The sea accounts for over 70% of our planet. Great oceans conceal even greater mysteries, and lurking just below the surface are hidden gems crying out to be discovered. These unique underwater adventures will have you reaching for a mask and flippers in no time.
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
At the top of every water baby’s bucket list, the Great Barrier Reef is a diver’s wet dream. Literally.
Comprised of more than 2900 individual reefs, the barrier reef is a big deal in the scuba world. And when we say big, we mean it. Spanning 2600 kilometres, The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 400 types of coral and 1500 species of fish – you could dive here time and time again and see something different every time.
Never dived before? No problem. Test the waters with an introductory dive.
2. The Great Wall of China, Panjiakou Reservoir, China
From the longest natural reef to the longest man-made wall. At over 21 km long, the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure immense enough to be seen from space. Each year thousands travel to China to walk this UNESCO World Heritage site in person. Though magnitudes have set foot on it, virtually none have dived it.
In 1977, the Chinese government flooded a valley create the Panijakou Reservoir, with intentions to find a new source of drinking water. In doing so, a section of the Great Wall was submerged, and is now only accessible with scuba gear.
Since then, divers descend upon the iconic landmark to swim along the wall and explore the chambers of the watchtower. The lake itself is rather barren and you’ll be lucky to get a glimpse of any fish, but this technical dive is definitely one to remember.
3. Qiandao Lake, China
Photo via: dailystar.co.uk
Another intentional flooding by the Chinese government is to thank for this spectacular dive-site. This real-life Atlantis came to being in 1959, when the government decided to build a new hydroelectric power station and flooded an entire city in its construction.
The ancient underwater city is slowly being rediscovered by divers. Get geared up and dive down to the depths to visit this time-capsule for yourself.
4. The Great Blue Hole, Belize
From a whole civilisation to a whole lot of nothing, the vast void off the coast of Belize is another must-do dive. Essentially an offshore sinkhole, the Great Blue Hole is a colossal 300-metres wide and 108-metres deep.
Divers are led to the drop-off to descend freely into the darkness. If the prospect of dropping into a pitch black abyss isn’t disconcerting enough, the Great Blue Hole is home to a whole variety of sharks – Caribbean reef sharks, bull sharks and even the occasional hammerhead find their home here.
5. Mahengetang Underwater Volcano, Indonesia
Indonesia is renowned for its stunning marine life and epic dive sites. Somehow though, Mahengetang has managed to slip under the radar, remaining relatively unheard of by most divers.
Located between the Siau and Sangihe Islands, this underwater volcano is the only active submarine volcano on the planet that you can dive at. Last erupting 50 years ago, Mahengetang volcano is far from extinct. The sulphuric gases that bubble to the surface from hot springs below make diving here akin to swimming in champagne. And believe us, you’ll need some of that Dutch courage when planning your dive into a volcano that could erupt at any moment!
Unlike us, fish and coral remain blissfully unaware of the risks, so expect to see jack-fish, barracuda, lobster and even the occasional turtle when diving here.
6. The Silfra Rift, Iceland
A crack in the earth’s surface makes the ultimate scuba dive for adventurous swimmers. Each year divers head to Iceland to dive the rift between the American and European tectonic plates.
The 60-metre deep ravine is made of lava, rock, sand and algae and is filled with some of the clearest water on the planet. Visibility can stretch to 100 metres in the freshwater and a gentle current makes diving here virtually effortless.
So suit up, dive in and let the current carry you along on your journey between two continents. Click here to find out more.
7. Ice diving in Antarctica
Photo via Daily Mail
Antarctica’s barren and inhospitable landscape would, one expects, write off its possibility as a diving destination. One however, would be wrong.
Antarctica’s usual 16-inch thick ice sheet conceals an underwater world as vividly coloured as anywhere else on the planet. Add crustaceans, seals, penguins and whales into the equation and you have yourself a phenomenally unique dive experience. Plus, with no swell to stir up sediment, visibility is virtually as far as the eye can see.
Incredible, yet incredibly treacherous. With water temperatures falling below -1.8 degrees celsius, hypothermia and frostbite are legitimate concerns here. Wrap up warm, don a dry suit and jump on in.
And finally, snorkel with Whale Sharks in Mexico
All these dives sounding a little extreme for your liking? Trade in your scuba-tank for a snorkel and hop on a boat to Holbox in Mexico for the whale sharks. From June to mid-September, these colossal creatures collect to breed in the warm waters around Isla Holbox, and it’s well worth timing your Mexico trip accordingly.
I’ve scuba-dived for years but snorkelling alongside these gentle giants was the highlight of all my underwater adventures. I can’t wait to do this again!