I have recently returned from a wonder-filled trip to the great Down Under where I fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams of diving the Great Barrier Reef. I’m still feeling the diver’s high of experiencing the most beautiful site I’ve ever dived, where I was surrounded by magical fish, sharks, coral, and sea life I’ve never seen before. Whether you love diving or have never been, I can’t recommend it enough for your 2018 travels. You don’t have to be an experienced diver to book an underwater trip, you simply need your SCUBA certification which you can get right here in NYC. Treat yourself to the trip of a lifetime this year at any of these highly recommended local and global destinations.

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Australia: The Great Barrier Reef
The beautiful and incomparable Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system and is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Stretching more than 1,600 miles, it is so big that it can be seen from outer space. It supports a variety of sea life including but not limited to thirty species of porpoises, dugongs (relatives to manatees), dolphins, and whales, 1,500 different fish species, 17 sea snake species, six sea turtle species, saltwater crocodiles, and 215 different species of birds.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels

Maui, Hawaii, United States
Diving off Maui’s Southwest coast is a favorite location for SCUBA lovers. The Molokini Marine Sanctuary, a volcanic crater that is partially sunken, is a magnet for marine life. Divers can expect to see sea turtles, seals, manta rays, eels, whales, octopus, sea stars, dolphins, and countless varieties of fish. Peak diving time, known as “high season,” is late January to March as it is winter on the mainland. This is also Humpback Whale season, which brings your SCUBA trip to a whole other level. Because of the weather, a wet suit is a must.

Boynton Beach, Florida
SCUBA divers love jumping off reefs, pier dives, and wrecks along Florida’s nearly 8,500 miles of coastline. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the salt water is just as warm as that of the Caribbean. Sea turtles, whales, eels, manta rays, and sharks are just some of the sea life you can expect to see during your diving trip.

Morehead, North Carolina
The state is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic as over 2,000 ships have sunk in their waters, making for an exciting diving experience. Divers can expect to see many lobsters, fossil shark teeth, and countless species of fish in these waters. With the warm and clear waters of the Gulf Stream, divers in North Carolina can expect great visibility and comfortable water temperatures.

Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia Borneo
Sipadan Island has repeatedly made it onto various lists of best diving in the world. Divers can expect to see reef sharks, parrotfish, barracudas and sea turtles galore.

Red Sea, Egypt
Africa is a scuba diver’s paradise and the Red Sea is no exception. Expect to see sharks, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, and big pelagics among many other creatures. The Red Sea is considered one of the seven wonders of the underwater world with over 1,000 species of invertebrates as well as more than 200 species of coral and 1,100 fish species. Divers love it because of the variety of diving locations under the sea.

Ecuador

Image Courtesy of Sebastian Voortman on Pexels

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
There are countless great locations to dive in the Islands, almost all of which are preserved as a national park. Located at an intersection of many ocean currents, the Islands are home to countless marine life species, 20% of which is found nowhere else in the world. Divers enjoy sea life including sea lions, hammerhead sharks, penguins, iguanas, and tortoises.

Image by Borislav Krustev 

Canary Islands, Spain
With year-round sun and warmth, the Canary Islands are a must-see destination for SCUBA divers who can expect to encounter both Mediterranean and Atlantic species as well as those exclusive to the islands. La Catedral and Arona are two of the most popular places to dive. Species include scorpionfish, groupers,  blennies, trigger fish, jacks, manta rays, sharks, sea fans, jelly fish, sea anemones, crabs, and sea urchins.

Written by Lance Nguyen