The world's best dives: regularly topping just about everyone's bucket list, and for good reason. But the world's ocean covers a mind boggling 139,000,000 square miles, and as the world's largest playground (official title), there are endless opportunities for adventures. Whether you're a curious armchair traveller or a trailblazer looking for a new adventure, discover our top off-the-beaten-path dives, eschewing the boundaries of traditional 'dives before you die' in favour of dives you might have never known existed - a secret bucket list, if you will.
The Maldives on Steroids: Alphonse Island, The Outer Islands
A tiny spec on the great expanse of Indian Ocean, Alphonse is about as remote as it gets, which, according to the laws of logic (and Original Diver and regular visitor Neill) means the reefs are healthier, the fish life more 'fishy' and the big animals more frequent. Swim alongside speedy sailfish, mingle with manta rays, see humpback whales breaching in the distance and watch hundreds of melon-headed whales slink past - but the real clincher is it expect the unexpected.
Sardine Run: Swap South Africa for Mexico’s Baja California
Forget South Africa's sardine run, this year is all about Mexico's secret sardine run. Four hours north of Cabo San Lucas on the pacific coast, Magdalena Bay attracts one of Baja California's most epic feeding frenzies: the striped marlin migration. Every November, these shimmering, silvery fish gather to hunt huge bait balls of sardines and mackerel that congregate around the coast, joined by sea lions, dolphins and sharks, while above water, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles.
Unexplored Corners of the Coral Triangle: Swap Raja Ampat for the Solomon Islands
While we regularly hail Indonesia's Raja Ampat as the bullseye of the Coral Triangle, not least because of its staggering biodiversity, the Coral Triangle itself actually encompasses a staggering four million square miles of ocean and coastal waters. Located on the far south-eastern corner in the South Pacific, the Solomon Islands quietly host all the biodiversity of Raja (think coral and muck sites, macro critters and bigger pelagics), as well as world-class WW2 wrecks, but critically without the crowds.
Off-the-Grid French Polynesia: Swap the Society Islands for the Tuamotus Islands
Chances are you've seen the screensaver-worthy landscapes of Bora Bora, and while the Society Islands are undeniably beautiful, head to the Tuamotus Islands for the jewel in the crown of French Polynesian diving in Fakarava. Fakarava is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that has been protected for more than 40 years, which becomes easily apparent when diving; from hundreds of grey reef sharks to the epic grouper spawning scenes captured in Blue Planet II, divers can tick off all the big-ticket animals in toasty tropical water.
Tanzania’s Secret Scenes: Swap Zanzibar for Mafia Island
Dive in Mafia Island Marine Park where the fish are bigger, the reefs healthier and the divers few and far between; not a bad trio if you ask us. Most of the diving takes place around Chole Bay, which has something for every diving interest; muck diving straight from the shore; calm, shallow sites in the bay (perfect for those learning to dive); and epic wall dives outside the bay, where plenty of pelagic action awaits. You might even see a whale shark.
Swap Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for the Great Astrolabe Reef of Fiji
Curling away from the shores of Kadavu Island, the Great Astrolabe Reef of Fiji is the fourth largest barrier reef in the world, yet remains wonderfully under the radar, wherein lies the charm. Divers can explore a smorgasbord of healthy hard and soft coral reefs, walls, overhangs, passages and swim-throughs. The marine life is equally enthralling with manta rays, sharks, rays and huge clouds of schooling fish consistently spotted across sites.
The Bahamas: Swap Glitzy Nassau for Laidback Andros
The Bahamas is regularly recognised as one of the world's premier destinations for shark encounters, but while divers flock to Nassau to see grey reef sharks en masse, we recommend heading to Andros for some of the Bahamas' most thrilling dive sites; experience a shark feeding dive without the crowds with the chaps at Small Hope Bay Lodge; swap the Great Blue Hole of Belize for Andros' secret blue holes; and explore shallow coral gardens, wrecks and dramatic wall diving along the Tongue of the Ocean, which plunges over 2,000 metres.
Get in touch with one of our team to organise your next diving adventure.