dive itself is pretty simple – descend to the bottom, chill out, assess the current (which can sometimes be pretty strong) and then enjoy the show!
Alimatha attracts a huge congregation of nurse sharks, black tips and rays each night – stemming from the fact the island resort used to dump kitchen scraps off the pier each night.
Although this has ceased some years ago the sharks still keep coming back, chilling in the current and always curious about the divers who come to see the.
It’s hands down one of my favourite dives on the planet – the huge, friendly nurse sharks will lay down beside you and take a nap, gently nibble on your fins or roll over in front of you as if they want their bellies scratched!
Meanwhile huge rays jostle for their time in the lime light whilst the more timid black tips cruise in the background trying to keep a low profile.
All the while the water turning from shadowy to golden in the sunset before going pitch black in the night with only your torchlight to illuminate the show.
If you’re heading to Fulidhoo I highly recommend joining Ali and Adele from Fulidhoo Dive Centre – they’ll make you feel like family and also offer some great Scuba and Stay packages, which include transport, accommodation and diving to make things easy.
You can dive year round on Fulidhoo (including the shark night dive) and I was out there in November – however peak season for Maldives weather and dive wise is December to April, with heaps of sunshine and solid visibility!
As for cost, it’s $68 for a certified dive (inc tank and weights) or $80 with full kit, however if you do multiple dives or courses with them this drops a lot. You can also snorkel it too, which is equally as incredible!

DIVING IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA 

By  Rebecca Arnold @ REBECCA AND THE WORLD

Papua new guinea © Rebecca Arnold

If you’re a diver and looking for somewhere off the beaten path for your next foray underwater, Papua New Guinea is the place to go.

This tropical island just north of Australia is hard to get to, but the wreck diving and marine life you’ll see will make it worth the journey. Bonus: the waters are bath temperature year-round, rarely dropping below 23°C (74°F).

There are plenty of places to go diving in Papua New Guinea (PNG), a country that lies within the marine life-rich Coral Triangle. Diving here, you’ll see turtles, sharks, rays, nudibranch and plenty of tropical fish.

In Kavieng, explore wrecks from World War Two. In Milne Bay Province, you’ll find the Black Jack dive site, considered one of the best aircraft wreck dive sites in the world. Rabaul and the Duke of York Islands are stunning above and below water. Tufi and Tawali are both popular diving locations. Even from Port Moresby, the gritty capital city of PNG, there are diving opportunities.

I learned to dive in Kimbe Bay, in the north of the country. We stayed at the gorgeously rustic Walindi Plantation Resort and spent our days learning techniques in the resort pool and in our “classroom” on an uninhabited island with stunning mountain views. Underwater we saw a huge leatherback turtle; above water, dolphins chased our boat.

You can dive from one of the many resorts that dot the coast or join a liveaboard. Because of PNG’s remote location and infrastructure challenges, neither are going to be cheap. 

The best time to dive in PNG is between May and November.

DIVING IN EILAT – ISRAEL

By  Casey La Clair@ VIRA FLARE

Diving in Eilat Israel

Eilat, Israel is a relaxing city on the coast of the Red Sea. A short distance down the shore from Eilat is a beautiful diving spot that is maintained for the sole purpose of diving with dolphins.

The best part, the dolphins are free to come and go as they please!

No wildlife in the diving area is held there against their will, but the dolphins are taken care of and still return often. While it’s safe to touch them, the instructors and caretakers recommend against it and to only interact with the dolphins if they interact with you.

The cost of diving will be roughly $100 USD (349 NIS) for adults.

If you don’t want to spend that much, then I recommend snorkeling as it’s roughly $83 USD (290 NIS). Regardless of which option you choose, swimming in the Dolphin Reef is a phenomenal experience.

Getting to see such beautiful creatures in their natural habitat is something you’ll never forget. Obviously, the early summer months are great to see them as that’s “beach season”.

Because of the time of year, you’ll be going, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen and drink plenty of water.

I can’t recommend the Dolphin Reef enough, especially if you’re already going to be in Tel Aviv , as it’s not that far and worth the drive.

WRECK DIVING IN CYPRUS

By  Norbert Figueroa @ GLOBO TREKS

Diving in Cyprus

Diving in Cyprus © Norbert Figueroa

One of my favorite and best diving experiences was when I dove the MS Zenobia Wreck off the coast of Larnaca, Cyprus. This ship is considered one of the world’s top 10 wreck dive sites given how massive and complex it is. You can dive it dozens of times and still discover new things about it.

The Zenobia was a Swedish built Challenger-class Roll on-Roll off ferry that capsized and sank during her maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria on June 7th, 1980. It happened after a computer glitch started pumping excess water into its ballast tanks.

As you descend, you see the massive 178 m (584 ft) long ship laying on its port side 42 meters below sea level, but it isn’t until you’re diving right next to it that you feel the immensity of the entire wreck.

I loved seeing up close the size of its anchors, the propellers (each blade was bigger than me!), and all the cargo trucks the ship took with is as it sank, all laying at the bottom of the sea and piled up on top of each other.

The most impressive thing for me, though, was diving into the corridors and some interior spaces. You can still see and touch the carpets and see some daily-life objects that still remain there.

While this dive can be done year-round, the best time to do it is during the summer when the water is warmer.

It is preferred to have a nitrox certification to spend more time exploring the wreck, but anyone with an advanced certification can do it. The average cost is roughly $150 for two dives. One of my favorite and best diving experiences was when I dove the MS Zenobia Wreck off the coast of Larnaca, Cyprus. This ship is considered one of the world’s top 10 wreck dive sites given how massive and complex it is. You can dive it dozens of times and still discover new things about it.

The Zenobia was a Swedish built Challenger-class Roll on-Roll off ferry that capsized and sank during her maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria on June 7th, 1980. It happened after a computer glitch started pumping excess water into its ballast tanks.

As you descend, you see the massive 178 m (584 ft) long ship laying on its port side 42 meters below sea level, but it isn’t until you’re diving right next to it that you feel the immensity of the entire wreck.

I loved seeing up close the size of its anchors, the propellers (each blade was bigger than me!), and all the cargo trucks the ship took with is as it sank, all laying at the bottom of the sea and piled up on top of each other.

The most impressive thing for me, though, was diving into the corridors and some interior spaces.

You can still see and touch the carpets and see some daily-life objects that still remain there.

While this dive can be done year-round, the best time to do it is during the summer when the water is warmer.

It is preferred to have a nitrox certification to spend more time exploring the wreck, but anyone with an advanced certification can do it. The average cost is roughly $150 for two dives.

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