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When people start to plan their first, second, or one-thousandth diving adventure, they usually hit all the familiar places. You have Thailand and Australia as two primary destinations where you can learn to dive and see some sweet sight along the way. 

And these destinations are great for beginners. They’re even perfect for experienced divers who want to test their skills by diving as deep as they can and discovering something no one else has seen before. The more people talk about how amazing these diving destinations are, the more people you are likely to see. While it’s great to see more folks interested in diving, it can also make these places a little too crowded. The good news is that you can scuba dive almost anywhere in the world, so here are 10 scuba destinations that won’t be filled with tourists. 

Ireland

While most people associate Ireland with lush rolling hills, Guinness, and the contortionist prose of James Joyce, there is also the opportunity for diving that you may not normally expect. Just like the surrounding countryside of Ireland is one of the most stunning you will ever see, the same goes for when you go underwater. 

Skelling Michael is the place to go, especially if you’re up to handling cold water dives. If you can brave the frigid (but also refreshing) waters, you’re treated to a smorgasbord of coral walls and sponges that you won’t expect. The water is also surprisingly clear, which is not something you always associate with the British Isles. Once you’re finished, you can visit the marine bird site up the cliff, and fans of Star Wars may recognize where they have ended up. 

Cuba

Cuba is still a mystery to many travelers, but every year, more and more people venture there for all-inclusive holidays and a taste of paradise. If you are plotting a scuba trip to the Caribbean, then Cuba should be high on your list of potential destinations. 

The most satisfying is at the westernmost point of the island nation. Maria la Gorba, in Guanahacabibes, is a dive resort that offers a wide range of options for both experienced and novice divers alike. There are warm-water sites and shallow areas alongside open waters with deep basins for the more adventurous amongst you. Whether you are new to diving and want to wade in gently, or want to check out something that is still mostly untouched, this could be the place for you. It is popular within the island, but because so few people visit Cuba from abroad, you won’t feel suffocated. Here are some do’s and don’ts of Cuba you should know before visiting.

Ecuador

Found smack-bang in the center of the planet (hence the name), Ecuador offers just about everything a traveler could want for a quick adventure. The capital of Quito stands high in the mountains, while trips deep into the Amazon are readily available and offer the chance to see all sorts of wildlife. 

For scuba diving, Isla de la Plata in Puerto Lopez boasts arguably the largest concentration of manta rays in the world, and if that isn’t enough for you to pack your bags and take the next flight out of there, then we’re not sure what will do. Be careful, though, as the altitude in Ecuador can knock you for six if you aren’t prepared, so be sure to give yourself time to acclimate. 

Japan

If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll know that it’s a country that has a little bit of everything. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day in the park, a fast-paced vacation that speeds you through the city, or even the chance to ski or snowboard, Japan can fulfill these obligations. It’s so varied and versatile that traveling smart becomes easy and more convenient than you ever imagined, combining both adventure and affordability (outside of Tokyo) that helps you make the most of your trip. 

Okinawa, specifically Yonaguni, also provides a scuba diving experience that you wouldn’t typically expect. If you’re someone who loves untouched reefs and has high visibility (as much as 50 meters!), this is the place for you. You’ll likely come across some hammerhead sharks as well, and they look just as weird in person as they do on photographs. 

Scotland 

Much like Ireland, Scotland is not something you immediately associate with diving. However, just like you can spot whales off the coast at the right time of the year, you can dive deep underwater and check out what the Scottish waters have to offer. Additionally, you might also try some wild swimming in the many lochs and rivers of Scotland. 

The west coast has an array of historical artifacts that are something anyone interested in the past should check out. These include 17th-century shipwrecks and remnants of World War II. you can also see rock walls teeming with life that includes amoeba, coral, and scallops. Go in the summer to swim with sharks, while the North coast gives you the chance to swim with dolphins. This itself proves once and for all that there’s much more to Scotland than tartan, whiskey, and haggis so don’t miss a chance to discover the beauties of Scotland

Iceland

Most people will go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights or check out the volcanoes that make you feel you’ve stepped onto a whole other planet. However, Iceland also has a decent and unique diving experience for those who can afford to stay there. 

Considered by many divers who have traveled there to be a one-of-a-kind destination, Silfra is one of the most exciting places for divers, even if there isn’t any wildlife to speak of. It is, however, the only place where you can dive between Eurasian and American continental plates, which may not sound exciting to everybody, but geologists will love it. It can be tricky to get around Iceland by public transport, but if you rent a car and go on a road trip, make sure to stop off at Silfra along the way.

Maldives

Okay, we will admit that the Maldives isn’t necessarily a place that is unknown, and for many divers, it is at the top of their bucket list once they get qualified. However, the Maldives is expensive, and that’s why parts of the Maldives, such as Fulidhoo Island, make for an excellent alternative. This budget location in the Maldives brings plenty of adventure and quality diving, so if you need to see the Maldives before you die, this could be the place. 

Here, you can check out night dives and see sharks, and there are so many manta rays that you may leave never wanting to see one again. The very essence of cheap(ish) and cheerful, it’s a superb option to treat yourself once international travel becomes the norm once again. 

New Zealand 

Marine reserves are some of the most critical locations on Earth, and Poor Knights Island is just one of many across the globe that you should see and enjoy the vast potential for diving. This no-take destination boasts volcanoes and underwater archways protected by stingrays and more fish than you have ever seen in your life. 

You can check out shipwrecks and reefs at the Bay of Islands, swim with dolphins, and have a diving experience that most people think you need to go to the Maldives or Australia. This isn’t the case, though, and as perhaps the best-kept scuba secret in the world, you must get to Poor Knights Island as quickly as possible before the secret gets out. In addition, this location is also near to some of the best surf beaches in New Zealand, if you are looking for some “above water” fun.

Fiji

White walls and soft corals are what you will find in Taveuni in Fiji. This Polynesian destination offers plenty of marine life that you can get up close to with little effort, and it; ‘s so plentiful, you will never want to leave. As it isn’t bursting with tourists, you don’t have to leave, and you can dive for as long or as little as you like without interruption. 

Once you’re finished, Fiji’s vibrant cultures will welcome you with open arms, and you can try some Kava, kick off your flip flops, and relax on the beach until tomorrow’s dive. 

Searching for accommodation in Fiji, check this guide on Fiji’s Airbnb offer. 

French Polynesia

If you spent your childhood watching Finding Nemo and credit that with inspiring, in part, your love for diving, Rangiroa in the Tuamotus in French Polynesia will make you feel like a kid all over again. The Pass is the destination of choice, and while it may feel strange at first, as the current carries you along, you were soon filled with calm and blissfulness. 

Once you come to a stop, you can drift within a crater and watch sharks, rays, and plenty of fish swim past. Your adventure ends at what locals refer to as The Aquarium, with reefs and tropical fish that bring the rainbow underwater to dazzle and amaze divers of all experience levels. 

Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Like anything else in life, it can feel overwhelming when too many people love the same thing you love. You can make some great friends in the most popular scuba diving destinations on Earth, but you also need a break now and again. If you’re planning a scuba trip soon, but don’t want to deal with the influx of first-timers and tourists, then any of these locations can renew your love for scuba diving and give you space to breathe.