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Top 10 Scuba Diving Spots in the World

posted in: Guides  |  posted by: Ian Harrison on June 15, 2008  |  11 Comments

Scuba has come a long way since development as a United States warfare tactic in World War II. Now a sport, or recreation rather, that spans the globe and counts millions of faithful adherents, scuba is a veritable industry and vital mini-slice of the world tourism pie.

Much like golf, people plan entire vacations around their ability to secure that elusive perfect dive. Clear waters, a myriad of colourful flora and fauna and perhaps some cool caves and sunken relics are all highly sought after features. Steep prices are paid to secure the best underwater eye candy, in paradisical backdrops no less.

With that in mind, here is a Top 10 countdown of the best places in the world for avid proponents of scuba.

10. The Red Sea, Egypt

With a surfeit of endemic sea life, unique to the region, and loads of reefs with proprietary ecosystems, the Red Sea offers divergent scuba experiences. The benefits of a trip here are twofold: supreme spots for eager divers and a rich cultural heritage and history that few other locations in the world can lay claim to.

The Red Sea, Egypt

9. Bali, Indonesia

Lush, exotic Bali is the jewel of Indonesia and a haven for a variety of tourism pursuits. From luxury resorts to spas, recreation to wild nature, the island is a complete destination. That certainly is the case for avid scuba participants, who flock here for some of the best marine biodiversity in the world, first class instructors and a plethora of elusive, secret dive spots.

Great hotel deals in exquisite Bali await.

Giant ray in Bali, Indonesia

8. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

One of the superlative wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef is without rival when it comes to natural awe and splendor. There are several ways to see and explore Great Barrier but for insiders, the only way to appreciate the behemoth is to scuba dive. The coral reefs are famous as a preeminent spot to observe kaleidoscopic aquatic life.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

7. Palau, Micronesia

With a 90 mile coral lagoon, well over 1,000 types of fish, from barracuda to jelly to shark, the islands that comprise Palau in Micronesia are a splendid spot for scuba. A paradise above water as well, Palau is one of the few places left on Earth where you feel a million miles from civilization and are grateful for it.

Jellyfish in Palau, Micronesia

6. Cozumel, Mexico

The popular vacation destination of Cozumel boasts some of the best resorts in Mexico and indeed the Americas. With 19 distinct reefs and a host of deep dives that go down as far as 3,000 feet, Cozumel is also a favourite with scuba fans. For spectacular tunnels, caves and caverns, there are few better locations in the world.

Cozumel, Mexico

5. Belize

Belize is a country that packs more ecodiversity in one square mile than any other on the planet. The landscape explodes with plant and animal life of incredible endemic variety. Underwater the attractions are no less special, as Belize boasts a wide range of reef types for scuba divers, each with a unique set of characteristics that ensure a memorable stay no matter your level of experience.

School of fish in Belize

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Tread in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and indeed, the evolution of life on Earth, as you explore a place that enthralls like no other. The Galapagos Islands, under the domain of Ecuador, are much more than a hub of scientific discovery. Eureka moments are available to the layman as well, as scuba divers can mingle freely underwater with tortoises, penguins and a host of other wildlife.

Hammerhead sharks, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

3. Cayman Islands

The Carribean’s favorite tax shelter and offshore financial center boasts some of the best dive spots on the planet. Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have a fabulous geography for lovers of the sport. As former peaks of mountains which now underwater, offer sheer drops and shelter from perilous conditions, the more than 100 dive locals around the Caymans provide calm and unspoiled beauty for divers.

Scuba diver off the coast of Grand Cayman

2. Papua New Guinea

Once a secret gem for divers in Australia and the South Pacific at large, Papua New Guinea is now fair game as a prime scuba destination. The area has it all. No matter what your taste, from deep drops and shallow reefs, private lagoons and atolls and perhaps best of all, pristine wrecks – a contradiction but nonetheless – that harken back to World War II. Did we mention a treasure trove of exotic aquatic life?

Clown fish in Papua New Guinea

1. Costa Rica

Although a recent player on the scuba scene, at least in terms of mainstream awareness, the recreation and indeed, tourism in general in Costa Rica, has undergone explosive growth. It stems from the government’s superb efforts to galvanize ecotourism in the country, which by all accounts is one of the most diverse in the world. Thus, it makes perfect sense to venture here for memorable scuba. Start with the eagle rays at Punta Gorda and then venture off to Murcielagos Island and the Catalinas for a wealth of sea life. From sharks to mantas to angelfish and gorgeous coral reefs, Costa Rica has it all – and that includes terrific hotels.

Manta rays, Costa Rica

Responses to this Article

11 Responses to “Top 10 Scuba Diving Spots in the World”

  1. Scuba Diving says on

    Great roundup of locations there. I went to Tulum, Mexico in April and it was one of the best dive experiences of my life. Looking forward to going to the Red Sea in August on a dive boat, definitely need to check out some of these other places!

  2. Aaron says on

    I went to the Gilli Islands off Bali, fantasic diving with few people to spoil the peace. Fantatstic

  3. Nima says on

    I did my IDC in Cairns (GBR) . I would give it a 6.5 (scale of 0-10).

    Question regarding Costa Rica: How is the climate, any rainy season or so ?

    Happy diving,


  4. Dennis says on


    All year round whale sharks, manta, gray’s, white tips, pinnacles, corals, channels, middle of nowhere in the Indian ocean.

  5. Sacha Webber-Cross says on

    Just noticed that the Cocos Islands are missing from the Costa Rica win. The Cocos are definetly the best diving off Costa Rica, if not in the world. No other place in the world has such a prolific amount of pelagics. My visit to the Cocos will stay in my memory for ever! WOW

  6. shutterhack says on

    Sipadan, Perhentian and Redang in Malaysia are also great paradises for divers.

  7. Birgit says on

    I was diving in Belize a couple of years ago, and diving in The Blue Hole was the craziest think I’ve ever experienced… That was such a blast! Great barrier reef was wonderful as well, but The Blue Hole.. I doubt anything can beat that!!

  8. Tom says on

    For those of you, who have not dive in Palau, Just try it, and you will be amazed that there is no other place like it.

  9. deden says on

    maybe, you can check another dive spot in indonesia. The whole divers in the world must be know this place.

    Rank 1. Raja Ampat, Papua
    Rank 2. Bunaken, north sulawesi
    Rank 3. Wakatobi Island, Southeast Sulawesi
    Rank 4. Rinca Island, National Park Komodo, East Nusa Tenggara
    Rank 5. Tulamben, Bali
    Rank 6. Sabang, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam
    Rank 7. Karimun Island, Central Java
    So many more.. Just visit them. :)

  10. Bob12 says on

    You should definitely add The Similan Islands to your list. I worked over there as a PADI scuba Instructor for 2 months and it is fantastic!!

  11. Suzie Gerárd says on

    GBR – Australia is awesome !
    Raja Ampat (King Four) and Bunaken in Indonesia are gorgeous too !
    you all guys must try ém :D



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