Adventurous divers love to push the boundaries, and this often creates new scuba diving destinations. The 10 listed below were discovered by adventurous divers, and divers like you continue to create new dive sites in these places. Because of their remote nature, many of these destinations require divers to book a liveaboard diving holiday, only adding to the remote feel of your scuba diving adventure.
1. Cocos Island, Costa Rica
A tiny island around 550 kilometres (342 miles) from the Costa Rican mainland, Cocos Island looks like the perfect setting for a Jurassic World theme park. For now, it’s a scuba diving mecca for shark lovers. This distant rock regularly hosts huge shoals of scalloped hammerhead sharks. The only way to get to Cocos is a harrowing 36-hour journey by boat. Currents can be strong at the dive sites, so make sure you’re adequately trained before attempting the trip.
2. Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico
Another distant part of the Pacific, the Revillagigedo Archipelago is better known by the name of the main island, Socorro. Situated 400 kilometres (250 miles) from Cabo San Lucas, these islands are famous for their pelagic encounters. You can swim with oceanic manta rays, humpback whales, sharks and even dolphins. It takes about 24 hours to reach the Revillagigedo Archipelago by liveaboard, which is the only way to dive this part of Mexico. Again, experience diving in heavy current is a must before traveling to Socorro.
3. Tonga, Polynesia
If the top entry on your bucket list is swimming with humpback whales, you must visit Tonga. This Polynesian island is a nursery area and breeding ground for humpback whales from August to early October each year. While this isn’t really a diving destination as you can’t scuba dive with the whales, we still recommend it as an adventurous addition to your diving wish list. On most excursions, you’ll spend six days swimming with whales in a respectful and environmentally friendly manner. Warm and clear waters make this a brilliant place to swim with cetaceans.
4. Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
As one of the best wreck diving destinations in the world, Bikini Atoll has a dark history. It was here that the US tested its nuclear weapons on large naval vessels. As a result, the entire area was abandoned for years. It is just recently beginning to open up to scuba diving tourism with a limited number of liveaboards visiting the many wrecks inside the atoll. Of particular interest is the USS Saratoga, one of the only sunken aircraft carriers within the reaches of scuba divers.
Ice diving on its own is adventurous, but add a journey to one of the most remote places on Earth and you’ve got one of the most adventurous dive destinations in the world. Antarctica has lots of dive sites to explore if you’re properly trained. Views of ice formations under the water alongside penguins, seals and various gastropods make for fascinating sights. Petermann Island is a popular location, but liveaboard boats are becoming more and more adventurous with their itineraries.
6. South Africa
From the sardine run to cage diving with great white sharks, South Africa is a must for thrill seekers. Head to Gansbaai and False Bay if you want the quintessential shark experience. Cape fur seals dodge and weave through the vast kelp forests while sharks follow. Or, if you’re in the area from May to July, make your way to Agulhas Bank just like millions of sardines do. Dive boats trawl these waters looking for bait balls and the feeding frenzies that go along with them. If you’re lucky enough to find one, dive down and enjoy the show of sharks, whales, birds and seals all feasting on the tiny fish.
The Great Sardine Run, South Africa © Nature on PBS
7. Andaman Islands, India
An island chain that sits between India and Thailand, the Andaman Islands are best dived from a liveaboard. Travel to the islands was prohibited until 1993, so the corals and marine life found in the area are out of this world. Turtles, manta rays, reef sharks and other big animals are likely to be seen. Most of the limited number of boats that visit these distant islands leave from Phuket, Thailand. Alternatively, travel to the islands from India and dive from land.
Only recently opened to tourists from the US, Cuba is becoming one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean. However, it’s still off the beaten track. Its signature site, Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), can only be accessed by liveaboard. There are also new routes popping up all the time for the adventurous diver, including those traveling to the Canarreos Archipelago.
Possibly the best place to go cage diving with great white sharks, Guadalupe Island is a lonely rock in the Pacific Ocean off the Baja California coast of Mexico. This area can only be reached by dive charter, so get ready for full days of shark diving. Furthermore, the warm, clear waters make this a better photographic experience than many other white shark destinations.
10. Azores, Portugal
European diving isn’t often thought of as adventurous, but the Azores offer liveaboard diving like no other. Here you’ll float across two continental plates, exploring volcanic formations below the surface of the ocean. Princess Alice Bank is often a favourite. The submerged seamount is seemingly in the middle of nowhere at 80 kilometres (45 miles) from shore, but the bank is often surrounded by mobula rays. Blue sharks and mantas are also seen in the area. Because currents are strong and depths are advanced, liveaboard diving in the Azores is for experienced divers only.
Ready for an adventure? Jump on a liveaboard and get out there. The world is yours to explore!