10 Wreck Dives for Beginners

10 Wreck Dives for Beginners

While scuba diving is primarily about seeing colorful marine life and coral, as divers we also long to see what sunken treasure lies at the bottom of the ocean. Wreck diving appeals to many for this reason. Unfortunately for beginner divers, most of the famous wrecks lie at 30m+ below the ocean and are in conditions not suitable for Open Water divers.

So, what does this mean for beginner divers? Well, of course, you can go and get your advanced license – which we highly recommend doing! But if you are not quite ready for that investment, we have compiled a list of some beginner-friendly wreck dives from around the world (in no particular order) to give you a taste of wreck diving.

1. USAT Liberty Shipwreck

The USAT Liberty was an American warship hit by a torpedo in WWII. It was beached near Tulamben, Indonesia for 20 years and then sunk to the ocean floor after Mount Agung erupted in 1963. The wreck is not far from the shore (making it easily accessible), is approximately 130m long, and is teeming with soft coral and sea life. Typical sea life includes: eels, surgeonfish, turtles, angelfish, potato cod, barracuda, blacktip sharks, humphead parrotfish, and if you are really lucky, you may even see the elusive mola mola (sunfish). On the wreck keep your eye out for the guns, anchor chain and even the toilets which are all still intact.

Location: Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia.
Depth: Between 5-30m.
Conditions: An easy and calm place to dive, but note, it can be choppy on the surface.
Temperature: 24 – 29 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: March to December.
Suitable for: Snorkellers (at lower tides), discover scuba, open water diver and above.

2. Underwater Museum of Military Vehicles

In late July 2019, Jordan unveiled its new Underwater Museum of Military Vehicles in Aqaba.  19 military vehicles have purposely been sunk to create a tourist attraction, with the aim of offering relief to the nearby reefs. 8 vehicles have been sunk between 15-20m and 11 vehicles at 20-28m. The vehicles (which have had the hazardous material removed) include: an ambulance, a military crane, multiple tanks and even a combat helicopter! One to definitely check out if you are keen on seeing a range of man-made objects under the water.

Location: Aqaba, Jordan.
Depth: Between 15-28m.
Conditions: Easy and calm place to dive.
Temperature: 21-27 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: All year-round.
Suitable for: Snorkellers, open water and above. It is even open to non-divers who are able to see the wrecks from glass-bottom boats.

3. P31 Shipwreck

P31 was originally a German minesweeper, which was then used as a patrol boat from 1992 to 2004 by the Armed Forces Malta (AFM). It was then bought by the Malta Tourism Authority and purposely sunk in 2009 as a tourist attraction. At 52m long and 17m wide the wreck is in good condition and has been stripped to make it safe for diving. Expected sea life on this wreck includes: stingrays, nudibranch, damselfish and sea bream.

Location: Comino, Malta.
Depth: 18m.
Conditions: Calm and sheltered, but there is lots of boat traffic in the area- so be careful!
Temperature: 16 – 28 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: Any time, but better weather and warmer sea temperatures occur between June to September.
Suitable for: Open water and above.

4. JAKE Sea Plane Wreck

JAKE is a Japanese seaplane used in WWII. The history of the plane wreck is unclear, but it was discovered in 1994 in Palau. The plane is in fair condition (although the tail and right section of the plane have been ripped off) and is 12m long with 14.5m wingspan.  The wreck is positioned on its side, so divers get a great view of all angles of the plane. You can see the plane’s radio controls, ammunition, and even a small bomb! With respect to marine life, you may be lucky to see giant pufferfish, triggerfish, trevallies and schools of glassfish.

Location: Palau.
Depth: 15m.
Conditions: Generally calm, with no current.
Temperature: 27 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: November to May.
Suitable for: When there is good visibility the wreck is visible from the surface, for this reason, it is suitable for snorkellers as well as open water and above.

5. SS Benwood Shipwreck

The SS Benwood was a cargo ship which collided with another boat in 1942. The collision happened after both boats were forced to travel in darkness, for fear of approaching German boats. Unfortunately, the SS Benwood had to be abandoned as the damage was irreparable and the ship sunk. Unfortunately, the wreck no longer resembles a ship, but the little that does remain is covered in colorful coral. Expected sealife includes: moray eels, parrotfish, angelfish, groper and if you are lucky, nurse sharks.

Location: Key Largo, Florida, USA.
Depth: Between 7 – 15m.
Conditions: Current mild to moderate.
Temperature: 22-30 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: Mid-November to mid-June.
Suitable for: Open water and above.

6. Prince Albert Shipwreck

The Prince Albert was a cargo ship that took refugees from Nicaragua to Roatan. The ship was abandoned and purposely sunk in 1985. The ship is in good condition, is approximately 50m long and is easily accessible from shore. Also, 30m away lies a DC3 plane wreck. Expect to see scorpionfish, stingrays, eagle rays and squid, as well as a variety of hard and soft corals.

Location: Roatan, Honduras.
Depth: Maximum 22m.
Conditions: Minimal current.
Temperature: 25 to 29 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: January to July.
Suitable for: Snorkelling, open water and above.

7. MS Zenobia Shipwreck

The MS Zenobia was a cargo ship for vehicles and other cargo when it capsized and sank near Cyprus in 1980 on its maiden voyage. The ship is 172m long and its contents included: a forklift, trucks, trailers, and even a car! They are all in good condition, making this one seriously interesting dive! No wonder it is rated as one of the top dive sites in the world. And if the wreck isn’t enough for you, the expected sea life includes squid, groupers, barracuda, nudibranch. Note, if you see animal bones, this was part of the food cargo that the trucks were carrying.

Location: Cyprus.
Depth: Between 16m – 42m.
Conditions: Calm.
Temperature: 17 – 28 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: March to November.
Suitable for: Open water and above.

8. Fujikawa Maru Shipwreck

The Fujikawa Maru was formerly a passenger/cargo ship, then in 1940, it was used by the Japanese Navy as an armed aircraft ferry. It was hit by a torpedo in 1943, then repaired, only to be hit and sunk by further torpedo attacks in 1944. Be careful as you will find live ammunition and guns on the wreck. Both the wreck and items found on the wreck are in fairly good condition, especially for something that was hit by a torpedo. In terms of sea life, you can find colorful coral, barracudas, turtles and reef sharks.

Location: Chuuk Lagoon (also known as Truk Lagoon), Micronesia.
Depth: between 5 – 35m.
Conditions: Calm.
Temperature: 29 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: Any time.
Suitable for: Snorkellers, open water and above.

9. MV Antipolis Shipwreck

The MV Antipolis was an oil tanker that was being towed to be sold as scrap metal but hit the shore and sunk in 1977. The wreck is not completely intact, but you can see the engine room and parts of the ship which are covered in algae and kelp. Expected sea life include: red roman and crayfish. The wreck is very shallow and is close to the shore (but you will require some fitness to swim out).

Location: Cape Town South Africa.
Depth: 12m.
Conditions: Can sometimes be currents inside the wreck.
Temperature: 8 to 16 degrees Celsius, so this is a cold dive!
Best time of year to visit: October to May.
Suitable for: Open water and above.

10. USS Kittiwake Shipwreck

The USS Kittiwake was a submarine rescue and supply ship and undertook a number of covert missions. The boat was then stripped to make it safe for diving, and sunk on purpose in 2011 in the crystal clear Grand Cayman waters. The 77m long wreck is in great condition and while diving, keep your eye out for: the water cannon, the bathroom mirrors, the navigation and comms room. Also, don’t forget to pose for that selfie while pretending to steer the ship. In terms of marine life expect to see: groupers, moray eels, eagle ray, and manta rays if you are lucky. Also a fun fact: did you know the ship was used to recover the black box from the Space Shuttle Challenger?

Location: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
Depth: 15 – 30m.
Conditions: Calm.
Temperature: 21 to 27 degrees Celsius.
Best time of year to visit: October to June.
Suitable for: Snorkellers, discover scuba, open water divers and above. Note Open Water divers are limited to the first three decks of the USS Kittiwake, while advanced divers can explore all five decks. Also for those not keen on getting wet, the wreck can be viewed while doing a submarine tour.

As you can see, there are still a number of wreck diving options for beginners! Just a reminder, while we have listed some dives that go quite deep, your Open Water certification only permits you to dive to a depth of 18m or above. And if you are feeling a bit nervous about going on a wreck dive, don’t forget to check out our wreck diving tips for beginners!

About the Author

Amanda Bolzan and her husband Dean Samuels 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:

Website: https://scatabout.com

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