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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.