The Best Scuba Diving Trips in the Whole World
An infinity of charms and amazing species are hidden in the oceans surrounding the seven continents of the planet. To have the opportunity to explore them is an extraordinary pleasure, within reach of the most adventurous. But you won’t find ideal conditions to practice the best scuba diving just anywhere in the ocean.
Although clearly, for us, the best place in the world for diving is Raja Ampat, we’d like to let you know about other options for scuba diving trips around the world, which will introduce you to unique underwater treasures, stunning ship wrecks, coral reefs, species in danger of extinction, giant fish, tropical animals, etc. Whether you are passionate about this sport or you want to give it a try, these are the most highly recommended scuba diving trips anywhere in the world.
1.Indonesia: Raja Ampat
Of course, although we have made dives in different places around the world and that’s why we want to share it with you in this post, for us Raja Ampat is the most unique place to make scuba diving trips. Looking for one of the best scuba diving trips? Keep reading.
Indonesia, as a whole, makes for one of the most exciting scuba diving trips you can take anywhere in the world. With more than 54,000 miles of coastline spread out over 17,000 islands that make up the archipelago, in Indonesia you will find a variety of areas ideal for diving. But if we were to single out a dream site for lovers of the ocean depths, it is Raja Ampat (in the province of West Papua). The island, located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, brings together 75% of all coral species on the planet, stately and vibrantly colored gardens made up of more than 600 species of coral.
The ocean floor of Raja Ampat will transport you to a surreal sphere, governed by manta rays, sharks, dolphins, and exclusive, nearly extinct species, like the phantom pipe fish and the dugong. More than 1,000 different species of fish and 700 species of molusks share the underwater kingdom of Raja Ampat. Many experts assure us that this island is the richest reserve of marine life on the planet.
The diving conditions in Raja Ampat are excellent, with a depth of between 5 and 40 meters and a visibility of up to 30 meters. The island boasts more than 200 scuba diving spots, and the water temperature varies from 26 to 30 degrees.
Diving into these waters will help you connect with nature and the ocean, feeling yourself a part of an unexplored natural environment that only a privileged few have been lucky enough to experience. If you’re looking for a scuba diving trip to a place that few tourists and divers ever see, that will treat you to a pristine, virginal underwater landscape, you gave to visit the island of Raja Ampat!
Video of dive in Raja Ampat
2. Costa Rica: la Isla del Coco
La Isla del Coco, better known as Cocos, is one of the most unique and spectacular scuba diving trips. It is an island situated in the Pacific Ocean, 300 miles from Costa Rica, the country it belongs to.
Both the island and its waters have been declared a National Park, which makes it a fascinating enclave for a scuba diving trip. Considered one of the largest uninhabited islands, its only residents are park rangers, biologists, researchers and sailors. That’s why there are no resorts, and the only way to reach it is by boat or cruise ship.
What makes this nearly wild island so spectacular is its great biodiversity and the large number of native species that inhabit it, like one of the species of red-lipped flying bat fish, unique on all the planet. Diving on this island is a true spectacle, since you can find hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, silvertip sharks, or even the startling whale sharks. Also, there are tortoises, manta rays, dolphins and, with a little luck, you can find enormous whales.
Cocos is a real treat for divers, not only because of its biodiversity, but also because they only allow 12 divers on each dive. It also has another great attraction: night dives on the island, diving surrounded by hundreds of white spotted bamboo sharks trawling the reef.
Diving on the Isla del Coco is recommended for advanced divers, since most of the dives take place in currents. Still, the water temperature makes it a good diving spot. It ranges from 22 degrees, in the months of July, August, September and October, to 29 degrees in the months of January, February, March and April.
3. Australia: The Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s Great Coral Reef, located along the coast of Queensland, makes for one of the ultimate scuba diving trips. It is made up of 2,900 reefs covering more than 2,000 kilometers, which makes it the largest ecosystem of reefs and living organisms on the planet; you can even see it from space! In it you will find every kind of coral and underwater species: whales, white sharks, tortoises, tropical groupers, Napoleonfish. . .
There are few diving aficionados who haven’t heard about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit it yet, don’t hesitate another second; its popularity is totally justified!
The grandeur of its coral gardens reflects the robust ecological health enjoyed by the ocean floor in this area. On the Australian coast, you will find diving spots, of varying depth and geared to different levels of divers (introductory, intermediate and expert). Some of the most famous diving spots are: Cairns and Port Douglas, Heron Island, Ribbon and Osprey Reef, and the marine park at South West Rocks.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is a kingdom of colorful reefs and rare species. Diving into its warm waters, with varying currents and a general visibility of between 15 and 30 meters inside the Great Barrier Reef, makes this place even more of a paradise.
Currently many scientists are warning us that the increase in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be damaging this and other exceptional underwater reserves, resulting in a bleaching and disintegration of the coral. With respect to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, many fears that it could become extinct within a short time, due to climate change.
4. Colombia: The Island of Malpelo
Malpelo is another of the scuba diving trips ideal for those who want to see a large number of sharks of different species, along with an immense variety of fishes. Malpelo is an island belonging to Colombia, situated in the Pacific Ocean. Like Cocos, it is uninhabited; the only people residing there are a small military detachment of the Colombian Army. It is considered a sanctuary for flora and fauna, and, in 2006, it was declared a Natural World Heritage by UNESCO.
As a rock situated in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, the only way to reach it is through a liveaboard dive trip.
If what you are after is seeing sharks, Malpelo is the scuba diving spot for you, since its greatest attraction is the number of sharks of different species that live in its waters. It is famous for its concentration of hammerhead sharks and silky sharks, but you can also see other types, like bull sharks, Galapagos sharks, and whale sharks. And the biggest thrill for everyone is running across the so-called “Monster,” a shark that can grow up to 600 cm long.
But you will find not only sharks, but also barracudas, tunas, morays or snappers.
The air temperatures range from 14 to 28 degrees and, inside the water, the temperature can change dramatically in the course of a dive. Because of that, diving conditions can be difficult, with strong currents, sudden drops in water temperature, or a choppy sea.
Because of that, divers wanting to travel to Malpelo should be aware that there are a series of requirements they must meet, like being at least 18 years old or having an advanced diving certificate, with at least 30 dives noted and signed in ships’ logs. The island is monitored more and more closely, in this regard, so it will continue to be a safe place for scuba diving. You can only dive there during the daytime and only if the conditions are favorable.
5. Scuba Diving Trips to the Red Sea
The Red Sea is a gulf of the Indian Ocean between Asia and Africa, which was named for the proliferation of algae giving its waters a reddish tone. It is one of the sites most commonly associated with scuba diving and is the destination for many scuba diving trips. 2,200 km in length, it reaches depths of more than 2,000 meters, which have earned it the title of one of the 7 marvels of the underwater world.
Its waters, rich in nutrients, feed more than 1,100 species of fish and more than 250 species of both soft and hard coral. Its waters are crystal clear, with a visibility of up to 40 meters. All these characteristics make the Red Sea celebrated and popular destination for planning scuba diving trips.
It is recommended for both beginners (it is one of the favorite destinations for first-time divers), as well as for more advanced levels, in search of adventure. You can undertake dives year-round, but keep in mind that the temperatures vary from one season to another.
Scuba diving trips can be undertaken by cruise ship or boat, or by staying in a hotel. There are two routes: north and south. One of the nerve centers of the diving routes to the north is Sharm el Sheikh, situated in Egypt, near the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It is especially known for its intense colors, coral gardens, sunken ships and wide variety of marine species.
In the Red Sea, we can find triggerfish, barracudas, lionfish, dolphins, gray sharks, spotted eagle rays, tortoises or butterfly fish, among the immense number of fish, sharks and corals. Needless to say, this is another of the great scuba diving trips that you shouldn’t miss.
6. Ecuador: Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are one of the most rewarding scuba diving trips you can experience. Their charm lies not in the ocean beds full of corals and exotic species. What’s special about the Galápagos is their beautiful and varied range of marine life, which allows you to observe such peculiar species as penguins, sea lions, dolphins and hammerhead sharks. Surprising mammals and other species are concentrated on these islands. 20% of their marine species can’t be seen anywhere else on earth. This is what makes it one of the most unique diving spots.
The Galápagos Islands, composed of a series of volcanic islands (13 of which are well known) were declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1978. Covering over 45,000 square kilometers, almost all their territory has been declared a National Park. It is a destination celebrated by divers from the world over, especially experts, given the conditions and terrain of the islands. Still, there are also some areas appropriate for snorkeling and beginners, like the Islands of San Cristóbal and Isabela.
The most exciting diving spots, recommended for professionals, are on Wolf and Darwin Islands. Most of the islands in the Galápagos archipelago allow for diving in currents, deepwater diving or nocturnal diving.
The ideal time of year to dive in the Galápagos Islands is from July through November. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands will allow you to capture every detail of the hidden treasures in their marine beds. With a diving visibility of up to 20 meters and a variable depth of up to 40 meters, it’s wise not to enter strong currents, especially if you haven’t had sufficient training.
7. Indonesia: Bali
As we have said, there are several islands making up the archipelago of Indonesia that feature an ocean floor studded with exotic species and vivid coral reefs. Bali, in particular, is one of the most visited sites by expert and aficionado divers. The beaches of Bali are famous the world over, but it is the richness of its underwater landscape that makes Bali a legendary diving spot.
Among the most common marine species, you will find moonfish or opah (the largest in the world), whale sharks, octupuses and manta rays. Their colorful ocean beds of coral mingle with the deep underwater caves, vertiginous walls and drifting treasures like the freighter sunk during the First World War, the USAT Liberty.
Among its more than 50 dive sites, there are areas with strong currents (only appropriate for experts) and others that are calmer. The areas most frequented by professional divers in Bali are located on the southern part of the island. Especially noteworthy is the area of Tulamben, in eastern Bali, since every year its seductive aquatic heritage attracts thousands of photographers eager to capture sublime images.
To dive in Bali is to submerge yourself in a tropical Paradise inhabited by coral reefs and marine animals of every size, form and color. Its warm waters reach a depth of between 5 and 40 meters, which allows snorkeling and simpler dives just a few meters from the beach, and offers an extraordinary degree of visibility in the water, of up to 45 meters.
The only disadvantage of Bali may be that it is one of the islands most visited by tourists and most developed (as is its ocean floor), compared to other areas of the world. Diving in its waters, you will probably run across many aficionados of the sport, which could add to the fun for some, but for others might prevent connecting fully with the marine environment.
8. Scuba Diving Trips to the Maldives
The Maldives Islands are made up of a complex of 26 islets, with more than 1,100 islands, located at the southwest tip of India. Their geographical location, far from civilization, contamination and overpopulated countries, lend them a pure natural biodiversity where people have intervened very little, if at all.
The Maldives Islands, which are coral in origin, are home to aquatic riches, dominated by over 1,000 different species of fish and invertebrates: morays, manta rays, sharks, barracudas, shrimp, clownfish, etc. Hundreds of kilometers of coral reefs surround the ocean floor of the islands, creating spectacular diving landscapes, like the canals that cross the interior of the reef, reaching the lagoon that flows into the ocean, known as Kandu.
In the Maldives you have the option of diving from the coast, or reaching the best hidden marine dens, thanks to ships running between the main islands. It all depends on your diving level and your sense of adventure. Currently there are more than 75 islands with access to different scuba diving sites. In some of them depth can be around 4,000 meters. The water temperature is consistently warm, at any time of year, and the great clarity of the ocean allows you to peer into every hidden corner of the marine bed (with a marine visibility of 15 to 30 meters).
The Maldive Islands are composed of several areas:
- Thila: coral beds 10 meters under the water, surrounded by strong currents.
- Giri: reefs near the ocean surface.
- Kandu: Canals running through the interior of the reef, up to the lagoon.
This makes the islands an ideal spot for every type of diver. If you have the opportunity to visit the Maldive Islands and partake in one of the best scuba diving trips in the world, you will no doubt fall in love with this beautiful place.
En las islas Maldivas se distinguen varias áreas:
– Thila: zonas de arrecife a 10 metros bajo la superficie rodeadas de fuertes corrientes.
– Giri: arrecifes cercanos a la superficie del mar.
– Kandu: canales que recorren el interior del arrecife hasta la laguna.
Esto convierte a las islas en el lugar ideal para todo tipo de submarinistas. Si tienes la oportunidad de visitar las islas Maldivas y realizar uno de los mejores viajes de buceo del mundo, seguramente quedes prendado con el encanto de este precioso lugar.
Other ideal destinations for diving are worthy of mention: the Mayan Riviera, in Mexico; Pascua Island, in Chile; and the Canary Islands, in Spain. In fact, there are several scuba diving trips that shouldn’t be missed, around the world. We have selected five of the best destinations, but if you’re passionate about diving, exploring oceans and coming into contact with amazing underwater species, you can find countless corners of the planet to whet your appetite with exceptional travel experiences.
If you want to discover new diving sites, check UnderwaterPhotography.com
If you would like to know more about scuba diving trips, please don’t hesitate to ask us.