You wanna dive the world’s best dive sites? Me too. So which are the world’s best dive sites?

I have seen many posts, articles and overviews called something like “the worlds best 27 dive sites” or “the 14 best scuba dive destinations” and so on. Plus various places claim to offer some of the best diving in the world. There must be at least 500 dive sites in the top 10. Oh, wait.


What is world class diving?

After a recent trip some of my friends were a bit disappointed by the diving in a place which claims to offer world class diving. Based on this we started to discuss what world class actually means. I never really thought about how to define it before as it depends on so many factors.


Small, big, cold, warm, rusty metal or just a hole

It depends if you like macro or big stuff. Some people just want to dive wrecks or caves. Certain divers prefer fresh water over salt water or cold over warm water diving.

For me Lembeh in Indonesia, for example, is world class, while for someone who does not like small stuff it could be pretty boring. On the other hand I am not too impressed with beautiful coral and so I wouldn’t call a place world class which “just” offers a healthy colourful reef and reef fish.



In addition it depends on what you have seen on previous dives. The more exciting places a person has been before the less impressed that diver will be with similar new places.

The area we were diving on a recent trip was mostly visited by people with around 10 to 50 dives. For them it might be the best they have ever seen. And I would definitely recommend the place to newly certified divers.



And then there are those dive sites where you cannot even discuss if it is world class diving, they just are, like Galapagos or Cocos Island, right? Some of the people on our boat in Cocos did not see as much as we did, they were not too impressed. I have met people who went to the Galapagos under bad conditions and did not have a good time. I have been in a muck paradise once where many of the critters seemed to have disappeared a couple of weeks before. So even the “bestest” dive sites of the world can be crappy on some days.


So why the lists?

Because people love lists and therefore the lists of the best dive sites worldwide – the world class diving – will keep coming. So I will keep on clicking on those links, find many more places I want to see and completely disagree with many number of the listed sites.


And because we all love lists – here you go – my 12 personal favorites

Anilao (Philippines) – muck diving

rhinopias yawning


Cocos Island (Costa Rica) – sharks

schooling hammerheads cocos island


Galapagos (Ecuador) – sharks, marine iguanas

marine iguana


Socorro (Mexico) – mantas, dolphins, whales, sharks

dolphins socorro


Lembeh (Indonesia) – muck diving

hairy frog fish lembeh


Bali (Indonesia) – muck diving, mantas, mola molas

mola mola


Komodo (Indonesia) – healthy reefs, mantas, sharks

manta komodo


Tulum (Mexico) – the cenotes and caves

cave in tulum


Palau – sharks, mantas and jellyfish lake

jellyfish lake


Raja Ampat (Indonesia) – the most incredible diversity

Raja Ampat


Protea Banks (South Africa) – sharks

oceanic black tip shark


Northern Red Sea (Egypt) – wrecks



And there is many more to explore, luckily!


Which are your favorite places?