Into the deep: World’s 50 best dive sites

Into the deep: World’s 50 best dive sites

From rusty wrecks to dozens of toilet bowls -- yes, really -- blowing bubbles is best done at these underwater spots

This image of what all the world's water would amount to if collected up into a sphere shows that actually, there really isn't that much out there -- compared to the size of the planet anyway. 

Which makes it all the more amazing to think of the bizarre things that lurk in it. 

So here are the best places to discover the magic of these thin puddles on the surface of our huge, spinning rock. 

Big thanks to the experts from divezone.net, scubatravel.co.uk, worlddivingreview.com and dive.is for their assistance.

 

1. Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia

1. Barracuda-point, Sipadan, MalaysiaHey, no queue jumping!

Barracuda Point can be an intimidating experience. Fish stream along like traffic here, as if the streets of New Delhi have descended underwater. During these chaotic scenes, you may find yourself in the center of a giant barracuda tornado, while hammerhead sharks and flapping rays nonchalantly cruise past.

The sea turtles here are three-meter beasts, and jackfish swim in swirling balls in their hundreds. It’s home to the weird and wonderful too; look out for the strange-looking bum head parrot fish and eerie batfish.

Depth: 5-40 meters.
Visibility: 30 meters.
Location: North East of Sipadan Island only five minutes by boat from the beach.

2. Yongala, Queensland, Australia

Considered the best wreck dive on the planet, the century-old SS Yongala shipwreck is an impressive 110 meters in size and sank after a tropical cyclone in 1911 with 124 passengers onboard.

The eerie wreck was found in the 1950s and is not only surrounded by history, but also two-meter giant groupers, trevallies, manta and eagle ray -- plus rare bull, tiger and leopard sharks.

However, the main attraction has to be the winter sightings of graceful minke whales and up to 16-meter-long (and 30-50 ton) singing humpback whales.

Depth: 25-30 meters.
Visibility: 10-15 meters.
Location: Three hours by boat from Townsville or 30 minutes from Ayr, Queensland.

 3. SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea, Egypt

4. Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red SeaSeventy years of rust is actually pretty fascinating.

This is the most popular wreck dive in the world, and for good reason. The SS Thistlegorm was a 128-meter-long British transport ship, which was attacked and sunk in 1941 on its way from Glasgow to Alexandria.

The ship was carrying a variety of rifles, motorbikes and trucks, plus armored cars, trailers, vehicle parts, radios and rubber boots. All of this sits at the bottom of the ocean, including the ship itself complete with the large hole where the German bomb hit.

Dive groups now swim around and inside the silty wreck with flashlights to peer at its rusted machine guns, a railway freight car, torpedoes and more. You may even spot a few crocodile fish hiding in the sand by the wreck.

Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters.
Location: Around three hours from Sharm el Sheikh, on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

4. Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia

This spot is what screensavers are made of; and in reality a swim here does actually feel like you’re in a computer game. Reef sharks will hover above you as schools of bigeye jacks work their way through the strong current.

Below you’ll find a sizable colony of soft coral and gorgonian sea whips growing in a canyon -- there’s a good chance you’ll see spotted eagle rays, huge tuna, snapper, wrasse and bass and even hawks bill and green turtles too.

The electric blue red-toothed triggerfish can reach up to half a meter in size in this spot, while the pyramid butterfly fish, with their yellow outer bodies and white bellies, gather in their hundreds.

Depth: 8-30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 40 meters.
Location: One hour from Koror by boat.

5. Richelieu Rock, near the Surin Islands, Thailand

5. Richelieu Rock, ThailandNot every big mouth is something to avoid.

There is nothing quite as exhilarating as swimming next to a whale shark. Divers spend their lives looking for these huge yet gentle beasts that can reach the length of an articulated lorry.

Sightings in this spot are so regular the locals have called it a "whale magnet." Even if you don’t see a whale shark you’ll still spot myriad pelagic schools of giant trevallies and dogtooth tuna.

Depth: 10-25 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters.
Location: Off Khuraburi Island, 14 kilometers east of the Mu Koh Surin marine park.

6. Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The surge and current can be strong here, so come prepared, but this means the marine life is directed straight into your path.

Here you’ll find so many sea lions, fur seals and clusters of hammerhead sharks you’ll probably forget about the tropical fish, manta rays, octopi marine tortoises and moray eels all around you.

Depth: 6-40 meters.
Visibility: 5-18 meters.
Location: A one-hour boat ride from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.

 7. Great Blue Hole, Belize

7. Great Blue Hole, Belize Deep, dark and enchanting.

Formed during the last ice age, this submarine sinkhole is 300 meters wide, and a scary 124 meters deep. It’s made up of karst limestone formations, which, over the years, have evolved into ledges that fall away into the chasm of darkness beneath.

In the clear water -- best for advanced divers only -- you'll find multi-colored stalactites and stalagmites, submerged caves and fish sheltering between the steep-walled depressions and dark blue shadows.

Expect to see schools of giant groupers, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks swimming in this natural wonder.

Depth: 124 meters.
Visibility: 15-30 meters.
Location: Two hours away from Caye Caulker Island or San Pedro by boat.

8. Tubbataha, Palawan, Philippines

Super-size your dive experience at Tubbataha where everything comes in giant form. The main advantage to diving at Tubbataha is that the water is exceptionally clean, so the marine life lives much longer, making it grow to silly proportions.

These two small atoll like reefs in the middle of the ocean offer an inner lagoon with overhangs, slopes, crevices and caves with mor than 300 different types of coral and 379 species of fish.

Expect kaleidoscopic colors combined with guitar sharks, black tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, gliding blue-spotted lagoon rays, unicorns, boxfish, scorpion fish and more.

Depth: 5-60 meters.
Visibility: 5-45 meters.
Location: 182 kilometers south of the capital of Palawan, liveaboard trips leave from Puerto Princessa.

 9. Big Brother, Red Sea, Egypt

9. Big Brother Crowd surf, anyone?

Beneath the waters surrounding the small island of Big Brother you’ll be greeted by Aida II, a 75-meter ship that crashed into the land in 1957, en route to deliver lighthouse staff to the island.

Surrounded by huge shoals of fish and covered in an explosion of colored coral, it sits at an angle between 25-65 meters in the ocean. Divers can play captain by swimming inside the engine room at around 35 meters or snap incredible shots of the large-lipped Napoleon wrasse fish in the area (the species can reach a staggering two meters in size).

This is a double-whammy dive; you’ll find white tip and hammerhead sharks congregating at the century-old Numidia wreck nearby, around a junkyard of sunken train carriages and large wheels a mere 12 meters down.

Deep divers looking for a challenge can also go in search of the boat’s rounded stern, complete with rudder and propeller at 75-80 meters into the abyss.

Depth: 15-80 meters.
Visibility: Up to 35 meters.
Location: 60 kilometers from land in the Egyptian Red Sea. It takes eight hours from Hurghada, meaning a liveaboard is the best option.

10. Maaya Thila, Maldives

The Maldives’ incredible cluster of 1,192 paradise islands offers some serious diving opportunities. A good place to start is our favorite -- Maaya Thila -- dubbed the "White Tip Reef Shark Capital of the Maldives."

Its diverse range of tropical fish include angel, butterfly, clown, parrot and trigger fish, plus captivating schools of the perfectly formed moorish idol. You’ll need multiple dives to take it all in.

Depth: 15-30 meters.
Visibility: 6-40 meters.
Location: 20 minutes by boat from Maayafushi Resort Island or Banyan Tree Madivaru.

11.  Sistema Dos Ojos, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

10. Sistema DosOjos, Mexico100 people a day can't be wrong.

Famous for being the site of a record-breaking 150-meter free dive (the diver swam this distance using only one breath), this spooky, flooded, freshwater cave goes on for 80 kilometers.

It’s made up of affectionately named passages and rooms, including the The Next Generation Passage, the Wakulla Room, Bat Cave and Jill’s Room. Each offers fascinating, distinctive shapes and marine life.

But you won't be alone on a dive here: more than 100 tourists a day descend on Dos Ojos’ waters to see the blue, green and purple rooms filled with candle-drip stalactites.

Depth: 119 meters.
Visibility: 91 meters.
Location: Drive straight to the cave by road. It sits between the towns of Akumal and Tulum.

12. Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa, Polynesia

Divers often descend at Shark Cave and make their way through a narrow channel between Avatoru and Tiputa islands to face strong currents that whiz along the path. Here pelagic animals often include mating dolphins, which come here especially to play on the standalone waves created by the current going out of the lagoon and the weather coming in from the open sea.

Watch dolphins playing, leaping and synchronizing on the surface and swim with hundreds of sharks below -- the deeper you go the more you’ll see. Turtles, manta rays, leopard rays and whales (between July and August) can also be found.

Depth: 45 meters.
Visibility: 50 meters.
Location: A 10-minute boat ride from shore.

13. Point Murat Navy Pier, Australia

14. Point Murat Navy PierMan made reefs can be great too.

Fishing from the pier is illegal; you have to bring your passport to even get near it, but this is great for divers as the ocean life has thrived in this eco-site, making it one of the few worthy manmade dive sites.

Take a swim to the end to spot octopi, freaky carpet-patterned Wobbegong sharks and cod the size of toddlers swim by. Lionfish, scorpion fish, frog fish, moray eels and schools of barracuda and trevally also occupy the area.

Depth: Up to 20 meters.
Visibility: 3-10 meters.
Location: 300 meters from Exmouth shore.

14. Shark and Yolanda Reef, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Yolanda Reef is one of the more bizarre scuba experiences on our list. Here you’ll swim past toilet bowls, bath tubs and other bathroom objects, the cargo of the eponymous wreck that sank here in 1980.

This is also where the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez meet, so currents are washing machine-strong and nutrient rich, creating a flawless breeding ground for marine life.

Depth: Up to 50 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters. 
Location: 30 minutes by boat, just off of the Ras Mohamed coast.

15. Silfra, Þingvellir, Iceland

8. silfra, icelandSwim across continents.

This incredible, and slightly chilly dive is the only place you can swim between two continents -- North America and Europe. From above it looks like a regular lake, but submerge yourself in the water and you’ll be hovering in the gap where two tectonic plates meet.

The chasm leads into a 600-meter cave with off-the-chart visibility. Make your way through -4°C water, created by glaciers melting some 20 miles away, through the cave and under the road you just drove in on.

In the other direction you’ll reach what they call the toilet -- a small tunnel where divers must descend 16 meters head first down a narrow passage. On the other side there’s Silfra Hall, filled with overhead boulders and protruding rocks. 

From here remember to hold onto your regulator as you enter Silfra Cathedral -- your jaw will drop. It’s got a clear view from one side of the 120-meter lagoon to the other. Thirsty? Take a sip of the water around you, it’s as pure as water gets.

Depth: 10-45 meters.
Visibility: 90 meters.
Location: Find the entrance in Thingvellir National Park.

16. Antons, Sodwana Bay, South Africa

Part of the St Lucia Wetland Park, the hard coral systems, accentuated by soft coral under the water’s surface, make Sodwana the scuba capital of South Africa. Here you’ll find sites offering caves and pinnacles just minutes from the shore plus walls, such as those at Antons, that create a vortex in the current.

This whirlpool acts as a net, capturing a wealth of marine life including masses of blue-banded snappers, humpback, yellow and dory snappers, plus squirrel fish, soldier fish and potato bass.

Depth: Up to 18 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: A five-45 minute boat ride from shore depending on the reef you choose.

17. Kailua Kona, Hawaii, United States

6. Night dive, Kailua Kona, HawaiiGiant bats of the sea.

Flick on your high-powered flash light and watch as massive, floppy, docile manta rays appear around you sucking up phytoplankton.

Years ago, some canny divers connected up some lights on the ocean bed, which brought light-seeking plankton and in turn many 20-feet-wide (and 3,000 pound) rays. It’s one of the most memorable yet bizarre dives you’re likely to have.

Depth: Up to six meters.
Visibility: Up to 10 meters.
Location: Minutes off of the Kona coast opposite the Sheraton Hotel.

18. Middle Arch, Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand

This popular site offers some of best sub-tropical underwater gardens on the planet. It's home to critters such as white and orange clown nudibranches, scorpion fish, Lord Howe coralfish and multihued schools swimming through the fauna.

The 11-million-year-old islands are also home to other decent dive spots such as Northern Arch, for schools of blue maomaos, Bernies Cave, for porae and bunches of anemones flowers, Landing Bay Pinnacle for firebrick starfish, and Blue Maomao Arch, for morays and -- yes you’ve guessed it -- blue maomao.

The latter site is shaped like a cathedral, a breathtaking underwater spectacle.

Depth: 10-40 meters.
Visibility: 15-40 meters.
Location: Tutukaka to Poor Knights is 23 kilometers by boat.

19. North Horn, Osprey Reef, Australia

19. North HornLunch time is show time.

Named after the unicorn fish’s horn, this place is a shark playground. Expect to see dozens of varieties including hammerheads, tiger, white and silver tip sharks ambling past.

There's the option to take a seat at one of the ledges in this natural amphitheatre. Tour companies feed the sharks with fish heads and the beasts scrabble for every scrap of meat.

Other lifeforms of note include big dogtooth tunas.

Depth: 10-25 meters.
Visibility: 10-4 meters.
Location: Liveaboard tours leave from Lizard Island and travel 170 kilometers to the site.

20. Elphinstone Reef, Red Sea, Egypt

This oval reef around 80 meters long and 10-25 meters deep has a steep wall and strong currents that offer a beautiful drift dive with myriad fusiliers, anthias and fan corals.

The most exciting factor by far is that hammerhead and oceanic white tip reep sharks swim together in this spot. Dolphins, and sometimes tiger sharks, can also be found here. A magical encounter that you’ll remember for life.

Depth: 20-70 meters.
Visibility: 20-35 meters.
Location: Dive trips leave from Marsa Alam, the boat ride is approximately 20 minutes from shore.

21. Liberty, Bali, Indonesia

20. Liberty Wreck One ship's demise is an island's tourist attraction.

The 120-meter Liberty wreck has sat in this very spot right off of the beach for more than 50 years. It was towed here by the Dutch Van Ghent ship in 1942 after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine the same year.

The ship made it safely to Bali, but the damage was severe, and it was beached in Tulamben until 1963. Sadly, for the Liberty it got worse -- the Gunung Agung Volcano violently erupted and sent the boat out to sea, where it sank into black sand, 30 meters off the coast.

This safe wreck dive offers not only the chance to get a fascinating glimpse into history, but also to meet its squatters -- a variety of invertebrates, angelfish and glowing flashlight fish that live in the wreck.

Depth: 10-25 meters.
Visibility: 10-20 meters.
Location: Only 30 meters off shore opposite Tulamben Beach on the northeast coast.

22. Bloody Bay Wall, Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

This sheer vertical wall reminds you that you’re a blip in the ocean as you look up to the light and down into an abyss descending more than 1,000 meters. There are 13 stop-offs at the wall to keep you coming back for more.

A swim to Donna's Delight, Randy's Gazebo or Coconut Walk (to name just a few sites) will illuminate orange and lavender tube sponges, small caves and stripy Nassau fish hovering above the darkness below.

Depth: 20-1000+ meters.
Visibility: 30-45 meters.
Location: A 25-minute boat ride from Little Cayman Beach Resort.

23. Cod Hole, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

22. Cod HoleThank cod for pretty fish.

This site does exactly what it says on the tin -- offers cod. Not just any old cod; giant man-sized cods that are so friendly they come right up to your face to give you Eskimo kisses.

In this beautifully clear spot on the Great Barrier Reef’s Ribbon Reefs you’ll also find cods of the flowery variety, plus green turtles, emperor angelfish and black-spotted puffer fish to keep you entertained.

Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 50 meters.
Location: Minutes by boat from Lizard Island.

24. Manta Reef, Tofo, Mozambique

Come here for dozens of the largest mantas you’ll ever see. The smooth-gliding monsters, reaching six meters across, regularly come here to visit what is affectionately known as a "cleaning station."

Smaller fish attach themselves to the mantas’ bodies to feed on parasites on their fins and wings before the rays cruise off squeaky clean.

There are plenty of tropical fish to see too, including colored frogfish, deadly dragon moray eels with their distinctive read and white bodies, plus, if you’re lucky, bowmouth guitar fish and families of whale sharks. 

Depth: Up to 28 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: A 40-minute boat ride from Tofo Beach.

25. Bajo Alcyone, Cocos Island, Costa Rica

24. Bajo Alcyone, Cocos Island, Costa RicaThe part of "Jurassic Park" they didn't film.

You may have never heard of it, but this island is world famous. Its rich untamed tropical rainforest was featured in the blockbuster flick "Jurassic Park," and here nature still reigns supreme.

At the descent point Bajo, divers can encounter hundreds of scalloped hammerhead sharks and schools of jacks and yellowfin tunas that sporadically dart across their path.

Depth: 25-30 meters.
Visibility: 20-30 meters.
Location: 550 kilometers west of Costa Rica’s mainland; a liveaboard trip is the only option.

26. Sha'ab Rumi South, Sudan

The unstable political climate in Sudan and the uncertainty in the seas around Egypt mean that the dive sites in this area have remained relatively undamaged by visitors. There are only a handful of liveaboards in the region that offer this dive experience, and they’ll show you something truly unique.

In 1963 Jacques Cousteau set up an underwater base here and investigated the effects being under water for long periods of time. Divers can see the original submerged observation cage.

You’ll also spy grey reef sharks, hammerheads, silky sharks and bumphead parrot fish, plus a gray reef shark cleaning station -- lie on the sand and watch these magnificent creatures get licked and scrubbed down by other fish.

Depth: Up to 65 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: Get a three-nine day liveaboard trip from Port Sudan to Sha'ab Su'adi, approximately 70 kilometers away from the site.

27. Batu Bolong, Komodo Island, Indonesia

26. Batu BolongLike underwater sheep.

Above the water is a scenic temple atop a picture-perfect doughnut shaped rock, and under the surface a diver's playground teeming with marine life.

Through the years tiny sea particles have found their way into the cracks in this rock, spawning rare coral and underwater foliage which has attracted throngs of pelagic fish including Napoleon wrasse and giant trevallies.

Descend to the furthest depths and you’ll find reef sharks, hawksbill turtles and razor-thin electric blue palette surgeonfish.

Depth: 15-20 meters.
Visibility: 27 meters.
Location: Between Tatawa Island to the east and Komodo main island to the west.

28. SS President Coolidge, Vanuatu

This nearly fully intact wreck just off the shore includes cannons, chandeliers, jeeps, trucks and a pretty mosaic fountain. This beautiful 198-meter ship was launched as an ocean liner in 1931 for the mega-rich.

The interiors included a smoking room, saltwater swimming pools, a barbershop and beauty salon, plus a gym,  and other state-of-the art features (for its time) such as private telephones.

During World War II, the Coolidge was transformed into a troop carrier, painted army colors and fitted with guns. She sunk in 90 minutes after hitting a minefield, between the island Espiritu Santo and Tutuba.

There are around 20 fascinating dives to try at this spot: travel the breadth of the wreck, explore the deck or swim inside the rooms filled with military equipment (expert divers only).

Depth: 30 meters.
Visibility: 15-25 meters.
Location: Find the wreck 50 meters off the shore of Vanuatu.

29. Elephant Head Rock, Similans, Thailand

29. Elephant Head RockThailand's just as exciting below the surface as it is above.

The nearby Shark Fin Reef and Deep Six are better spots for big fish, but Elephant Head Rock offers the chance to see black tip, white tip and leopard sharks combined with an incredible cave backdrop.

There are arches and swim-throughs to play with as blue-ringed angelfish, triggerfish and bicolor parrotfish circle. Descend to full capacity and you’ll be rewarded with snappers and yellow goatfish.

Depth: 35-40 meters.
Visibility: 20-40 meters.
Location: 10 minutes by boat from the southwest pinnacle of Koh Similan.

30. Ulong Channel, Palau, Micronesia

This 500-meter channel is one of the most enjoyable and speedy drift dives you can do.

Start at the rainbow coral gardens, where you’ll be surrounded by sharks (they’re here to feast on the fish swept into the area) and you’ll be launched on to a rollercoaster ride past valleys and peaks filled will coral, including a dazzling five-to-seven-meter lettuce coral spurting up from the bottom of the channel.

Along the route expect to see titan tiger fish, napoleon wrasse, octopi and turtles. Plus, from April to July hundreds of chubby groupers come here to breed.

Depth: 5-25 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters. 
Location: 24 kilometers west of Koror, 30 minutes by boat.

31. Layang Layang, near Borneo, Malaysia

32. Layang Layang, Malaysia The wealthy diver's choice.

If you’ve got the cash (approx US$200 per night) a stay at this exclusive dive resort is well worth the money. To get here you have to take an hour’s flight from Kota Kinabalu, but you’ll be rewarded with secluded waters that plummet to 2,000 meters, and have the choice of 13 excellent dive sites.

Visit the Gorgonian Forest for a medley of sharks, including schools of 50 or more scalloped hammerheads and even whale sharks.

Other must-see spots include Wreck Point, for a horticulture show of barrel sponges, gorgonian fans and sea whips, plus the deep dive at D’Wall where schools of jacks and surgeonfish tempt you with their choreography into the deep.

Depth: Up to 50 meters at the dive sites.
Visibility: 20-40 meters. 
Location: Dive sites are minutes from the resort island.

32. The Cathedral, Flic-en-Flac, Mauritius

It’s common for dolphins to join you on your way to this beautifully shaped underwater cave and coral site. Descend into the 10-meter-long crevice, and look up into the skylight for a euphoric feeling as you see groupers, sweet lips, angelfish, wrasses, and sergeant majors swimming into the white light.

Beneath you’ll see textured lobsters and lionfish. In the chimney the creatures take a miniature turn, with examples including banded ghost shrimp.

Depth: 17-35 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: A 10-minute boat ride from Flic-en-Flac shore.

33. Great white wall, Taveuni, Fiji

diving in fijiStaring at a wall is rarely so enthralling.Prepare to be awestruck. This dive starts at a cave, which you’ll swim through with help from the high speed currents, while on the other side you’ll see a ski-slope-style piercing white hill of coral descending into the darkness.

Amazingly the slope is actually made up of lavender colored coral, but the light from above, dark bottom and turquoise seas create an optical impression you won't forget. Batfish and barracuda love this area.

Depth: Up to 45 meters.
Visibility: 15-40 meters. 
Location: A 15-minute boat ride from Taveuni Island.

34. Banua Wuhu, Mahengetang, Indonesia

Here lies the only diveable underwater volcano on earth. In the 37-38°C waters divers can occasionally hear the rumble of the volcano, which reaches 400 meters above the sea floor.

It hasn’t erupted since 1968, but a friendly word of warning: don’t get in the way of the innocent-looking bubbles, they’re face-meltingly hot.

As well as experiencing this strange underwater phenomenon, you can catch a glimpse of marine life that also enjoys these the bath-like conditions -- the toothy humphead parrotfish are something to behold.

Depth: Five-20 meters.
Visibility: Up to 40 meters. 
Location: Find the site 45 kilometers south of Awu.

35. Manchones Reef, Cancun, Mexico

36. Manchones Reef, CancunArt under the sea.

This fascinating site contains over 60 underwater sculptures forming an artificial reef.

Installations by sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor include The Silent Evolution, with 400 ghostly life-sized figures, Man on Fire, with fast-growing orange coral that looks like flames coming out of the his body, and an eight-ton replica Volkswagon Beetle car.

In the three years the exhibition has been here lobsters, moray eels and barracuda have made the reef their home. 

Depth: Nine-10 meters.
Visibility: 16-30 meters.
Location: Off the coast of Isla Mujeres, Cancun.

36. Cocklebiddy Cave, Australia

The longest submerged cave passage in the world is one for expert divers only. Underground the Nullarbor Plain is a 300-meter chamber reaching onto a 180-meter lake and a series of dry rock chambers laid out in an eight-kilometer long honeycomb pattern.

It’s believed that less that 100 people have ever entered this cave, so there’s a strong possibility you’ll be the first to discover something new in its dark, eerie corridors.

Depth: Up to 20 meters.
Visibility: Three-seven meters.
Location: 10 kilometers north of Cocklebiddy Roadhouse; to dive you must obtain permission from Western Australia’s Conservation and Land Management (CALM).

37. La Dania's Leap to Karpata, Bonaire, Netherlands

diving in BonaireLeap in and chill out. The entry point for this mellow and hugely fun drift dive requires a leap of faith from the rocks five feet up. En route you’ll see discarded anchors wedged into the abundance of coral, canyons and vertical walls.

These diverse textures are home to mahogany snapper, yellow goatfish, branded butterfly fish, darting schools of brown chromis and tang gangs.

Depth: Up to 40 meters.
Visibility: Five-30 meters. 
Location: Enter from a concrete platform off the road between Columbia and Karpata.

38. Scotts Head Pinnacle, Dominica

Just off of the headland there’s a deep mixing bowl fusing the waters from the Atlantic and the Caribbean. Around the shallow edges on the outside you’ll find delicate longsnout seahorses dancing in between monster barrel sponges and grassy beds.

Rare piercing peacock flounders and shortnose batfish camoflage themselves against the colorful and sandy base. After you swim through the cave-like entrance into the deep crater, it’s a totally different dive site, with schools of soldier fish and stripy grunts awaiting discovery.

Depth: Up to 35 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters. 
Location: Only 300 meters off of the headland.

39. Yonaguni Jima, Yaeyama Islands, Japan

39. Yonaguni JimaThe Japanese Atlantis?

Flanked by vicious seas, and guarded by strong currents, a site that is thought to date back 5,000 years sits beneath the waters at Japan’s Yaeyama Islands.

It’s believed that an ancient underwater city sank due to an earthquake 2,000 years ago, and the formations include curious features such as a 25-meter tall monolithic-style pyramid with steps on it (resembling the Mayan ruins in South America).

The perfect rectangular shapes appear to have been carved out of the rock -- take a dive and decide for yourself.

Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters. 
Location: Find it at the west end of the Yaeyama Island chain.

40. Raja Ampat, Irian Jaya, Indonesia

These distinctive green hilly island mounds, flanked by piercing turquoise waters, offer a glimpse of underwater nature that few people are even aware of. In these nutrient-rich bays you’ll find over 70 percent of the world’s coral and waterborne species and a total of 1,397 species of reef fish.

Choose between a drift or magical muck dive and count heaps of barracuda, surgeonfish, fusiliers and batfish, as well as sweetlips and fascinating macro species like shrimp gobies, pygmy seahorses, double ended pipefish and blue-ring octopi.

Depth: Five-40 meters.
Visibility: 20-40 meters. 
Location: Start at The Passage between the Gam and Waigeo islands for a thrilling drift dive.

42. Jackson Reef, Straits of Tiran, Red Sea, Egypt

diving in red seaKeep watch for Daryl Hannah too.In these gin-clear waters you’ll find brightly colored coral gardens that look as if they’ve been painted onto the ocean bed.

Bright red anemone flowers pop out from the floor and dance in the currents, while green and orange fire corals tempt you to touch their razor sharp branches.

White tip sharks, grey reef sharks and manta rays also enjoy the view: they congregate here year round.

Depth: 30-40 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters. 
Location: Around 30 minutes by boat from Sharm El Sheikh.

43. Perpendicular wall, Christmas Island, Australia

This dive starts so close to the cliff it’s normal to wonder if you’ll hit the bottom when jumping out of the boat.

However, don’t let appearances deceive you -- under the water is a dramatic drop of up to 50 meters right next to the wall, where whale sharks and tiger sharks rise from the deep.

Depth: Up to 70 meters.
Visibility: Up to 40 meters. 
Location: Around 10 minutes by boat from northwest Christmas Island.

44. Aliwal Shoal, Umkomaas, South Africa

scuba diving in south africaYou knew Nemo would pop up sooner or later.If you’re looking for history, serious amounts of fish (1,200 species) and the thrill of your life all in the same dive, this place should do it.

The spot got its name in 1849 when the Aliwal ship crashed into the sandbar. Around the area are sandstone structures with gullies, pinnacles and caves splashed with coral textures and plants.

Canny turtles, manta rays, brindle bass and other creatures have set up shop in the rich, sheltered environment, but the main attractions are the mating ragged tooth sharks in the winter. The super lucky may even spot dolphins or a whale.

Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters. 
Location: Three-five kilometers off the coast of Umkomaas.

45. The Canyons, Puerto Galera, Philippines

Schools of spotted and ribbon sweetlips, shiny trevallies and weird-looking batfish make up the scene at this first-rate drift dive site.

There’s also an explosion of coral and plant life including beautiful delicate gorgonian sea fans and hollow barrel sponges; look inside for critters lurking within.

Depth: Up to 30 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: 30-minute boat ride from Puerto.

45. Japanese Gardens, Koh Tao, Thailand

46. Japanese Gardens, Koh TaoEven better once you go under.

This easily accessible dive in the shallow waters of Thailand’s Koh Tao Island is one everyone can enjoy, regardless of ability.

It offers the chance to see a decent number of impressive creatures including stripy yellow butterfly fish, marbled emperor angelfish and red breasted wrasses among granite boulders festooned with soft and hard multi-colored corals.

There’s also a mini-wreck here of a former dive boat, a recent addition. Turtles and giant pufferfish enjoy this spot, as do catfish, hundreds of yellow rabbitfish, boring clams and Christmas tree worms.

Depth: Two-18 meters.
Visibility: 10-25 meters.
Location: Located off of scenic Koh Nangyuan, minutes away by boat from Koh Tao.

46. Grand Central Station, Gizo, Solomon Islands

Don’t try and fight the current at this spectacular, yet fierce, spot -- it’s strong enough to rip your mask off. Relax, go with the flow and watch the show as you are propelled along.

This site holds one of the highest concentrations of fish on the planet and you’ll witness a meeting of the large and small. Giant eagle rays, sharks, barracuda and batfish twirl around in a spellbinding dance.

Depth: Up to 50 meters.
Visibility: 15-30 meters.
Location: Minutes off the coast of the north shore of Guana Island by boat.

47. Aquarium, Mnemba Island, Tanzania

diving in tanzaniaHealthy coral = great diving.At this tropical paradise setting it is as beautiful beneath the water as it is above. Plus, the dive conditions are manageable for beginners and the rewards high.

Here you’ll find bright, healthy corals, playful turtles, massive potato grouper, trumpet fish, butterfly fish, crocodile fish and more scuttling along the sandy base.

Depth: Up to 25 meters.
Visibility: 10-45 meters. 
Location: 30 minutes by boat south of Mnemba Island.

48. Blue Hole, Gozo, Malta

At this dramatic site, divers can experience azure waters set against a vertical limestone wall that descends into a chasm below.

Though the marine life is not as abundant as other sites on our list, the natural beauty of this setting and the enjoyment you get out of swimming through the cave and the chimney makes it worthy. Subtle discoveries await those who search for them, including colored centipedes, sea urchins and starfish.

Depth: Six-45 meters.
Visibility: Up to 30 meters.
Location: Near Dwejra Point and Dwejra bay.

49. Burroo Ned, Isle of Man, United Kingdom

50. Buroo isle of man Drift diving -- the lazy man's scuba.

This drift dive in the chilly blue Irish Sea has rock gullies and overhangs that provide nooks where northern hemisphere sea creatures shelter and feed on the microscopic plankton brought in by strong currents.

The two large basin-shaped gullies are of particular interest, sitting like amphitheatres in the ocean. One of them has an old wooden ship’s beam in it covered in wonderful anemones of various shapes and textures.

There’s good chance you’ll spot dangly octopi in the area, as well as sturdy Pollack fish, dogfish, lobsters and if you’re really lucky grey seals that often swim alongside the dive group.

Depth: Up to 40 meters.
Visibility: 10-30 meters.
Location: Burroo Ned is a short boat ride off shore, located at the southern tip of the Calf of Man.

50. Darwin’s Arch, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The heavy current will lead you from your drop off point to a shelf around 18 meters deep, where you can stop, sit comfortably on a nice rocky ledge and watch the fish show.

Hammerheads come in the hundreds to visit the "cleaning station" where other fish suck the morsels off their fins. You’ve also a great chance of seeing rare Galapagos whale sharks and silky sharks in this area.

Depth: 18-60 meters.
Visibility: 12-24 meters. 
Location: Less than one kilometer from Darwin Island.

Jade is a prolific traveler, extreme sports enthusiast and music fanatic.

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