Scuba diving is one of the best ways to discover our planet’s amazing biodiversity and beauty. If you’re an avid diver, you already know this. You’ve probably also heard of diving meccas like the Red Sea, the Maldives, and Bali. While these places offer some of the world’s best diving, there are plenty of other spectacular dive spots that go undiscovered by the masses. We’ve investigated these places to shed light on just a few of the more-than-worthy places to take the plunge. Even experienced divers may not know about the places on this list! Keep reading to find out what we chose as the four most underrated dive spots in the world:
1. Koh Lipe, Thailand
Overshadowed by the Manta hot-spot of Koh Lanta just a few hours to its north, Koh Lipe doesn’t get nearly as much attention for its diving as it should. However, it would be a mistake to visit Thailand’s stunning west coast without exploring the dive spots just off of Lipe’s picturesque beaches. Not only is the water an irresistible turquoise color, the life below the surface is fascinating. Koh Lipe is a spot for “macro” marine life lovers, however there is always a chance to see some big pelagics. Ghost pipefish, seahorses, stone fish, nudibranch, and shrimps are just some of the common residents, although it’s the underwater landscape and water conditions that really impress. Known for an abundance of healthy soft corals made possible by the strong currents, Koh Lipe is a drift diver’s dream.
Recommended dive sites: Stone Henge, Koh Talang, the “Far Islands.”
2. Newfoundland, Canada
Fact: Diving in Newfoundland is not for the faint of heart or warm water divers. The most eastern part of Canada is surrounded by chilly waters and not-so-mild air temperatures. This alone deters many people from entering the water for a swim, never mind a dive. However, if you can brave the cold temperatures using sheer determination (and a dry suit), you will not be disappointed by what lies beneath. One of the best experiences is a dive in Iceberg Alley, where you can literally see chunks of ice as big as 3-story buildings floating by! July and August are the best time to spot Humpback and Minke Whales. Diving with these gentle giants is truly the experience of a lifetime. If you’re into wreck dives, Newfoundland – particularly the sites laying off St. Johns – should be at the top of your list. The wrecks here are very well-preserved (thanks to the cold water) and sailors’ personal belongings and various parts of the ship’s equipment can still be seen!
Recommended dive sites: Conception Bay, Bell Island (the site of four popular wreck dives - S.S. Saganaga, S.S. Paris-Lyon-Marseilles, Rose Castle, and S.S. Lord Strathcona).
3. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
The diving off of the northeast of Malaysian Borneo steals the spotlight in terms of spectacular diving. Many divers don’t know that just a 30-minute speedboat ride off the northeastern coast of mainland Malaysia are two perfect little paradisal islands. Pulau Besar and Pulau Kecil (Big Island and Small Island, respectively) make up the Perhentians, a laid-back scuba diver’s haven. The sites vary drastically from shallow reef dives, to deep muck dives, to numerous wreck dives including an American landing craft sunk in 1976, patrolled by a feisty Triggerfish. Big schools of snappers, golden trevallies, black tip reef sharks, stingrays, and scorpionfish are just some of the cool creatures calling this place home. If you’re lucky, you may be present for a whale shark sighting which happens sporadically every year!
Recommended dive sites: Temple of the Sea (AKA The Pinnacle), Sugar Wreck, Vietnamese Wreck.
4. Coral Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
The first thing that comes to mind when diving in South Africa is Great White Shark cage diving, right? We can’t blame anyone for thinking that this activity is also this area offers, it gets a lot of press and attention, attracting hoards of adventurous tourists who want to come face to face with a Great White. That’s why the Coral Gardens dive site in South Africa makes our list as it’s often forgotten by tourists traveling the country. The rocky reef lies on the Atlantic Seaboard off the Cape Peninsula. This site’s claims to fame are the stunning kaleidoscope of coral colors, the giant granite boulders and pinnacles, and the high biodiversity of marine life. Other highlights include a shallow cave with an air pocket and a towering kelp garden. The best part? This dive site doesn’t go deeper than 18 meters, making it perfect for beginner and advanced divers.