Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia
Here, you will see everything from nudibranchs to hammerhead sharks. Barracuda Point is regularly ranked amongst the top five dive sites in the world. You are guaranteed to see big stuff here and lots of it. This outstanding dive site has a great barracuda shoal often seen in a tornado-like formation. Occasional strong currents blast over an underwater prairie.
Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia
There is not one main attraction in Palau. It has everything: big schools of fish, lots of sharks, healthy reefs, World War II wrecks and history. It also has the world-famous Jellyfish Lake and Blue Corner. The first site on everyone’s lips in relation to Palau is usually Blue Corner. Here, it’s all about the schools of fish. Big schools and lots of them. Even the most experienced scuba divers can be left dumbstruck by the volume of fish and sharks. There is no easier way to get to see the whole region than on a boat that moves from one glorious dive spot to the next. This splendid wall dive is favoured by pelagics.
The Yongala is a shipwreck off the coast of Queensland. Full of life, you may see here manta rays, sea snakes, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, clouds of fish and spectacular coral. The Yongala sank during a cyclone in 1911, killing 122 people, a racehorse called Moonshine and a red Lincolnshire bull. It had no telegraph facilities and so could not be warned of the weather ahead. In 1981, the Yongala was given official protection under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. The ship is 90 km south-east of Townsville, 10 km from Cape Bowling Green—109-m-long, its bow points north and the ship lists to starboard.
Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
A large wreck, it needs several dives to do it justice. The Thistlegorm, on the west coast of Sinai Peninsula and 40 km from Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is the best known and most popular wreck dive in the Red Sea. A British vessel, the Thistlegorm (Blue Thistle) was attacked from the air and sunk in 1941 whilst carrying a cargo of war supplies: rifles, motor bikes, train carriages and trucks. Currents can be strong, and in different directions at the surface and at the wreck.
Shark and Yolanda Reef, Egyptian Red Sea
Here you will get three dives in one: anemone city, shark reef with its spectacular drop-off, and the wreck of the Yolanda. Currents make this good for drift dives and for pelagic fish. You may spot reef, wreck, hard and soft corals, reef walls, coral gardens, pinnacles, scorpionfish, crocodilefish, groupers, turtles, tuna, huge morays, napoleons, twin spot snapper, red snapper, batfish, unicornfish and barracudas.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
Very deep, wide, hole outlined by coral reef and inhabited by sharks. Is there another sight like it? It has 30-m visibility coming over the bathwater warm reef of vibrant colours, descending into a cool, deep blue hole, where the water begins to waver and shimmer, as you enter the transition from salt to freshwater at about 15 m. Watch the enormous tuna and other pelagics dive into the hole to clean themselves, as you briefly remove your octopus to taste the fresh water.
Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Hawaii is not the only place where you can swim with manta rays—other popular places to dive with these gentle giants are the Maldives, the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands. But what makes Hawaii so special is the time when you are in the water with the manta rays. Underwater lights placed on the ocean floor attract infinite amounts of plankton, which, in turn, attract the huge, yet beautiful manta rays of Kona Hawaii. The rays get so close to you that you often have to move to avoid them accidentally hitting you.
Navy Pier, western Australia
Extending 300 m from shore, the T-shaped structure is 300-m-wide, including two outlying dolphins (platforms for larger ships to tie up to). Although a very defined and somewhat compact site, you could spend five days diving there and not be bored, particularly at night. On any dive, there are lots of nudibranchs and flatworms, eels, woebegone and white-tipped sharks, octopuses, lion and scorpion fish, stargazers and the usual smaller-finned friends. Sometimes you will come across absolutely huge rays dozing in the sand.
Liberty, Bali, Indonesia
The wreck is very popular with photographers, as it is totally encrusted in anemone, gorgonians and corals. The black sand provides an excellent colour contrast for the incredible variety of marine life, which includes a huge school of big-eyed trevally and over 400 other species of fish. All the fish are very tame, partly as a result of some guides feeding them. Get close to goatfish, wrasse (that nibble around your feet) and fins at the end of the dive. Or there are the unicorn and surgeonfish, which make a beeline for your mask, as you swim down towards the wreck.
President Coolidge, Vanuatu
The SS President Coolidge off Santo, northern Vanuatu, was a World War II luxury ocean liner. It was commandeered by the US navy and fitted out as a naval ship. Unfortunately, it got sunk by one of America’s own mines. The engine room and one of the dining rooms are at about 47 m, the promenade deck is around 33 m and the mosaic-lined swimming pool is about 50 m. It’s a fabulous dive. The wreck is fully protected by law and both it and the surrounding seabed has been designated a Marine Reserve.