10 Scuba Diving Destinations
www.scubaguide.com picks for 2005
The Island of Cozumel, off the Mayan coast, is surrounded
by gorgeous reefs and pristine clear water; perfect
for scuba diving. On a good day visibility can be up
to 200 feet. Gentle currents running parallel to the
reef are a drift divers dream. There are 19 popular
scuba diving reef areas, including dramatic swim-throughs
teeming with marine life. Cozumel is very friendly for
the foreign tourist it has affordable accommodation
and buzzing night life. cave divers will enjoy a trip
to the mainland to scuba dive the cenotes (freshwater
caves). There are dozens of excellent dive shops to
choose from in the main town of San Miguel.
Fiji Islands, South Pacific
Fiji offers an incredible scuba diving experience. It
is the "Soft Coral Capital of the World",
the home of the "Great White Wall", the "Yellow
Tunnel" and other famous underwater marvels, scuba
diving conditions and visibility are unrivalled year-round.
Because of its clear water and dazzling coral Fiji is
a favorite hangout for professional underwater photographers.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Visibility averages 80 feet to 150 feet in this tropical
paradise revered by scuba diving enthusiasts. Rising
like a mountain plateau in the Caribbean, the Grand
Cayman's shallow reefs provide maximum downtime, next
to massive drop-offs in the surrounding 12,000 foot
Florida offers the best scuba diving opportunities on
the North American continent. Dive shops proliferate
along the entire Gulf coast and Atlantic coast and within
a short boat ride of the nearest beach you will be submerged
alongside giant turtles, manatees, sharks, tropical
fish, rays and dolphins. For ease of travel (especially
for U.S. citizens) Florida is a perfect vacation destination
for scuba divers. The convenience and economy of Florida
travel is often the deciding factor in choosing Florida
for scuba diving. The Gulf coast generally has better
visibility, the Atlantic Coast has a wealth of reefs
and wrecks and the Florida Keys offer beautiful warm
water and tropical fish.
Boasting some of the world's best preserved marine ecosystems,
but undiscovered by excessive tourism, Belize is a natural
destination for scuba divers. Visibility can be poor
except along the leeside of atolls where it can reach
100 feet. The Belize Barrier Reef offers a stunning
variety of marine life.
Heron Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef)
Heron Island is literally a coral island rising above
the famous Great Barrier Reef. With excellent scuba
diving, just steps from the shore, you can snorkel stay
under 20 feet for hours with a scuba tank. Heron is
a quiet island, devoid of industry or day trippers,
which is ideal for the scuba diver who wants to bask
in a relaxed casual lifestyle during surface intervals.
East of Australia, suspended between New Zealand and
Southeast Asia, Vanuatu is prized by scuba divers primarily
for its incredible diversity. Amid clear warm water
and abundant marine life scuba divers can experience
caves, swim-throughs, walls, lava towers, fantastically
elaborate wrecks, coral mazes, grottoes and overhangs,
Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Located along the southern tip of the Bahamas, Grand
Turk stays sheltered from heavy currents and visibility
is excellent year-round for scuba diving. Grand Turk
is a summer gathering place for gentle manta rays and
inquisitive scuba divers. Grand Turk is surrounded by
walls covered in sponges and corals starting at 25 feet
and rising to 30 feet and plunging 7000 feet straight
Scuba diving in Hawaii is big. Giant sea turtles, enormous
stingrays, sharks and whales gather near Hawaii to live
in its fertile volcanic ecosystem. Though lacking the
clear visibility of a sheltered island, Hawaii makes
up for clarity with grandeur. Frothing with tourism,
and the many dive shops to choose from, Hawaii makes
scuba diving fun and adventurous.
Koh Tao Island, Thailand
Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand is a tourist-friendly
resort island that caters especially to scuba divers.
Surrounded on all sides by colorful reefs the island
is also well known for opportunities for close-encounters
with elusive Whalesharks and Grey Reef Sharks. The scuba
diving is excellent, but despite desperate marine conservation
efforts shark hunting is offered as a tourist diversion
and many people travel to Koh Tao just to kill the local
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