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Best Locations for Scuba Diving in the World by Priyanka ,  Mar 30, 2013

Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater.[1]

Unlike earlier diving, which relied either on breath-hold or on air pumped from the surface, scuba divers carry their own source of breathing gas, (usually compressed air),[2] allowing them greater freedom of movement than with an air line. Both surface supplied and scuba diving allow divers to stay underwater significantly longer than with breath-holding techniques as used in free-diving.

A scuba diver usually moves around underwater by using swimfins attached to the feet, but external propulsion can be provided by a diver propulsion vehicle, or a sled pulled from the surface.

For every personality there is a perfect scuba destination. But with 70 percent of the globe consisting of water, and thousands of scuba destinations around the world, even the pickiest travelers will have trouble narrowing it down.

So put aside your nautical maps and read on, because we've assembled an expert panel of underwater adventurers to identify the 10 best scuba spots in the world.

The nature of the dive site's waters are what the panel took into consideration when choosing the top 10. While accommodations are important, for the serious diver, where you spend your time on land is hardly a factor in picking a site. There are certain base conditions that will guarantee a great dive site. “Vertical walls in deep, pollution-free water give divers face-to-face encounters with pelagic species … upwelling off points adds a rich food supply so these are where you will find [thriving marine life],” explains Jack Jackson, underwater photographer and author of dozens of books on diving.

Here's our pick of the world's best scuba diving holidays.

1 Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

This archipelago of 21 volcanic islands and islets is a tranquil, off-the-beaten-path dive spot lying 200 miles off the coast of Brazil. Calm waters, a rich variety of marine life and a host of well-preserved shipwrecks, including the Brazilian Navy Ipiranga Corvette V17, make it one of the best places to scuba in South America – so it was an easy choice for our top spot. Once underwater, divers enjoy crystal-clear waters with visibility of up to an impressive 45 metres, perfect for spotting dolphins, turtles, stingrays and coloured tropical fish.

The island chain makes up part of the mid-Atlantic ridge, an underwater mountain range stretching 15,000km through the Atlantic Ocean. Formerly 
a volcanic cone, its base lies 756 metres below the surface, so you’ll get to explore fascinating volcanic rock, caverns and coral formations.

As both Brazil’s first marine park and a Unesco World Heritage Site, more than 70 per cent of the island is protected. This includes tourist favourite Dolphins Bay, the world’s oldest, largest school of the mammals and a breeding ground for the acrobatic spinner dolphin (we kid you not). Nearby Projeto Tamar (tamar.org.br), a Brazilian environmental organisation, is worth checking out. Get involved, as the conservation centre is a good spot to witness cute, newly hatched hawksbill and green turtles take their first trip into the ocean.

And if you’re looking for a few more activities above the surface, you can go horse riding, dune buggying and surfing on the island chain, earning Fernando de Noronha the title “Hawaii of Brazil.”

What’s more, you, thankfully, won’t have to fight with hordes of other tourists for a relaxing dive trip – the secluded island promotes “sustainable tourism”, and only allows 420 visitors at a time. You’ll be able to enjoy its incredible marine life and natural wonders in peace.

The best time to visit is in the low season between April and November, when accommodation is cheaper.

Great Blue Hole, Belize

Jacques Cousteau put this place on the map in 1971, when he took his famous Calypso ship here, declaring it one 
of the world’s best diving sites. 

Today, divers continue to flock to the karst-eroded sinkhole, formed when the ceiling of an underground cave collapsed. It now boasts a collection of intricate limestone stalactites and wall formations. Book a dive package with Aqua Scuba Centre from £126.

Red Sea, Egypt

At the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in the Red Sea lies the Ras Mohammed National Park, full of rich coral reefs, underwater caves and thousands of species of fish. 

Sweeping desert landscapes dotted with gazelles surround this diver’s paradise. The waters, home to the SS Thistlegorm wreckage, are believed to be one of the few remaining sewage-free dive spots. Packages from £92 with Divers International.

Andaman Sea, Thailand

The Surin and Similan islands make up a chain of 14 beautiful uninhabited islets in the Andaman Sea, making them Thailand’s best spot for diving. 

The remote areas are famed for virtually untouched reefs and exceptional visibility, as well as a host of colourful fish, mantas and turtles. Nearby Richelieu Rock is a favourite with the more experienced diver for its purple corals and visiting whale sharks. Introductory courses start at about 
£33 with Crystal Dive

Molokini Crater, Hawaii

Just a short boat ride away from tourist hotspot Maui lies this uninhabited islet, formed along the rim of an ancient, partially submerged volcanic crater. 

It’s ideal for divers of all skill levels – the crescent moon shape protects beginners against powerful currents, while the more experienced can head to the back of the crater, which sinks to an ear-popping 350ft. Expect to spot eels, mantas and dolphins, as well as one of Hawaii’s most pristine hard coral reefs. Packages from £107 with Lahaina Divers.

Tobermory Scuba Diving, Canada.

Tobermory Scuba Diving, Canada

Tobermory Scuba Diving, Canada

The water’s chilly, but the experience is notable. Tobermory crowns the tip of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, at the confluence of pure, icy cold Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

Explore an area where submerged forests, canyons and the remains of ancient coral in this once tropical sea.

Watch the modern inhabitants, crawfish, bass and sculpin as they go about their daily business. For the diving enthusiast, the remains of over 20 historical shipwrecks also lie beneath these clear, cold waters.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea

Once a secret gem for divers in Australia and the South Pacific at large, Papua New Guinea is now fair game as a prime scuba destination. The area has it all. No matter what your taste, from deep drops and shallow reefs, private lagoons and atolls and perhaps best of all, pristine wrecks – a contradiction but nonetheless – that harken back to World War II.

Diving in PNG offers everything, from Pygmy Seahorses, sharks, and occasional Orca’s.

Amidst the reefs and schools of fish one encounters numerous wrecks, a reminder of the violence and struggle in which P.N.G. participated during the tragic days of WWII. Wrecks of ships and planes the afore machines of destruction now overgrown with corals rest at the bottom of the ocean floor and are home to many sea dwellers, presenting a display of serenity and colour.

Morehead City Scuba Diving, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Morehead City Scuba Diving, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Morehead City Scuba Diving, North Carolina, U.S.A.

The coastal areas of North Carolina are becoming a popular vacation destination and recreation area.

The “Graveyard of the Atlantic” has become North America’s hottest wreck-diving destination. In the early days of World War II, U-boats had a field day, littering the ocean floor with merchant ships.

In summer, the warm, clear Gulf Stream infuses the wrecks with an abundance of tropical and game fish.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali, Indonesia scuba diving

Bali, Indonesia scuba diving

The greatest feature of scuba diving in Bali is the rich and varied sites – deep drop-offs and steep banks, coral ridges and bommies, one of the most famous wrecks in the world, volcanic outcrops and seagrass beds.

With the colourful and diverse marine life, From hairy frogfish, cockatoo leaf fish and pygmy seahorses in Secret Bay and Menjangan on the north west tip of the island, to bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks in the north and east at Tulamben and Candi Dasa, to the sunfish and trevallies of nearby Nusa Penida and Lembongan islands, the Bali sights are truly fascinating.

The Bali dive season runs all year round. Overall, the best diving conditions exist from April to December, with sunfish, sharks and other pelagic fish visiting from June to September.

Lush, exotic Bali is the jewel of Indonesia and a haven for a variety of tourism pursuits. From luxury resorts to spas, recreation to wild nature, the island is a complete destination. That certainly is the case for avid scuba participants, who flock here for some of the best marine biodiversity in the world, first class instructors and a plethora of elusive, secret dive spots.

Bali, Indonesia

Costa Rica

costa rica scuba diving

costa rica scuba diving

Massive schools of fish, an amazing array of marine life and an ideal water temperature throughout the year, has meant that scuba diving conditions in Costa Rica are near perfect. The reef here is home to over 123 species of fish, 140 species of mollusk, and 35 species of coral.

Although a recent player on the scuba scene, at least in terms of mainstream awareness, the recreation and indeed, tourism in general in Costa Rica, has undergone explosive growth. It stems from the government’s superb efforts to galvanize ecotourism in the country, which by all accounts is one of the most diverse in the world. Thus, it makes perfect sense to venture here for memorable scuba.

Start with the eagle rays at Punta Gorda and then venture off to Murcielagos Island and the Catalinas for a wealth of sea life. From sharks to mantas to angelfish and gorgeous coral reefs, Costa Rica has it all

Palau, Micronesia

Palau, Micronesia

Palau, Micronesia

Made of limestone coral reefs lifted above sea level, from the air they look like giant mushrooms, the Republic of Palau, in Micronesia, is truly nature at its most majestic.

Dives begin in knee deep water and plunge straight down to depths of 1000 feet and more.

Blue holes, huge caverns and an immense variety of rare and exotic marine species are easily accessible in clear water with visibility exceeding 200 feet. Vast numbers, not found anywhere else in the world, of large pelagic predators, sharks, turtles, dolphins and many species of migratory fish gather here at a unique crossroads of three of the world’s major ocean currents.

Palau features land locked marine lakes, accessible from the sea through tunnels beneath the island’s steep shorelines, are home to rare jelly fish, anemones and soft corals. Palau’s famed “Rock Islands” are a collection of rounded, foliage-covered isles which seem to float above the surface of the water. A boat trip through them will reveal a number of magnificent white sand beach hideaways perfect for a secluded picnic or adventurous overnight stay.

Palau’s most popular dive site, Blue Corner,  is recognized as one of the best in the world due to its concentration of marine life, whilst Jacques Cousteau considered Ngemelis Wall, commonly known as Big Drop-off, to be one of the best dive walls in the world. Just a few minutes away, German Channel is known for its regular sightings of manta rays, which come in and hover over rock outcroppings inhabited by tiny cleaner wrasses.

Throughout Micronesia divers can encounter an abundance of marine life in just about every imaginable colour and shape. The seas are inhabited by hundreds of types of hard and soft corals, anemones, colourful sponges, countless varieties of shellfish, manta rays and pelagics.

It is common to see 30 – 50 grey reef and whitetip sharks, eagle rays, hundreds of schooling barracuda, thousands of blue trigger fish, moray eels, lion fish, schooling humphead parrotfish, nudibranchs, several turtles and a leaf fish all on one dive.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Tread in the footsteps of Charles Darwin and indeed, the evolution of life on Earth, as you explore a place that enthralls like no other.

The Galapagos Islands, under the domain of Ecuador, are much more than a hub of scientific discovery.Divers can mingle freely underwater with tortoises, penguins and a host of other wildlife.

Bonaire Scuba Diving, Netherlands Antilles.

Bonaire Scuba Diving, Netherlands Antilles

Bonaire Scuba Diving, Netherlands Antilles

Diving on Bonaire is a shore thing: Just rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle and head out on the island’s bumpy roads to any of 50-plus yellow dive markers. Whether you suit up with tanks or just take out the snorkel, you’ll appreciate the healthy reefs of the 20-year-old marine park, one of the first and finest in the world.

Noted by dive enthusiasts around the world as a spectacular dive destination, scuba diving and snorkeling are the central activity for most visitors to Bonaire. Bonaire is a leader in Caribbean marine conservation, and the water’s off of the island’s surrounding coast have been declared a marine park.

Dive conditions around Bonaire are ideal-with moderate temperatures and high visibility. Most reefs remain pristine and untouched, and Bonaire’s location in the arid southern Caribbean keeps the water free of silt.

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