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Whether you are an experienced diver who has already explored the popular spots in Bali or one who simply wants to have a rare experience away from hordes of tourists, consider venturing to a lesser-known location for your next dive. Here are some unique spots to discover on your next diving vacation.

1. Rowley Shoals, Australia


Located about 160 miles off the coast of Western Australia, the Rowley Shoals is a remote but beautiful spot to dive. A range of marine life can be found here, from colorful coral gardens to reef fish to manta rays and hammerhead sharks. Getting here is quite a trek and you will have to stay on a liveaboard boat, but the scenery and marine life make the journey worthwhile.

2. Triton Bay, Indonesia


Triton Bay is on the island of Pulau Aiduma, situated off the southwestern coast of New Guinea. It is a great spot for macro photography and shallow dives among soft coral gardens and schools of all kinds of fish. There are over 30 dives to explore.

3. Zanzibar Archipelago


The Zanzibar Archipelago is located off the eastern coast of Africa, near Tanzania, and offers dives for all levels of experience. Though you won't find many sharks, there is an exciting variety of small marine creatures, including bottlenose dolphins, lionfish, and sea turtles. Head to the main island, Unguja, and decide what you would like to do. There are almost two dozen different dives to choose from.

The Best Under the Radar Diving Places in the World

4. Seven Mile Reef, South Africa


South Africa invite divers to enter their wild and woolly kingdom. The diving experience here is as varied as the people, ranging from great sharks to multitudes of small sardines. You will find tropical reefs in the northeast and temperate rocky reefs in the west. From its northern border with Mozambique to Cape Town, we can follow the route of many species of sharks, from the great white to the bull, sand tiger, hammer, mako, tiger and even whale shark. And of course the great date of the Sardine Run, in addition to dolphins, whales, sailfish, seabirds, etc.

Cape Town area has a Mediterranean climate with humid winters and hot, dry summers. On the Gansbaai coast, you have the opportunity to dive in cages with great white sharks. In Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal you can enjoy warmer waters, coral reefs and, of course, many sharks. Cathedral is one of the most popular dive sites in Aliwal Shoal, known for the shelter of jagged shark sharks during the mating season.

With the amount of fish species, spectacular falls and coral formations, 7 Mile Reef must be listed as one of the best dive sites in the world. What makes this reef so popular is its variety, including Blacktip Reef Sharks, schools of pelagic fish, huge moray eels and lots of turtles. Even Black Marlin has been known to visit this beautiful reef. The ride is often interspersed with sightings of bottlenose and spinner dolphins, whales and humpback whales, depending on the season.

Located on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula, Smitswinkel Bay hosts five of the best shipwreck dives in Cape Town. These wrecks form an artificial reef that offers advanced divers to explore a wide range of shipwrecks. For the technical diving community, there is also the opportunity to explore the five wrecks in one dive, known as Smits swimming.

5. Farne Islands, UK


Though the Farne Islands are a popular location for bird watchers, they are also a great place to go diving. Nestled in the North Sea off the coast of England, the Farne Islands are known for their many shipwrecks and a large colony of friendly grey seals. As in other non-tropical climates, you will need to be sure you have the right wetsuit for diving here. While surface temperatures are generally warm, even in the cooler months, deeper water can be quite cold.

6. The Azores, Portugal


Among the options for diving at The Azores, Portugal includes spots where you can see caverns, shipwrecks, active underwater volcanoes, a plethora of colorful fish, and elusive but exciting sharks, rays, and mola molas. With an abundance of dives to choose from for all levels of experience, there is something here for everyone.

7. Cape Tarkhankut, Ukraine


At the westernmost point of Crimea, Cape Tarkhankut provides a huge variety of options for divers of all levels of experience. Highlights consist of shipwrecks from different eras of time; the Monastery cavern; and the Alley of Leaders, an underwater museum full of states of former Soviet leaders and other sculptures.

8. Socorro Island, Mexico


You have to dive out of a liveaboard boat to explore Socorro Island, located almost 400 miles from the coast of Mexico. Large marine animals draw divers to this remote island. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can see dolphins, sharks, humpback whales, and giant manta rays.

9. Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia


The Rangiroa Atoll is the second largest atoll in the world and is a spectacular place to dive. A perfect place to drift dive, the tropical waters are full of dolphins, sharks, and green sea turtles. Very few people come here, making it the perfect place to get away from hordes of tourists and enjoy a truly unique dive.

10. Easter Island, Polynesia


Easter Island or Rapa Nui is an island of Polynesia located in the Pacific Ocean. Belonging to Chile, it is one of the main tourist destinations in the country. Rapa Nui has only one town, Hanga Roa , where almost all the inhabitants of the island are concentrated. Without a doubt, it is a unique and idyllic place due to its nature, culture and history.

The first inhabitants arrived around the 4th century and developed a unique culture that we can still admire today thanks to the vestiges such as the impressive moai, ancestors carved in stone that protect the island. In addition to the enigmatic moai, on the island you will find fascinating landscapes.

It is worth visiting one of its main volcanoes such as Rano Kau, with its beautiful flooded crater, and Rano Raraku, where the moais were carved. In addition, Rapa Nui has a beauty beach without equal, Anakena. You can see at the same time the crystal clear waters of Polynesia and the moai of the Ahu that are there.

On Easter Island you can also give yourself a dip or two. If you dare to do something else, nothing better than an immersion in the crystal clear waters of Rapa Nui. There are several experienced diving companies to choose from and with all you will have an exciting safe experience that you will never forget.

The closest beach to the capital is Pea. It is one of the best beaches for surfing, bodyboarding and swimming. At 30 km you will reach Ovahe beach, although the most important one is Anakena beach, home of the great Ahu Nau Nau and where Ahu Ature Huki and his enigmatic solitary moai can be found.

But most of the moais on the island come from the slopes of the Rano Raraku volcano, located at the southwest end of Easter Island. If you are passionate about volcanoes you should not forget the Mauga Terevaka (the highest point on the island) and the Poike. As for the Moais, the most prominent are those of Ahu Akivi, Ahu Tongariki, Ahu te Pito Kura, Ahu Akahanga and Ahu Vinapu.

11. Caribbean Islands


Also called the Antillean Sea, the Caribbean is known for its islands and coral reefs that attract millions of tourists every year. It is part of the Atlantic Ocean, bordering Central America and South America. It is one of the largest seas in the world and communicates with the Pacific Ocean through the famous Panama Canal, reaching its deepest level (more than 7,600 meters) in the Cayman Trench, located between Cuba and Jamaica.

Its tropical location helps the water temperature to remain relatively high and constant throughout the year which, together with the marine currents, favors the existence of a great biodiversity at the same time that makes it a pleasant diving environment.

Among its underwater scenarios, the Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest in the world and declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. The reefs of the Caribbean are full of places full of color, movement and life. Butterfly fish, surgeon, damsel or angel fish are the most common inhabitants of this environment, and yet other fascinating creatures such as sea turtles, eagle rays, sea horses or some sharks are also frequent in the area.

Swimming with the biggest fish in the world, diving surrounded by sharks or diving in disturbing blue holes are just some of the experiences you can experience while travelling the Caribbean.

12. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador


Ecuador is a paradise for seal lovers, full of species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. However, do not expect to find coral reefs here. Instead, the area has heavy currents and waters rich in nutrients that attract an important pelagic action. Most divers go directly to the Galapagos Islands.

The waters surrounding this group of deep-sea volcanic islands form a protected marine reserve where commercial fishing has practically not occurred in the last five decades. This fact, combined with the outcrops of deep waters of the area, creates one of the marine ecosystems with the greatest biodiversity in the world.

Divers can take advantage of everything that this region has to offer in a liveaboard trip. These boats have the ability to travel to the northern diving sites, such as those around Darwin Island, Wolf Island and Punta Vicente Roca, which are far from the inhabited islands to be visited in a single day.

For those who wish to dive in Ecuador without the cost of traveling to the Galapagos, the Machalilla National Park is known as the Poor Man of the Galapagos and presents some of the same endemic species found in the famous archipelago. The national park, which is the only coastal national park in Ecuador, incorporates cloud forest, dry forest, small islands and two larger islands, Salango and the small Isla de la Plata.

Large groups of giant stingrays, whales and dolphins are commonly seen here during the correct season as you travel in Ecuador. Unfortunately, the same level of protection has not been granted to the Machalilla National Park as seen in the Galapagos. Overfishing, pollution, poaching and deforestation are common problems in the region.

With as much to discover underwater as above, it is not surprising that most divers dream of exploring Ecuador underwater at least once in their lives.

13. Cocos Island, Costa Rica


Costa Rica borders the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, and is a paradise for divers from around the world. This exceptional terrestrial diversity is also true underwater, where there are hundreds of species of vertebrates and invertebrates. These elements make Costa Rica one of the most beautiful destinations for a diving vacation.

Located 500 km from the coast of Costa Rica, it is only possible to access Cocos Island, the ancient island of pirates via diving boat. This territory includes some of the best diving sites in the world, with exceptional biodiversity and an impressive density of pelagic species, particularly sharks, rarely seen elsewhere. However, keep in mind that it is essential to plan your trip, so as not to miss the beauties of Cocos Island. In fact, the climate is sometimes unpredictable and species vary seasonally.

This paradise island is a protected nature reserve. It is possible to access it from Drake Bay, where there are numerous dive shops offering scuba trips for the day. Underwater, it is possible to find white-tip sharks, stingrays, turtles and hundreds of other fish species. In Costa Rica, you will also find other beautiful places to discover the beauties of the Caribbean Sea, such as Playas del Coco, Playa Tambor, Hermosa or Cahuita.

14. Big Island, Hawaii


Perhaps the most famous tourist paradise, diving in Hawaii is phenomenal after hiking. Surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, this chain of islands extends kilometers with shipwrecks, pristine reefs and many adventures. Among the things do in Oahu, dive between the caves of Lana'i, the shipwrecks of Oahu, the reefs of Maui, the waves of Moloka'i and much more. There is a snorkeling trip while traveling in Hawaii for each person.

A diving paradise with more than 50 dive sites await you on the Big Island of Hawaii. Calm, serene and diverse, many endemic species swim on this island along with a wide variety of eels. The best sites include Two Step, Honokohau Harbor, Mile Marker 4 and Kamakahonu Beach.

Black Rock is among the best diving sites in Hawaii, on the island of Maui, but there are many other hidden places among the coral reefs. Make sure your snorkeling tour in Hawaii includes the St. Anthony and the Carthaginian, currently invaded by reefs and a magnificent biodiversity.

Divers are always amazed by the visibility of the Lana'i caverns. Cathedrals I and II are popular places to see new species of fish and rare invertebrates. Enjoy a diving vacation during the winter and maybe you can show off when you return home from seeing humpback whales.

Kauai is home to many green turtles in Hawaii. Visit Turtle Bluff and explore its caves while watching reef sharks. Do not miss Tunnels Beach if you want to see octopus.

15. Blue Hole, Belize


The second smallest country in Central America is a box of surprises. Belize is the perfect destination to explore, relax or fall in love. With more than 400 islands, paradisaical white sand beaches and the largest continuous barrier reef in the world, diving in Belize offers all kinds of adventures. Belize is located between Mexico and Guatemala. It is the least populated country in Central America. But it has the largest continuous barrier reef in the world, with almost 300 kilometers of reef. The diving in Belize is spectacular.

Belize's best known diving is the Blue Hole, the blue hole. This spectacular place is 300 meters long and 135 meters deep. When submerging, gigantic stalactites and stalagmites surprise us about 40 meters. And bull sharks come out to meet us. Fascinating. But it is only recommended for experienced divers.

And after the Blue Hole, on the same day, you can dive in Half Moon Caye Wall while traveling Belize. It is a vertical wall that falls 300 meters deep. Stripe blankets, coral sharks, turtles and gigantic corals are what await us when we dive. And we can add a third diving a day at Long Caye Aquarium, full of marine life.

And while Blue Hole is the most famous dive spot in Belize, Half Moon Caye and Long Caye Aquarium offer more marine life. All of them are located in Lighthouse Atoll, and it is one of the most fascinating diving experiences in the world. Apart from these three points of immersion, the Belize Barrier Reef offers unique dives.

North of the San Pedro area it is possible to see nurse sharks. The topography of the area is cut by dramatic canyons and cracks. And in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve you can dive with hammerhead sharks and turtles. In Ambergris Caye, just in front of the town of San Pedro, is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. It is one of the best diving in Belize. A deep break in the coral reef causes the arrival of varied marine life and flourishing corals. In Shark Ray Alley you can snorkel with rays and nurse sharks.

Another of the dive sites in Belize that we highlight is the Turneffe Atoll. It is the largest and the one with the greatest biological diversity. Since 2012 the atoll is under a protection program. And the underwater visibility is crystal clear, between 30 and 45 meters. Due to its isolation, the coral life is amazing, like a coral forest. And if we add the possibility of seeing rays, sea turtles or barracudas, the Turneffe Atoll becomes one of the best diving spots in Belize.

And south of the city of Belize we find Silk Cayes Canyon. Low reefs mix with flourishing corals, forming interesting structures. There is a great variety of hard corals and it is possible to see coral sharks. And to see whale sharks, we have to go to Stann Creek District. The diving in Gladden Spit allows us fascinating encounters with these marine giants. But harmless.

16. Bocas del Toro, Panama


Panama, located in the center of the Western Hemisphere, borders the Caribbean Sea. Panama is full of paradisiacal diving places with turquoise and transparent waters. Great white sand beaches, small coves or even beaches near a hotel residence or restaurant, you will always find the ideal beach in Panama. Among things to do in Panama, the Coiba island is a great destination for a diving trip.

It is a huge natural reserve, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Coiba National Park is a protected area that hosts a great variety of marine life. This large island, surrounded by coral reefs, shelters various forms of tropical underwater life. More than 700 species of fish have been recorded here, including snappers, barracudas, serviolas and billfish.

Contadora Island is the main access point for many dive sites. Several rock formations and coral cultures are characteristic of diving. Needless to say, it is not unusual to find pearly oysters. It is an exposed dive site and the currents can be very strong, but large snappers, jacks, tuna, sharks, whale sharks and stingrays are located in this place.

Bocas del Toro offers pristine conditions that are well protected by the country's national park system. Several dive sites operate from the small town of Bocas, taking divers to caves and rock formations, all less than an hour by boat from the shore. The archipelago of Bocas del Toro is dotted with coral reefs and bathed by calm and warm waters.

Colorful soft corals and sponges harbor a variety of life like cappuccino, arrow crabs, nudibranchs and many more. You can see the nurse, the reef sharks, the manta rays and the snappers patrolling the reefs.

17. Rakiraki, Fiji


Fiji has several labels, from the soft coral capital of the world to the best shark diving location in the world. With such titles, it is easy to call Fiji a world-class diving destination that meets all ages and qualifications. But diving in Fiji has more to offer, such as wall dives, swims, caverns, canyons and incredible blue water encounters besides family resorts.

The strong currents of the outer reefs bring nutrient-rich waters thousands of kilometers around. In turn, they attract some of the most diverse lives of the ocean, from macro life to pelagic spectacles that challenge the eye. With more than 390 species of corals, approximately 1,200 species of fish and five of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, is the dream of a submarine naturalist while travelling Fiji.

Recommended dive sites include the world famous Beqa Lagoon, Shark Reef and Viti Levu Coral Coast. For both beginners and experienced divers, exploring the Rakiraki dive site is fun. Here you can see gardens of marine fans and vibrant corals, as well as pelagic giants like the barracuda, the wahoo and the occasional blanket or the whale shark.

18. Corn Islands, Nicaragua


Nicaragua has some of the best preserved and isolated dive sites in the world. From the rocky reefs of San Juan del Sur in the Pacific to the virgin corals of the Corn Islands, off the Atlantic coast, Nicaragua offers diverse, world-class diving. Connected to both the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, there is a wide range of possible marine encounters.

You can swim with eels, angores, sharks, rays, groupers and African pompano along the 12 km of coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. Hit the best immersion of Little Corn, Blowing Rock, or the popular alternative and closest to the edge of the White Holes. For more adventurous shark finders, Shark Hole is a network of tunnels and swimming under the reef, home to black tip sharks, bulls and reefs.

For those looking to mix, there is also freshwater diving in the volcanic craters of Apoyo and XiloĆ”. Usually, this is for more experienced divers but if you can go, you can simply glimpse one of the more than 10 species of fish not described there. And while hitchhiking is a commonplace, women traveling alone should be careful, especially when carrying all their luggage.

The live and happy culture of the Nicas, combined with its relaxed rhythm as the Caribbean, make this country a refuge of hospitality for all types of travelers in homestays, airbnb or resorts.

Keep in mind that, although it is a very fun activity, diving requires more preparation than snorkeling. It would be crazy to dive 20 meters deep into the ocean without having some basic knowledge about how the oxygen bottle works, how to stay stable, or what to do if our ears hurt or we run out of oxygen.

If you are not convinced that you are going to like diving but you want to try it, you can do the test with a diving baptism, in which you will be given some basic notions and a professional diver will guide you during the dive.

Have fun getting off the beaten path and trying out exceptional, underrated diving spots!
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Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author