Scuba Diving Locations

As it appears from the Steve Irwin thread that some of us are scuba divers, I thought I’d ping: Where’s the best place you’ve ever gone diving?

I’ve dived exclusively in the Caribbean (really just the Bahamas and the Florida Keys) and I’m starting to try to put together a trip somewhere a bit more remote, like Belize.

If it weren’t apparent, I’m into tropical diving at the moment, which is why you don’t see me in a $3,000 dry suit rig out diving the U-boats off the coast of New Jersey. Also, because cold water makes me claustrophobic.

For local Diving I like the Lizard in Cornwall. Visibility can be awful at times but loads of wrecks, lots of fish and plenty of nice pubs to chat about it afterwards. Devon isn’t bad and if you like Scallops there are some good Scallop beds there where you’re allowed to bring up enough for dinner (I dont eat fish since I started diving, I prefer to look at what few are left).

Tenerife is pretty good although it’s so horribly overfished that it’s worth putting up with the lack of much else other than a single restaurant and bar to go to El Hierro where they’ve established a marine reserve. There are some half decent wrecks worth a look though and you might catch sight of an octopus and Manta Ray or two. There was a stingray site, complete with visiting turtle there at one stage, but the sods fished the damn things out.

Cuba was excellent for coral and the only place I’ve ever sat at 35meters down wearing only a pair of shorts and not got cold. Not much in the way of marine life other than schools of little fish.

Absolute best place I’ve ever dived was the Red Sea. Took a week long live aboard from Hurghada so we missed the hell hole that is Sharm-El-Sheik. Dived with some wild Spinner Dolphins (have some photos somewhere. If anyone is interested I’ll scan some of the decent ones and try and get them up here), took in the coral and fish everywhere. Though we did miss the shark reef where the hammerheads were supposed to be. Not didn’t get there, literally missed it. The only time I’ve been scared and had vertigo diving.

The only place I’ve been where I’ve been surprised at the lack of dive trips/schools is Greece, especially considering the Crystal clear water and the number of towns where the guide states “the ancient part of the city sunk into the bay in the earthquake of mumble”. I’m going to go back there at some stage and I’m taking my dive kit next time in the hope of finding someone with a compressor so I can see why diving appears to be more or less non existant.

Re: Cold water. I got my certificate in '98 - this heatwave summer was the first time I ever dived my own country. Before that Cannes (France) was the furthest north I’ve ever been.

I don’t have many dives under my belt, but I have been pretty lucky with the locations:

The best place overall was the Whitsunday Islands and Bait Reef (part of the Great Barrier Reef), Queensland Australia. I saw small rays, mantas and everything else… apart from sharks.

Second best was Sodwana Bay, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Really remote place with nothing to do but diving and fishing (and having your shit stolen by monkeys). I stayed for a week. I saw everything (still no sharks) including a flock of dolphins and whales jumping in the horizon. You should go.

I also dragged my 7mm wetsuit through 5 weeks of African heat (actually KLM lost one suitcase, so my first night in Johannesburg I only had wetsuit, knife, flippers and mask - no clothes) because I wanted to do a sharkdive in Cape Town where the water is cold. On the boat the day before my flight home, the divemaster looked at my expensive suit and said:
That’s really a nice suit… unless you want it smelling of fish guts and blood forever, you should probably borrow one of ours…
The dive never happened because the waves where to big and the one Great White we saw only stayed for 2 minutes - I did touch it’s snout, though (5 meters at least).

I took my certificate just outside Sydney Harbour which was surprisingly nice. I was the only student so on my final testdive my instructor took me to some caves (his secret spot) where I saw 15-20 sleeping Port Jackson sharks.

I had a bunch of nice dives in Hurghada, Egypt. Beautiful easy access reef and lots of fish - unfortunately it’s greatly overpopulated and reef conservation hasn’t been a priority before now (now they have a lot of Russian divers, who just doesn’t give a shit and don’t listen to instructors, so their reefs are suffering).
But it was good and cheap.

My personal wishlist is:
Shark safari in southern Africa - The Big Five underwater starting with Tigers and ending with Whale Sharks. I also want to do my Great White cage dive without a storm ruining it and South Africa is the best place in the world to do it (cheaper than California and Australia by far and with an almost guarantee of sharks)

Wreck diving in Egypt - there’s some big WWII ships.

Great Barrier Reef again



Local wreck dives. We have WWI and WWII ships. A WWII sub and a jet fighter just outside the beach where I grew up… I must get over my dislike of cold water.

I must get over my dislike of cold water.

Pansy ;) it’s called a drysuit, though I’ll stick to my semi dry, I don’t like drysuit diving much.

I agree with you about the state of a lot of reefs around the Red Sea. If you’re prepared to get up really really early to avoid being able to walk on the divers and not get your feet wet the Thistlegorm in Sharm-El-Sheik is an excellent WWII wreck and they appear to have been pretty successful in preventing the thing getting stripped. And I did hear that the US navy had scuttled one it’s WWII era cruisers off Florida somewhere, I’d like to take a look at that.

Didn’t they sink a cruise ship and a carrier as well recently?
Lets make a QT3 diving expedition to Florida (I don’t ski).

Not sure, but sounds good to me if they have. Soon as they stop treating you like you’ve been arrested on arrival in the US I’m all for it. Though the cuban stamp on my passport could prove interesting, especially in Florida regardless of the current bullshit.

What’s a little body cavity search between allies?

Actually, I was nervous when I had my first visit in january (especially because I didn’t want the hassle with the new journalist visas, so I “lied” a bit) instead the nice man just stamped my passport and said welcome… in Danish.

I grew up in the south east Asia, so I dived at almost all the spots in and around Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Bali remains my favourite spot to dive, with the occasional trip down to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Now that I’m moving far too much between the east and New York, I don’t actually know where a good diving spot is in North US. I tried Montauk once, didn’t particularly like it. Water was too cold and there was nothing much to see.

If you guys are planning a diving trip to the Meditteranean. I’m tentatively in. I never saw all the WWII wrecks in egypt and would love to.

Made me look it up:

IN THE GULF OF MEXICO - As hundreds of veterans looked on solemnly, Navy divers blew holes in a retired aircraft carrier and sent the 888-foot USS Oriskany to the bottom of the sea Wednesday, forming the world’s largest deliberately created artificial reef.

The USS Spiegel Grove is the biggest, priciest, and most controversial artificial reef in the world. And maybe, the most fun.

the Spiegel Grove has reached her final destination. The vessel now rests on her side in 130 feet of water just off the coast of Florida, waiting to be explored.

Actually I might be going to Florida in the next 2-3 years time, so chime in with good US locations too.

I will definately be going within the next few years. Either with the family (only 1 or 2 days diving then) or with friends to do a live aboard and see the Thistlegorm - I bought a nice illustrated book about in in Hurghada airport the last time.

I’ve been lucky enough to dive some really nice waters around the US, the Bahamas, and Cozumel. But I got my start in lakes and then rock quarries in Arkansas, back in the 80s, before we had these fancy pants computers and BCDs. It was real redneck diving.

I really like the waters in Southern California. I dig the kelp*, the seals, the oil rigs (which are really spooky!). I just like being down there and I don’t even mind when visibility is bad. One of my favorite things about diving is the quality of light down there. Bad viz is almost like being under a thuderstorm.

With enough advance notice, I would totally join you guys for a Qt3 diving trip. Belize, the Red Sea, Australia, Thailand. I’d probably pick Thailand if I had my druthers. Who’s going to organize this thing? How about early summer 2007? For serious.


  • On my last trip, there were these great yellow kelp fronds in one area that made me think of the mallorn trees in Lorien. How geeky is that? Do I qualify at a Tolkien fanboy?

Very timely thread as I just got my open water license last week!
Whilst I obviously haven’t had much experience at all, Okinawa was absolutely beautiful, with about 20-25 meters visibility on the second (main) dive day.
Only regret is that I’d stayed longer and scheduled more dives but I was absolutely stoked to have found Nemo!

Forget Thailand - dive Okinawa!!

I’d certainly be interested, location and contracts depending. I’ve got contacts in centres in Europe and Egypt but I’m not that fussy about location. Can also provide U/W photography (nothing flashy I’m afraid).

This thread is turning out better than I would have imagined. I’m definitely down for planning a Qt3 dive trip. Given enough forewarning, I’m up for pretty much anywhere. (But if we’re going to do a big trip, I’d prefer going somewhere besides Florida. Sorry, Hanzii. I’ll go dive that carrier, too!)

I’d like to put my name down for a Qt3 trip in 2007. I just hope I can keep up with the rest of you.


How do lakes and other freshwater sites compare to the ocean? I’ve dived in SoCal for a long time and a couple times in Hawaii but now live out in the desert. Is it worth the time to try some freshwater dives or does it just not compare?

Also, has anyone ever been diving in San Carlos, Mexico or some other mainland Mexico site in the Sea of Cortez? San Carlos seems to be where all the people from Arizona go.

Lakes suck! They’re awful awful awful. Especially once you’ve been in the ocean. It really is a poor man’s option for diving. I was in college, and we did our check-out dive at Beaver Fork Dam, which is supposed to have relatively good visibility (i.e. you can see your hand in front of your face, but no farther). But I’d already been resort diving in Hawaii and the Bahamas, so I knew what I was missing.

Rock quarries, on the other hand, were quite a discovery. The water is relatively clear, they’re deep, there are interesting formations down there, and you’re liable to see a few wrecks. Never mind that the wrecks are discarded cars; they’re still wrecks.

Frankly, unless it’s someplace idyllic like Tahoe or some glacier lake in Canada, I can’t really recommend fresh water diving based on my experience in the waters of Arkansas.

I did drive down to some Mexican beach south of Arizona with my diving buddy from college. It was spring break, so we packed up our equipment, drove to Arizona to meet some of his friends, and then turned left into Mexico. We came to a beach, hung out with a lot of other students on vacation, and decided to drink beer instead of dive. Out of a sense of obligation – we had toted all our equipment, after all – we suited up and waded out into the surf one afternoon. That lasted about twenty minutes before we came back out and spent the rest of the week just drinking beer.


Cozumel used to be good. However it got so blasted by Hurricane Wilma that i’m not sure how much of the shallow reef diving is left.

I know a secret Mexican island you can go swim with some certain not-to-be-named sea life right next to you; however it’s very offbeat and it’s more snorkling than diving.

Lake diving is fun if you like freezing thermoclines, swimming in silt, and hearing about high Diver Bob died after getting his gear tangled in a submerged orchard. Even better, imagine getting sucked into the turbine of a nearby powerplant or dam!

My one American friends (an exchange student from college) died diving one of the big US lakes :(

I’ve never dived a lake, but I hear good things about some of the really large unspoiled ones in Poland, also iceland has some very interesting glacier lakes - but it’s a totally different experience.

New house, new car and new baby will probably prevent me from joining you, but considering how little didving I get done due to the above reasons it could be the kick in the pants I need. I’ll try… there’s always freelancing to make a bit extra.

South Africa is great and very cheap - but costly to get there. Thailand is a relatively cheap location from here, I’d suppose it would be from the States too. I used to have lots of Aussie contacts, but they all moved to Singapore, but I might still have some left.

What sort of levels of experience are you all at? Like I said, I am a total beginner but it sounds like the rest of you have been at this for a while. I wouldn’t want to tag along and then get left behind or limit you all in your choice of locations, etc.

I’m only Open Water with around 50 dives - most have just been in exotic locations.

And while I do run into people with more experience that only want to dive deep, dive wrecks and do other on the edge stuff it’s my experience that most of the cool reef dives are within Open Water range (my deepest is 22 meters)
(going deeper is more risky and there’s less life to see down there, so unless there’s specific fauna or sights down there, there’s no need).

Having lost 2 friends to diving accidents I’m very carefull and don’t want to risk anything. A lot of dive accidents happens because people go deeper and longer on a dare - like The Blue Hole in Dahab, which kills lots of stupid divers every year.