Sat. Jul 13th, 2024
Two Silhouetted Diver Ascend an Anchor Line at the End of a Scuba DiveTwo Silhouetted Diver Ascend an Anchor Line at the End of a Scuba Dive

For photographers, scuba diving is an excellent way to get up close and personal with marine life. Whether you’re looking for big-time shots of whales, sharks, nudibranchs or stunning coral reefs, there are plenty of beautiful dive spots around the world that can help make your next trip a photography dream.

1. Lembeh

Lembeh, Indonesia, is home to some of the world’s most famous muck diving sites and is one of the best places in the world for macro photography. It’s renowned for the incredible variety of tiny fish & invertebrates that thrive here, including wonderpus, flamboyant cuttlefish, blue ringed octopus, hairy frogfish and many more.

The nutrient-rich water that flows through the Lembeh Strait, along with its black sandy bottom, small reefs and walls attract a huge number of microscopic fish and juvenile species. These species often rely on weird and unusual camouflage to hide, feed, reproduce and defend themselves from predators.

There are several unique critter hunting dive sites around the strait, each with their own particular set of specialties. Some are more common than others but all offer the opportunity to see some truly bizarre critters.

Pantai Parigi is a great site for seeing the incredible Ambon scorpionfish, mantis shrimp, frogfish, ribbon and snake eels, sea moths and dragonets. It’s also a favourite for spotting a variety of strange cephalopods like the flamboyant cuttlefish, wonderpus and long-armed octopus.

While a good muck diving guide is important for finding these rare creatures, a great experience for most muck divers is to simply go out on a day-trip scuba boat and do a few dives at a time. Generally, this is done with a small diving group, usually only three or four guests per divemaster and an experienced local guide who has been specially trained in spotting the unique wildlife that calls these sand slopes home.

2. Revillagigedo

Revillagigedo, also known as Socorro Island and the Archipielago de Revillagigedo, is a stunning remote scuba diving destination that’s largely unspoilt by tourism. Situated 250 miles (400 kilometres) west of the Los Cabos coast in Mexico’s Pacific, Socorro and Revillagigedo are home to some of the world’s largest oceanic manta rays and a range of sharks including silvertips, whitetip reef sharks and scalloped hammerheads.

This is a very popular liveaboard destination, particularly for advanced divers, but there’s also plenty of diving for beginners. You’ll be taken to dive sites by your liveaboard up to four times a day, often by zodiac or RIB.

The islands’ unique assemblage of fauna and flora is protected by UNESCO as part of the Revillagigedo Archipelago Biosphere Reserve. It’s home to several endangered species of fish and bird, including the masked booby, blue-footed booby, red-billed tropicbird, Townsend’s shearwater, and magnificent frigate birds.

Despite its remoteness, Socorro and Revillagigedo offer some of the best diving in the world. You’ll find giant oceanic manta rays, dolphins, schooling hammerheads, and multiple species of sharks including silkie, whitetip and gray reef sharks.

The archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016 and has since become North America’s largest marine protected area. It’s now protected from all development and fishing, as well as tourism. This is a very special place that deserves the protection it has received from the world community.

3. Utila

Utila is a laidback island, with swaying palm trees and a vibrant scuba community that draws divers from all over the world. It’s a great place to take a scuba certification, with many dive shops offering reasonable prices for classes and fun dives.

Aside from the excellent scuba diving, Utila also offers plenty of attractions for those not looking to get their certification. The pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and endless variety of marine life make it a must-dive destination for any underwater photographer.

Unlike most dive sites around the Bay Islands, Utila’s northern coast is more exposed to the open ocean and backs on to the Cayman Trough, creating some of the best wall dives in Central America. Mornings are best for these north side dives, giving you a chance to swim with whale sharks during their main migratory path in February, March and April.

The southern side of Utila is more sheltered from the sea, with a shallow fringing reef and a number of deeper seamounts and mountains that rise off the bottom. This side of the island is home to more colorful corals and higher fish density than on the north side, though currents can be strong.

Aside from the fantastic underwater photography opportunities, Utila is also a great place to volunteer for marine ecology research. Join the Utila Centre for Marine Ecology to help researchers monitor whale shark populations and other important marine life behaviors.

4. Bonaire

Bonaire, a Dutch Antilles island, is a popular diving destination. With its bright colourful coral, tropical fish and pleasantly warm crystal clear water, Bonaire is a paradise for divers.

There are plenty of things to see and do while visiting Bonaire, including the popular shore dives, shipwrecks and snorkelling. It is also one of the best places to take photos underwater.

For example, the 1000 Steps dive site is a popular photo spot for both snorkelers and divers. It features a 67 step staircase that is surrounded by cliffs.

You can find this site on the north side of Klein Bonaire. It has depths of 20-100 feet, mild currents and large elkhorn coral in the shallows. There is a drop-off that is home to barracudas and bar jacks, as well as schools of blue tangs.

The waters of Bonaire are filled with bioluminescence emitted by tiny microscopic creatures called plankton. Just after a full moon, the ocean comes alive with ostracods and dinoflagellates as they illuminate the sea floor with a spectacular light show.

Taking a night dive just after a full moon is an awesome experience for all scuba divers, especially those who are new to the sport. It’s a fun way to see more of the local marine life and get a closer look at seahorses.

Diving in Bonaire is easy and inexpensive compared to other destinations in the Caribbean. The island has a good infrastructure with easy access to a variety of shore dives and dive resorts. Often, these resorts are located near dive sites and offer self-catering options.

5. Palau

With its nutrient-dense waters and incredible diversity, Palau is an underwater photographer’s dream. Sitting at a unique crossroads where three of the world’s major ocean currents converge, this archipelago offers a wealth of stunning dive sites and a multitude of marine megafauna.

There are plenty of easy, shallow sites, drift, reef-hook and wreck dives that can be enjoyed by all levels of scuba divers. However, because of the strong ocean currents that can be present on some of the best dive sites, it is recommended that you take a PDA trip or liveaboard to experience the very best diving in Palau.

If you are a beginner, our standard dive week is ideal as it includes a number of practice and review sessions for underwater photography. These workshops are an excellent way to develop your skills as well as meet other fellow photographers.

It is also a fantastic opportunity to dive with the instructor and receive feedback on your shots as they are filmed. Taking part in such a workshop has been a great benefit to many aspiring underwater photographers who have been able to make huge improvements to their underwater photography.

While Palau is an idyllic destination for scuba diving, it is important to note that the islands are still home to a large amount of unexploded ordnance from the World War II. It is advisable to check with your local embassy, consulate or high commission for advice and guidance on staying safe in Palau.

6. Hawaii

Hawaii, a tropical paradise with pristine beaches and exotic marine life, is one of the best places in the world to take photos underwater. Its dozens of dive sites are diverse and offer a unique experience for divers at every skill level.

Manta ray night dives are probably the most famous of all Hawaii’s diving experiences, and you won’t believe the excitement when you spot massive schools of these elusive fish in the darkness. They’re incredibly curious and can often swim right up to you for a closer look, allowing photographers to capture stunning shots of these creatures.

Another surprisingly fun and unique experience is black water diving, which involves being suspended in pitch black water beneath the surface of the ocean. The dark, swirling waters allow you to spot colorful bioluminescent animals such as jellies that glow brightly under the surface of the water.

The island of Lanai is home to two amazing lava tube dives, or “dual pinnacles,” that were formed by centuries-old lava flows from nearby Mauna Loa. During the day, the lava tubes are bright with a beautiful array of sealife and colorful corals.

Kona, on the north shore of the island of Hawai’i, is known for its many snorkel and dive spots — including the Old Airport, which was once Kona’s main airport. It’s a great place for beginners to test their skills and is a good chance of seeing some green sea turtles.