The term 'bucket list' was first coined in 1941 by famous explorer John Goddard, who at the ripe old age of 15 listed everything he wanted to achieve in life. Since then, the concept has spread across the globe, evolving with each generation to include everything from milking a poisonous snake (no thanks) to diving with hammerheads (that's more like it). But with so much of the ocean to explore, picking the best diving spots can be somewhat (understatement alert) overwhelming. That's where we come in. After much heated debate we've come up with a definitive list of the 10 sites that all divers should experience before kicking the aforementioned bucket.
Boo Windows: Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Raja's reefs are thriving, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Boo Windows. Located in the southernly Misool region of Raja Ampat, Boo Windows is carpeted with soft and hard corals in every colour under the rainbow, accompanied by two swim-through 'windows' in the reef that harbour huge schools of colourful reef fish.
The Theatre: Darwin Island, the Galapagos
"Hundreds of schooling hammerheads swam just metres away. It wasn't long before we heard the frantic 'dinging' which meant only one thing... a whale shark. We swam in to the blue to greet her and then from the deep she appeared, all 14 metres of her - the size of a bus" - Original Diver Amy on her recent bucket list extravaganza.
The Crossing: Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Descending into the deep blue waters of the Tiputa Pass (aka one of the sharkiest destinations on the planet), witness dolphins, manta rays, turtles, eagle rays and huge schools of grey reef sharks as you cruise through the pass until you reach the aptly named shark's cavern. Visit between July and November and hop across to Moorea to swim with humpback whales for the ultimate underwater experience.
Deacon's Reef: Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea
The sheer variety of corals at Deacon's Reef in Milne Bay is staggering, from fields of sea fans and whips to bommies and coral towers. Look out for giant trevally navigating the coral obstacle course and camouflaged macro critters among the motley crew of colours, before the reef ends with a sheer drop-off extending beyond 300 metres.
Hanifaru Bay: Baa Atoll, the Maldives
Ever seen a manta feeding frenzy? Rather resembling a flash mob, hundreds of manta will flip, flop and swirl through the waters of Hanifaru Bay in the Maldives northernly Baa Atoll between June and November, when the tide and current turn this tiny bay into a thick bowl of plankton soup. Snorkel alongside these graceful giants in the world's biggest manta feeding station (bragging rights included).
The Great White Wall: Taveuni, Fiji
No, not a spoiler for Game of Thrones (we, like Jon Snow, know nothing). The Great White Wall is a dramatic drop-off along the Somosomo Strait (otherwise known as the 'soft coral capital of the world') carpeted in ghostly white soft corals (Dendronephthya) like a blanket of snow. If you'd rather enter the rainbow, discover a kaleidoscope of colours at the nearby Rainbow Reef.
Hot Rocks: South Pantar, Indonesia
Wonderfully off-the-beaten track, Hot Rocks has some of the best muck diving in the Alor archipelago. Spot everything from juvenile rhinopias, seahorses, sea snakes, headshield slugs, technicolour nudibranchs and endless frogfish (think: warty, painted, freckled, striated, ocellated and more).
Princess Alice Bank: the Azores, Portugal
Located 40-nautical miles offshore from the Azores and straddling the North American, Eurasian and African plates, the submerged seamount Princess Alice Bank has emerged as a magnet for pelagics, including tuna, mantas, mobulas, makos, blue sharks and more. If the waves are too choppy (it is in the mid-Atlantic, after all), the local sites are some of the best in Europe.
Bajo Alcyone: Cocos Island, Costa Rica
The jewel in Cocos Island's crown, this submerged seamount is hands down the best place in the world to swim with scalloped hammerheads. Descend 25m to the seamount's top and look up towards the surface to see the silhouettes of hundreds of hammerheads gliding past against the blue.
The Great Blue Hole: Belize
Belize's Blue Hole tops divers' bucket lists the world over, most recently making headlines for Richard Branson's pioneering expedition 125 metres to the bottom in a submersible. While the site is definitely worth exploring for its wealth of sharks lurking in the stalagmites, the Lighthouse Reef surrounding the Hole sports some of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean.
Get in touch with our team today to experience the best diving in the world on your next scuba travel adventure.