Liveaboard vessels can take you to remote diving locales that most day boats don’t reach. Take advantage at these world- class sites.
Amberjack Reef Exuma Cays, Bahamas
Amid the reefs of the Exumas, this sandy patch is where a dozen or more Caribbean reef sharks are commonly seen, as are Nassau grouper, queen triggerfish and schools of, yes, amberjack.
Nippo Maru Truk Lagoon
One of the deeper and more popular Truk Lagoon wrecks, the 352-foot Nippo Maru freighter, starting at a depth of 79 feet, stands out for the intact tank on the top deck and also for its freight. Nicknamed “the milliondollar wreck,” Nippo Maru is most known for what’s inside: Its five holds are still heavy with cannon barrels, mines, machine guns and more. Plus, the bridge, with its compass and telegraphs,
has survived seven decades relatively unscathed. Shadow Reef Raja Ampat, Indonesia
This seamount off the island of Misool is where two manta ray species — reef mantas and oceanic mantas — come to feed. Not only are sightings nearly guaranteed, but it’s also common to see trains where six or more swim in a line. And divers can even encounter interactions between the two manta species, which is especially rare given that these two species coexist in very few spots worldwide. Even better? Pregnant females are common, as Raja Ampat is home to several breeding sites.
German Channel Palau
Oceanic manta rays and schooling whitetip reef
sharks, as well as jacks, trevally, barracuda and snapper by the thousands, are the reasons to drop in on this drift dive, powered by the incoming and outgoing tides.
Finca de Pepe Cuba
Found in the Gardens of the Queen marine park on the south side of Cuba, this site’s populations of black grouper, Nassau grouper and goliath grouper — some as big as 250 pounds — are thriving. Caribbean reef sharks, indicators of healthy reefs, are also found in high numbers.
Ad Dimaniyat Islands Oman
The lush reefs of these nine islands off Oman’s north coast abound in soft and hard corals, creating a habitat for 280 fish species — 10 percent of which are endemic, including the Oman anemonefish. This marine park also protects much larger life, including whale sharks, leopard sharks and the occasional humpback whale.
Elphinstone Reef Red Sea
This drift dive along a sheer wall is known for encounters with hammerhead sharks. Plus, October through December, it’s also one of the few places where divers can reliably see oceanic whitetips.
Big Dos Amigos Cocos Island, Costa Rica
This black-coral-covered seamount, a challenging dive thanks to currents and its 90-foot depth, offers choice viewing when schools of hammerhead sharks, mobula rays, manta rays and eagle rays fly by.
Great White Shark Dive Guadalupe Island, Mexico
Yes, there are cages protecting hookah-airsupplied divers, but that doesn’t limit the adrenaline rush — whether it’s a 13-footer swimming inches below your feet or a juvenile, less familiar with the diveboat rig, smacking its nose against the cage bars in an attempt to understand its surroundings.
USS Liberty Bali, Indonesia
Rare is the opportunity to shore-dive a 411-foot U.S. Army cargo ship. Find exactly this off the Bali village of Tulamben, starting at a depth of 15 feet. Downed in 1942, the Liberty’s now covered in gardens of growth that serves as a breeding ground for macro life, including gobies and nudibranchs.
A lionfish hunts at Elphinstone Reef. Opposite, from top: Corals adorn the Liberty; a great white shark off Guadalupe Island.