Best Dive Sites: Top 15 Dives to Experience Before You Die

With literally thousands  and thousands of dive sites across the World, each with a unique underwater landscape and marine life, not to mention sites yet to be discovered, it’s near impossible to say with absolute certainty that a particular dive site is No.1! Plus, everyone has different ideas about what makes “the best” dive site. However, there some dive sites that always seem to come up in conversations about best dives and have a built reputation among the diving community as the cream of the crop. So while diving experiences anywhere depend on personal perspective as well as a number of other factors like type of dive, weather conditions, visibility, currents and luck as to what you see that day, there are some dive sites definitely worth a visit.

Here’s a look at some of the top rated and most popular dives (in no particular order) to dive before you die –

1.Best Cave/Cavern DivesCenotes of the Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Best Dive Sites of the World - Cenote-Diving-Riviera-Maya

The freshwater-filled limestone sinkholes known as Cenotes situated in the state of Yucatán, Mexico lead to some of the most beautiful and intricate underwater caves and caverns in the World. The natural beauty of these cenotes and caves, with its crystal clear turquoise waters, sunlight reflecting stalactites and stalagmites are truly enigmatic works of art drawing divers the world over to explore its waters. With over 3000 Cenotes, 1400 of which have been studied and recorded it’s impossible to pick just one as the best. The Riviera Maya has the World’s three longest running underwater Cave Sytems – Ox Bel Ha (146.7Km.), Nohoch Nah Chich (61Km.) and Dos Ojos (57.7 Km.). Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Tajmahal and Gran Cenote are some of the notable cenotes here. (For more read: Cenotes: The Underwater Caves of The Riviera Maya, Mexico)

2. Best Wreck DiveSS Yongala, Ayr, Australia

The Best Dive Sites Of The World- SS Yongala

Rated 6th on our list of the World’s Top 10 Wreck Dives, but possibly the most popular wreck dives of all times and highly rated by thousands of divers the world over is the SS Yongala at the Great Barrier. This enchanting Australian passenger ship lying within the Great Barrier Reef Park lay undercover for over half a century since it sank in a cyclone in 1911. Today home to giant groupers, schools of trevally, cobia, turtles and sweeping rays among plenty of others, the ship is only a 30minute journey from the shore. The incredible array of marine life that accompanies the wreck is unmatched. From eagle rays, tiger sharks, bull sharks, giant grouper, turtles to swarms of giant barracuda and schools of bait fish that covers more than the eye can see, the SS Yongala is a Wreck dive site teaming with more life than many a coral reef! (For more read: World’s Top 10 Wreck Dives)

3. Best Wall DiveBlue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia

The Best Dive Sites Of The World - Blue Corner Wall, Palau

Palau in Micronesia is diving hot spot and unarguably one of the best dive destinations in the World! The 200 islands of Palau are surrounded by breathtaking fringing coral reefs, crystal caves and WWII wrecks. Of all attractions on offer to diver’s delights though, the drop off’s and wall dives are in a class of their own. Recognized as one of the best wall dives in the world due to its concentration of marine life, the Blue Corner Wall at the northwest end of Ngemelis Island.This dive site features a shallow coral shelf that projects out into the ocean and has vertical walls on both sides. Not for the faint of heart, this is an advanced dive with sometimes very strong and unpredictable currents which brings in schools of fish and large pelagics to the top edges of the walls. The wall drops from 30 to 1000 feet (10 to 330 meters) or more and is covered with large variety of giant Gorgonian sea fans, hard corals and soft corals.The flat coral plateau on the top extended between the two walls and drops gently on the west to about 45 to 60 feet (15 to 20 meters). Covered in colonies of cabbage corals as well as many varieties of hard and soft corals make the wall a fantastic place for some underwater photography. But, it’s the large schools of fish that makes this site as famous as it is. Sharks, Wahoo, Tuna, Hawks Bill and Green turtles, Eagle Rays, Giant Groupers, and Barracuda, to name but a few species. Two resident Napoleon wrasses often accompany the divers throughout their dive. Diving here almost guarantees you great stories to tell friends and and marine encounters you’ll never forget!

4. Best Manta Ray DiveManta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona, Hawaii

The Best Dive Sites Of The World - Manta Ray Night Dive, Kona Hawaii

The Kona Coast is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with manta rays. Often described as an experience of  lifetime when one chances on one of these magnificent creatures, dive operators in Hawaii plate up this experience with night dive twist making it just spectacular. Divers are given underwater flashlights and are directed to point their beams towards the surface.  The bright lights attract hordes of plankton which in turn bring the mantas as well as a ton of other fish to the vicinity. Much to the delight of divers and snorkelers even the manta rays often swoop, turn and even somersault towards the light where the plankton is plentiful displaying the surprising agility of this creature. More than 60 individual Mantas identified by spots on their underside, have been photographed, cataloged and named as regulars on the Manta Ray Night Dives. (For more read: Must Dive Sites: The Manta Ray Night Dive in Kailua Kona, Hawaii)

5. Best Deep DiveLighthouse Reef Blue Hole, Belize

The Best Dive Sites of the World -  Lighthouse Reef Blue Hole, Belize

More for an adventure dive rather than for the reef or marine life, the Belize Blue Hole is a World famous deep dive site. The almost perfectly circular Blue Hole was created by what was a dry cave system in the Ice Age and is an amazing sight from an areal view as it’s over 1000ft (300 meters) in diameter and 450ft (135 meters) deep. The caves have stalactite formations where the reef is at 110 feet and you can often see hammerhead sharks lurking in the shadows. More a thrill for it’s inky blue depths and upward view of a passage to the sky, the Blue Hole is a hotspot for divers. When it comes to Blue Hole Diving, the Belize Hole is the most well known of the lot. (For more read: Blue Hole Diving and The Most Rewarding Dive Spots In The Caribbean)

Continued in Best Dive Sites: Top 15 Dives to Experience Before You Die -2 includes…

6. Best Drift Dive – Santa Rosa Wall, Cozumel, Mexico
7. Best Ice Dive – Mc Murdo Sound, Antarctica
8. Best Night Dive – Maaya Thila, Maldives
9. Best Kelp Dive – San Clemente, Channel Islands, California

10. Best Coral Reef Life Dives – Sulawesi, Indonesia

Best Dive Sites: Top 15 Dives to Experience Before You Die -3 which includes…

11. Best Big Fish Encounter Dive – Sipadan Island, Borneo, Malaysia
12. Best Shark Dive – Gansbaai, South Africa
13. Best Whale Shark Dive – Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai, Thailand
14. Best Shore Dives – Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
15. Best Liveaboard Dives – Sharm El Sheik and Ras Mohammed, Egypt

*Photo Credits: photos by dMap Travel Guide, stuandgravy, Daniel, Daniel Kwok, cwilso, catherinetodd2 on flickr

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  1. I had a chance to dive Dos Ojos, a cenote in the Yucatan, back in January. Quite a treat, and different from any other dive you’ll probably ever do.

  2. Maybe you forgot to mention Silfra in Iceland? For best vis :).

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