The world’s best dive sites

September 4, 2014 |

Nothing says adventure tourism like scuba diving, and luckily there are beautiful sites found all over the world that are perfect for this activity.

Whether travelers are experienced divers who have seen some of the ocean's deepest habitats or are new to the underwater world, there are shipwrecks and coral just waiting to be explored. 

The best dive sites

Divers of all levels likely have a bucket list they hope to accomplish, here are some of the best places that should top the list:

Sheets of ice on this continent are constantly moving, so each visit could have you exploring different parts. Near the Antarctic Peninsula is Petermann Island, it's a great place for those who want to get up close and personal with leopard seals.

The Red Sea in Egypt boasts hundreds of miles of coral and the crystal-clear waters mean divers can easily spot sea creatures that live under the surface. Some of the best places to dive include The Blue Hole, Small Giftun Island, Tiran Strait and Ras Mohamed National Park. Plus, the water is warm so there's never a bad time to visit. 

For the world's largest underground river system, head to Riviera Maya, Mexico. The sinkholes are deep and the sale water separates the fresh water via a halocline. The Angelita and Taj Mahal cenotes feature hydrogen sulfate clouds and breathtaking stalagmite.

Head to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. The islands have been a popular dive destination since the 1970s and sites include Grand Turk, Salt Cay, West Caicos and Grace Bay. This part of the world is home to the third largest coral reef system in the world and features drops plunging hundreds of feet below. There are also shallow reefs, which are great for those who want to snorkel.

Go scuba diving without leaving the U.S. with a visit to Point Lobos State Park in California. The park boats kelp forests with strands of kelp that stand 70 feet high. Keep in mind that the number of divers allowed is limited so secure a permit up to two months before visiting. 

The Similan and Surin islands and Koh Phi Phi are the best spots for scuba divers in Thailand. The visibility is unlike anything you'll find anywhere else in the world and there's a good chance divers will come face-to-face with a whale shark. The best times to visit here are between November and April when the seas are calm. 

Hawaii is a prime location for just about anything tropical. Although there are less fish in Hawaii, the state features some of the rarest species in the world. Visitors to the Big Island can go scuba diving at night where they'll swim with manta rays or explore Lanai's underwater caverns. Some of the state's best dive locations are Cathedrals in Lanai, Niihau, Manta Village on the Big Island, Shark's Cove on Oahu and Maui's Molokini Crater.

For a European dive experience, head to the Silfra Fissure in Iceland's Thingvellir National Park. The tectonic plates are where North American and Europe meet. It's where the clearest water on earth is found and visibility exceeds 300 feet. There isn't much sea life here, but divers will love the colorful algae and seascape.

Perhaps the most well-known dive site in the world is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The reef stretches for 1,430 miles in the northeastern part of the country. There are more than 4,000 separate reefs and islands. The best dive spots on the reef include the S.S. Yongala wreck, Blow Hole, Lighthouse Bommies, Cathedral and Osprey Reef.