From above, the earth’s oceans may seem like little more than vast, blue emptiness, but take a look below the water and you’ll quickly see that there’s an entire animal kingdom waiting to be explored. For those looking to get up close and personal with their favourite underwater creatures in their natural environment, there’s no better activity than scuba diving.
Whether you’re interested in sea lions and sea turtles or dolphins and dugongs, there’s a diving destination out there for you. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at these top five destinations for scuba diving safari adventures.
Dimakya Island, Philippines
Have you ever heard of a dugong? Similar in appearance to manatees, these shy sea mammals are the source of the mermaid myths and legends that have been passed down through generations. Unfortunately, dugongs are highly endangered with many modern populations believed to be close to extinction, making them a particularly special species to dive with. For divers interested in swimming with a real life mermaid, head on over to Dimakya Island. This little island is off the western coast of the Philippines has a group of 30 resident dugongs living happily in their waters. It should be noted that since dugongs are such reclusive creatures, sightings are not guaranteed on each dive.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
If it’s always been your dream to dive with sea lions, the Galápagos Islands should be at the top of your list. The absence of natural predators in the Galápagos means that the animals that live here have no fear of human presence, in fact are often quite open to human interaction. The Galápagos is home to two distinct species of sea lions: the Galápagos fur seal and the Galápagos sea lion, both of which can be found at dive sites around the island year-round. Being in the water with these social creatures is guaranteed to be a blast, as many enjoy interacting with drivers, offering them gifts of starfish and even stealing their gear to play with. With dozens of dive sites across the Galápagos Islands, you can spend days exploring the beautiful seascape and marine life of each of the islands.
Located along the Gulf of Corinth, the town of Galaxidi may be known for their rich naval history, but boats aren’t the only thing you will find in these turquoise waters. The Gulf of Corinth is a deep inlet of the Ionian Sea that has the perfect ecosystem for a variety of marine life including bottlenose dolphins. Bottlenose dolphins are known for their intelligence and charismatic personalities, so you never know what to expect when interacting with them. For divers who have always dreamed of swimming with wild dolphins, there’s no better destination than Galaxidi.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
For many, scuba diving with sea turtles is high up their bucket list. If you’re looking for a scuba diving destination that practically guarantees a sea turtle sighting, you’ll want to make the trip to Playa Del Carmen. Just off the shore of this coastal resort town is a beautiful coral reef that is home to a variety of marine life including, you guessed it, sea turtles. This region boasts a few different species of sea turtles, including the Hawksbill turtle, making the chances you’ll see at least one on your dive quite high.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA
Nestled along the coast of the Hawaiian island of Hawaiʻi, the town of Kailua-Kona is a dream come true for manta ray lovers. The waters surrounding the town are home to a number of manta rays, making it a popular spot with divers who want to swim with these gentle giants. But what makes Kailua-Kona so popular is the fact that you can participate in a night dive with the rays. Using lights to draw in the ray’s food of choice, plankton, divers are given the unique opportunity to able to observe and swim with the fish as they feed.