Diving is a unique and wonderful sport. Very few activities combine physical exercise with the opportunity to explore some of the most exotic and beautiful sights that the natural world has to offer. Divers are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing good locations with plenty to see. From the Great Barrier Reef of Australia to pirate shipwrecks in the Caribbean, there is an endless array of possible experiences open to those who seek them out. Below we consider five of the best diving destinations according to a number of factors; the marine life on display, the history of the dive site, and its standing amongst respected and experienced members of the diving community.
Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Barracuda Point, located just off the small Malaysian island of Sipadan, is one of the most popular dive spots in the world and is considered by many to be the definitive diving experience. The location offers all the ingredients necessary for a memorable dive; crystal clear waters, a kaleidoscope of colours from the various fish and coral on display there, and a host of other marine life. The site is named for the large school of barracuda which can be seen there. The site is also of interest because it was formed atop an extinct volcano over thousands of years, giving the area a unique geography in addition to its diverse marine life offerings.
The Yongala, Australia
The wreck of the Yongala, located in Queensland, Australia, is another world-renowned dive site, and with good reason. The ship was sunk in 1911 by an unexpected cyclone. The death toll was all 122 passengers and crew, as well as a prizewinning racehorse called Moonshine, and a red Lincolnshire Bull, name unknown. It is believed that the ship sank because she sailed without telegraphing equipment, meaning that there was no way to warn the crew of the unfavourable weather conditions ahead. Since 1981 the wreck of the Yongala has, along with a number of other sites in Australia (more than any other nation), had protected status as a historic site of interest. It is a popular site for diving schools to take recently qualified divers. Among the diverse range of marine life that calls the Yongala their home are octopuses, sea snakes (if you find one leave them be!), turtles, tiger sharks, octopuses, manta rays, and coral. Owing to its protected status, divers aren’t allowed to enter the ship itself.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole in Belize is a legendary dive site and has a reputation for being deadly to the unprepared. In fact, the site has claimed the lives of so many less experienced divers that divers are required to have logged at least 24 dives previously before being taken on site by any of the official groups who run dives. This hasn’t deterred everyone though, and a number of younger, less experienced divers have died because they didn’t take the danger seriously. For experienced divers, however, the Great Blue Hole offers a unique experience. There is less fish on display than at other popular dive sites, but there is the occasional shark. The site also contains an underground cave network full of stalagmites and stalactites.
USS Liberty, Bali, Indonesia
The USS Liberty is another shipwreck, located just 30 metres from the shores of Bali in Indonesia. This dive spot is popular for its accessibility, both in terms of its proximity to the shore, and also in terms of its suitability for all experience levels. The site offers reasonably good visibility in most weather, and many of the ship's features are observable to all. The skeletal remains of the ship have become encrusted with coral and other forms of marine life, making it a very popular spot for underwater photography.
Manta Ray Night Dive, Hawaii
A popular experience for locals and tourists alike, quite simply it is a guided dive off the coast of Hawaii that allows divers of all skill levels to get up close to some of the most beautiful nocturnal marine life in the world.
The Earth is huge and with two-thirds of its surface given over to oceans it is no surprise that there are such a wide variety of dive sites all around the world. The five above represent just some of the unforgettable experiences out there. So, get in touch with some diving schools and book your trip today.