One of the most incredible experiences that you can have as a Scuba diver is a close encounter with a huge marine animal. It is truly a life changing experience to get close to these beautiful creatures in the water, to have them glide right up to you and see that they are just as curious as you are. There are dive sites around the world where large pelagics gather, huge schools of different species of sharks, manta rays, whale sharks as well as hundreds of types of fish and other sea creatures come together in massive undersea societies. If you’re a diver, here’s some of the world’s best Scuba diving with large pelagics.
Part of the Caroline Islands, way out in the western Pacific, Yap is, in fact, a tight group of 4 islands, the largest of which, also called Yap (or Marbaq), is where Colonia, the capital and entry point is. The islands are considered contiguous due to the coral reef that surrounds them. That reef, the Mi’il Channel and Manta Ridge is the reason for nearly 90% of visitors that make the journey to Yap annually. Many dive sites are seasonal, at Manta Ridge, you can dive with these gentle giants, different types of sharks and turtles all year round.
Santa Maria Island, The Azores
The archipelago made up of nine volcanic islands known as the Azores is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal. Located just under 950 miles off the coast, its waters are thought to harbor the best scuba diving in the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the best scuba diving in the world. Santa Maria Island is the closest point of departure to Formigas Bank and neighboring Dollabarat Reef. On top of the smaller denizens of the area, you can interact with the Manta Rays and Whale Sharks that inhabit Formigas Bank, and during June through September they appear in the greatest numbers.
El Ikwha, Egypt
Most people don’t think of Egypt when the topic of scuba diving comes up, but there are some great dives off the Egyptian coast as well as other spots in the Red Sea. El Ikwha, also called the Brothers Islands, are two volcanic islets about 65km off Egypt. The isolated locale makes the islands an ideal place for diving with large pelagics. You’ll see Manta Rays doing fly-bys on the multicolored corals, and schools of Oceanic White Tips, Hammerheads and Grey Reef Sharks patrolling the walls. Egypt is more than just 4,000 years of history.
Ari Atoll, The Maldives
It’s no secret that The Maldives is a great place for diving, however, not all dive sites are equal. North and South Ari Atoll may be the best of The Maldives diving. Set out on its own in on the Indian Ocean, the archipelago’s undersea environment is teeming with tropical fish, blessed with stunning coral reefs and one place where you have a good chance to encounter Whale Sharks, Mantas and Hammerheads and other shark species I hate to be cliché, but Ari Atoll really is an underwater Eden.
Isla Socorro, Isla de Revillagigedos, Mexico
This might be one of those dives that you have to be a hardcore diver just to get to, but speaking from experience, there are worse ways to burn up your time on this planet. Like being in Cabo and going golfing instead. The only way to get to the site is by boat. The voyage from Cabo San Lucas (another great place for divers, check out Sand Falls) takes over a day, maybe more depending on the weather. If you’re prone to seasickness, be prepared but don’t let it stop you from going, this place is legitimately supernatural. The largest island in the group, Socorro Island is a shield volcano topside and below the surface, it’s a migratory pit-stop for large pelagics. Depending on what time of year you make it here, you’ll encounter Giant Mantas, several species of sharks, Whale Sharks and migrating whales, including Humpbacks and Blue Whales. The funny thing about this one is most people have never even heard of it, but you have now, so no excuses.
This is only a short list of the world’s best scuba diving with large pelagics, so these sites aren’t the only ones. If you were paying attention, you would’ve noticed a few common threads that run through most or all of these sites. Set way out in remote locations, usually volcanic islands or seamounts, reefs, steep walls, you get the idea. Do some research and you might find the next unknown site to add to the list of the world’s best diving spots.