Now that you’ve checked off the Great Blue Hole, Devils Grotto, and Bermuda shipwreck capital of the world, expand your underwater horizons with these unexpected and exotic dives.
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White Star Quarry, Ohio
A landlocked dive park, swimming along the floor
of White Star Quarry is totally different than exploring the ocean. Instead of
exotic sea flora and fauna, you’ll flipper through a Frito Lay truck “wreck”
and take photos on board a quarry floor motorcycle. The park provides maps, but
finding Aphrodite in a stand of underwater trees still takes time and skill.
The park continues to add attractions to keep it fresh. Consider visiting in
winter or spring for best visibility.
Credit: Image via White Star Quarry
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Though it’s half way between Europe and the Eastern Seaboard, Greenland remains remote and wild. Most of the land mass is covered by ice that constantly calves into bergs. Explore the edges of these massive blocks of frozen water—with care, as they routinely roll. The aquatic kelp forests are just as magical. And depending when and where you go, you may also see whales, seals and other ocean megafauna.
Credit: Photo by Veronique DURRUTY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
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Darwin Island, Galapagos
This Pacific Ocean volcanic archipelago might be the most famous place in the world for wildlife-viewing. Over 600 miles off the Ecuadoran coast, its home to many endemic species. The Galapagos islands and surrounding ocean inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1835. More than 20% of Galapagos marine life isn’t found anywhere else. On the menu for divers: glimpses of whale sharks, and swimming with hammerheads, turtles, penguins and marine iguanas, through dense schools of brilliantly colored fish and amongst playful sea lions.
Credit: Photo by Prisma Bildagentur/UIG via Getty Images
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The Red Sea has been on divers’ radar for decades, but many of the most famous sites off the coast of Egypt aren’t currently accessible. Once you’ve explored Petra, head for the sea. With warm water—between 70°F and 77°F, minimal currents and visibility up to 100 feet, there are stunning dives for beginner to expert, with wrecks, massive coral formations, and fish you won’t see in the Caribbean, like the warty frog and ornate ghost piperfish.
Credit: Photo by Jordan Pix/ Getty Iimages
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Cape Kri, Raja Ampar, Indonesia
With more than 18,000 islands, it’s not surprising that Indonesia is a diver’s paradise. It claims the most diverse marine life in the world. From Cape Kri, divers can scale underwater cliffs, psychedelic coral gardens, and swim with massive manta rays, sharks and giant trevallies. One diver, Dr. Gerry Allen recorded 374 different fish species on a single tank dive here. Whether or not you’re keeping track, there is no other location where you can see more finned creatures in a short time.
Credit: Photo by Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images
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Lord Howe Island, Australia
At the crossroads of five major ocean currents lies Lord Howe Island marine sanctuary. Here, earth’s southern-most reefs have an unexpected mix of temperate, sub-tropical, and tropical species—more than 100 kinds of coral, and 500 varities of fish. Balls Pyramid, a skyscraper of a sea stack is the most spectacular of Lord Howes 60 plus dive sites. In the waters around Balls, you’ll dart about with massive schools of violet sweep, amberjack, kingfish, rainbow runners and silver drummer, and there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of the the Ballina angelfish—typically only found 300 feet deep—but here common as shallow as 75 feet.
Credit: Image via Getty
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Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Water has eroded deep limestone caverns below Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula causing some to collapse and form massive freshwater sinkholes. Explore the turquoise waters of these natural cauldrons and you’ll swim through millions of years old stalactites and stalagmites as well as the labyrinths of underground caves and tunnels that connect them. The Yucatan’s cenotes are so unique; they’re all in existing or proposed UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Credit: Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images
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Loch Carron, Scotland
The rolling verdant hills of Scotland’s Highlands are as stunning underwater as above. Dogfish, lobsters and crabs are only the appetizer for divers exploring Conservation Bay in Loch Carron. The loch has 18-foot tides that flush in massive nutrients feeding the soft corals, and provide fertile ground for nudibranchs, crustaceans, anemones, brittlestars and the rare Yarrell’s blenny. Skirt through underwater kelp forests grow on sheer cliffs, and you’ll uncover cushion stars, deadman’s fingers and wispy anemones.
Credit: Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
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Cape Town, South Africa
It’s uncommon for a great dive spot to be just
offshore of a major city. But that’s what you’ll find in Cape Town. Cape fur
seals and leopard cat sharks, brilliant fans and sponges are visible all year
long. But the most stunning spectacle is the sardine run, which takes place between May and
June. Billions of sardines spawn offAgulhas Bank before they sprint up the eastern seaboard. And if the mass
migration—the cloud of fish can be four miles long and a mile wide—isn’t
compelling enough, the sardines are typically trailed by shark, dolphin and
other hungry predators
Credit: Image via Getty
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Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada
If you’re willing to don a super warm wetsuit, and pass up the tropical waters of the Caribbean and South Pacific for the coastal waters and bubbling rivers of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, you’ll see flora and fauna like nowhere else: sunflower stars bigger than your head, harbor seals, and a rainbow of spiky sea cucumbers. But the best part might be swimming upstream with the spawning salmon. If getting to Great Bear is overwhelming, try B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, where you can dive underwater fjords with an exceptionally showy display of fans, anemones and stars.
Credit: Photo credit should read Julie Picardi / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images