10 Bucket List Dive Sites for Every Diver
With thousands of beautiful dives to choose from around the world, it’s difficult to choose a “Top Ten”. However, we are happy to present ten of the best chosen by Dive Travel Review. Have you already visited all ten? We invite you to let us know your personal top 3 in the comments below.
1. Magic Mountain – Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Ranked first in our list is “Magic Mountain”, also known as “Shadow Reef”. Located in the very south of Raja Ampat, in the Misool region, this is the top site in this incredible area. No need to add that it should also rank….1st (you guessed it!) in your bucket list.
What’s so special about it? Raja Ampat, declared a sanctuary for sharks and rays in 2010, is the global epicentre of marine biodiversity. It’s home to both species of manta rays, the reef and the oceanic, who come to visit cleaner fish that clean them of parasites. The period from late October to the end of April is the best time to see these giants rays in large numbers.
If the rays aren’t enough, there are thousands of schooling fish that call this pinnacle home. Although it may be hard to spot them as the incredible colours of the soft corals are so distracting.
2. South Pass Fakarava – French Polynesia
This spot could very well be called “Shark Wall” because of its main feature, a wall of grey reef sharks!
Indeed, most divers have reported never seeing so many sharks in their life. We can vouch for that! Imagine having hundreds and hundreds of sharks swimming only a few metres in front of you! It truly is a breathtaking experience.
The sharks are not the only residents of Fakarava. Napoleon wrasse, barracudas, large marbled groupers, huge trevally and giant schools of blue lined snappers are ever present.
Honoured as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is truly an exceptional diving site that should rank very, very high on your list.
3. Hanifaru – Baa Atoll, Maldives
Another UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Hanifaru is special in so many ways. While it’s common to spot stingrays you won’t want to miss the hundreds of reef manta rays that call it home.
Disclaimer: diving is no longer allowed here, it’s a snorkeling only location.
In Hanifaru, you will have the chance to witness what is referred to as manta ray “Cyclone Feeding”. Hundreds of manta rays rather when the conditions are right to feed in formation. The plankton rich waters create an “All You Can Eat” buffet for this graceful and gentle creatures.
4. Darwins Arch – Galapagos, Ecuador
Darwins Arch, on the south east corner of Darwin Island, is the best dive site in the Galapagos Islands. In terms of a liveaboard experience, this is the dream location of liveaboard aficionados. The site is only accessible by liveaboard which creates a sense of remoteness, like you are diving in your own personal dive site.
Consequently, you won’t meet a crowd while diving this incredible destination. You should, however, have plenty of marine life company. In between the dolphins and turtles, you will have the chance to mingle with plenty of hammerheads and whale sharks. For the latter, the months of June–December are the best for spotting the largest fish in the world. Diving Darwins Arch is addictive! It’s guaranteed that you will want to dive it over and over and over again. Consider yourself warned!
5. Blue Corner – Palau
If you are looking for one of the most action packed scuba diving sites in the world, book a trip to Palau and head straight to Blue Corner. Sharks, turtles, anthias, butterflyfish, and the emperor of our oceans, the Napoleon wrasse, are all present in large numbers here. Schooling trevally and barracuda might also join your dive, particularly to say goodbye during safety stops. Of course, we can’t forget the beautiful coral formations throughout the site.
We would highly recommend the use of a reef hook here. This handy device was invented in Palau, so listen to the briefing to understand how to use it properly. Currents can be fairly strong here so it’s best to have a good deal of experience before tackling this advanced dive site.
6. Cabo Pearce – Socorro, Mexico
Socorro Island is where giant oceanic manta rays welcome you. Oceanic mantas are very curious and love to greet divers through repetitive eye contact. They often come very close to humans, sometimes less than 1 mete away. With an average wingspan of 6 meters, no need to say that the experience will be mesmerizing.
Mantas are not the only attractions though. Whale sharks, bottlenose dolphins, various sharks species, and big schools of fish are found in the waters of this UNESCO Heritage Site. If you are lucky, you may even encounter the beautiful sounds of humpback whale song during your dives.
7. Shark and Yolanda Reef – Ras Mohammed, Egypt
Located where the waters of the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqab meet, Ras Mohammed is an unforgettable dive spot thanks to a spectacular array of fish, diverse coral reefs, and luxurious walls.
The premier site of the area is Shark and Yolanda Reefs, two attached offshore pinnacles. Shark Reef is home to innumerable barracuda, snappers and Napoleon wrasse and don’t forget the sharks. On the Yolanda Reef side of life, your diving buddies consist of a melting pot of batfish, giant moray eels, jacks, sting rays, and lyretail hogfish. This drift dive is a site not to be missed when visiting the Red Sea.
8. North Save-a-Tack, Fiji
The Namena Reserve is Fiji’s best area to dive. In North Save-a-Tack, divers are often amazed at how beautiful the soft coral covered bommies are. These of course attract schools of big fish such as bigeye jtrevally and redtooth triggerfish. When these schools gather around the coral bommies there is a good chance to witness incredible natural selection. Grouper, sharks, snappers, and trevally all come for an easy meal when conditions are right Choose your champion and feel the “Fast & Furious” vibe as the predators dive bomb their prey.
If that isn’t enough, the reserve is in the migratory path of both whales and dolphins. Sea turtles also take advantage of the many tiny islands to lay their eggs on the beach. Such an expansive concentration of life requires at least a couple of days of diving to fully appreciate.
9. Alcyone – Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Only reachable by boat, Cocos is an uninhabited island resting 342 miles off Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.
The converging nutrient-rich currents from nearby deep water attracts multitudes of pelagic life to the islands. The main attractions are schooling hammerheads, galapagos, white tip, black tip, and tiger sharks. If you’re lucky, you might even encounter a whale shark in the blue.
Alcyone is THE spot to see schooling hammerheads. A deep pinnacle of around 30 metres in depth, the dive is not a long one but is well worth the effort. Once settled on the top of the pinnacle it’s easy to sit back and watch hundreds of these incredible sharks cruise past.
10. The Cenotes – Mexico
Back to Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula, majestic relics of ancient civilizations can be found in the incredible fresh water caves known as “The Cenotes”. The Cenotes are particularly fun to dive because the seemingly endless cave systems stretch throughout large parts of the area with no two the same. The fresh water is normally crystal clear near the surface and the ceilings are full of stalactites. The play of light near the entry to the caves creates an incredible visual sensation.
Please note, diving in caverns means you will be in an overhead environment. Particular local safety measures must be followed to dive safely.
Tell us where you are going next? We really love hearing feedback from other divers, as it’s the only way to get up to date and reliable information. Have a great time on your next diving trip and let us know if you get to dive one of these Top 10 Bucket List Dives!