Do you have a dive bucket list for 2023?

Everyone has a bucket list — places they’d like to visit, things they’d like to learn, accomplishments they’d like to tick off — and divers are no different. Our bucket lists feature as much variety as the underwater world itself, so a scuba diver’s top 10 best dive sites may feature wrecks, reefs, megafauna, walls — or a few of each.

With that said, some sites stand out above the rest, and any list of the top 10 best dive sites in the world should include something from every type of dive.

If you’ve got the time, why limit yourself to one bucket list? Try compiling a bucket list of the top 10 best dive sites in Europe or the Caribbean and dive your way around the world. In the meantime, take a look at our picks below and get ready to plan some travel.

Following is our list of the best dive sites in the world — consider all of them (or none) for your list, and be sure to let us know where you absolutely must dive before you hang up your fins for the final time.

The top 10 best dive sites in the world

Cape Kri, Raja Ampat, Indonesia

  • Coral garden like you’ve never seen before
  • Great marine life: manta rays, sharks, barracudas, and giant trevallies
  • Record-setting 374 different species of fish
  • Dive from a resort or a liveaboard — you won’t be disappointed

Raja Ampat has some of this spectacular archipelago’s best diving, from pristine, rainbow-colored reefs to swirling fish life and stunning topside topography. Cape Kri features shallow coral gardens, mind-boggling biodiversity, and interesting currents, so bring your SMB when you visit.

Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island, Malaysia

  • World-class dive site known for giant schools of barracuda
  • 2,600-foot (800 m) drop-off
  • Occasionally subject to strong, sweeping currents
  • Broadly diverse sea life including sea turtles, reef sharks, and eagle rays

You won’t soon forget a dive in Sipadan, which features around a dozen sites, including the famous Barracuda Point. You’ll see everything here, from sea turtles to a wild abundance of our favorite macro critters, the rainbow-colored nudibranchs, and and tiny ocean jewels. Interested in a visit? Check here for details on how to make it happen.


SS Thistlegorm, Red Sea, Egypt

  • Wreck of a cargo ship filled with motorcycles, train carriages, and trucks
  • Sank in 1941 after being bombed by two German bombers
  • Lying at a maximum depth of 95 feet (29 m)
  • Resident marine life includes giant moray eels, batfish, turtles, and Napoleon wrasse
  • Popular site for a night dive

Most all northern Red Sea liveaboard itineraries include a stop at the SS Thistlegorm. And rightly so — this iconic wreck is one of the world’s most well-known, thanks to the eerie, and much-photographed, presence of abundant artifacts, including intact trucks and motorcycles.


Shark & Yolanda Reef, Red Sea, Egypt

  • Shark Reef can seasonally feature hundreds of schooling fish
  • Mixture of reef and wreck
  • Good currents for drift diving
  • Two reefs in one dive

Right in the middle of the Ras Mohammed National Park in the northern Red Sea, these two submerged seamounts come within two feet (0.5 m) of the ocean’s surface, then plateau out at around 65 feet (20 m) before plunging into the depths. Most liveaboards will visit both sites as part of one dive, where you’ll see plentiful marine life, plus the scattered remains of the Yolanda, a Cypriot merchant ship that sank in 1980.

The Yongala, Queensland, Australia

  • 350-foot (107 m) long wreck (entry into the ship is forbidden)
  • Protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act
  • Lots of wildlife: manta rays, guitar sharks, gigantic Maori wrasse, and turtles are common
  • Incredible coral formations
  • Accessible from Ayr, Queensland

The spectacular Yongala is 350 feet of pure wreck-diving love. This ill-fated passenger ferry went down in 1911, with all 122 people onboard losing their lives. Because the wreck is a burial site, divers are not allowed to penetrate the structure. But you won’t miss a thing — this wreck is absolutely teeming with life. Any given dive might deliver a guitar shark, passing manta, Maori wrasse, and friendly turtles.


Great Blue Hole, Belize

  • 400-foot-deep (122 m) blue hole edged with coral reefs
  • Typically spectacular visibility
  • Best time to dive is between April and June
  • The only blue hole that can be seen from outer space

When you visit the Great Blue Hole on a liveaboard, the entry into the channel cut and the view from the boat’s bow is almost as spectacular as gearing up and jumping in. There’s not a lot of life inside this limestone sinkhole, but most guided dives will deliver you to about 120 feet (37 m), where you can see stalactites that formed when the cave was above sea level.


Big Brother, Red Sea, Egypt

  • Spectacular reef plus the chance to see a few wrecks
  • Currents can be wild and unpredictable
  • Shark sightings are common
  • Steep-sided walls plummet hundreds of feet

Renowned among divers, the small, barren islands of Big and Little Brother are reachable only by liveaboard, sitting around 40 miles (64 km) from shore. Both narrow, teardrop-shaped islands rise with sheer, vertical walls from the depths with nothing surrounding them but open water.

On Big Brother, a lighthouse stands watch, though multiple shipwrecks along the reef attest to the wild conditions that can occur here. Divers can expect to see spectacular coral, teeming fish life, and perhaps the wreck of the Numidia or Aida.

Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua, Kona, Hawaii

  • Lights set into the ocean floor attract plankton, which attracts manta rays
  • Currents here can be wild, but a good day offers the show of a lifetime
  • Nearly guaranteed close encounters with the large manta rays

It would be a serious transgression to omit some form of night diving in a top 10 list. Luckily, the manta ray night dive in Kona is entirely worthy of a spot. You’ll descend just after dark and stay in one place for this dive, because the mantas will come to you. Read more about Diving in Hawaii and check out liveaboards here.

Liberty Wreck, Bali, Indonesia

  • Wreck dive accessible from shore, lying in 13 to 100 feet (4 to 30 m)
  • Suitable for all levels of diving skill
  • A photographer’s favorite because of the abundance of life
  • Typically minimal current, with visibility up to 100 feet (30 m)

The Liberty is the most popular dive site in Bali for good reason — it’s easily accessible, offers plentiful marine life, and is suitable for everyone from snorkelers to advanced divers. The ship sat on shore like a beached whale for 20 years after a Japanese sub torpedoed it in 1942, injuring but not sinking it.

Finally, in 1963, the ship sank once and for all after a nearby volcano caused a series of earthquakes and the ship slid off the beach. Today, divers will see a huge variety of marine life — and a lot of other divers. Visit with a land-based tour operator or on a liveaboard.


Do you have a diving bucket list? Tell us where you want to go diving!

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