10 Best Places To Scuba Dive For Your World Travel Bucket List


10 Best Places To Scuba Dive

For Your World Bucket List


(The following is a guest post from Justin Carmack of True Nomads, which focuses on his diving adventures around the world. You can follow Justin on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  If you’re a blogger interested in guest posting, please email us at [email protected])


As a Responsible Scuba Diving addict, I’m always searching for the best, most serene and untouched dive sites in the world. I prefer those that offer plenty of flora and fauna, especially when they’re completely unique to the rest of the world.


Of course it’s always important to dive responsibly, so we can keep these out-of-this-world dive locations pristine.


It’s hard to compare my favorite sites, as each one offers something a little different. But if you only have a limited amount of travel time (and budget), these are my picks for the world’s 10 Best Places to Scuba Dive.


Sea Turtle in Sipadan, by Robert Biuk Aghai via- CC

Sea Turtle in Sipadan, by Robert Biuk Aghai via- CC


Sipadan, Borneo 

Sipadan is a small island– about 30 acres total– that lies on the border of Indonesia and Malaysia in Borneo. Most dive pros (including the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau) agree that the numerous sites found around Sipadan Island deserve to be listed among the world’s best places to Scuba dive. Sites with names like Lobster Wall, Froggie Lair, Barracuda Point and Turtle Cave basically say it all. If I had to choose, this is my #1 place to go diving!

Hammerhead Shark in Cocos Island, Costa, by Dr. Ricaby Blofeld

Hammerhead Shark in Cocos Island, Costa, by Dr. Ricaby Blofeld


Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Cocos Island is one of the more difficult and expensive dive locations on the list to get to, but it’s a must-see for scuba lovers. The island is more than 300 miles offshore from Costa Rica, and is highly protected (i.e. all human habitation is prohibited). The only way to dive it is on live-aboard ships from the mainland. But this amazing marine reserve was listed as a candidate for the new 7 Wonders of Nature, and ranked second in the islands category. If you’ve ever yearned to be in the middle of a giant tornado of hammerhead sharks and barracudas, this is the place!




Red Sea of Dahab, Egypt

There is one up-side to the constant revolutions and turmoil in Egypt: For the most part, tourists have stayed away, and the epic reef system and marine life have been allowed to flourish. I’ve gone diving all around the world and have not seen many places that can compare to the abundance of marine life here. I did my Divemaster training here right after a revolution, and had pristine sites like the famous Blue Hole, Lighthouse and even the huge SS Thistlegorm wreck (which Jacques-Yves Cousteau discovered) all to myself. This is one place I would NOT dive without a camera.



Coral Trout inside school of Cardinal Fish via Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Coral Trout inside school of Cardinal Fish via Great Barrier Reef Marine Park


The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

What sort of top 10 diving sites list would this be without including the Great Barrier reef? It’s easily the biggest reef system in the world, with 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 1,400 miles. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space, and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. So the next time you are in Queensland, make sure to cross “diving the Great Barrier Reef” off your bucket list by finding a good dive boat to take you out. It’s an experience of a lifetime!




Kona Mantas, Hawaii

If you ever wanted to get up close and personal with giant manta rays, this is the best place to do it. Kona Mantas also attracts tons of dolphins, humpback whales and other big fish, but they are most famous for their giant mantas. The most popular dive here is the nighttime one, wherein divers kneel in the sand and shine their lights up to illuminate the plankton. Then the giant mantas– some with a span of 16 feet– come gliding in to put on a memorable show.



Mary's Place, Roatan, Honduras by Tourismroatan.com

Mary’s Place, Roatan, Honduras by Tourismroatan.com


Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

The best dive site in Roatan is perhaps Mary’s Place. It has a sheer-walled crevasse advanced divers can explore (or beginners can dive over) and see out-of-this-world sights such as black coral fans, anemones, huge seahorses, giant rainbow parrotfish and tons of alien-looking formations. This memorable site is not only a must-see, but it’s also one of the cheapest to get to and dive. So there are no excuses not to check out the virtually guaranteed abundant and colorful marine life.



Galapagos Rays via GalapagosPark.org via Carols Pi

Galapagos Rays via GalapagosPark.org via Carols Pi


Darwin’s Arch, Galapagos, Ecuador

If you’re more into giant marine species than reef landscapes and macro photography, this is probably the best dive site in the world for you. Here is a preview of the lineup that you’re likely to see in ONE dive: massive whale sharks, ample Galapagos sharks, more sea turtles than you can imagine, tiger sharks on the safety stop, giant free-swimming moray eels, huge eagle rays, and enough hammerhead sharks circling above you that they blot out the sunlight. I’m pretty sure you’ll wind up declaring this the best dive of your life.



Coral_reefs_in_papua_new_guinea_Mila Zinkova_via_CC

Coral reefs, Papua New Guinea by Mila Zinkova via CC


Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea

Divers don’t come to Kimbe Bay for the big sharks or manta rays, but rather the macro photography opportunities and huge diversity of fish. Diving here could be compared to being inside a fully stocked aquarium. There are dozens of dive sites to choose from in the area, and they can basically be put in one of two groups: well-developed reefs near shore and intriguing sea-mounts and pinnacles (such as Bradford Shoals) which rise up from the deeper offshore waters of the bay. Try them all if you get there, and you’ll be the envy of many divers who’d love to put this place in their dive logs!



Nudibranch_Anilao_Philippines_Jayvee Fernande_via_CC

Nudibranch in Anilao, Philippines by Jayvee Fernande_via_CC


Secret Bay, Anilao, Philippines

Anilao is a macro heaven for underwater photographers, offering an incredible variety of tiny species. If you’re a nudibranch lover, this is definitely the place you’ll find them. Anilao is located about 3 hours south of Manila on the island of Luzon, in the Batangas province of the Philippines. So it’s fairly easy to get there. Divers are drawn to this place because of its healthy reef and sheer numbers of macro critters and unique species. It should definitely be on your diving bucket list, but it will spoil you for any future diving you do!




San Francisco Maru by Fourthelement.com


The San Francisco Maru, Chuuk, Micronesia

Discovered in 1972, the San Francisco Maru sits upright. The cargo holds contain sea mines, torpedoes, bombs, artillery, aircraft engines, anti-tank and small arms munitions, two Japanese tanks and many more WW2 artifacts. This is a deep, technical dive at between 40-58 meters, but is a must-see for those who qualify. As one of the biggest, most well-preserved shipwrecks in the world, the San Francisco Maru is worth a trip to Micronesia in and of itself. But if that’s not enough for you, the islands dotted around the area are littered with tons of WW2 wrecks, many of which lie in shallow depths. -text and videos by Justin Carmack


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  1. I can’t believe Justin put together this post for you and did not even mention Sardinia!! Funny, I was just gonna say I would share this with him as he is so into diving, and then I realise he wrote it!
    Claudia recently posted..Highlights of ChileMy Profile

  2. These are stunning images. I will have to be content with the photos the brave and lucky people like you have taken unless I come back in another life as fish.

  3. Great choice. I will soon head to Roatan and look forward to diving there. I also dove on the Galapagos but at Kicker Rock and not at Darwin’s Arch.

  4. Yeah, the closest I’ve been to scuba diving is snuba in Belize…and I didn’t even know how to swim well! But it was a beautiful experience as I’m sure scuba is from the looks of these photos.

  5. I love this list. We have a friend who is a big fan of diving in the Philippines, she goes every year and I’m not surprised it made it on this list!
    Now I really have to go and try it there!

  6. We’ve dived in the Red Sea from off Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – amazing sights! In Kona, we expected to see manta rays on our manta night dive, but the time we went was the one night in the year the manta rays decided not to appear. Bad luck for us :-). Now, Cocos Island sounds interesting…
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..21 random thoughts on YangonMy Profile

  7. Hi Justin,

    What a list of sites!

    Not a diver here but I heard the locals and tourists rave about the diving in Savusavu, Fiji. I’ve not seen such crystal clear water anywhere in the world and I blog from paradises all over this globe 😉 Amazing images; I have heard awesome things about diving around the Cocos Islands. May be time for me to take a dip 😉

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..3 Steps to Sprint from Employee to Entrepreneur (1080 HD Video in Bali)My Profile

    • Like Larissa, I too love deep water snorkeling and these are some amazing must try destinations!! Would add Sri Lanka to the diving list too.
      Amazing images!

  8. Ooh what an inspiring list! I’ve always wanted to go to the Galapagos but definitely a few more additions for my”dive bucket list” here!

    I’d add Momi Bay in Fiji – we had an incredible few days of diving there with great fish, coral and plenty of sharks and dolphins as well.
    Katie recently posted..Two nights in TakayamaMy Profile

  9. Ahh, this post makes me want to grab my diving gear and book a flight to somewhere right away!! I miss being under the water!

    I haven’t dived in any of these places – so I’ve got quite a bit of work to do. May potentially going to Egypt for some diving in the summer though! Dived in Indonesia and Thailand last year but didn’t make it to the Philippines!
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  12. Uff! Lovely Post. I love these places. There are so may cool places to see, and I’m broke. Would someone sponsor a dive trip for me?

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  14. Nice article. I’ll just add San Fruttuoso and its infamous Christ of the Abyss underwater statue. Dived once there and was quite astonished. Definitely recommend it!

  15. Recently I was wondering what would make my life more thrilling… and here it is! I’ve just bought 2 tickets to Hawaii and, as you see, I didn`t hesitate too long. I can`t wait to go swimming with the dolphins and the other ocean creatures. I am pretty sure It will take my breath away!