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Explore the Best Kept Secret Dive Spots Around the Globe

By Scuba Diving Partner | Published On March 28, 2017
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Explore the Best Kept Secret Dive Spots Around the Globe

Kőbánya, Budapest

Driving into the mine, the temperature drops dramatically as you pass wartime hideouts and an underground church. And then you dive it — in 54-degree crystal-clear water. When the tunnels in the Kőbánya, Budapest, limestone mine became partially flooded, the place was converted into the Kőbánya brewery; the water in the flooded mine was so clear that it was used to make beer. The cellars are no longer used, so divers repurposed them.

Go Now: Molnár János Cave Diving Center

Kobanya, Budapest mine cave diving

Scuba divers venture into the depths of a mine in Kőbánya, Budapest.

JP Bresser

The Louilla

The Straits of Tiran is one of the busiest shipping routes in the Middle East, and one particular wreck is visible from the shores of the Sinai Peninsula: the Louilla. Visiting the wreck is a spooky experience because the superstructure of the freighter now rests solely on the huge engine block, and the floors are exposed like a cut-through diagram. The eerie song of the waves crushing the deforming metal envelops as one swims underneath tons of steel.

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The Louilla shipwreck, scuba diving Egypt

The wreck of the Louilla in Egypt.

Csaba Tökölyi

British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest

British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest is not on the bucket list of most scuba divers. It’s hard to access and is ruled by inclement weather. The waters are so cold that you want to clench right through your mouthpiece. But the minute you submerge, you forget the hassle — sunflower stars the size of car tires, secretive harbor seals, and sea cucumbers resembling psychedelic squeaky toys. And not to be missed are the hordes of salmon traveling upstream to spawn. Though most tourists come to catch salmon for dinner, I prefer to catch them looking through my lens.

scuba diving with salmon in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest

Most tourists to the Great Bear Rainforest will try to capture salmon for dinner, but scuba divers in the know can see the fish in action.

Thomas Peschak

General Pereira d'Eça

The position of Portugal’s 279-foot General Pereira d’Eça (F477) wreck and absence of marine life makes it look as if the warship is still ready to fight and will rise to the surface at any second. A closer look shows the war between metal and water. The thick trunk and massive cannons once used to destroy are now the objects of destructive power.

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wreck diving Portugal's General Pereira d'Eca

The wreck of the General Pereira d'Eça is 279 feet long.

Martin Strmiska

Tromsø, Norway

One May, a rare guest turned up on an island off the coast of Tromsø. I watched this young male walrus from a distance for weeks. When he finally approached, he gently stroked my hand with his whiskers; I named him Buddy. I visited him for the next month and a half and got to know his personality. I could tell whether he was grumpy or if he was having fun. Buddy would tease me by splashing me with water — as he’s doing here during a midnight summer swim.

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Scuba diving with a walrus in Tromsø, Norway

Scuba diving with a walrus in Tromsø, Norway.

Audun Rikardsen

Off The Beaten Path In Indonesia

I know of only a handful of scuba divers who have lucked upon this spot off Indonesia’s beaten path, between Tolitoli and Palu, along the Makassar Strait. Only the dive guides of the liveaboard Tambora know where to take you to see these cuts in the shoreline and caverns carved from under the cliffs. When their guests get tired of looking at sharks on the wall, that’s when they head to the shallows for a real treat.

Go Now: Tambora Dive

Scuba diving Palu and Tolitoli Makassar Strait Indonesia

Scuba diving the cuts and caverns along the shore in Indonesia.

Bruce Shafer

The Ancient Seabeds of West Timor, Indonesia

Fresh water flows back and forth with the ocean tides underneath Indonesia’s West Timor, carving unexplored tunnels through the limestone bedrock. The crystal-blue water gives a clear view of 100,000-year-old oyster shells and big brain corals fossilized into the walls. Locals use the cave entrances for swimming holes and to do their washing — a cool escape from the tropical heat and the midday sun overhead.

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Scuba diving in underwater caves filled with fossils in West Timor, Indonesia

Ancient Seabeds
The limestone bedrock beneath West Timor is filled with the fossilized remains of 100,000-year-old marine life.

Liz Rogers

Cape Town, South Africa

A shadowy veil cast by the Twelve Apostles mountain range hugs the inshore waters above Coral Gardens. The play of light through the kelp is what first draws your attention. As you adjust to the ambient light, you start to see the organic passageways formed by large boulders. Descend farther, and it’s as if you’ve opened a treasure chest filled to the brim with jewels. The kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and textures is a true visual delight.

Scuba diving coral gardens in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Scuba divers exploring the coral gardens of Cape Town will find an underwater kaleidoscope of color.

Geo Cloete

Grand Canyon, Vesteralen, Norway

A diver drops into a canyon in Vesteralen, an archipelago in Norway. When you're not exploring the kelp forests and canyons, you may get lucky and encounter sperm whales, who come to these deep ocean waters to feed May to September.

Go Now: Lofoten Diving

scuba diving in norway

Vesteralen, Norway
If you're lucky, you may come across a sperm whale while scuba diving this Norwegian archipelago.

Christian Skauge

El Faro, Ibiza

This little gem can be found sitting on the Mediterranean seabed after taking a five-minute boat ride from Cala Martina Bay on the small island of Ibiza. The Lighthouse — faro in Spanish — gets its name from the sunken lighthouse that sits between 20 and 45 feet deep. The marine life here never disappoints. The shallow water creates a home for large schools of barracuda, chromis, goldline and bream. There are plenty of morays and octopuses to discover hiding in the many ledges and boulders. If you are lucky, you will occasionally spot a few rays or dolphins.

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Underwater lighthouse dive site in Ibiza

El Faro
This site gets its name from the sunken lighthouse that sites between 20 and 45 feet.

Matias Alexandro

Montaña Amarilla, Tenerife, Canary Islands

In the south of Tenerife, the Montaña Amarilla (Yellow Mountain) creates a moonlike landscape below the surface. The sandstone at the foot of the mountain has been shaped by the constant waves of the Atlantic Ocean, exposing interesting formations. Because the stone does not allow algae to flourish, the site appears barren and creates an illusion of floating in space above another strange planet. There are small fish, and sometimes other creatures, but the landscape itself is the highlight of this Canary Islands dive

Freediver at Underwater Mountain in Tenerife

Montaña Amarilla, Tenerife, Canary Islands
The geography is the draw of this dive site, the barren rocky bottom creates the illusion of floating over a moonlike landscape.

Arturo Telle

White Star Quarry, Ohio

The forest — a stand of trees left over from the working days of this former quarry — is one of several themed dive attractions at White Star, a county park near Toledo, Ohio. Thousands of dives are made here each year, yet the park still has a few secrets hidden below its surface. Locating these surprise finds requires precise navigation (these tips for compass navigation can help), but divers who manage to find them are greeted by Aphrodite standing among the trees. And with attractions being continually added, White Star is certain to keep divers entertained for years to come.

Underwater photo of diver in forest and statue Ohio

White Star Quarry, Ohio
Uncovering the secrets of this dive spot will put your navigation skills to the test.

Andy Morrison


Only in springtime, when the hard winter slowly subsides, are the ice-cold waters of Greenland suitable for divers. Here, icebergs float in crystal-clear water at depths of more than 150 feet. These arctic giants broke away from the glaciers in north Greenland — the biggest island on Earth — and drifted for weeks down to the south, where divers can immerse themselves in the frozen majesty. However, not all icebergs are suitable for diving; huge overhangs of ice can collapse suddenly. But with the right glacial mass, this experience is a real adventure.

greenland iceberg diving

Icebergs can be found floating in crystal-clear water at depths of more than 150 feet.

Tobias Friedrich

Signaldalen River, Norway

On autumn nights, lit only by the moon or the northern lights, brown trout hang in the shallows of the Signaldalen River in northern Norway for spawning — a scene I’d dreamed of photographing for years. After a summer at sea, the trout return to the river from which they hatched to spawn. I know this river intimately, and I know the trout: how they behave and how to approach them. Getting the shot took several months of planning, and involved designing a special camera housing and underwater flash setup, but finally capturing this moment was a dream come true.

Photo of brown trout in Signaldalen River Norway snow

Signaldalen River, Norway
At night this beautiful river is lit only by the moon or the northern lights.

Audun Rikardsen

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

Among the cobble and bedrock of southern Appalachia’s oldest mountain streams lurks a rare and ancient giant that’s inhabited these waters for more than 160 million years. Engulfed in territory wars, two male hellbenders clamp tightly on each other’s jaws waiting for the other to give up. These oversize salamanders, which can grow up to 2 feet long, actively guard their rock nests during mating season in hopes that a female chooses their location to lay her eggs.

hellbenders salamanders appalachia weird animals underwater

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee
Appalachia's mountain streams hold a gigantic secret.

David Herasimtschuk

Cape Town, South Africa

Known as the Cape Doctor, the prevailing summer’s southeastern wind in Cape Town, South Africa, can blow for days on end. The resulting upwelling draws nutrient-rich waters inshore, and when the wind subsides, it’s not long before the plankton starts to bloom under the hot African sun. This sets the whole food chain into motion as species large and small come searching for their piece of the pie. Having spent thousands of hours in these waters over the years, I have learned where large smacks of box jellyfish gather during this feeding frenzy.

jellyfish underwater south africa underwater photography

Cape Town, South Africa
The upwelling off the coast of cape draws in numerous marine species, like these box jellyfish.

Geo Cloete


With more than 100 trucks on board, the M/S Zenobia capsized and sank off the coast of Cyprus in 1980. The cargo freighter was en route to Syria but began listing to port before its second-to-last stop at Cyprus’ Larnaca Harbor. The list was caused by a malfunction in the ship’s computerized pumping system and could not be fixed, so the Zenobia was towed from the harbor. Two days later, the ship sank with no human casualties. The cargo, however, was not removed from the ship, leaving divers a host of unique objects to explore.

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cyrpus truck underwater diving

The shipwreck of the M/S Zenobia sank in 1980, and while all the crew escaped, the cargo remains underwater.

Tobias Friedrich

Kiholo, Hawaii

Kiholo is a secluded oasis on the Kohala coast of Hawaii Island, where rugged lava fields meet vibrant anchialine pools encircled by coconut palms. They are some of the most culturally and ecologically rich marine ecosystems on the Big Island, and home to dozens of resident and visiting green sea turtles. The shallow underwater environment has a visible separation between fresh and salt water, creating an ethereal illusion of sea turtles soaring above clouds. Watching this scene unfold before your eyes is like experiencing a living meditation. It will leave you feeling peaceful, cleansed and uplifted.

For more info contact The Nature Conserancy: [email protected]

Green sea turtle underwater photograph Hawaii

Peaceful Pond
A sea turtle drifts through the captivating waters of the secluded oasis of Kiholo in Hawaii.

Christine Shepard