Beneath the ocean’s surface is a world of wildlife that isn’t easily accessed by humans. Fortunately, we’ve developed a number of methods for enjoying close encounters with marine life, particularly in areas where coral reefs are thriving. SCUBA diving is one of the best ways to bring yourself right into the underwater action, allowing you to dive deep and stay there for a long period of time as you swim among the fish and see this tropical life first-hand.
In order to go SCUBA diving, though, you’ll have to complete some prerequisites. In order to safely SCUBA dive, you’ll need to take and pass a certification course that teaches you how to properly use your equipment. You’ll need to show proof of your certification to dive in almost any locale.
If you’re going out of the country, you’ll also need to secure travel insurance coverage, since most health insurance policies don’t cover international travel. While underwater diving is a relatively safe and fun activity, the potential for accidents does exist, so you’ll need to have health care coverage just in case something does happen.
But once that pre-planning is completed, you’ll be cleared to enjoy your adventures underwater. Here are five of the world’s best destinations for SCUBA diving.
1. The Great Blue Hole
Located off the coast of Belize, the Great Blue Hole is one of the most impressive underwater sinkholes in the world; Jacques Cousteau dubbed it one of the 10 best underwater diving sites on the planet. It’s a vertical cave extending 125 meters into the ground, and its interior is home to a variety of cool rock formations, as well as sheer rock walls. You’ll also find several different types of sharks inhabiting the area, although none are considered a true threat to humans.
2. Gili Islands
These three islands off Indonesia are more remote than other destinations, which makes this a nice SCUBA destination for anyone who wants to enjoy the waters in a relaxed setting. In addition to a coral reef, the Gili Islands are known as a great destination for viewing sea turtles when diving.
3. Great Barrier Reef
Lining the coast of Australia is the largest—and arguably most famous—reef in the world. There’s no end to the adventures and explorations you can enjoy on the Great Barrier Reef, which seems to have it all: stunning coral formations, colorful wildlife and the occasional chill-inducing shark.
4. Egyptian Red Sea
One of the greatest attractions to the Red Sea is the diversity of its waters. Here you can explore sinkholes, coral reefs and other marine ecosystems in waters that are clear and sprawling. If you want to see something more adventurous, consider finding embarking on a diving tour of a ship wreck, several of which can be found in certain parts of this water.
5. Koh Tao
Thailand is a popular destination for its nightlife and Koh Tao is no exception. But it’s also a stunning diving destination and attracts a lot of people who want to pair their SCUBA exploits with mainland activities more typical of a tropical destination. Koh Tao is home to plenty of whale sharks, so charter a boat and see if you can’t go out and find them for yourself.
It can be hard settling on just one destination, but keep in mind that none of these choices is something you’d regret. And if you really enjoy yourself, you can always plan another subsequent trip around a diving adventure. Considering the unbelievable sights you get to see, it’s easy to understand how some people get the itch and can’t help but continue scratching.