I found a wonderful online SCUBA magazine if you want the latest interesting news on SCUBA diving.
Where is the best diving to be found is a matter of personal taste, but for my two cents worth, here are my top 5 picks in no particular order:
Cozumel – Mexico
Nestled off the eastern shore of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, lies the island of Cozumel made famous by Cousteau who claimed the island to be the very best dive location in the world. Cozumel may or may not be the best dive location in the world but there is no dispute that it deserves a space in the top five dive locations in the world.
The water is crystalline blue, exotic wildlife, unspoilt beaches though commercialization is getting there and the island is essentially a community of some of the best divers and instructors you will find anywhere in the world. You can source great training here and for those who are experienced and want a permanent reminder, you can hire photo-dive guides who will take you to the best dive locations around the island and act as your underwater photographer.
Outside of the water, there is great food, great nightlife and plenty to get up to without getting your feet wet.
The Great Barrier Reef – Australia
The Great Barrier Reef hits the top slot for many divers but I’m of the opinion that a lot of this is hype and not so much down to the diving aesthetics. Some places just breed a reputation which is out of whack with reality, but so saying, this is still one of the great dive locations of the world.
I particularly like the Reef because you can find new dive locations which are off the beaten track. One of my pet hates is to go dive a location which has been marketed to me as “untouched”, only to find a veritable beaten, underwater track has been blistered by the time I arrive. The Reef has a lot of visitors for sure, but it covers a huge expanse and has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the world irrespective of its divers reputation.
Sharm El-Sheikh – Egypt
Egypt is not simply the Pyramids, camels and desert – it is home to one of the best dive locations in the world and here you get the opportunity to dive on several wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea. The most notable wreck is the SS Thislegorm, a British merchant ship which sank in 1941 and today, you can find yourself instantly transported back to a World at War, with a cargo of motorcycles, trucks and military equipment waiting for you to explore just over 50 feet before the sea surface.
Sharm El-Sheikh is not for beginners – the water is full of currents and eddies while strong winds attack the surface, but it does also offer the opportunity to dive for pearls. Not saying you can make your own pearl jewelry with what you find, but it’s one of the better places in the world to do so.
Sulawesi Island – Indonesia
Sulawesi Island must be a contender for the definitive top slot of dive locations. I know the Great Barrier Reef is almost universally and continuously cited but Sulawesi for my money has a far better setting, more interesting dive spots and there is no dispute that there are more species of flora and fauna here than on the Great Barrier Reef!
The site is also 100% green – coral destruction and poaching is non-existent (or so low it doesn’t matter). Dive operators who misbehave are removed – fast! What is left is an environment which has allowed biodiversity and natural chaos to rule supreme and this is the main reason why the 186,000 acres of Bunaken National Park on the northern tip of Sulawesi Island have become so popular.
Expect lots of rules but then again, follow them to the letter and spirit because this place is magical.
The Maldives makes it into the top five because I especially like the food and culture around the area. There is something to be said for basing yourself on one of the innumerable islands with your own bungalow and sharing said island with at most , three or four other bungalows.
Set in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives provide an archipelago composed of hard rock with protrusions around which lagoons and channels have been formed. The location is ideal for both beginners and experienced divers, but you should ensure you have a dive guide to get the very best out of the time underwater. Wreck divers will find they are in paradise here too with the Maldives Victory, a ship which sank after hitting one of the islands in 1981. Banana Reef is great for coral fans and for the stark, raving mad, you’ll find plenty of killer sharks at where else, but Shark Point.