As a professional scuba diver, Isometimes get asked where are the best dive sites. Here’s a list as I rate them.
The scuba sites around the small cluster of islands off the tip of Sulawesi have some of the best marine biodiversity on Earth. I spent most of my dives here searching for pygmy seahorses, but there are more nudibranchs and flat worms than anyone can name. The Bunaken National Undersea Reserve is a world leader in eco tourism with each scuba diver paying a park fee that is shared amongst local inhabitants. Staying with the wierd but lovable fish-obsessed Frederick Fuellerman and his team at Reef Dive on Bunaken is an experience, with communal dinners each evening where everyone talks about the day’s diving and where they will venture the next day.
2.Holmes Reef, Coral Sea, Australia
Holmes Reef, located in the Coral Sea off Cairns is famous for it’s amazing visability, most of the time over 150 feet. While you are not diving the Great Barrier Reef , you will see similar species of fish and coral only much bigger. With some incredible caves, 1000 Metre walls, pinnacles, a turtle’s grave yard and some incredible shark feeding no-one should miss Holmes Reef. It is probobly the best and most reliable shark feeding in Australia.
Cozumel, off the Mayan coast, is surrounded by amazing coral and perfectly clear water; perfect for diving. On a good day visibility can be up to 75m. Gentle currents running adjacent to the reef make excellent conditions for drift diving. There are approximately 20 frequented scuba diving sites, including amazing caves teeming with sea life. Cozumel is tourist friendly, it has affordable accommodation and exciting night life. Cave divers will enjoy a trip to the mainland to dive the cenotes (freshwater caves). There are dozens of excellent dive centres to choose from in the main town of San Miguel.
4. Sipadan Island, Malaysian Borneo
Malaysia’s only oceanic island is a small dot in the South China Sea. Underwater it is a magnet for fish: schools of barracuda and horse-eye jacks swarm over the reefs, which are also home to dozens of breeding hawksbill turtles. The turtles are used to divers and I have never found a better place to get up close and personal to these amazing creatures. Shark sightings are reliably good here, though the currents are strong and I would not recommend Sipadan for less experienced divers. Close by, the reefs of Mabul are amazing for sighting endangered mandarin fish (I saw them mating at dawn) and sea wasps.
5. Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
This is scuba heaven. I am not usually a huge fan of shipwrecks but I would still put Bikini Atoll near the top of my list. Situated between Australia and Hawaii, the Marshall Islands have some of the least dived scuba diving sites in the world. Bikini Atoll, most well known as a nuclear test site in the early 50’s is the final resting site of several modern ships including the USS John F Kennedy – a destroyer as long as the Titanic. Because the island itself is uninhabited (contaminated by radiation), Bikini lagoon has become an unofficial marine park where the fish life is stunning. For 10 years a small amount of scuba divers have been allowed to dive on the sunken war ships – including a Japanese destroyer and several US Navy battleships. It is the kind of place scuba divers have wet dreams about – although at a price.