I've heard it said that scuba diving is as close as most of us will ever come to experiencing outer space. I believe it. Descending down into the depths of the ocean, where all becomes quiet and weightless, and a whole new world of discoveries become possible, life always seems to fall back into place.
Never am I so reminded about how small a piece of this world I occupy, and of how many awe-inspiring corners of the Earth there are left for me to explore.
I first started scuba diving because of my unwavering wanderlust. Not only did I want to experience what was above ground, I wanted to get to know what thrived beneath it, too. (I attribute it to too many hours spent watching The Little Mermaid as a child.)
Nonetheless, getting my scuba diving certification has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. No matter how many times I go underwater, I am always left captivated by the experience.
PHOTO: Going down under to discover the local marine life
The wonderful thing about the ocean is that it's absolutely massive-and each dive spot around the world boasts unique characteristics and creatures. Whether you're a first-time diver or a seasoned scuba specialist, these six places to dive around the world are guaranteed to leave you speechless:
PHOTO: The captivating and innovative statues at MUSA. (Courtesy of Cancun Tourism Board)
There's more to Cancun than all-inclusive resorts and hard-partying spring breakers. For a real adventure, strap on your dive gear and head to MUSA, or the Underwater Museum. The vision of artist Jason deCaires Taylor, MUSA is both an ascetically pleasing art project as well as an eco-conservation plan.
It's a little bit odd and a little bit creepy while also being extremely innovative and creative. On the dive you'll swim among life-size casts of over 400 statues. Each sculpture tells a distinctive story; some are stories of hope and rebirth, while others are a critique on society. Taylor's contemporary art display will keep evolving, attracting new coral and marine life, and continuously changing the very nature of the statues. No two dives here will ever be the same!
2.Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
PHOTO: A sea turtle gracefully swims in the Galapagos Islands.
For many, the Galapagos Islands are the ultimate of any dive spot in the world. The place where Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, the Galapagos Islands is home to a thriving population of birds, reptiles, mammals, and more, meaning there is no shortage of things to see both on land and underwater.
If you time your visit right, you can swim with sea lions, whale sharks, hammerheads, dolphins, manta rays and more. Due to strong currents and occasional rough waters, we recommend having your Advanced Dive Certification to make the most out of your Galapagos dive trip.
3.Apo Island, the Philippines
PHOTO: There are plenty of boats to take you diving at Apo Island.
We first heard about Apo Island on a dive in Palawan, the Philippines. A fellow diver couldn't stop raving about this underwater paradise he had stumbled upon not too far from Bohol. A few months later we found ourselves on a flight to Apo Island, based solely on this word-of-mouth advice. Luckily, we were not disappointed.
Apo Island remains one of our favorite dive spots around the world, not only for the colorful and diverse coral and marine life, but also the chilled-out culture and beautiful nearby beaches. There are numerous dives in the area, but the Apo Island Marine Reserve hosts some of the best. (Note: Since our visit, a small amount of the coral was damaged as a result of a typhoon.)
4.The Yongala, Australia
Dan continually raves about his enchanting experience diving The Yongala, a wreck dive proclaimed to be one of the best in the world. The S.S. Yongala sank of the coast of Australia in 1911 and was only discovered in 1958; today the wreck is home to a rich array of marine life, including grouper, a variety of sharks and rays. A visit to the Yongala in the winter might even allow a sighting of a minke or humpback whale!
5.The Great Blue Hole, Belize
The Great Blue Hole is a large underwater sinkhole, 300 meters across and 125 meters deep. The world's largest natural formation of its kind, the Great Blue Hole is also a part of the larger Barrier Reef Reserve System, a World Heritage Site.
Starting off with a 40-foot drop into the hole, this is certainly not a dive for beginners. However, once you have the skills and repertoire, a dive in the Great Blue Hole on a clear and calm day might reveal Caribbean Reef Sharks or even the occasional Hammerhead.
6.The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
PHOTO: Cenotes offer a unique opportunity to dive through crystal-clear freshwater.
One of the most interesting characteristics of the Yucatan Peninsula is the 6,000 cenotes that dot the area. A cenote is a natural sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.
The primary source of freshwater for the Mayan population, cenotes have long played a spiritual and mystical role in the culture of the local indigenous people. While cenotes don't have the same marine life as some of the other spots on this list, a dive in a cenote will reveal unique cave formations, crystal clear water, and a mesmerizing light show as the sun's rays reflect through the water.
These are only six popular dive spots out of thousands around the world. We have such destinations as the Red Sea, Fiji and Thailand high on our scuba diving bucket list. Where is your dream dive destination?
Topics From This Article to Explore