The Ultimate Scuba Dive Bucket List

best places in the world to dive
The ultimate scuba dive bucket list | Photo 'Oceans' on Instagram

If you are a serious scuba diver like all of us over at Girls that Scuba then you'll probably have a whole separate bucket list for scuba dive sites just like we do. And what's the fun in keeping them to yourself? We've put together some of our bucket list dive sites you absolutely have to visit before you die (or just right away). Happy diving!

Port St Johns, South Africa Sardine Run

Great for: Dive of a lifetime

The ultimate dream for most divers. A flurry of fish, dolphins, sharks, whales and birds in an epic display of mother nature. However, nothing this spectacular comes easy. The 'sardine run' only occurs once a year from May through July when billions of sardines – or more specifically the Southern African pilchard Sardinops sagax – spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the east coast of South Africa. The water is cold and choppy, the boat ride is long and the price tag is high, but if you have the passion and the patience the sardine run is stuff dreams are made of!

Vava’u, Tonga

Great for: Diving with Humpback Whales

The Vava’u Island group is a tropical island paradise in the Pacific Ocean with forests, sea-level caves, and limestone cliffs. It has a warm year-round climate making it a great location for swimming, snorkeling, diving, kayaking, sailing and, of course, the once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with the humpback whales. The whales reside during their breeding season from July – September each year.

Galapagos Islands


Mia Toose founder of women's wetsuit brand Truli tells us about her experience in Galapagos: Through my job at Explorer Ventures, I wrote an article for our monthly newsletter called "How to make your Galapagos dream a reality!".  I had already been witness to the constant stream of guest photos, videos, and reviews outlining how the experience aboard the Humboldt Explorer was unlike anything anywhere else in the world.  As I researched for my article, I discovered the fascinating history and geographical uniqueness of this part of the world.  For example, the Galapagos Islands is at the centre of three ocean currents and ongoing seismic and volcanic activity resulting in some unusual animal life.  Now that I've been living and scuba diving in beautiful warm tropical locations for so many years now, I am keen for some more technical and exciting diving that is colder and faster, which the Galapagos also offers.

Take a look at Galapagos liveaboards here

Yucatan,  Mexico

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Girls that Scuba™ (@girlsthatscuba) on

Great for: Cenote Diving

Blogger Arianwen of Beyond Blighty loves the cenotes in Mexico: Many people associate diving in Mexico with places like Cozumel, where the colourful Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is rich in species diversity. On the same stretch of coastline, but a little inland, lie a series of underground river systems thousands of kilometres in length. Where the jungle floor has collapsed into sinkholes, these openings known as cenotes create the perfect entry point for divers. On first glance, they might not seem too exciting, but once you start to descend, you enter a magical world of perfect viz, piercing light shafts, mirrored reflections, caverns and prehistoric remains. On some dives you'll follow narrow passageways. On others, you'll descend through crystal clear water into a pit hundreds of metres deep, where eerie sulphur clouds and haloclines give the impression you're on another planet. To make this experience all the more exciting, some cenotes in Mexico are placed below gorgeous tumbling waterfalls. This truly enhances the experience of diving in these cenotes.  These water pools throughout Mexico are not only ideal for diving but also for taking in breathtaking views that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Book your cenote dives with Yucatan Dive Trek.

Truk Lagoon, Micronesia

Great for: Wreck diving

Girls that Scuba founder Sarah Richard can vouch for this destination in Micronesia as she worked and lived there as a Divemaster. This underwater cemetery for planes and ships is unlike anywhere else in the world. It holds the biggest loss in naval history after 'operation hailstone' commenced just after Pearl Harbour attacks. Some 72 years later, around 70 boats and plane lie on the seabed of Truk Lagoon and attract serious divers from all over the world hoping to discover their own slice of history. Divers can penetrate wrecks and see WWII artifacts and human bones all while the marine life follows. Sharks, rays, dolphins, shoals of jellyfish and everything in between also call Truk Lagoon home making it one of the most diverse and extraordinary dive sites in the world. The best way to see Truk Lagoon is on a liveaboard so you can visit as many of these beautiful sites as possible!

Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo

Great for: Huge shoals of fish

Consistently voted as the 'number 1 scuba site in the world', Sipadan (Malaysia) is high on every divers bucket list. located off the east coast of Sabah, Malaysia's Eastern most state, and lies on the north-eastern corner of Borneo, the world's third largest island. You can expect plenty of big fish encounters - barracudas, large schools of jacks and marauding bumphead parrotfish. This is one of the big fish capitals of the world!

Tiger Beach, Bahamas

All these #sharkweek posts have me missing moments like this more than usual 📷: @jim_abernethy

A photo posted by Jennah Blossom Caster (@jennahblossom) on

Great for: Close shark encounters

Here at Girls that Scuba we do not agree with cage shark diving and think sharks should be left to be wild and not forced into interaction. This is why Tiger Beach in the Bahamas is one of our must-go-to spots. Here you can see tiger, hammerheads, and many other varieties of sharks in their natural environment swimming through the shallow waters.  A dream spot for underwater photographers and shark enthusiast, there aren't many places in the world you have the opportunity to come face-to-face with these beautiful animals like this.

Malapascua, Philippines

Great for: Spotting Thresher sharks

Richelle from thinks Malapascua should be on your list! "Every morning the threshers ascend from the deep to be cleaned by resident “cleaner fish”. Rather than swimming around a reef, or exploring the ocean floor, divers kneel behind a rope and watch the sharks drift in and out of visibility. My group watched and waited with excitement, hoping to see a shark. After a few minutes I caught something large out of the corner of my eye. A huge shark came looming towards us, about 15 feet away! I was in such awe that I didn’t even think to take a video with my GoPro. 

Altogether I had about five shark sightings, and that was just an average day!"


Anilao, Philippines


A photo posted by Laura Piippo (@lpiippo) on

Great for: Macro

Goni from says: Anilao is a paradise for macro underwater photographers and a critter heaven! The diversity of weird underwater creatures around the area is incredible. It is rare to encounter such a huge variety of special marine life and this can only be found in a few places. Anilao lies in the Verde Channel which researchers believe to be the most biodiverse marine area in the world. The critters include frogfish, rhinopias, all kinds of slugs and nudibranchs, shrimp, crab, pipefish, pipehorses and seahorses, cephalopods, eels and other special fish. Most dive sites are muck diving, but there are a few coral dive sites too.  

Socorro, New Mexico

Great for: Liveaboards

Goni also loves Socorro, one of four islands in the archipelago of the Revillagigedos . It is only possible to get there on a liveaboard. Most boats visit three islands during a week-long trip. The world's most friendly giant oceanic mantas can be encountered here. They like the feeling of divers' bubbles on their bellies and will hang around the groups for whole dives. Sometimes they even show off in front of the divers by performing turns and flips synchronized between several mantas. Besides the mantas, there are playful dolphins, different types of sharks, humpback whales and huge schools of fish. Due to the strong currents and rather deep dive sites this destination is only recommended for experienced divers.

Silfra Fissure, Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Great for: Diving between continental plates

Florine from says: The water is between 2 and 4°C all year long, so dry suit is the only option when considering diving in this extraordinary location in Iceland. But what if I tell you that in the middle of the Þingvellir National Park, you can dive in a fissure between the tectonic plates of Europe and America? What about diving in one of the purest water on Earth? With 100m visibility, the water is so clear that scuba diving in Silfra truly feels like you flying. Whenever I'm asked which is my favorite dive site in the world, I can't give only one, but I always include Silfra in my top 3. Find out more about scuba diving in Silfra here.

Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada

Great for: Discovering more than marine life

Situated on the sandy ocean floor in the barren Molinere Bay these underwater statues now act as an aid to relieve pressure on natural reefs which have become popular among water sports enthusiast around the island. The "world's first underwater sculpture park" is a collection of ecological underwater contemporary art located in the Caribbean sea open since 2006 for snorkelers and divers with a maximum depth of 12 meters. Just think of those epic selfies!

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales, Australia

Great for: Seclusion

Mia again, from would also love to visit Lord Howe Island and tells us why:

Back in 2001 I did my Advanced Open Water certification in Byron Bay, Australia and was certainly impressed by all the marine life I saw there.  But it wasn't until just recently that I heard about this far-reaching and remote destination - Lord Howe Island.  To me, at 600km off the mainland, it sounds like the ultimate exclusive and barely touched scuba diving locale.  My Canadian friend is married to an Aussie who has family living on the island and listening to their adventures travelling there and exploring it has inspired me to visit one day! Choose your next trip to Australia here.

Komodo National Park

Who else Ives a #cuttlefish 😍😍 #wedo 📷 cred to resident photographer Alfie

A photo posted by Blue Marlin Gili T (@bluemarlingilit) on

Hannah from Eat Sleep Breath Travel tells us: It’s no wonder that Komodo National Park, Indonesia is listed as one of the top dive sites in the world. The mix of the Indian Ocean and Flores Sea allows for  plethora of marine species to live and thrive in the area, making it the perfect place for divers to see a little bit of everything. It’s one of the best places to see manta rays, though lucky divers may also see whale sharks, dugongs, and hammerheads. It also has some amazing macro dive sites filled with hairy frog fish, flamboyant cuttlefish, and octopus. No matter your dive style, Komodo has you covered.For more on scuba diving in Komodo read here: 

More specifically Batu Bolong

Komodo is such a huge bucket list destination we asked Anna Kloth of for more information.

This site is like diving in an overcrowded aquarium. Rated the 26th best dive site in the world by CNN, Batu Bolong is a must see on your trip to Komodo. This rock pinnacle lies in 75 meters of water in the center of the Lintah Strait. Strong currents create a maelstrom of activity at this buzzing site.  The sheer volume of fish here is unbelievable. Fish mating, fish laying and guarding eggs, fish hunting, fish hiding, fish fighting, fish feeding - it's all here on display from dawn 'til dusk. One customer remarked, “I had to push little fish out of the way to see the big things!” Read our full guide on diving in Komodo for more information.


The best way to explore Komodo is on a liveaboard; check out the best liveaboards in Komodo here.

Have we missed a bucket list scuba site? Let us know below!

Pin it!

You will also like