Lonely Planets 10 of the world’s best diving destinations for 2020
Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Dive Sites for 2020 consist of only the best of the best. Combining idyllic diving conditions and an abundance of exotic marine life. Dive for that ‘WOW’ factor by venturing into the Great Blue hole in Belize, or exploring the sunken shipwrecks along Australia’s coastline, and swim with whale sharks in Thailand. So whoever you are reading this, regardless of your skills, experience, and specialty, get your notepad and pen ready because the ocean is waiting for you. Dive into 2020 the right way…underwater!
Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Located in Malaysia, Sipadan has been rated as the current best dive site in Asia. Barracuda Point is teeming with life, it is here where you are guaranteed to see the big stuff and plenty of it. The marine species you will typically encounter while diving at this site consist of Green and hawksbill Turtles, there’s even a so-called turtle tomb, 22m underwater, containing the skeletal remains of vast numbers of turtles. For a marine adrenalin rush, dive amongst the eponymous barracuda who often gather in swirling, tornado-like formations. No diver will want to leave without witnessing the famous Drop Off where just a stroll from the shore the ocean floor drops away 600m. This dive site is not one to be missed.
Sail Rock, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Thailand offers a number of amazing snorkelling and dive sites along the countries coastline and surrounding islands such as Phuket, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and the Surin Islands just to name a few. Thailand is not only a great diving destination but it is also one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified if you are new to the underwater world. The best diving is found in the Eastern Gulf where Sail Rock (‘Hin Bai’ in Thai) is the premier, located approximately one hour away from Koh phangan, and due to its deep and isolated location it is a haven for a large. Artistry of marine species. The pinnacle raises 8m out of the water and has a maximum depth of over 40m, here you can find huge schools of Barracuda, Batfish, Jacks and Fusilers and you will often see solitary Grouper and maybe if your lucky a Whaleshark. Sail Rock offers plenty for macro enthusiasts including shrimps, crabs and Nudibranch.
Blue Corner, Palau, Malaysia
Blue Corner, one of Palau’s most magical dives, is known for its sheer abundance of underwater life and reef configuration – the point protrudes into the open ocean and then drops away to the great depths. Divers are dazzled by the incredible variety of fish, including Barracudas, Jacks, Napoleon Wrasses and schooling Grey Reef Sharks. Strong tidal currents render it a dive for the more experienced – a reef hook is a must to remain stationary in the current.
Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Santa Cruz in the Galapagos archipelago offers a truly unique diving experience, as it is located at the convergence of three ocean currents. The diving in the Galapagos is generally all year-round, but from January to May it offers the best weather and condition for those planning to cruise in the region. The dive site is known to have strong currents and chilly water, making this particular site a challenging underwater oasis to dive amongst, yet despite this, the site is one of the most sheltered sites available in the archipelago. At the Santa Cruz there is not a large variety of coral and marine plant species but has a booming marine fauna community where you can find on your typical dive hammerhead sharks, sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, rays and this is simply the tip of the iceberg.
Shark & Yolanda Reef, Ras Mohamed National Park, Egypt
The world-famous Shark and Jolanda Reef dive site is apart of the Ras Mohammed National Marine Park, located at the South tip of the Sinai Peninsula about 12km from Sharm El Sheikh, making it a very popular scuba diving day trips site. This spot offers a great reef with beautiful coral and a teeming marine ecosystem. Ensure to keep an eye on the blue as there are many pelagic fishes species such as Barracudas, Jacks and Trevallies, who travel in large schools p, hundreds thick. There are many different Reef Sharks species such as Grey and Blacktip Reef Sharks can also be spotted in the blue also. At the end of your dive you will likely encounter the remains of the Yolanda Wreck which is one of the top wreck diving location in Egypt and is it a well-known site throughout the world.
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
The World Heritage-listed site, The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. Each year, more than 1.5 million visitors come to experience this reef that stretches across 2 000km of Queensland’s east coast. The reef hosts more than 900 small tropical islands, each with unique topography and thousands of species of coral and marine fauna, making each dive a unique experience. The common species which can be found along the reef include navy blue butterfly fish, luminescent pastel turkfish, teeny neon damsels, giant clams, and the six-banded angelfish in the shallow section. In deeper regions you can find whales, dolphins, dugongs, up to six different species of sea turtles, and sharks, just to name a few. With so much to see and explore, don’t miss the chance to dive amongst the largest living organism in the world!
Blue Magic, Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja Ampat which translates to ‘four kings’ is located in the West Papua province of eastern Indonesia, the area offer some of the most pristine, colourful, and healthy reefs in Asia. One of the most famous dive sites in Raja Ampat is Blue Magic and is often dived complementary to another site Mioskon on diving day trips. This site is a pinnacle dive which starts approximately 7 meters and has a maximum dept of close to 30 meters. You can expect to find around the pinnacle a huge variety of marine species, lots of large schools of pelagic fish, predator fish, pigmy seahores, different species of sharks and manta rays at certain times of the year.
The Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole off the coast of Belize, which looks like the pupil of an eye when seen from above. The giant sinkhole is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has lured diver to explore the depts of the blue hole. The sinkhole is surrounded by a fringing reef approximately 400m in diameter and approximately 145m deep. When you reach 40m down there are unique marine stalactites up to 15m in length. The marine diversity is not the draw factor to the site, as the marine life is noticeable absence, but when you’re swimming among stalactites, who gives a Nemo? Remember to watch out for the sea serpent which was supposedly sighted in the hole back in the 1960s.
Yongala, Queensland, Australia
The SS Yongala Wreck dive site is a phenomenal dive that no scuba diver should miss! The wreck is situated in the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and is legally protected under Australia’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. The shipwreck site is located approximately 89 km southeast of Townsville. The wreck was first found in 1958, and due to its remote location and protected landmark status, it has remained mostly untouched. The upper sections of the 110 meters ship starts 15 meters below the water’s surface and continues to descend to the sandy ocean floor, approximately 30 meters deep. When diving at this site you will likely encounter a diverse range of marine life, some of which include turtles, sea snakes, giant trevally, Queensland gropers, eagle rays, manta rays, sharks, and thousands of tropical fish. In the cooler months, you might get be lucky enough to see a humpback whales or a whale sharks.
Manta Ray Village, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
If you are a underwater night-child then this diving experience is not one to miss! One of Kailua Kona most famous attraction is to visit the manta ray village; however, this best part is that you get to watch them fly through the ocean’s dark depth. When you go diving at this site your dive operators will shine a powerful light into the water, which attracts the plankton and coincidently it then brings in the schools of Manta Rays ready for their dinner. Manta-ray sightings here are unreliable since they are wild animals but you might see up to 10 rays. Diving here during the new moon seem to be the best time to get up close and personal with these gentle giants