Image via scubadiverlife.com
Do you love to scuba dive and visit the underwater realms only a few people get to see? Do you enjoy traveling and exploring this wide world we call home? Do you love to do both at the same time?
If you answered “yes” to those questions, this blog I for you. Read on to learn about some of the best places around the world to dive.
5 Best Scuba Communities to Visit
There are so many wonderful places around the world to visit if you’re a diver. We’ve compiled a small list of some of the absolute best scuba communities to visit.
When looking at what makes a fabulous scuba community, we considered the presence of scuba pros, the ease of renting scuba equipment, and the quality of the dive locations. We looked at dive locations both within the United States and abroad for those willing to use their passports.
These locations are great if you are a beginner or if you are a scuba pro. Read on to learn more:
1. Morehead City, North Carolina
The North Carolina coast has some extremely rich diving conditions for divers of many different interests. You can do any of the following types of dives while in Morehead City: shipwreck diving, technical diving, spearfishing, and diving with sharks.
Scuba pros can be found at the Olympus Dive Center and at the Discovery Diving Co. Discovery Diving Co. offers training for those just beginning to scuba dive, as well as a dive master program for elite professionals and several classes in between. Olympus Dive Center has similar offerings for beginning divers through dive masters.
Both the above locations also offer full dive shops as well as equipment rental. So, there’s no need to haul your dive equipment with you when you go on vacation. Simply show up in Morehead City and make your way Olympus Dive Center or Discovery Diving Co.
Highlights of the dive experience include the fact that the North Carolina coast is referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” There are more than 2000 shipwrecks along that stretch of coastline. Near Morehead you can find WWII era ships that were sunk by German U-boats, vessels that have been sunk purposely to form an artificial reef, and many others.
You can also take the opportunity to swim with sand tiger sharks. Here’s what the Olympus Dive Center has to say about their shark dives: “Unlike shark dives in other destinations, we do not chum the waters or feed the sharks. Rather, it is a unique opportunity for divers to observe these beautiful and fascinating animals in their natural environment.”
2. Monterey Bay, CA
Monterey Bay has at least 11 companies that have scuba pros, offer rentals and tours, and provide information for you to plan your scuba vacation.
A few places where scuba pros work and offer classes are listed below. All three of these locations offer beginning dive classes, advanced training, and even rescue dive classes.
- Bamboo Reef Dive Centers
- Dive to Survive Scuba
- Breakwater Scuba
- Equipment rental is available at the three locations above as well as several other dive shops in the area. You don’t need to bring your equipment with you when traveling to Monterey Bay. There are also a number of dive shops where you can purchase dive equipment with advice from scuba pros.
The diving experience in Monterey Bay is quite different from what you would see in North Carolina (mentioned above). Point Lobos is a protected sanctuary that is open to a limited number of 15 dive teams per day. Fishing is prohibited, so the wildlife flourishes within the lavish kelp forest.
3. Kauai, Hawaii
We can’t have a list of the best scuba communities to visit without including at least one Hawaiian location. This was definitely hard to choose, but we decided to highlight the dive experience on Kauai. Because of the popularity of this island as a scuba diving destination, there are many dive shops, scuba pros, and charter companies to choose from.
Kauai Down Under Scuba is one place where you can either beginning or advanced classes from scuba pros. Fathom Five Divers is another company that offers classes for beginners, dive masters, rescue diving, etc. They are actually an official PADI eLearning school, so you can take the knowledge portion of the training from your computer at home before you even get to Kauai.
Equipment rental is easy on Kauai with most companies offering equipment rentals along with dive charters. No need to worry about finding everything you need on this island when it comes to dive paraphernalia.
You could do a different dive every day on Kauai and keep busy for a very long time. There are many different dive sites offering unique experiences. Most of the dives offer the experience of observing many different kinds of marine life including, but certainly not limited to, Hawaiian green sea turtles, octopi, moray eels, humpback whales, grey reef sharks, and many other kinds of tropical fish.
Rather than list one city in Belize, we’re considering the entire coastline as one of the best scuba communities to visit. The second largest barrier reef in the world is off the coast of Belize. If traveling purely to focus on diving, you can actually live onboard a boat during your trip to see the most widespread diving opportunities. If you want to combine your scuba vacation with other activities on land, consider staying in San Pedro.
There are many scuba pros throughout Belize that you can utilize either for training or as guides. There are too many to list here, so we’re highlighting our few favorites. Hamanasi is an adventure and dive resort where you can experience it all. They offer training for beginning divers and for professionals looking for their dive master certification. Ambergris Divers offers the same level of training, but isn’t a resort.
Similar to the other locations we’ve reviewed, equipment rental is a breeze in Belize. You’ll be able to get exactly what you need prior to diving.
Belize has three primary diving areas: Ambergris Caye, Lighthouse Reef (home of the Great Blue Hole), and Turneffe Atoll. Check out the interactive map offered by Ambergris Divers to see just how many dive sites there are! Diving the Great Blue Hole is a unique experience. It’s 1000 ft radius is surrounded by a living reef teeming with marine life.
5. Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
You may know that Australia is the home of the Great Barrier Reef, a “must experience” on many divers’ bucket lists. Traveling to Australia from the United States is quite a journey, but for the serious diver, it’s completely worth it. The Sunshine Coast in Queensland covers about 37 miles of coastline and is the perfect anchor for your dives on the reef.
Similar to what we’ve explained about other popular scuba diving communities, the Sunshine Coast also has a large number of companies that offer classes taught by scuba pros, rental equipment, dive charters, etc. Two options are The Diving Company and Sunreef Mooloolaba. Sunreef is a PADI 5 Star Dive Facility and offers classes for beginners, professionals, and specialty classes. The Diving Company offers beginning classes and rescue diver classes.
Equipment rental is easy along the Sunshine Coast. So, pack your bags and book your flight!
As for the dive experiences, in addition to the Great Barrier Reef, the Sunshine Coast also offers shipwreck diving as well. You can dive the EX HMAS Brisbane, a guided missile destroyer. In addition to exploring the outside of the ship, you can also go inside the hull, the engine room, and the control room.
If shipwrecks aren’t your style, don’t worry – there are plenty of other nature-focused dives. Flinders Reef might be a good place to start. You will see a profusion of Green Sea Turtles while enjoying the beautiful coral reef.
Planning Your Visit to the Best Scuba Communities – Whether You’re a Scuba Pro or a Newbie
We’ve highlighted 5 of the most amazing scuba communities and locations throughout the world. Hopefully you’re now thinking about planning your next adventure. If you are, we’re calling out a few things to remember.
Make reservations. Most dive companies limit the number of people allowed on each dive. And, some locations even limit the number of divers that can visit each day (such as Point Lobos mentioned above). You don’t want to get all the way to your destination and then be stuck waiting around for a vacancy.
Pay attention to the difficulty ratings for each dive. Hopefully you already know this, but we have to say it anyway. Please don’t tackle a dive that is beyond your education, experience, or comfort level. Even if you are certified, if you don’t have a lot of dive experience, please don’t go on a dive that is rated “advanced.” Diving can be dangerous and it’s not worth risking injury for yourself or others on the trip.
If you do take training classes while on your trip and ensure the venue is PADI certified. These scuba pros are the very best and you want to get your training from them.
Enjoy the Peace and Quiet
Last but not least, have fun! Enjoy the peace and quiet that comes when you head under water. Experience marine life as you never have before. Explore underwater caves, tunnels, reefs, and wrecks – these are things you can’t see on land.
You will have fantastic underwater adventures and stories to tell your friends and family for years to come.