When the temperatures are ideal and the waters are crystal clear, scuba diving provides a kind of thrill and excitement that is totally unparalleled. The real possibility of exploring the sea from close quarters entices many travelers to visit some of the most picturesque coasts in the world. However, most of the divers have their own personal lists where they like to dive and most of them offer superb underwater experiences. Most of these sites are open for both seasoned divers and those strapping on the wetsuit for the 1st time. In this article I would like to take the opportunity to share my 5 favorite scuba diving destinations. These destinations, I need to hit before I die.
1) Phuket, Thailand
Known as the “Pearl of the South,” the waters here are brimming with marine life and there is a wide range of diving opportunities like caves and shipwrecks. The “live aboard” cruises are very popular here which basically means that you live on a boat, dive for many days without ever setting foot on land. If you want to explore the grottos and swim with the manta rays then these trips are ideal for you. There are many day trips also which brings you near one of the many diving spots in the Andaman Sea. The best season for scuba diving in Phuket is between October & May.
2) Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole has been declared as one of the must-do diving experiences in the world, even if the dive itself doesn’t tend to be that spectacular. Many term the area as a geological wonder. A 410-ft deep sinkhole has been created with the Belize Barrier Reef System. It looks like a bottomless pit from above and it offers a great experience for the divers. I had the opportunity to dive here and it felt like coming close to the edge of the world. It boasts of a diverse marine life and it’s easy to encounter the groupers and the great barracuda. Geologists have been amused by the bottom topography that consists of sand, reef and different varieties of coral. The visibility is fair as it extends well beyond 150ft.
3) Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos are lovely islands located to the north of Hispaniola and considered very much part of Bahamas. This is a very popular tourist spot and Grand Turk is a dream place for any scuba diver. The natural surroundings are simply awesome and the government has taken adequate steps to protect the region from unplanned development. The divers have the opportunity to dive around the untouched reefs and drop-offs. There are as many as three tour operators which operate boat rides to bring you to the areas where one can view the dolphins and eels. The best time to visit is between April and July.
4) Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is the biggest barrier reef in the world and the most famous diving location. It has thousands of colorful corals with millions and millions of fish swimming in and out of the many cracks. The underwater scene resembles one of those computer screensavers which we always downloaded. The waters are very clear and the divers come face to face with the clownfish and the ever friendly grouper. The warm-water reefs of Bermuda, Thailand and the Caribbeans are very famous but nothing comes close to the Great Barrier Reef.
5) Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The Grand Cayman is known as the ultimate in Caribbean diving sites and it has all the features which a scuba diver may demand. The weather is beautiful throughout the year and the area receives little rain only during the summer months. The waters are warm and very clear which makes the setting perfect for exploring the reefs and watching the stingrays in their natural habitat. There are a number of reputed scuba areas which are good even for those who are new to the world of scuba diving. The peak season starts from the middle of December and one should always come here between mod-December and mid-April. Try to avoid the summer months as there are serious hurricane threats during this period.
There are many other world class scuba diving sites like The Red Sea (Egypt), Bay Islands (Honduras) and Manta Ray Night Drive (Hawaii). However, the above-mentioned 5 are my personal must-see’s as each one has some unique features and good for both seasoned divers and beginners.