12 Secret Scuba Diving Spots | Scuba Diving

12 Fascinating Secret Scuba Spots

Every dive can be a magical mystery tour, but never more so than when you find yourself in a part of the underwater world where few have gone before, a true secret spot. Take a look at this dramatic dozen from the pages of Scuba Diving magazine, and let yourself dream of the day when you will experience too.

Want to discover more secret scuba-diving spots from around the world? Visit the Travel section of our website!

Lucky Stars

An unexpected banquet lures the world’s largest fish to a faraway bay in Indonesia
In Kwatisore Bay, at the remote southern end of Indonesia’s Cenderawasih National Park (east of Papua’s Bird’s Head Peninsula), whale sharks begin circling the fishing boats at dawn, waiting patiently while the previous night’s catch is sorted. The fishermen believe the hiu bintang (or “star sharks”) bring good luck and reward a bountiful take by throwing below-grade fish to the queuing sharks. Satisfying these 10-ton, 20-foot-long fish often takes more than an hour, so the hungry talismans’ real beneficiaries are snorkelers and divers who watch while the sharks feast.

Text and Photography By Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock

Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock

Silver Lining

An old shipping relic in the Red Sea becomes a homing beacon for schools of fish
Known as the Sinker, this site was created after 80 feet of weighted mooring line was mistakenly thrown into 110 feet of water, just off the coast of the Egyptian town of Nuweiba. The mooring buoy is now adorned with vivid orange, red and pink soft corals, and hangs like a giant upside-down flower basket attached to a seabed far below. The most magical part of this little microcosm of life is the school of sweepers that flows like liquid metal, evading the predation of patrolling jacks.

Text and Photography By Steve Jones

Steve Jones

Into the Blue

Ten miles off the coast of Faial Island, in the remote Azores Archipelago, is one of the world’s top destinations for diving with blue sharks
With the seabed nearly 1,000 feet below and no reef to use as a reference point, this dive site in the Atlantic isn’t for the fainthearted, but the reward is immense. Cautious and elusive at first, these torpedo-shape predators gradually become more curious, approaching and inspecting every diver, sometimes even slightly brushing up against them. With two long pectoral fins projecting from its narrow body, one of the ocean’s fastest fishes looks like a jet plane ready to take off into the blue.

Words and Photography by NUNO SÁ

Nuno Sa

Diving the Rice Bowl

This open-ocean wreck in Malaysia’s state of Sabah is keeping divers hungry for more
The most popular of Sabah’s many wrecks is the “Rice Bowl wreck,” so called because divers who dived it for the first time discovered a cache of rice bowls in the bow. The site, which can be accessed from Kota Kinabalu, isn’t for beginners. It’s long — 131 feet at its deepest and 87 feet at its shallowest — and best dived at slack tide to avoid strong currents. But it’s bathed in clear waters, the superstructure is open in many places for penetration (for certified divers only), and it’s covered in luscious soft corals and thronged by marine life, including snappers and a resident eagle ray.

Text and Photography by Jason Isley/Scubazoo

Jason Isley/ Scubazoo Images

Lazy River

This not-so-secret river in Brazil features gin-clear visibility and is so calm, it’s hard to believe you’re on a drift dive
Here in Bonito, south of the Pantanal in Brazil’s state of Mato Grosso do Sul, a Byzantine network of rivers and springs has given rise to an indescribably abundant environment popular among the eco-tourist set. More recently, the Rio Sucuri has gained traction as a dive and snorkel hot spot. Thankfully, the diving isn’t difficult — you simply pick an entry point and float with the gentle current along the shallow riverbed, admiring a variety of fishes (like the piraputanga, pictured) and colorful subaquatic vegetation. As “quiet” as the river is, don’t get too comfortable: It’s not uncommon to come face to face with an anaconda or caiman.

Text and Photography by Franco Banfi

Franco Banfi

Highland Fling

Abundant critters and colorful scenery abound in the Scottish Highlands
Conservation Bay in Loch Carron, northwest Scotland, is arguably the best shore dive in the United Kingdom and an easy add-on to even a nondiving visit. With 18-foot tides, huge volumes of water pump in and out of this sea loch; and the dive site, close to the narrow neck, is fed by huge quantities of nutrients. This leads soft corals to a huge number of critters such as nudibranchs, crustaceans, anemones, brittlestars and rarities like the Yarrell’s blenny. As long as you time your dives for slack water, it’s easy diving with a big return.

Text and Photography by Alexander Mustard

Alex Mustard

Salt for the Soup

The percentage of salt in the Dead Sea is so high, it crystallizes over the ground
At more than 1,000 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the deepest lake in the world. Once connected to the sea — hence the salt — this lake between Israel, Jordan and the West Bank is so dry that it loses water rapidly, more than three feet per year. Today the concentration of salt in the water is about 33 percent, which causes it to crystallize on shore. For diving this environment, you need a full-frame mask and lots of weights. Swimming it is easier, but you still don’t want to get even a drop of water near your eyes.

Words and Photography by Tobias Friedrich

Tobias Friedrich

Gulf Giants

Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula is home to a snorkel-friendly population of southern right whales.
Only a few people have ever dived along the coast of the Valdes Peninsula, and even fewer in the Golfo Nuevo, home to a breeding population of endangered southern right whales. After securing an expensive permit — Valdes is a whaling sanctuary and World Heritage Site — I swam close to a 48-foot-long, 55-ton female, which was sleeping on the surface. I approached quietly and got lucky: She continued resting, always keeping a watchful eye on me.

Text and Photography by Franco Banfi

Franco Banfi

You Say You Want a Revolution ...

From the ash heap of history to underwater museum
I first dived Leaders’ Alley by accident. Off Tarkhankut Cape — the westernmost part of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula — my buddy and I were shooting photos, when suddenly I had a feeling there was someone watching us. I started looking around nervously, until my partner pointed: Framed by swaying algae was the face of the great revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, hundreds or even thousands of such busts were headed for landfills; instead, many now reside here, along with high-tech installations, toys and other deep-sea folk art.

Words and Photography by Andrey Nekrasov

Andrey Nekrasov

The Far Side

The world’s most famous macro destination offers stunning scenery and abundant fish life on its “other side”
Lembeh Strait, located between Sulawesi and Lembeh islands, is one of the world’s premier muck-diving destinations, where strange critters abound in volcanic-sand slopes. But few people know that along the eastern side of Lembeh Island there are gorgeous coral formations with clear water and large schools of fish. Specifically, the satellite rocky islets in northeast Lembeh are joined together by a coral ridge, featuring interesting swim-throughs that form a spectacular seascape. What’s more, because this area is a long boat ride for most land-based dive operators and few divers can tear themselves away from the Strait’s oddballs, these wide-angle sites are rarely visited and are well preserved.

Words and Photography by Carlos Villoch

Carlos Villoch

Beast of Steel

This little-known Statia wreck is one of the largest in the Caribbean
Sint Eustatius or “Statia” — part of the Dutch Caribbean — has several modern shipwrecks, but one of them stands for all: the Charles L. Brown, a former cable layer, purpose-sunk in 2003. The boat lies on its side in a sandy area from 50 to 100 feet deep. Statia’s good visibility makes this dive special because you can almost see the whole wreck at once. Being isolated makes it a popular hangout for a large diversity of life — and an amazing school of horse-eyed jacks. Yet few divers have actually seen this wreck because of the limited number of visitors to the island. I experienced a solo dive on this beast made of steel — a unique sensation.

Words and Photography by Damien Mauric

Damien Mauric

Mayan Sunshine

Divers who enter Riviera Maya’s Chac Mool are witness to a battle between dark and light.
At the right time of day and with perfect weather overhead, the walls of the Cathedral — in Riviera Maya’s Chac Mool cenote — are movie screens that feature a magical dance of light and shadow. As divers, we get to witness the battle laying out; despite a few narrow restrictions, Chac Mool is an easy dive with guidelines on the bottom, clear visibility and large rooms. Diving in this freshwater cavern is such a life-changing experience, it’s surprising to learn that of the nearly 6,000 cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, fewer than half have been explored.

Words and Photography by Felix Rodriguez

Felix Rodriguez

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