Let’s face it, there are two types of divers: those that get excited by macro life in the water such as nudibranchs and those that get excited by big marine animals like sharks. If you fit into the latter, there is nothing better than diving with a big school of sea creatures, so for you, we have compiled a list of 5 recommended diving experiences:
Dive Spot #1: Diving with Sardines
House Reef, Panagsama Beach, Moalboal – Cebu, Philippines
Photo by Deepblu user ailniery
If you are interested in diving with thousands of fish, you will want to check out the house reef on Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, Philippines. Less than 50 metres from the shoreline you can swim, snorkel or dive with 1000s of sardines. The dive site is incredible as the sardines form a giant bait ball and make endless shapes in the ocean. The dive is easy and shallow (5-10m as the sardines are near the surface). The good thing about this sardine run over others is that the sardines are present almost 365 days a year. Also, the water is nice and warm which is usually in the high 20s to 30 degrees Celsius (80-86ºF).
Name of dive site: House Reef, Panagsama Beach, Moalboal – Cebu, Philippines
Suitable for: Discover scuba, open water (and above), snorkeller.
Best time to go: November to April
Dive Spot #2: Diving with seals
Narooma, Montague Island, NSW, Australia
If you want an active dive with really cute and playful creatures, then you must try diving with the seals at Montague Island, NSW, Australia. A large colony of fur seals can be found here and they love to play! Twirling around your head, diving in and out of the water; both the seals and divers have fun. The seals are present year-round and there is also the chance to see grey nurse sharks. The water is a bit cooler (15-22 degrees Celsius) but visibility is good at around 25m.
Photo of Scuba Diving with Seals in Montague Island, NSW, Australia
Name of dive site: Narooma, Montague Island, NSW, Australia
Suitable for: Discover scuba, open water (and above), snorkeller.
Best time to go: September and October are the months where the seal population is the greatest.
Dive Spot #3: Diving with manta rays
Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Indonesia
There are many spots in Indonesia where you can see the magnificent manta rays. Manta Point in Nusa Penida, Indonesia is our pick, due to its accessibility and easy diving conditions. It is only a couple of hours from Kuta Bali to get to the dive site; however, be warned the surface is very choppy and if you are prone to seasickness you may want to skip this one.
Once below the surface, however, the conditions are much calmer and you can get up close to several manta rays who visit this cleaning station.
Another place also called Manta Point, but in Komodo island, Indonesia, is another good spot to see schools of manta rays. However, the currents are extremely strong (you have to hook yourself onto a rock so you don’t get swept away with the current) and it is quite a mission to get to; although you will be rewarded with dozens of manta rays.
Photo by dive shop Nico Dives Cool Bali on Deepblu
Name of dive site: Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Suitable for: Open water divers (and above). Not recommended for snorkellers or discover scuba even though tour operators offer these services. The water is very choppy at the surface.
Best time to go: November to May
Dive Spot #4: Diving with sharks
Madivaru Corner, Maldives
The Maldives is the place to dive. While you may be heading there to stay in one of those amazing overwater bungalows, be sure to check out what’s down below, as you may find you want to spend all of your time underwater.
Madivaru Corner is where most of the action is. The sea is literally littered with fish, and reef sharks. You can get up close and personal with the sharks, but it does get a bit scary if the sharks decide to circle. With really calm conditions, warm water (28-30 degrees Celsius) and 30m+ visibility, this is a great dive site. Even snorkelling from the shore you can find dozens of moray eels, triggerfish, turtles and baby sharks. Note in the Maldives they take safety very seriously. If you haven’t dived within the last three months you will need to do an orientation/skills refresher dive on the reef first.
Photo by Deepblu user bengawin
Name of dive site: Madivaru Corner, Maldives
Suitable for: Open water (and above), discover scuba and snorkellers.
Best time to go: December to April
Dive Spot #5: Diving with the bump head parrot fish
Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Sipadan Island, Malaysia regularly appears on lists for best dive sites in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. There is an abundance of sea life: turtles, eels, barracudas and jackfish just to name a few. But the highlight is seeing the herds of bump head parrot fish. Up to 1.3m long, they are green and have a distinctive bump on their head (hence the name). However, the most mesmerising thing about them is their scary-looking teeth. Not only do they have a massive overbite, but their teeth are also comically large and it looks like they grabbed grandma’s false teeth and stuck them in their mouth.
The Malaysian Government is very keen to preserve the beautiful reef and since 2006 requires divers to have a permit to dive at Sipadan. Only 120 divers per day are allowed to visit, and the permits are allocated out to the surrounding hotels on a rotating basis. No one is allowed to stay on Sipadan Island and there is a very heavy military presence. The surrounding accommodation is lovely, and if you want a bit of luxury, you can enjoy an overwater hut for a fraction of the cost of the Maldives.
Photo by Deepblu user Daisy Lee
Name of dive site: Various dive sites at Sipadan Island, Malaysia.
Suitable for: Advanced divers due to strong currents. It is possible to dive there on an open water license, providing you have good buoyancy and you are comfortable in currents. There are also a couple of sites for snorkellers, but Sipadan is really known for diving.
Best time to dive: March – October
About the Authors
Amanda and Dean have been certified divers since 2009. Amanda has her advanced open water and Dean is a dive master. They have travelled the world and dived many sites in Australia, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean.
Amanda and Dean have a travel blog called Scatabout which details the fun and unique experiences they have had on their world travels. You can find them doing something adventurous like scuba diving, hiking or something strange like running down the side of a building.
You can follow Scatabout: