The very moment when a scuba diver launches backwards off the boat’s rim and crashes through the water’s shimmering surface; it’s as if they’ve enter another dimension. The game changes when you’re gliding through the deep blue past eccentric coral communities and the diverse denizens which occupy them. And once your first experience is complete, the call to dive elsewhere is nigh on irresistible. And you would do well to hearken to that call, for the scuba diving spots below are downright otherworldly and not to be missed.
Great Blue Hole-Belize
As the title implies, it’s a colossal sink hole in Belize waters—in fact, the largest ocean hole in the world. Nearly 1000 feet in diameter and 400 feet deep, the Great Blue Hole draws groups from all over looking to dive into its deep blue darkness. The guided tour is one of surreal contrasts. You start in friendly, transparent shallows brimming with tropical shoals darting about. But when the descent off the 40 foot drop-off begins, nerves go cold when confronted with hammerheads, Caribbean reef sharks, and nurse sharks lurking within. Luckily they stick to the shallows, and as you venture further, your biggest worry will be the cute little octopuses clinging to your flippers.
The Pedras Secas depths welcome in swarms of travelers every year to observe the incredibly diverse marine life that lives there. It’s set among underwater volcanic formations that define the region. Expect to float through caves, tunnels, and rocky spires covered in armies of sea sponges. Schools of black margates, squirrelfish, and grunts scour the ocean floor, dispersing once hapless divers swim by. Many rock formations break the surface, giving a perfect seat to observe roaming bands of sea turtles and spinner dolphins. If the season if right, you may even see humpback whales.
SS President Coolidge-Vanuatu
What’s more novel than touring a U.S. Luxury ocean liner resting beneath the waves of Vanuatu? Serving as a makeshift troop transport ship during WWII, the SS President Coolidge ran afoul of a U.S. mine, sunk, and became an aquatic habitat. You can pass through dining halls and living quarters while curious reef fish make way. You may also encounter devious moray eels who have made their homes in cracks and crevices of the ship’s decaying hull. The wreckage has been spared from salvaging since 1983 when the Vanuatu government declared it a protected habitat.
Nakwato Rapids-British Columbia, Canada
The Nakwato Rapids, 200 miles northwest of Vancouver shores, present the ultimate test of a diver’s courage and endurance. They hold the record for fastest tidal currents at 22 knots. That’s so fast, that you could tether yourself to any stable object and go water skiing! Of course, the wild turbulence is dangerous, so guided dives only operate at times when the waters aren’t too crazy. The ocean floor is covered with surprisingly vibrant lifeforms like the blanketing caches of gooseneck barnacles which grow in large imposing clumps. They’re found in very few other places around the world.
This Mexican island offshoot from Cancun is home to the second largest reef system on the planet. The waters are crystal clear so the stunning views of exotic fish and sea anemones won’t be obscured. Sunken wrecks abound off sandbars, housing manta ray families and the odd sea turtle. Whale shark tours are the real draw though. Whale sharks migrate through the Mexican Caribbean from mid-May through to mid-September. You won’t even need scuba gear. Just bravery and a snorkel will do as you swim around these majestic, gentle giants.