With more known about space than our oceans, the sea is a haven for mystery and adventure. Way down on the depths of the ocean floor is another universe entirely, teeming with extraordinary, unique life.
And because we know you’re as curious as us, we’re diving into the best scuba spots around the globe. Whether you’re into shipwrecks or colossal icebergs, we’ve got the goods on making the most of what lies beneath.
#1 USS Vandenburg Shipwreck, Florida, USA
The ship is the second-largest vessel in the world, and it was purposely sunk to create an artificial reef. It’s also part of Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, a series of ships sunk from Key Largo including a Navy landing ship dock and the Spiegel Grove.
The dive has been dubbed America’s best, a patriotic seascape replete with star-spangled banners and a real-life skeleton on show.
It’s only for advanced divers, so be sure to check out the USS Vandenburg website for a safety briefing and coordinates. If you’re unsure, you can take a guided tour with Florida Keys Diving — we wouldn’t want any more skeletons added to the wreck.
#2 Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Indonesia’s Raja Ampat archipelago is bustling with biodiversity and marine life. From technicolour coral scapes to its endless diving spots, Raja Ampat has earned its reputation as one of the world’s most stunning reefs.
Fish of every imaginable colour illuminate the bright water, while turtles, stingrays and other sea animals all call Raja Ampat home. Divers have praised the underwater coral networks for their beauty and diversity, discovering something new on every dive.
If you’re an amateur diver, guided tours are recommended. Wakatobi Resort in Sulawesi offers diving trips and 40 word-class locations for divers.
The famous North Atlantic island of Bermuda offers dope snorkelling opps. From archways and tunnels to shipwrecks frozen in time, there’s a plethora of explorations to be had undersea.
By far the most famous is the haunted cathedral, an underwater dome at the bottom of the ocean. Diverse marine life resides throughout, and even inside – if you’re lucky, you might even spot the mysterious Bermuda sea hare, or “the undertaker”. But be warned — scare them and they’ll ink you with toxic purple residue.
If you can brave the cold long enough to go diving in Norway, you’re in for a treat: diving with orca whales! These magnificent ocean giants are known to cruise Norwegian seas and many diving companies are able to take you right out to meet them.
The apex predators could probably swallow you whole if they wanted, but instead, they’ll let you ride the waves with them and seem cool with you tagging along.
If you can afford it, there’s even a tour hosted by professional wildlife photographers from BBC and National Geographic, who’ll teach you how to photograph the orcas. #Lifegoals
#5 The Canary Islands
Ever wanted to feel like you’re on the moon? The closest you’ll get it diving through a moonscape in Montaña Amarilla, Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.
The moon effect comes from the underwater lunar volcanic reef landscape and large rocky volcanic spires with arches and caves. It’s the stuff of David Bowie’s dreams. Hidden in the crater-like seascape are glass-eye fish, garden eels, flounder and angelfish.
While you’re at it, make sure to take time to do some real stargazing while you’re there. The island is renowned for its stunning, clear skies – it truly is out of this world.
If swimming with whales isn’t exciting enough for you, how does zipping around icebergs sound?
During the colder months in Greenland, divers can see what really lies beneath by wandering around submerged glaciers. It’s spectacular enough above the surface – seeing it from underwater is really something else.
While you’re in the area, make sure to look up and catch the spectacular Northern Lights.
#7 Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada
When National Geographic claims that a diving spot is one of the world’s coolest places, you know it’s legit. Grenada’s underwater sculpture park is exceptional. An artistic underwater playground, the aquatic gallery is marine protected with sculptures revealing the rich folklore history of St George’s in Grenada.
Located in the Caribbean and surrounded by a tropical paradise, it’s hardly the worst place to book a diving trip, that’s for sure.
(Lead image: Jakob Owens)
Eden Gillespie is a freelance journalist who's learning Spanish and will be based in Madrid starting 2017. Siesta, fiesta, repeat.