Scuba Lover’s Pilgrimage: 10 Best Diving Destinations

Global Citizen By Jenny Horowitz April 7, 2017

Marine biologists have found we’ve only explored less than five percent of the world’s oceans. But with what we have explored, we’ve learned that the deep, blue sea has loads to offer.

Besides beneficial natural resources, like minerals and marine life, the ocean is also an immaculate escape from life on the land. Below we dive through some of the best scuba spots in the world.

1. S.S. Yongala, Queensland, Australia


Dive depth: 25-30 meters

Difficulty level: Intermediate

How to get there: 3-hour boat ride from Townsville or 30 minutes from Ayr, Queensland

In 1911, a year before the Titanic, the S.S. Yongala sank during a cyclone in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of Queensland. Over 100 passengers were lost at sea and never found, including a racehorse named Moonshine. In 1958, the vessel was finally identified, and in 1981, the Yongala was given official protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

Considered one of the best dive sites on the planet, this 100-meter-long shipwreck is flush with marine life. Divers can find clouds of fish, sea snakes, manta rays, turtles, and bull and tiger sharks dwelling among its spectacular coral.

2. Gordon Rocks, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador


Dive depth: 6-40 meters

Difficulty level: Advanced

How to get there: An hour boat ride from Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island

The Galapagos Islands are located at a major intersection of several ocean currents, bringing all walks of marine life together. Schools of hammerhead sharks are often found circling the extinct volcanic crater rocks through the current. Other frequent visitors include sea turtles, sea lions, majestic manta rays, and tons of tropical fish. Due to strong surge and currents, the Gordon Rocks are considered to be more suitable for advanced divers.

3. Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia

Dive depth: 8-30 meters

Difficulty level: Advanced

How to get there: An hour ride from Koror by boat

Favored by pelagic fish, the Blue Corner Wall is one of the best places to dive in Palau. Along the western reefs of Palau, strong currents rush towards Blue Corner and hit a thick reef wall, causing deep, rich waters to surge upward. It’s an epic sight and a hot spot for sharks, morays, barracuda, eagle rays, snappers, green turtles, electric blue red-toothed triggerfish, hundreds of pyramid butterfly fish, and other marine life.

4. Sistema Dos Ojos, Playa del Carmen, Mexico


Dive depth: 119 meters

Difficulty level: Beginner

How to get there: Drive to the cave from Playa del Carmen

Famous for being the site of a record-breaking 150-meter free dive, Sistema Dos Ojos sits between the towns of Akumal and Tulum. The flooded freshwater cave system goes on for 80 kilometers and is made up of different passages and “rooms.” The blue, green, and purple rooms feature candle-drip stalactites and a variety of fish. Since there isn’t a current, this cavern is among the top scuba diving destinations for beginners, attracting over 100 tourists a day.

5. Great Blue Hole, Belize


Dive depth: 125 meters

Difficulty level: Advanced

How to get there: Two-hour boat ride from San Pedro or Caye Caulker Island

Formed during the last ice age, the Great Blue Hole of Belize is a 125-meter-deep, 300-meter-wide, sinkhole outlined by coral reef. The water is crystal clear until you descend about 15 meters down where the warm salt water turns cool. Dive down another 25 meters down and you’ll find stalactites and stalagmites in ancient caverns made up of karst limestone formations. Divers like to come here to watch enormous tuna and other pelagic fish dive into the hole to clean themselves.

6. Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona, Hawaii


Dive depth: Up to six meters

Difficulty level: Beginner

How to get there: Quick boat ride off the Kona coast

In an effort to observe the manta rays, a team of divers decided to connect underwater lights along the ocean floor. They knew that the lights would attract plankton, which in turn would attract huge, beautiful manta rays.

Today, divers of all experience levels can swim with these gentle giants just off the Kona coast. Visitors are encouraged to bring a high-powered flash light for extra visibility.

7. Point Murat Navy Pier, Western Australia


Dive depth: Up to 20 meters

Difficulty level: Intermediate

How to get there: Dive off the pier in Exmouth

300 meters from the Exmouth shore, Point Murat Navy Pier attracts divers from all around the world. But since the pier is still a working U.S. navy base, security is strict so you’ll need your passport to get near it. Fishing from the pier is illegal so the marine life surrounding it is phenomenal.

Popular for night diving, the T-shaped structure is 300-meters-wide and home to eels, white tipped sharks, octopuses, woebegone, lion and scorpion fish, stargazers, and more. If you’re lucky, you may even come across huge rays dozing in the sand.

8. U.S.S. Liberty, Bali, Indonesia


Dive depth: 3-30 meters

Difficulty level: Intermediate

How to get there: Swim 30 meters off the northeast coast of Tulamben Beach

Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in World War II, the U.S.S. Liberty was beached in Tulamben until 1963, when the Gunung Agung Volcano erupted and sent the wreck 30 meters off the coast to waste on a mountain of black ash and sand.

Considered a safe diving spot, the 120-meter wreck is now popular for being totally encrusted in anemone, gorgonians, and corals with its unique, black sand offering a beautiful contrast. Big-eyed trevally and over 400 other species of fish, including goatfish, wrasse, and surgeonfish are also frequently sighted at the U.S.S. Liberty.

9. Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia


Dive depth: 5-40 meters

Difficulty level: Advanced

How to get there: Only five minutes by boat from the beach in North East of Sipadan

Hands down: Barracuda Point at Sipadan Island is one of the best dives in the world. A wall of coral offers a habitat for bump head parrot fish, batfish, sea turtles, groupers, jacks, hammerhead sharks, flapping rays, and, of course, barracudas. Occasionally, a strong current will come along with schools of all kinds of fish swimming through like rush-hour traffic.

10. S.S. President Coolidge, Vanuatu

Dive depth: 20-60 meters

Difficulty level: Advanced

How to get there: Find the wreck 50 meters off the shore of Vanuatu

Originally launched as a luxury ocean liner in 1931, the S.S. President Coolidge was later transformed into a troop carrier during World War II. This 198-meter ship later sank after hitting one of America’s own mines, between the island Espiritu Santo and Tutuba.

Today, S.S. President Coolidge is fully protected by law and has been designated a Marine Reserve. Recommended for expert divers only, the wreck is still fully intact with chandeliers, cannons, trucks, and even a mosaic swimming pool.

Dreaming to go to any of these scuba diving destinations? Learn how to get certified here. Or, if you prefer activities on land or snow, take a peek at our pilgrimages for hiking and skiing.