The best diving spots in the world
So you can finally find Nemo, swim with whale sharks and cuddle sea lions
Sometimes I feel like I was meant to be a mermaid. The silence underwater puts me in a meditative state. Exploring diving spots opens my mind to a whole new state of being, and observing creatures living in harmony teaches invaluable lessons. When I dive, I feel complete—I’m at peace with nature, and myself. And 183 dives later, I’m as eager to go Under the Sea than I was when I first start diving.
It all began in May 2014, on a much-anticipated scuba diving trip to the Andaman Islands with four of my girlfriends. We had no idea what to expect, and the sheer joy of experiencing something new had inspired this trip. Little did we know that this journey would irrevocably shape and change each of us.
Best diving spots in your neighbourhood: Havelock Island
Getting to Havelock Island was long and tiring—all we managed to do on our first night was whine a little before we hit the sack. We did have to be up at the crack of dawn, after all—for our very first dive. Our session began with basic training on-land, then gear in tow, we suited up for our first training dive—learning the basics at a depth of 3mtrs in open water. The first dive in the open ocean was thrilling—we hopped aboard a boat, and I recall our instructor telling us to “back roll” off the boat. And on seeing our expressions at spotting the countless jellyfish from the surface, reminded us to say calm, and “trust me”.
In a matter of seconds, we were submerged, descending into the blue. With my first breath underwater, I could already feel something changing—emotions that I couldn’t quite fathom, enveloped me. With each breath and sight, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy, comfort, love, awe and a million other beautiful emotions that cannot be explained. I had fallen in love.
Post the first dive, we sat on the boat, all of us speechless, and smiling—taking in what we had just experienced. The diving bug had bitten us and we squeezed in 13 dives that trip—getting certified as both Open Water divers (basics of scuba diving), and Advanced Open Water divers (increases your skill-set and allows you to dive deeper). By the end of the trip, somehow, we had all cleared our minds of doubt, made life-changing decisions and resolved to give everything in life a chance. Call it the wisdom of the water.
Read on for my list of the best diving spots in the world
Photo credit: Tom Fisk/ Pexels
Havelock Island, Andaman Islands
Having started my diving journey here, Havelock is close to my heart. My first night dive ever was at The Wall here. Each season in Havelock has something unique to offer—some of my favourite spots are the Broken Ledge, Dixon’s Pinnacle and Jacksons’s Bar. I highly recommend DiveIndia, especially if you are a first timer. Their instructors are amazing and you will be in good hands.
Marine life: Napoleon Wrasse, Jelly Fish, Angel Fish, Trigger Fish, Anemone Fish, Clown Fish, False Clown Fish (now commonly called Nemo), White Tip Reef Sharks, Leopard Shark, Occasional Manta Rays, Blue Spotted Sting Rays, Snappers, Schools of Fusiliers, Milk Fish, Barracudas, Trevallies, Trigger Fish, Surgeon Fish, Butterfly Fish, Moorish Idols, Bat Fish, Banner Fish, Octopus, Nudibranch, Banded Sea Snake
Best time to dive: October-May
Photo credit: Stijn Dijkstra/ Pexels
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Home to black sands and the largest lizard on earth, Komodo is unique both on land, and underwater. I explored the diving spots in Komodo via a liveaboard—the Mermaid II. The staff and service was great, rooms were comfortable and the boat has a lovely deck to lounge on between dives. I often fell asleep on deck, staring up at the Milky Way. The day dives are spectacular but the night dives, with unique critters and creatures making special appearances were something else. From wall dives to pinnacles, shallow reefs to deep swim-throughs, diving in Komodo is very exciting. Not to forget the land excursion to observe the mighty Komodo dragons, in their natural habitat.
Marine life: Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, White Tip Reef Sharks, Cuttlefish, Gobies, Blennies, Pygmy Sea Horses, Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Snappers, Schools of Barracudas, Nudibranch, Harlequin Shrimp, Rainbow Shrimps, Spanish Dancers, Wrasses, Napoleon Wrasses, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Giant Trevallies, Fusiliers, Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Turtle, Hairy Squat Lobsters, Pug Head Pipefish, Long Fin Squid, Snake Eel, Flounders, Leaf Fish, Stone Fish, Popcorn Shrimp, Octopus, Giant King Ray, Indian
Best time to dive: April-November
Photo credit: Winrood Lee/ Pexels
An easily accessible typical Maldivian island, there’s not much to do here other than dive— which means you can go on 4-5 dives in a day. I dive with Atoll Scuba as the crew is warm, welcoming and helpful. Bodufolhudhoo is not very hard to get to, you can usually plan pretty last minute (unless they are sold out, then bad luck), the diving is fantastic and isn’t very expensive. The house reef is beautiful and further out you can explore wall dives, channels and drifts, pinnacles and coral gardens. The night dives are unbelievable, with sharks, jacks and morays out hunting—you can capture a sleeping turtle, a ray sprawling, morays swimming and sharks on the lookout for their next meal, all in a single frame.
Marine life: Mantas, Grey Reef Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks, Silver Tip Reef Sharks, Black Tip Reef Sharks, Hawksbill Turtle, Jelly Fish, Moray Eels, Eagle Rays, Whiptail Rays, Ribbontail Ray, Schools of Yellow Line Snappers, Schools of Fusiliers, Surgeon Fish, Butterfly Fish, Moorish Idols, Bat Fish, Trigger Fish, Barracudas, Trevallies, Stone Fish, Sweetlips
Best time to dive: Year-round
Photo credit: Stijn Dijkstra/ Pexels
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
It’s the well-known holy grail of dive sites where the pristine coral reef systems are alive and untouched, making you feel like you have gone back in time—it’s home to more than 10 times the number of hard coral species found in the Caribbean. There’s also an abundance of marine life—from macro life to pelagic species. I dived with Mermaid II here as well, and had a fabulous time.
Marine life: Cuttle Fish, Barramundis, Gobies, Blennys, Oceanic Manta Rays, Devil Rays, Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Garden Eels, Hawksbill Turtle, Pygmy Sea Horse, Walking Shark, Reef Manta Rays, Napoleon Wrasse, Parrot Fish, Grey Reef Shark, Barracudas, Jacks, Blue Fin Trevallies, Great Barracuda, Pygmy Squid, Banded Pipe Fish, Spanish Mackerel, Rabbit Fish, Mushroom Coral Pipefish, Wobbegong Shark, Titan Trigger Fish, Wolf Pygmy Octopus, Toad Fish, Porcupine Fish, Coconut Octopus
Best time to dive: October-April
Photo credit: Simon Matzinger/ Pexels
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Welcome to paradise. This is how you are greeted when you reach Galápagos, and they aren’t exaggerating. You can hear the barks of sea lions the second you step out of the airport in San Cristóbal and these curious, playful ‘puppies of the sea’ truly have my heart.
Known for their rare pelagic life, the volcanic islands of the Pacific Ocean will not let you down with their beautiful dive sites. I would recommend diving here after you’ve reached at least 50 dives or feel really comfortable underwater as the dives can be challenging—the temperate can drop quite low, currents can be strong and seas can get choppy. Regardless of the challenges, this destination is every diver’s dream and rightly so. I hope to go back someday. Liveaboard-style diving is highly recommended here, so book well in advance. I dived with M/V Galapagos Sky.
Marine life: Whale Sharks, Marine Iguanas, Schools of Hammerhead Sharks, Sea Lions, Galapagos Sharks, Silky Sharks, Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, Eagle Rays, Diamond Ray, Black Tip Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, Big Eye Jacks, Marble Ray, Fur Seal, Octopus, Snake Eel, Bull Head Shark , Groupers, Penguins
Best time to dive: Year-round (there is a wet and dry season but the diving is supposed to be great either way)
Photo credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels
Red Sea, Egypt
With perfect water temperature, spectacular reefs and historic wrecks, the Red Sea is one of the best diving sites in the world. I got onto a 7-day liveaboard that started and ended in Hurghada. This was the first ever liveaboard I went on and it got me addicted to diving this way. Diving around here was unpredictable and interesting. The chances of seeing hammerheads and oceanic white tip sharks are high and my encounter with the latter gave me an unbelievable adrenalin rush.
Marine life: Oceanic White Tip Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks, Octopus, Moray Eels, Octopus, Snappers, Groupers
Best time to go: April-November
Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop/ Pexels
Diving in Puducherry is beautiful, especially for people in India, since this is a fairly accessible destination, just 150kms from Chennai. I dived here over a weekend and was amazed by the marine life. The artificial reef created here is a beautiful—it reminds you that when you actually want to do good for the world you can! The reef has attracted so many tropical fish it is incredible.
Marine life: Fusiliers, Puffer Fish, Lion Fish, Porcupine Puffer Fish, Nudibranch, Emperor Angel Fish, Titan Trigger Fish, Butterfly Fish, Bat Fish, Moorish Idol, Rabbit Fish, Gobies, Moray Eels, Snappers, Groupers, Surgeon Fish (I was also told that lucky divers can spot a whale shark or dolphins swimming by)
Best time to dive: Year-round