Variety is the spice of life. When we experience nature, there is nothing more fulfilling than being surrounded by a living, thriving ecosystem where you see numerous different species, all occupying their own niches in the web of life. And so it is with diving. We love to see all colours of the rainbow, all shapes and sizes, all creatures great and small, weird and wonderful.
No-one enjoys that gnawing feeling of disappointment when nothing happens on a dive, or you simply keep seeing the same thing over and over again. That's the problem with many destinations that claim to be great for scuba diving. Many simply don't have sufficient bio-diversity to fulfill the expectations of experienced divers.
However, there are many other places where you can immerse yourself in a habitat bursting with life and diversity. In some cases this takes the form of macro diving where the vast range of weird and wonderful small critters on the sea bed and little rocky patches will keep you enthralled throughout each dive. Other places like Raja Ampat and Galapagos offer an amazing variety of encounters, with scientific studies consistently praising their astonishing levels of diversity.
Keep Feeling Fascination! As a human, leagues under the sea, we love to be constantly entertained. It is such a thrill to cruise around underwater spotting one interesting thing after another: a school of fish swarming this way and that, a large pelagic patrolling the blue, a cute pair of tiny eyes peering out from a hole in the reef, a first-time encounter with a rare species. For those who want it all, we recommend the following places and highlight just a few of the creatures you can see there:
Raja Ampat, Indonesia - Over 1,200 fish species, 600 coral species, 699 mollusc species, many species of seahorses especially pygmies, manta rays, various sharks, including wobbegongs and walking sharks, turtles, dolphins, octopus, cuttlefish and bobtail squid. The list is endless.
Komodo National Park, Indonesia - Manta rays, eagle rays, whitetip reef sharks, moray eels, pygmy seahorses, ornate ghost pipefish, clown frogfish, nudibranchs, blue-ringed octopus, even dolphins and dugongs, plus Komodo dragons on the land.
Galapagos Islands - Galapagos sharks, hammerheads, whitetips, whale sharks and horn sharks, mola mola, manta rays, eagle rays and devil rays, seals and sea lions, red-lipped batfish, seahorses, penguins and marine iguanas.
Sipadan, Malaysia - Barracuda, green and hawksbill turtles, jacks, whitetip sharks, grey reef sharks, bumphead parrotfish, tuna, sweetlips, unicornfish, occasional hammerheads and thresher sharks.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia - dolphins, humpback whales, minke whales, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, dugongs, 125 recorded species of shark, stingray or chimera, potato cod (goliath grouper), clownfish, red-throat emperor, red bass, several species of snapper and coral trout, lionfish, stonefish and saltwater crocodiles.
Fiji - Soft corals galore, barracuda, manta rays, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasses, flashlight fish, parrotfish, angelfish, nudibranchs, gobies, pipefish, moray eels, bull sharks, tawny nurse sharks, whitetip, blacktip and grey reef sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, silvertips and tiger sharks.
Solomon Islands - A relatively untouched part of the Coral Triangle with superb marine life – manta rays, huge schools of pelagic and reef fish, bumpheads, sharks and whales, then reefs, wrecks and muck with mandarinfish, harlequin shrimp, ribbon eels, archerfish, electric clams, seahorses and nudibranchs.
Oman - 3,000 km of coastline, more than 1,000 different types of fish and shellfish, many of which are found nowhere else in the Arabian peninsula - humpback and sperm whales, dolphins, whale sharks, mola mola, mobula and manta rays, tuna and king mackerel, Salalah guitarfish, Dhofar cardinalfish, two-faced toadfish, and stars-and-stripes snakelet.
Tubbataha, Philippines’ crown jewel has something of everything - 370 types of coral, 600 fish species, 12 species of cetacean and 14 species of sharks live in this UNESCO protected wilderness. Plenty of rays and sharks, but also a good chance to see some of the species that are quite rare in Asia these days - Napoleon wrasse, African pompano, giant trevally, and schools of reef fish as large as nature intended.
Hawaii - Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and with a volcanic geological structure, this most remote island group in the world is a hot spot for varied and thriving marine life. 20% of the species here are endemic, such as Potter's, Bandit and Masked angelfishes, Hawaiian blackbar goby, longtail dragonet, gargantuan blenny, goldring surgeonfish, Hawaiian ruby cardinalfish, fantailed filefish, psychedelic wrasse, Fowler's snake eel, and many more. Its isolation also attracts plenty of pelagic action, with sharks, rays and whales all present.
Myanmar - Barracuda, dogtooth tuna, trevallies, manta rays, whale sharks, white tip reef sharks, lobsters, various cuttlefish, frogfish, octopus and ghost pipefish.
Cayman Islands - One of the Caribbean’s top destinations in terms of variety of diving environments and marine health. There are wrecks, steep walls, thriving coral gardens and plenty to macro life. Caribbean reef and nurse sharks, stingrays, eagle rays, turtles galore, tarpon, grouper, French angelfish, barracuda, parrotfish, vast schools of silversides, Caribbean reef squid, yellow-head jawfish, spotted drums, smooth trunkfish, and a variety of crustaceans.
The Coral Triangle - this is the most biodiverse marine region on Earth, so any destination located in or near to this area will have an incredible diversity of marine species. Countries inside are Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. Nearby are northern Australia, Palau, Truk, and Fiji.
More and more divers are coming to learn of the wonder of critter hunting where sharks and mantas are not the dream encounter. Instead, creatures like seahorses, frogfish, mimic octopus, ghost pipefish, nudibranchs and cuttlefish are the headline grabbers, often in an environment that is little more than dark, silty sand, commonly known as muck. If you want to see these and countless other amazing little marine animals you won't believe, think about these amazing destinations:
The Lembeh Strait, Indonesia - Frogfish, mimic octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin shrimps, skeleton shrimps, Ambon scorpionfish and weedy scorpionfish, snake eels, stonefish, sea robins, stargazers, devil fish, seahorses including pygmies, pegasus, mandarinfish, ghost pipefish and the endemic Banggai cardinalfish.
Ambon, Indonesia - Ambon scorpionfish, Halimeda ghostpipefish, painted frogfish, shrimpfish, white cockatoo waspfish, 10 moray eel species (including white eyed, snowflake, starry, undulated), spiny devilfish and spotted devilfish, fingered dragonets, pink thorny seahorses, mandarinfish, emperor shrimps, and arrow crabs.
Indonesia - so many other hotspots, including Bali, Raja Ampat and Komodo - Lobster, lionfish, bearded scorpionfish, mantis shrimps, octopus, nudibranchs, commensal shrimps and hingebeak shrimps, squat lobsters, seahorses, ribbon eels, cuttlefish, boxfish, yellow trumpetfish, flounders, pipefish, spider crabs and hairy frogfish.
Mabul Island, Malaysia - Various nudibranchs and pipefish including ghost pipefish, frogfish, crocodilefish, seahorses, garden eels, crocodilefish, blue-ringed octopus, cuttlefish including flamboyant cuttlefish and gigantic mantis shrimp.
Belize - Caribbean reef squid, neck crabs, flounders, flame scallops, burrowing urchins, conch shells, lobster, hermit crabs and spider crabs, jawfish, clams, Pederson shrimp and minute mysid shrimp.
Philippines - Superb macro pretty much everywhere, and muck diving at Anilao, Batangas and Dauin, Dumaguete Pygmy seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs, rhinopias, pipefish, scorpionfish, leaffish, and crustaceans galore.
Saba - Garden eels, flying gurnards, Saba lobster, frogfish, lizardfish, razorfish, squat lobsters, flounders, queen conches, pike blennies, shortnose batfish, scaly-tailed mantis shrimp, high hats.
Let us guide you to the most amazingly diverse reefs so that you can dive with critters galore!
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