Top 20 dive trips you have to try once in your life
by Jorge Mezcua on Mar 01, 2023
Once you learn to dive and fall in love with the underwater world, many divers plan their first dive trips. They have heard about the wrecks of the Red Sea, the coral reefs of the Caribbean, the manta rays of the Maldives... Suddenly, traveling takes on a new meaning, the world becomes twice as big and the wonders of the ocean floor are as valuable or even more valuable than those on the surface. Here is my Top 20 Dive Trips (with 20 awesome videos) that I dream of doing completely... without going broke. Which one have you already been to?
1. COCOS ISLAND, COSTA RICA
Why diving in Cocos?
It is believed that you can dive with more sharks per cubic meter than anywhere else in the world. In Cocos Island you can be surrounded by hundreds of hammerhead sharks in a matter of minutes, find huge schools of tuna, dive with schools of barracuda and jackfish, dive with manta rays, turtles, dozens of white tip reef sharks in a single dive, whale sharks... The list of wonders is endless in one of the most sought after destinations for divers from all over the world.
Exactly, just as you thought, it is an expensive trip. And maybe uncomfortable if you do not like spending 30 hours on a boat after a long flight to Costa Rica. If you want to dive in Cocos Island, you will need €5,000 for exactly 10 days of unforgettable diving. Check the top 4 liveaboards in Cocos Island >>>
2. LEMBEH STRAIT, INDONESIA
Why diving in Lembeh?
For being one of the best muck diving sites in the world, giving you access to some of the rarest and most poisonous creatures you can find underwater: blue-ringed octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, mimic octopus, hairy frogfish, all kinds of nudibranchs, mantis shrimp or bobbit worms are among the inhabitants of this mud paradise.
A 6 day trip to the Lembeh Strait in a 4 star resort with 3 dives a day will cost around € 2,000.
3. NORTH RED SEA SAFARI, EGYPT
Why diving in Red Sea Northern route?
It gives you the chance to dive some world class wrecks like the Thistlegorm, the Giannis D or the Salem Express in just a few days. This week safari will also allow you to dive in some other interesting areas such as the Straits of Tiran and Ras Mohammed National Park, diving among corals, marine mammals and hopefully sharks.
This is the cheapest of the dive trips we are going to show you in this series of two posts. The diving here is huge, as is the competition, which drives the prices down. From just over €1,000 you can find liveaboards in the northern Red Sea and around €800 for dive trips with resorts and flights included.
4. THE GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA
Why diving in Australia?
The Great Barrier Reef is a well-known area of immense biodiversity and is fundamental to life on the planet. Obviously, you cannot see the 3,000 kilometers of the Great Barrier Reef in a single dive trip, but there are certainly extraordinary dive sites that you can see in a week-long trip.
If this is your first trip to Australia, you must visit the SS Yongala, considered by many to be the best wreck in the world. After more than a century underwater, its hull is practically covered with corals, sponges and millions of fish, from the smallest to turtles, napoleon fish, rays and even whale sharks visit it throughout the year. But of course there is much more in the Great Barrier: reef sharks, mantas, seamounts full of corals, hammerhead sharks and even minke whales. You can dive with almost the entire cast of Finding Nemo!
Diving in such a large area is varied. Whether it is a week-long liveaboard trip or diving excursions from a hotel, there are hundreds of dive sites to know and places to go, with many different prices. But keep in mind that you will need at least €1,000 for a flight from Europe and €1,000 for a liveaboard.
5. PALAU, MICRONESIA
Why diving in Palau?
Because it offers unique dives in the world and will make you feel like you are entering a paradise on earth. Palau is a small country made up of coral islands where you can dive with manta rays, sharks, peaceful pelagic animals or in World War II wrecks. Some of Palau's dive sites like "Jellyfish Lake" (an amazing place to snorkel surrounded by harmless jellyfish), "Blue Corner" or "German Channel" are considered some of the best dive sites in the world.
In Palau, we find many options for diving, from luxury cruises costing over €4,500 to dive programs with resort accommodations and 10 dives for only €2,500.
6. MAYAN RIVIERA, MEXICO
Why diving in Mayan Riviera?
Although it has exploded as a diving destination, the options are many and varied. You can dive in cenotes, access Caribbean coral reefs or dive with bull sharks, all in less than a week and with time to add visits to Mayan ruins.
From € 1,200 you can find good diving packages that will allow you to have enough dives very to know the area and very different from each other.
7. BEQA, FIJI
Why diving in Fiji?
Beqa is considered one of the best places in the world for shark diving. This Fijian island is a paradise dedicated to tourism where you will find dozens of great dives. Besides tiger sharks, nurse sharks, bull sharks or black tip sharks, you will be surrounded by carangids and all kinds of coral reef fish without many divers around... but where feeding is quite common, unfortunately.
This trip is not cheap either, but you can find a good package at a resort with two dives per day for €2,500 per week.
8. RAJA AMPAT, INDONESIA
Why diving in Raja Ampat?
Raja Ampat is considered the place with the highest biodiversity under the surface, offering the best of macro and pelagic diving. If you're the kind of diver who falls in love with coral scenarios, you should go to Raja Ampat, where you'll find 600 species of coral, three quarters of all known coral species.
Again, the options vary from a resort to spending a full vacation on a liveaboard, which varies the final price. But if you want to dive in Raja Ampat, you should know that prices range between €3,000 and €4,500.
9. YONAGUNI MONUMENT, JAPAN
Why diving in Yonaguni?
Although I'm sure you'll never see this destination listed as an outstanding dive site in prestigious dive magazines, I'm interested in the mix of mystery and exoticism it has. In case you do not know, Yonaguni Island has a dive site called "The Yonaguni Monument" with very curious rock formations that appear to be man-made. Some say it is a submerged city of a lost civilization more than 12,000 years ago, and others say it is just as curious as nature. Beyond this mystery, on the other hand, is what makes it really interesting, we can also find whitetip and hammerhead sharks, corals or tuna.
Reef Encounters in Okinawa offers packages for €1,500 including 6 nights accommodation and 17 dives.
Why diving in Maldives?
Although the Maldives is known throughout the world as one of the top destinations for manta ray diving, it is also visited by many species of sharks attracted by the currents between the atolls, including whale sharks, and thousands of species of fish inhabiting the corals in perfect conditions.
Again, there are many options with different routes and expeditions. You can find complete packages with resort accommodation for as little as €2,400 or a week on a dive sailing boat all inclusive for €4,300..
11. CHUUK LAGOON, MICRONESIA
Why diving in Chuuk Lagoon?
For being a chillingly wonderful reef if you are passionate about shipwrecks and naval history. Chuuk Lagoon (or Truk Lagoon as it is also known) was the site of a bloody battle during World War II that sent over fifty ships, dozens of aircraft, and the lives of 40 Japanese soldiers to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Air Force, in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, bombed this atoll for three days, destroying 12 warships, 32 merchant ships and 275 aircraft. Although this place is known for being the largest wreck cemetery in the world, it is also amazing for the great presence of coral and marine life.
As you can imagine, it is an expensive destination. In addition to the flight to Micronesia, the liveaboards that operate in the area are outstanding, really high level, which increases the price. Like the trip to Cocos Island, for example, you'll need around €5,000 to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip... it's definitely worth it.
12. REVILLAGIGEDO OR SOCORRO ISLANDS, MEXICO
Why diving in Socorro?
Because it brings together, in a small archipelago, the most amazing pelagic animals that can be found in the ocean. The Revillagigedo Islands (also known as the Socorro Islands) are a lost archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 400 miles off Baja California, belonging to Mexico. They receive currents full of nutrients that call the largest ocean creatures, from whale sharks to hammerhead sharks, giant oceanic manta rays or schools of jackfish of countless individuals.
Both the flight from Europe as the safari has a price, but keep in mind this is another of those trips to not repeat unless you fall madly in love, something not very unreasonable indeed. For «only» USD 2,200 can surround yourself with these giants of the ocean that you just saw.
Why diving in Sudan?
Several reasons make Sudan one of the destinations that every diver should visit. One is the presence of the Umbria, one of the best wrecks in the world. On the other hand, it is the most pristine Red Sea, where you can dive with many hammerhead sharks and large schools of barracuda. Another reason that makes Sudan an inescapable destination is that it is part of the history of underwater exploration. Sudan is home to the reef where Jacques Cousteau built Conshelf II, his underwater laboratory immortalized in the documentary "Le monde sans soleil".
The Sudan safari is a little more expensive than other Red Sea diving trips, but not much more. From USD 1.000 you can have a great week of diving in Sudan.
14. MABUL-SIPADAN, MALAYSIA
Why diving in Mabul?
Although they are two very small islands, they offer an almost infinite variety of dives. You can dive with hammerhead sharks, watch huge schools of barracuda, dive in amazing caves like "Turtle Cave", beautiful coral gardens or enjoy some of the best muck diving in the world.
This is not a very expensive dive destination for what it has to offer. For less than USD 1,000 you can have a great week in a 4 star full board resort.
15. GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR
Why diving in Galapagos?
Try as we might, we can't begin to describe what diving in the Galapagos is like. The mix of cold and warm water, the remoteness of the location, the ban on commercial fishing in its waters or the huge visibility make Galapagos one of the best diving destinations in the world. Diving with penguins, orcas, dolphins, schools of jackfish, different species of sharks, turtles and manta rays in a single destination is almost impossible to find anywhere else on the planet... and these are just a few of the underwater attractions of this archipelago.
This is another of those expensive once in lifetime destinations except that you can afford it more often, of course. Another USD 2,600 (and even more in high season) is the cost of a week of diving in this paradise.
16. SOUTH AFRICA
Why diving in South Africa?
South Africa is synonymous with shark diving, especially great whites, but we include this destination in this post because what we want to do there is get in on the Sardine Run, the largest migration on the planet. This natural spectacle is hard to find anywhere else as it brings together different species of sharks, whales, dolphins, marlins or birds fighting for food in an incredible feeding frenzy.
For around €4,500, including flights, you'll have access to this extraordinary show that follows the school of sardines as it loses members over the course of a week.
17. KOMODO, INDONESIA
Why diving in Komodo?
Many reasons make Komodo one of the TOP 5 diving destinations for many. Not surprisingly, Komodo has been a Biosphere Reserve since 1991, is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, and what mainly concerns us divers is that it is located in a prime position in the Coral Triangle, receiving two food-rich currents that make life underwater look like this:
It is a top level destination, but cheaper than it may seem. For €3,000 you can get flights, taxes and a week of diving on a liveaboard around Bali and Komodo.
18. BALI, INDONESIA
Why diving in Bali?
Bali offers great diving for all tastes. For those who like the big stuff, you can dive with whale sharks, giant ocean sunfish or get into manta ray cleaning stations. Macro enthusiasts will also find great areas for muck diving with the smallest of critters. Wreck fans have one of the best wrecks in the world, the USAT Liberty. Yes, Bali has something amazing for all of us.
Diving in Bali is plentiful and from as little as USD 700 you can get a week's accommodation and 12 dives.
19. YAP, MICRONESIA
Why diving in Yap?
Again, we are in this remote part of the world, probably the one with the best conditions for the kind of diving we like. Warm waters and strong currents provide abundant food and lots of healthy coral, ensuring great biodiversity. Yap is best known for its manta rays, but the diving in these atolls is much more complete. Reef sharks, coral laden walls, plenty of reef fish, schools of barracuda and jackfish, turtles, tuna and lionfish are very common in the many dives of Yap.
It is not cheap, but not overly expensive either. The resorts there can cost around USD 1,000 for a week's stay with diving.
20. MILNE BAY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Why diving in Milne Bay?
In the end, a destination that does not even seem real, a place in the world where time seems to stand still. Neither the bottom nor the surface. In Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, many traditions and rituals are maintained, and the seabed seems to continue this pace, keeping the coral reefs as they were in the past, before overfishing and the use of dynamite or cyanide. As this trip is as interesting on the surface as it is underwater, we leave you with a video that tries to reflect both worlds of Papua New Guinea, seemingly intact.
Traveling to the past comes at a price. Between flights costing around $1,700 from Europe and a week in a resort for $2,000, you will have to spend more than $4,000 to get to know this extraordinary destination.