From submerged medieval ghost towns to frenzied hammerhead sharks and even manta ray night dives, we’ve picked 10 great spots that will have you reaching for your passport… and your flippers.
Tired of sunbathing beach throngs everywhere there’s ocean? Maybe it’s time to go deeper into the situation. Literally. Why not dive into the underwater world? Breathe deeply as you travel through a mesmerizing deep that’s brimming with fascinating residents. With HomeExchange, the reef could be just minutes away!
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
Want to swim along the world’s only living structure that can be seen from space — a mass of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that compose the planet’s largest and, despite setbacks, healthiest coral reef? After a day of diving in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, head inland for the natural cacophony of the rainforest or the vitamin B (beer) and entertainment of Cairns.
Postcards just can’t capture the clarity of Bonaire’s aquamarine playground. Hundreds of fish species, colorful corals and friendly turtles await you behind the Salt Pier or over the Hilma Hooker shipwreck. Say hello to the terrestrial neighbors too; the Caribbean island’s 18,000 residents represent more than 70 nationalities, inspiring a diverse and excellent range of cultural displays and culinary choices.
Tiputa Pass, French Polynesia
Scope out your next dive and look for whales from the white-sand beaches of a remote Pacific island lagoon. Divers can expect to see hundreds of fish on almost every outing, but for a special treat, visit Tiputa Pass, buzzing with hammerhead sharks and manta rays. Tahiti, the largest island and home of the capital city of Pape’ete, is an hour away by plane.
Liberty Wreck, Bali, Indonesia
An epicenter of biodiversity, Indonesia guarantees superb marine encounters. Off the northeast coast of Bali, drift alongside great barracuda and many other vibrant residents of the Liberty wreck, a 119-meter US Army cargo/transport ship torpedoed during WWII and resting 30 meters offshore in 9 to 30 meters of water. Take time to relax in the local hot spring or watch village fisherman bring in their daily catch.
Capo d’Acqua, Italy
Leave the sea salt on the table and head inland to the crystal-clear freshwater of Capo d’Acqua, a submerged medieval ghost town not far from Capestrano. Explore underwater mills and then drive to nearby towns (or for a couple hours to Rome) to see the above-ground ruins. End each evening with authentic Italian country cuisine and a glass of wine, overlooking panoramic ocean, mountain and olive grove views.
Quality dives and inexpensive tacos? Si, por favor. Plunge into the wild warm-water aquarium of Cozumel, an easily accessible island just 10 kilometers off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. For extra credit take the ferry to the mainland and catch a bus to Tulum for a dive into the spectacular limestone cenotes and their network of remarkably clear underground rivers and caves.
Arran Island, Scotland
Scotland may not be an obvious scuba destination, but Arran Island features an astonishing array of sea life and wrecks that will have you wishing for bigger oxygen tanks. When you’re not watching Lamlash Bay’s octopuses or basking sharks, you can play a round of golf or warm up by the local pub’s fireplace to test your grit with Scottish beer, food and language.
Sardine Run, South Africa
Every year from May through July, millions of sardines migrate north along the coast of South Africa. This “sardine run” attracts birds, dolphins, sharks and whales, and creates a frenzied, gladiator-like spectacle. After you dry off, head into Cape Town to tour a vineyard, dance along to traditional African drumming or get to the top of Table Mountain (by foot or cablecar) to watch the sun drop behind the southernmost tip of Africa.
Blue Heron Bridge, Florida, USA
No wonder PADI named Blue Heron Bridge near West Palm Beach, Florida, as the Best Dive Site of 2013. Warm water, easy access, curious manatees and vivid seahorses are just a few of the attractions that pushed it to the top. After your dive, grab a cuban sandwich and hop onto the free trolley to downtown. Sandy bathing suits are considered appropriate garb almost everywhere.
Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA
The toughest decision of your day will be whether to watch the sunset from the breeze-stroked beach or to swim alongside manta rays on the famed Kailua Kona night dive. If you opt for the latter (which we advise!), observe the reef’s transition from light to dark and the arrival of nocturnal creatures. During the day, head off to the empty beaches or to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.