So, you have done it all, Thailand, Indo, the Great Barrier, even the Maldives. What is next, all the good diving has been done?! We have compiled a list of the very best, lesser known dive sites for you to explore.
With untouched, white beaches and clear water, Sri Lanka is a secret gem in the diving world.
Where is it: Sri Lanka lays in the Bay of Bangal, South East of India and across the Andaman sea from Thailand.
What makes it special: With untouched, white beaches and clear water, Sri Lanka is a secret gem in the diving world. There are many wrecks to dive, the most famous probably being the H.M.S Hermes- the world’s first aircraft carrier- which was sunk in 1942 by the Japanese aviation. The H.M.S Hermes is only for experienced and technical divers, laying between 44-55m.
Among the fish life you could spot Blue Whales, manta rays, dolphins, reef sharks, an abundance of colourful coral and tropical fish and even Napoleon fish!
Details: There is amazing diving year round and an abundance of dive sites that make it an ideal dive destination for beginners and more experienced divers alike. Water temperature ranges between 26-30°C.
When to go: Diving on the West coast is usually better from November to April while the East coast is better during May to October.
Diving is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Easter Island. There are plenty of reasons why it should, though!. Visibility can be as high as 70 meters… yes, you read right, 70 meters! Combine that with temperatures of between 18-26°C and you have a recipe for mind blowing diving.
Where is it: Easter Island is located between Chile and Thaiti
What makes it special: 70. Meter. Visibility. Need we say more?! Oh well, if we must… While there isn’t an abundance of fish life, a large number of species of fish around Easter Island is endemic (that means they can only be found in the waters around Easter Island), this makes the diving here even more unique.
In Hanga Roa bay, around 18 m, you could find the ‘Porites lobata’ coral that can grow to have a diameter of up to 5 meters. You will also find many sea turtles and some tropical fish here.
The typography around Easter Island is interesting with many caves, arches, cliffs, lava platforms and even an underwater moai to explore (at 21-23m). Other popular dive sites are Motu Nui, Motu Kao Kao and Motu Iti.
Details: Easter Island offer breath-taking diving for beginners and more experience divers and is definitely a dive destination for you bucket list!
When to go: September to May. Diving conditions are generally better in the winter as rough waters can limit the dive sites that can be dived in the summer. For your best bet at having 70m visibility, avoid travelling to Easter Island in May, June, July and October as this is the rainy months. Although water temperatures are warmer in October to February, better diving is usually in the winter when water temperature stays under 22°C.
American Samoa is described as ‘one of the most untouched marine environments in the world.’ This is partly due to the fact that it takes a considerable amount of both time and money to reach it- truly making it a ‘Best lesser know dive site’.
Where is it: American Samoa is located in the South Pacific, about 3300km North East of New Zealand.
What makes it special: Because it is so remote few divers explore American Samoa. This means you get to dive sites that few others have seen before. American Samoa consists of a chain of 7 islands providing ample diving spots. There are some opportunities to do shore diving but the really fantastic dive sites can only be reached by boat. Rose Atoll is a National Wildlife Refuge which has a 1. 600 acre lagoon and off of Ofu Island you will find 350 acres of coral reef. The world’s largest coral can be found in the waters around the island of Ta’u.
Details: American Samoa does not have the dive travel infrastructure that other, more popular destinations have. There are a number of dive shops in the area but they do not run regular diving trips. Most dives are done independent, without a dive guide to guide you. Thus, you will be required to be comfortable with independent diving and do planning in advance if you would like to do diving further afield. Most of the dive shops rent out gear for shore dives.
When to go: Humpback whales can be seen as early as July and late as December with peak times between September and October. Rainy season is between November and March
Pohnpei and Kosrae
Pohnpei and Kosrae are probably the least known islands in the Federates States of Micronesia, but after visiting these two islands you will want to tell all your dive buddies about them!
Where is it: Pohnpei and Kosrae are located in Micronesia, just North of the equator. The islands lay halfway between Honolulu and Manila.
What makes it special: Kosrae and Pohnpei have drop-offs, hard coral gardens and sandy bottoms with coral bommies – many of which are cleaning stations. The coral is extrememly healthy and abundant.
Kosrae has the Lenore wreck –sunk in the 19th century- and the Bully Hayes pirate ship wreck that can be explored. There are a number of deep reefs and WW II plane wrecks that lay deeper for technical divers. The Blue Hole in Kosrae, just north of Yenasr island has worse visibility but many juveniles seeking shelter from predators. The Blue Hole was once a sacred site, holding the scattered remains of Kosrae’s former kings.
Pohnpei is often visited by manta rays and white tip reef sharks. In Nan Madol (the famous lost city of Pohnpei) you can kayak, snorkel, and sometimes even dive through the deserted streets during high tide.
Details: There are a number of sheltered sites perfect for beginner divers. Visibility can often be up to 30m and water temperature is around 27-28°C
When to go: Best diving in Kosrea is during July to September. November to June is usually the rainy season although there is still good diving on the South and West sides of Kosrae during these months.
Pohnpei offer good diving year round- as is the rain. During December to March it can get quite windy, although there is still good diving during this time.
The South Sandwich Islands
The South Sandwich Islands is not your typical tropical diving destination. This chain of 11 islands are made of volcanic rock, covered in glaciers and colourful snow algae. Few people have explored the underwater world here, but diving in the South Sandwich Islands is very much worth it! This is not your typical dive holiday destination and definitely only recommended for those who dare to explore the unknown.
Where is it: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands lay in the South Atlantic ocean at a latitude of 54 South, making it a part of Antarctica.
What makes it special: Over 3 million penguins inhabits the islands so you will be sure to spot a few while diving. There are also 5 different seal species hanging around. You might be able to see a seal hunting a penguin. The areas close to the rocks can get a lot of surge but in the shallows you could find beautifully coloured nudi’s and flat worms. Some areas here have never been dived by anyone- this is definitely one for the adventurous!
Details: You would have to arrange a special charter to make it to the South Sandwich Islands. Oceanwide Expeditions is one of the only companies that offer dive expeditions to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The waves around the island can get quite big so make sure your captain is familiar with the area and experienced in large waves. Diving is very much still exploratory and should only be done by extremely experienced divers. Water temperature averages at 2°C and visibility ranges between 1.5-10 m.
This list of lesser known dive sites is sure to inspire the explorer in you, where are you off to next?
- A version of this article fist appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com