Best diving sites

  • Cairns (Australia)
    rating :
    Minke Whale

    between Ribbon Reef 5 and 3, June-July
    type of diving : special encounter
    depth : 10 m
    This is not a dive site, but rather an unique encounter: the Great Barrier Reef is one of the best area in the world to dive with whales. That season is rather short, lasting only about two months between June and July, and such encounter is usually only happening in a very specific area between Ribbon Reef 5 and Ribbon Reef 3. Australian rules to approach those mammals are very strict, and it is not allow to go in the water if a whale has been spotted; you then have to hope that whales will come while you are already underwater, or that the captain will be looking somewhere else while you jump in the water.

    Being able to approach whales underwater is always an incredibly moving experience. This happened to us twice on the Wonderland diving spot (Ribbon Reef 5). The first dive, after about 55 minutes of an at best average dive, and while already back under the boat, we saw two long shadows approaching toward us. It is not obvious to immediately recognize the animal, which might be mistaken from far for a whale-shark (which is a fish, not a mammal). Those two whales were between 4.5 and 6 meters, and came three times at less than 10 meters from us. During our second dive, three whales were already under the boat when we jumped in the sea, but left after a couple of minutes. Whales do not approach to close to the reef, so chances to see them close to the boat are bigger.

    Those whales are Dwarf Minke whales, Balaenoptera acutorostata), a species that is not endangered anymore and count more than one million individuals.
  • Sipadan (Malaysia)
    rating :
    Barracuda Point
    level : for advanced divers
    depth : more than 40 m
    visibility : 8-15 m
    Located very close to the hotel Borneo Divers, this site proposes an absolutely extraordinary dive, beginning on a wall falling into the blue at vertiginous depths. This wall gradually changes into a slope, leading to a coral garden, where the current has the tendency to drive the divers away from the reef. Thus be careful...
    At 40 meters, an enormous grouper with a length of 1.5 meters. At 35 meters, a school of several hundreds of bigeye trevally turn around the divers, joined at 30 meters by an other school of barracudas (several hundreds, too). A gray reef shark, 4-6 white tip sharks, about ten turtles, a school of longfin spade fish, and many small reef fish, a crocodile fish, a leaf scorpion fish, a tuna fish, some starfish, some sea cucumber and nudibranchs have been seen. This site presents also the only eel garden of Sipadan, on the coral garden (hard and soft corals).
    Visibility during this drift dive can be reduced.
  • Palau
    rating :
    Blue Corner
    level : for advanced divers
    depth : 30 m
    visibility : 25 m
    The mythical diving site of Palau. After exiting the cave from Blue Holes, turning on the left, divers reach a vertical wall falling down to more than 60 meters. The depth is pretty attractive, and divers will need to carefully monitor their computer! This is a drift dive, with a current that can be so strong that the only way to stop - for example to look a little longer at the fauna - is to use a hook to attach yourself to the reef (using dead coral only, obviously !). Divers usually spend at least 10 minutes, sometimes much longer, hooked above the wall; current can be violent, but the more current, the more pelagic animals to see.
    Drifting along the wall, the spectacle is simply unbelievable: schools of sharks with more than 30 of them are found just next to the divers, coming sometimes really close. We were followed by a school of sharks for half an hour. Schools of bumphead parrots and barracudas, as well as a turtle and a napoleon were also seen. Most divers will focus on big animals on this site, but it is worth to underline than there are lots of coral fish, too.
    This is simply one of the best diving sites we have seen all around the world.

    Several dives - all different from each others - are possible on this site. One day, we had the opportunity to dive three times on Blue Corner. After a long drift, a more quiet area is reached. We found there a huge school of barracudas, but only a single shark. Three turtles - together. The last dive on this site, apart of the (almost usual) schools of barracudas and some sharks, we saw a huge school of black snappers. On a recent trip to Palau, during a single dive on this site, we saw half-dozen of sharks (grey and whitetip), two huge (again !) schools of barracudas and black snappers, two large napoleons swimming very close to us, and 5 bumphead parrots... as well as all the usual reef fish.
  • Socorro (Mexico)
    rating :
    Cap Fear
    depth : 30 m
    visibility : changing
    There are two versions to explain the name of the site: divers were once surrounded by 200 silk-sharks, and the rock at the surface looks like Al Capone’s face…
    A whole day was spent on this site. There, we can hammerhead sharks, but only from a distance, as they tend to swim away from divers. With dolphins, this is another story: at the end of the dive, when going back to the dingy, 5 dolphins came to play with us… quickly followed by a dozen of silk-sharks!
    This dive site is really the kingdom of mantas. They seem to be willing to keep dancing around divers again and again, looking to be touched on their belly. Comprehensive explanations on that animal are given on board. On this site, we also saw during every dive a couple of sharks, as well as green morays, tunas and wahoo...
  • Ari atoll cruise (Maldives)
    rating :
    Maaya Thila
    depth : more than 30 m
    visibility : 5-10 m
    One of the most famous sites of the Maldives... This thila, which has a diameter of 80 meters and is located in a protected area, is the capital of white-tip s sharks. But some grey sharks can also be observed there. Sharks can be seen at all depths, from 8 to 30 meters. The current is rather weak, leading to a moderate visibility (lots of particles in suspension). We saw – apart from the sharks – 2 turtles, a small school of barracudas in deep waters, 1 lion-fish, numerous tuna, snappers, soldier-fish and box-fish. Lots of anemones.

    Of course, this terrific site for sharks is visited by lots of divers. Try to be there when few boats only are present.
  • Tuamotu (cruise) (French Polynesia)
    rating :
    Passe Arikitamiro
    level :
    This dive requires careful planning, and is only accessible for a few hours a day. It is important to dive with an incoming current, which will carry the diver from the outside to the inside of the lagoon; an outgoing current is potentially very dangerous, as divers can be swept away by currents plunging very deep after the pass. Lateral currents can also be encountered, in which case the dive becomes a drift dive on the outer drop-off. If conditions are good, a rapid descent to 25 meters from the outside of the pass allows divers to hang on to the stony bottom, where a few sharks are often present. We also encountered a manta ray.

    After enjoying this spectacle, divers ascend a few meters and are immediately swept away by the current, which can be very violent. They then follow a canyon 1-3 meters deep, some 18 meters below the surface. Many fish are seen along the way. The canyon finally leads to a small cirque where divers can take shelter from the current. This is truly an aquarium, with an unusual concentration - even by Polynesian standards - of fish, including schools of parrotfish, surgeonfish, hogfish and other angelfish. In the immediate vicinity is the shark arena, a large circus up to 25 metres deep where between 10 and 25 grey sharks circle; skirting the wall, you can get a panoramic view of the whole, until you reach a cave from which, with a flick of the fins, you can swim up a few metres to join the current that will carry divers into the blue for decompression or safety stops.
  • Tuamotu (cruise) (French Polynesia)
    rating :
    Passe Tumakohua (entrante)

    Fakarava (south) atoll
    level : for advanced divers
    When the current is incoming, visibility can be truly fantastic, especially near the surface. Divers begin the dive on a rose-shaped coral bed (Montipora) at around 30 meters; the view of this coral field is particularly impressive, especially on the descent. The first sharks are soon encountered. Continuing towards the interior of the lagoon, a long tongue of white sand is easily identifiable: swimming above this sand, between two coral reefs, is an eery experience. You then arrive at the 'shark promontory', a sandy area where white-tip sharks are often found. Towards the center of the pass, numerous grey sharks can be observed from this promontory. This is one of the largest concentrations of sharks we've seen to date, with more than 50 swimming together!

    Following for 10 minutes a slope covered with coral and black sponges, where all the usual reef fauna of the region can be found, we finally arrive at the pontoon of Sane & Anabelle's guesthouse, an aquarium-like place with 1 or 2 napoleons... and of course a few more sharks. It is possible to continue the dive a little further along the coast: the current accelerates as the depth decreases, taking divers to a depth of some 3-4 meters. Plenty of fish, before finally arriving in an area where most of the coral is dead, characterized by the presence of a tree trunk at a depth of 3 meters. This is usually where divers get picked up.