5 best diving sites that every scuba diver must visit | Travel

The ocean covers over 70% of the planet and is our life source – it produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Not to mention, the ocean is key to global economy with an estimated 40 million people being employed by ocean-based industries by 2030. In the depth of the ocean lie a fascinating world of marine life – there are around 230,000 classified marine species, but as many as two million or more yet to be discovered. And, of course, there are the famous wrecks (think; RMS Titanic, SS Thistlegorm, Hilma Hooker, SS Yongala, USS Saratoga) that one can explore. (Also read: World Oceans Day: India’s Radhanagar Beach is the World’s Second Most Sustainable Beach )

Explore the underwater wonders with our guide to the top five must-visit diving sites for every scuba enthusiast.(Unsplash)

World’s best scuba diving sites

Krabi (Thailand): Nestled within the Phi Phi archipelago is Bamboo Island, one of Thailand’s biggest coral reefs. Stretching across an area of close to four football fields, this underwater wonderland has depths ranging from 2 to 6 metres. Drift effortlessly over striking corals in the Arabian Sea that are home to splendid marine life.

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Where to stay: Phulay Bay, a Ritz Carlton Reserve in Krabi. The ultra-luxury hotel organises trips to the Hong Islands, Phi Phi Islands, the Phang Nga Bay as well as guided dive trips.

Diving Trip: Thai Bhat (TBH) 4,500 for guided dive, equipment rental, hotel transfers, 2 meals + TBH 600 National Park Fees (Rs. 10,211 + Rs. 1,361).

Muscat (Oman): Squeezed between mountains and the ocean, the city of Muscat is a fascinating blend of ancient culture, modern, architecture, and known for its glittering marketplaces, delicious seafood, museums, and always in-bloom gardens. Not many know but the city also has an incredible underwater playground just off the coast of Oman. With over 20 dive sites, including the legendary Al Munassir wreck and blooming coral gardens, there’s no shortage of thrills to be had in these aquamarine waters.

Where to stay: Shangri-La Muscat is where luxury meets adventure, and offers the perfect backdrop for aquatic escapades.

Diving Trip: Omani Rial (OMR) 60 for guided dive, equipment rental and intro dive supplement (Rs. 12,947).

Qatar: Qatar is surrounded by sea, so it’s no news that it is an adventurer’s delight. Beyond its sandy landscapes lie breathtaking reefs, fascinating wrecks and some large pelagic – from dugongs peacefully grazing on sea grass, sergeant majors gliding in and out of reefs to close encounters with whale sharks. Add to it the offshore wrecks like the Pericles and the Mo and shore diving sites where the ocean and dunes meet creating a diving experience like no other. Dive into the depths of its reefs, with maximum depths reaching 15 metres and swim alongside Arabian Blue Fish, Barracudas, or even nurse sharks.

Poseidon Dive Center: Qatari Rial (QR) 1,400for shore dive, equipment rental, underwater photos, refreshments, transportation to Inland Sea (Rs. 32,040).

Seychelles archipelago: The Seychelles archipelago, nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, is made up of 115 unique islands, where vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life await beneath the shimmering turquoise surface. The inner islands of Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue serve as a stunning backdrop for underwater exploration, with the towering granite boulders draped in vegetation and surrounded by sparkling waters. Among these pristine waters lie intriguing wrecks to explore, such as the Ennerdale, a sunken oil tanker now taken over by the inhabitants of the deep.

The outer islands have wall dives complemented by an astonishing amount of marine life where encounters with manta rays, whale sharks and other marine species are not uncommon. Diving the waters of the outer islands holds the promise of spectacular cave and canyon dives at Desroches Island, colourful wall dives off Alphonse, and the current dive through the main artery feeding the Aldabra Lagoon, UNESCO World Heritage Site, and largest raised coral atoll on earth.

Big Blue Divers: EUR 70 for guided dive, equipment rental; underwater camera rental EUR 40 ( Total Rs. 6321 + Rs. 3612). The price is for dives off the coast of Beau Vallon, Mahe; cost may vary according to the location.

Ras Al-Khaimah: A haven for divers, the underwater realms of Ras Al-Khaimah offer a vibrant mosaic of marine life and hidden treasures – from serene coral gardens to mesmerising wrecks. The Alya Wreck stands out as a captivating dive spot, welcoming both recreational and technical divers with its depths ranging from 25 to 38 metres. Picture yourself exploring colourful coral gardens, encountering curious sea creatures, and uncovering sunken treasures – all against the backdrop of crystal-clear waters and endless blue skies.

Where to stay: Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island.

Diving Trip AED 400 for guided dive, equipment rental and underwater pictures and videos (Rs. 9,000).

Reef Splendour in 360-degrees: Over 800 species of reef-building corals create habitats that harbour an estimated 32% of all named marine species, excluding microbes and fungi – 91% of marine species remain undescribed. However, not everyone can dive into the ocean to enjoy its splendour and richness. But you can sit at home and enjoy a 360-degree view of reef splendour through The Ocean Agency‘s 360-degree images. You can also do a 360-degree dive on the UN page.

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