1. Little Cayman, British West Indies
Most Caribbean diving has suffered over the last 20 years from overuse and pollution, but Little Cayman is still a pristine spot. On the northern shore of the 10-mile long island, you can dive the breathtaking Bloody Bay Wall and Jackson’s Point, where a sheer coral cliff drops 6,000 feet into a submarine trench.
2. Surin and Similan Islands, Thailand
This pearly string of islands in the Andaman Sea is home to a cornucopia of little-visited dive sites. At Koh Bon, a great pinnacle rises from the ocean attracting groups of game-fish, whale sharks, mantas and beautiful leopard sharks. Richelieu Rock is another popular dive site, famous among for the sea-life teeming in its coral slopes.
3. Sharm El-Sheikh, Egyptian Red Sea
Egypt boasts some of the best diving in the Red Sea, and if you can navigate the strong winds, dangerous currents and dangerous reefs, you will be treated to wrecks such as the SS Thistlegorm. Enjoy winding your way through the ship’s rusted hull and cargo, including train carriages, motorbikes and ghostly trucks.
4. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A name that speaks for itself – indisputably the most famous dive spot in the world. Despite thousands of visitors each year, there are still over 400 coral species and 1,500 types of sea life in this crystal-clear water, much of it undamaged. Located off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia, the reef is so enormous that is can be seen from outer space.
5. Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas
Officially designated one of the Top 77 Natural Wonders of the World, the divine Dean’s Blue Hole (view) is located on Long Island in one the most gorgeous vacation and dive spots on earth (see our luxury leasing opportunity at Innocence Island). The deepest undersea cave in the world, it drops 663 feet into ethereal blue. After descending 66 ft, the hole widens considerably into an underwater cavern that you can explore to your heart’s content.
This tiny nation, with a coast on the Gulf of Mexico, boasts the second-longest barrier reef in the world. There’s a diving zone called Shark Ray Alley, where you will come face-to-face with toothy sharks and stingrays. Or, for a more serene dive, try the shallow reefs of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Ambergris Caye, or the infamous Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef Atoll.
7. Beqa Lagoon, Fiji
Roughly an hour’s boat ride from the main island of Viti Levu, Beqa Lagoon is world-famous for its rainbow soft corals and underwater formations. Daily boat tours give visitors the freedom of at least two long dives, taking you through Caesar’s Rocks, Nisici Rocks and Side Streets – three especially prime spots filled with wavy corals, tropical fish and blue ribbon eels.
8. Cocos Island
This lush Pacific island 250 miles southwest of Costa Rica was featured in Jurassic Park and once described by Jacques Cousteau as “the most beautiful” island in the world. Hammerhead sharks and other large fish are pretty much guaranteed as you explore this timeless ecological treasure.
9. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Every June to September, the warm waters off Isla Mujeres are full of hundreds of whale sharks, migrating up the Yucatan coast. Guides will take you for a half-day in the water with these gentle sea giants, and it is an experience you will never forget.
If you’re searching for big game, then Darwin’s Arch may be the best dive in the world. It doesn’t have the reefs, but it’s got all the large animals – whale sharks, throngs of giant sea turtles, Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, moray eels, eagle rays and schools of hammerheads. Best of all, you can see ALL these creatures in a single dive.