Authors' hot spots

By Beth and Shaun Tierney

There’s a list of questions we are always asked: what’s your best ever dive? What was your favourite animal encounter? Have you seen a great white? And where is the best diving on the planet? But there’s no simple answer. Destinations change, last year’s favourite drops off the radar if a new fish species is discovered, or a boat is launched, or world politics change.


Here’s a round up of favourites: some because they are unique, some simply because they are consistently delightful diving.

Big animal encounters: Nose to nose with a giant manta; whitetip sharks stacked 12 on a ledge; bottlenose dolphins that greeted us as we rolled into the water. Day dreaming? No – this was Mexico’s Islas Revillagigedo. In other areas, Sipadan Island is famous for resident turtles (and other things), while not meeting a manta in the Maldives would be a rare thing indeed.


Critter hunting: Every day we’d ask our divemaster, “can we look for a seahorse (frogfish... octopus...?)” and he would reply, “yes, what type?” This is the Lembeh Straits, where we’d spend dive after fantastic dive with the wealth of unusual creatures that live there. Tiny Kapalai off Sabah has almost as many weird critters, as do the calm and shallow bays near Dumaguete in the Philippines.


Adrenaline rush: The Galápagos were at the top of our (and most divers’) must-do list for a very long time. The marine life is unique but the conditions are challenging – this is not a region for the faint-hearted, but you do have to do it once in your life. Palau's protected waters ensure marine predators are hot on each other’s heels, yet the conditions are easier, or meet a Great white shark at Guadalupe Island in Mexico.


Getting wrecked: Descending into Truk Lagoon, we found the remains of an entire fleet of Second World War wrecks. We could only see a few of the 40 or so ships and planes, as so many are at great depth, but each one is a sumptuous artificial reef. Coron in the Philippines has war-era wrecks in far shallower waters while the pirates of the Caribbean littered the seafloor with relics.


And for first-timers: Nothing made us smile quite so much as two nervous new divers in Utila who held up their regulators and asked, “do we put it in yet?” Their smiles said it all 30 minutes later. This must be the world’s cheapest place to learn to dive. Hordes of newbies qualify in Egypt and on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef every year, while the Gili Islands next to Bali attract long-term travellers to take the plunge.


This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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