As many of us dream of dusting off our wetsuits and digging out our snorkels, Howard Angel, a marine ecologist and pro diver, takes a look at five of the world’s very best dive sites to give you some inspiration when booking your next trip.
International travel restrictions may be in full force for now, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming of our next getaway. Keen divers and snorkelers are undoubtedly itching to get back in the water, eager to explore new reefs and spot some rare marine life. As regular divers will know, each and every dive spot offers something different, including other-worldly underwater landscapes and amazing wildlife that has to be seen to be believed. From tropical islands to cold water locations, there are fantastic diving spots to be found all across the globe – there’s a great more to see than the Great Barrier Reef, as spectacular as it is. Here, we take a look at five of the world’s very best diving sites – they are sure to have you eager to book your next adventure-filled trip.
Egyptian Red Sea
The Egyptian Red Sea is well-known in diving circles as one of the very best locations for diving, partly because of the amazing variety that it offers. If you are interested in wreck diving, head to the SS Thistlegorm – a British vessel that was sunk in 1941 whilst carrying a variety of war supplies, including motorbikes, train carriages and trucks. Egypt’s Dahab is another top location, which, while famous for its dangerous ‘blue hole’ sinkhole, also offers plenty of undestroyed reefs and enchanting wildlife.
For experienced divers looking for a challenge, the archipelago of Palau offers an unforgettable array of magical marine wildlife. Sharks, barracuda, snappers and moray eels are just some of the creatures that you might spot when diving around this island nation, alongside a colourful and diverse coral reef system. While the currents are often strong and require a certain level of experience to master, strong divers will be able to enjoy a rich diversity of marine wildlife and a once-in-a-lifetime underwater experience when visiting Palau.
La Paz, Mexico
French explorer Jacques Cousteau once called Mexico’s Sea of Cortez “the world’s aquarium” after being so taken with the spot’s rich biodiversity. Approximately 900 different species of fish and 32 types of marine mammal call this 60,000 square-mile gulf home, including magnificent and majestic blue whales, humpback whales and grey whales. The island of Los Islotes boasts a thriving Californian sea lion colony, and divers are also able to spot hammerhead and whale sharks in the waters around the coastal city of La Paz. The rare opportunity for memorable encounters with marine mammals such as these make La Paz one of the world’s premier diving destinations.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
The Raja Ampat islands, set off the coast of New Guinea, are world renowned for their breathtaking coral reefs and rich variety of marine life. Lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle, Raja Ampat is home to 75% of the world’s coral varieties, and is said to be the most biodiverse marine habitat on earth. With over 1,500 species of fish to discover, along with sharks and manta rays, it’s no wonder that this magnificent spot has cemented itself as one of the world’s most magical diving locations.
The Great Blue Hole, Belize
This is perhaps one of the world’s best known diving spots, simply because of how distinctive it is. This site is unlike anything you may have seen before when diving – a giant, deep blue circular sinkhole that is an extraordinary 318m across and 124m deep. In fact, the site is so large that it can even be seen from space! The spot also has excellent visibility, meaning that divers can see up to 30m in front of them to take in the beautiful coral reefs and variety of marine life that call the Great Blue Hole home.
Howard Angel is a marine ecologist who regularly writes about diving and the conservation of our oceans