As divers, when we aren’t out under the water, we are thinking about our next dive trip and what exotic location we can visit. To help you plan your next trip, we have put together a list of 5 amazing dive sites to add to your bucket list. And the great thing is, it doesn’t matter what sort of diving you are into, as we have catered for all different types of divers – whether you love altitude diving, night diving, cave diving, drift diving or wreck diving there is a dive site here to suit your taste!
1. Go Fresh Water Diving in a Cave – The Pet Cemetery, Mexico
If you are looking for a unique freshwater/cave dive, then look no further than Cenote Sac Actun (commonly called the Pet Cemetery). Located in the jungle in Tulum Mexico, the Pet Cemetery is part of the world’s second-largest underwater cave system and is as visually stunning above the water as it is under. Expect to see stalagmites and stalactites and crystal clear calm water. How this site gets its name is the animal graves that are located at the bottom where you can see the jawbone of a tapir and the remains of a prehistoric camel!
Location: Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Access is via Cenotes Dos Ojos.
How to visit: Book on a day trip with a local dive centre.
Depth: Max depth of 7m, but an average depth of 3m.
Temperature: 26 degrees Celcius year-round.
Conditions: Calm there are no currents.
Best time of year to visit: Year-round.
Suitable for: If you want to dive this site, you must be at least an Advanced diver, as you will need good buoyancy control to navigate this site. Tours are also available for snorkellers.
2. Go Drift Diving in Fresh Water – Clutha River New Zealand
If you are after an adrenaline-packed dive, then this the one is for you! Clutha River in New Zealand is known as the fastest river drift dive in the world. Described as an underwater tornado this dive is not for beginners or for those new to drift diving. It is only for the very experienced drift divers out there. Because the water is running so fast, visibility is at best 7m, making this dive all the more difficult, plus you need to navigate your way around the rocky bottom!
Location: Clutha River, South Island, New Zealand.
How to visit: Book a day trip with a local dive centre. Do not attempt this dive without a guide.
Temperature: 9 degrees Celcius in Winter to 18 degrees Celcius in Summer.
Conditions: Extreme currents of up to 18 km/h
Best time of year to visit: No known best time, visibility is limited at 7m due to the fast currents of the water.
Suitable for: Expert drift divers only.
3. Go Wreck diving in Coldwater – Scapa Flow Scotland
If you want to experience one of the best wreck dives in Europe, then head to Scapa Flow in Scotland! Here you will find seven large warships intact from the 70+ German High Seas fleet which were famously scuttled and then sunk after the first World War. What makes this place great is the close proximity of each of the wrecks as well as the diversity in diving. Not only is the water cold, but the dives are also deep which makes this a great place for advanced and technical divers to explore the ships.
Location: Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland.
How to visit: Book a day trip with a local dive centre.
Depth: Most of the Scapa Flow wrecks lie at a depth of 24m to 45m, although you will find one at about 12m deep.
Temperature: 4 degrees Celcius in Winter to 14 degrees Celcius in Summer.
Conditions: Depends on the wreck and the tide. Some wrecks can be done as drift dives, so there is some current.
Best time of year to visit: Year-round, but best visibility is from December to March.
Suitable for: Must at a minimum be an Advanced deep diver. If diving in the Winter, you will need to train on how to dive using a dry suit.
4. Go on a fluorescent night dive – Bonaire, Dutch Antilles
If you love night diving and are looking for something to make your experience a little more unique, then head to Bonaire and try a fluorescent night dive! Armed with a UV light, you will feel like you are at an underwater rave party as the sea life literally glows in the dark! Note, it is best to go with a guide as they know which marine life will react to the UV light.
Location: Bonaire Marine Park, Bonaire, Dutch Antilles.
How to visit: Head to the marine park and book on a guided dive or explore the marine park with your buddy. Orientation dive is required. If doing night dive with a UV light, book on a guided tour.
Depth: Ranges from 9m to 27m deep.
Temperature: 26 to 30 degrees Celcius.
Best time of year to visit: Year-round.
Suitable for: All levels of divers.
5. Go altitude diving – Yellowstone National Park, USA
Yellowstone National Park is often found on people’s bucket lists for the sights above the water, but did you know that you can also scuba dive in Yellowstone lake? At 2,372m high, Yellowstone lake is one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world. Diving in the park is a unique diving experience as you can go from dive sites with very cold temperatures (where you need a dry suit) through to thermal geo hot spots. And the best thing about diving there is the thermal bubbles which makes it feel like you are swimming through champagne!
Location: Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA
How to visit: There are no dive shops within the park. You can visit a dive shop outside the park and ask for a guide (recommended), otherwise, you can visit and dive the park without a guide (but you need to be very familiar with altitude diving, the dive sites and rules of the park).
Depth: Maximum depth is 46m.
Temperature: Some Yellowstone dive sites (e.g. West Thumb Geyser Basin) are cold so will need a dry suit. Temperatures range from 5 degrees Celcius to 15 degrees Celcius (average), but some sections are scalding hot.
Conditions: Some currents.
Best time of year to visit: July and August.
Suitable for: Advanced divers that have dived at altitude before, and those that are dry suit certified.
If you are looking for more dive sites to add to your bucket list then check out our articles: 10 unique dive experiences to cross off your bucket list and 10 places you didn’t know you could dive.
About the Author
Amanda and her husband 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.
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