Top 5 Dive Destinations
2. The Great Barrier Reef – While most Americans would be hard-pressed to find Palau on a map, even non-divers know the Great Barrier Reef. Running nearly 1,500 miles down the eastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world and is said to be visible from space. To go with its size, the Great Barrier Reef has an almost unfathomably large collection of sea life.
Besides moray eels, wrasse, and other common coral-dwellers, rarer creatures like giant clams and sea snakes abound.
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef by car is a good alternative for those who aren’t willing to commit to a
liveaboard: the GBR is probably the world’s most road trip-friendly reef, and many people choose to town-hop down the coast, doing their diving by day boat. From Cairns on the reef’s northern end, divers can catch a boat out to Hamilton Reef, a favorite spot for marine mammals like dolphins and Minke whales. Moving south, Townsville is the base for trips to the SS Yongala, a 1911 wreck-turned-reef that now sports turtles, large sea snakes, and other super-sized animals. Gladstone, located further south, is the connection point for boats to Heron Island, said to have some of the best diving on the GBR.
3. Galapagos Islands – Known for inspiring Darwin’s theory of evolution, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a reserve for one of the world’s largest populations of endemic wildlife. With the waters around the islands protected, the local fish have very little fear of humans, and many will even approach divers.
Sea lions, turtles, and manta rays are everywhere, and starfish, sea cucumbers, and Galapagos crabs seem to cover the sand in some spots. Sharks, including hammerheads, are common but not dangerous. Diving in Galapagos is tricky, and really only for experienced divers.