Wondering where to go for your next diving trip? We have done the research for you and compiled a list of the top 100 dive sites on Earth. Deciding where to go first, now that’s up to you.
Dahab, Egypt (Africa)
Egypt is a popular destination for divers who want to tick the Red Sea off their bucket list. Dahab has some spectacular diving. Its main attraction is the Blue Hole. This is the dive site people come to see, especially tech divers. Don’t fret, though. There are many more dive sites like the Canyon, Lighthouse and the islands.
Dahab has many attractions for the adventurous. Dahab boasts an array of on-land activities for when you need to build up surface intervals. You can partake in camel rides, ATV desert excursions, kite surfing or yoga in the desert. There is definitely no shortage of activities in Dahab. The Blue Hole is a sinkhole (a kind of cave), around 130m deep. There is a shallow opening of around 6m deep, known as “the saddle”, leading to the sea, and a 26m long tunnel, known as “the arch”, the top of which lies at a depth of 52m. The hole itself and the surrounding areas are rich with corals and marine life.
Manta Reef, Tofo, Mozambique
Tofo is located in the Inhambane Province of Mozambique. It’s a small beach town with sand roads and gorgeous beaches, with a laid back vibe during the day and party atmosphere at night. It is definitely a popular spot for anyone visiting Africa’s east coast. While the beaches here are stunning, those looking to scuba dive in Mozambique will be thrilled to know that the underwater world is even more spectacular.
The world famous Manta Reef should be on everyone’s dive list. You can expect dives with a maximum depth of 30m and average depths of 21m. Not only is the topography of the actual reef absolutely stunning but also close encounters with Manta rays are practically guaranteed at the three cleaning stations, making this a phenomenal dive site.
SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea, Egypt
Photographer: Denis Zorzin
Located near Sharm El Sheik in Egypt, the SS Thistlegorm wreck is the next stop on our diving journey. Launched in 1940 in England as an armed merchant ship, the S.S Thistlegorm was meant to haul heavy cargo to allied troops during World War Two. She was fitted with a 120 mm anti-aircraft gun and a heavy caliber 40 mm machine gun on the stern to protect it from the German air force. These huge guns can still be seen on the wreck today, along with all its cargo. What should have been a relatively short journey through the Mediterranean, was deemed too dangerous due to heavy German Navy and Air force in the area. Instead, the Thistlegorm turned south and made the long journey all the way around Africa, stopping in Cape Town, and then rounding South Africa and returning north. The plan was to journey through the Suez Canal and into Alexandria. Thistlegorm sank on the 5th of October 1941 when she was bombed by the Germans.
Because of Thistlegorm being such a magnificent wreck to dive, at a maximum of 30 meters, as well as great reef in the area, Sharm El Sheik, Egypt has become a major tourist destination.
Kenya’s southern coast section offers some of the country’s top dive sites and reefs to explore. The Diani Beach area also boasts an incredible community of turtles, a purpose sunk shipwreck, and from November through until February, there is the chance to encounter whale sharks. Diani Beach is a crucial hot spot for turtles on the south Kenyan coast.
Hawksbill and Green sea turtles are regularly seen while diving, with a very healthy population that are living in the area. When diving in Diana you will have a great chance to see them as the turtles are using Diani Beach as a nesting ground, returning to the same stretch of beach where they too would have been born many moons ago.
Ras Abu Galum, Egypt
Ras Abu Galum is a stunning dive spot that lies in one of the Sinai’s protected National Park areas. Located in the far North of Dahab it can be accessed by camel or alternatively by boat.
A sandy slope descends away from the shore with a reef wall on both sides. The reef table swings wide into a steep wall dive with pinnacles and dramatic rock formations. The formations aren’t the only point of interest in this area. Always keep one eye fixed on the blue as you will often see Trevallies, Jacks and plenty of resident turtles crossing close to the wall. If you ascend to shallower water you can expect to find beautiful fire corals and schools of reef fish. Many divers don’t make the short trip from Dahab to Ras Abu Gallum. For this reason it remains firmly in the hidden gem category as the reefs are still pristine.
Sha’ab Rumi, Sudan
Arguably the most well-known dive site in Sudan, Sha’ab Rumi is the famous place where Jacques Cousteau’s Conshelf II experiment took place in 1963.
It’s a beautiful reef dive in the Red Sea that’s truly a sight to behold. It is 48 kilometres off Sudan’s Port, and on this spot is located The Precontinent, Cousteau’s futuristic world that provides insight and relevant information about marine life. About a hundred meters from the Precontinent is the lagoon and entrance of the dive spot. Filled with coral reefs, the dive itself starts with one right alongside on your left. Following up on that you can swim above the plateau or start looking out for grey reef sharks – one of the biggest attractions in Sha’ab Rumi. Regular residents of the plateau are big shoals of jacks and barracuda, which regularly come up to most of the divers, and engulf them, allowing to diver to swim along with them. The dive varies from 5 to 35m with plenty to see for divers with Open Water certifications.
Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles
One of the most important sites in the Seychelles is Aldabra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a protected natural reserve. It’s the world largest raised coral that’s been described as ‘one of the wonders of the world’ by Sir David Attenborough.
Because of its remoteness, it’s been largely untouched by man, and it sports a practically unmatched amount of marine life. From endangered Green Turtles and Hawksbill, to the now-returning Dugongs, Aldabra has plenty to offer in underwater fauna. The atoll constitutes a refuge for over 400 endemic species and subspecies (including vertebrates, invertebrates and plants). These include a population of over 100,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoise. The tortoises are the last survivors of a life form once found on other Indian Ocean islands and Aldabra is now their only remaining habitat.
Sardine Run, South Africa
South Africa is a top tourist destination, and for good reason. Diverse cities, sandy beaches, national parks teeming with incredible wildlife, and the majestic Table Mountain are just a few of the reasons why travelers flock to this African country. While the sights and wildlife on land are absolutely incredible, the underwater world surrounding this country is equally as exhilarating making South Africa a perfect destination for scuba divers.
Whether you are interested in sharks, the world-famous South Africa sardine run, or wrecks, South Africa has plenty of fantastic dive sites. The Sardine Run is an annual phenomenon dubbed the Greatest Shoal on Earth by the BBC. Large shoals of these little silver fish, more commonly known as the Natal Sardine, move eastwards, up the Wild Coast on the East Coast of South Africa. These fish take advantage of the cooler water on the Continental Shelf that occurs seasonally as a narrow band between the coast and the warm southward flowing Agulhas Current. The favorable cooler conditions are only temporary and many predators in the form of dolphins, sharks, game fish, whales, and birds gorge themselves on this abundant supply of food. The sardines form bait balls just below the surface in an attempt to protect themselves from these predators, offering the ideal way to view this remarkable occurrence up close.
Whale Shark diving in Djibouti
Djibouti is fast becoming known as a great tourist destination. Its extremely diverse and colourful marine life hugely contrasts with its volcano-like dry mountains rising out of the sea. There are over 200 coral species that are mostly native to Djibouti. The absence of rivers that flow into the Red Sea have made the coral growth one of the healthiest on earth. Among its diverse marine life are whale sharks.
As tourism is not quite developed in Djibouti, there are only a handful of good dive operators that make day trips, and most are only active during the peak season of the whale sharks’ migration so make sure to plan ahead. Djibouti is such a special place to dive because of the long period of time that the sharks remain in the area. The best time to spot them is between November and February. During this time the temperatures are mild and the humidity is bearable, and it’s also when they come to the Gulf of Tadjourah looking for plankton found close to the Island of the Devil. This bay is crucial in the development of baby whale sharks that stay confined to the safe waters for more than 4 months.