The World’s Best Scuba Diving Locations

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Overall Diving category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Caribbean and Atlantic


Diving is such an integral part of this spunky desert island not far from South America that it’s hard to separate the underwater and topside experience. Luckily, you don’t have to, because 24/7 access to its vibrant near-shore reefs is what sets Bonaire apart. If there’s a place you can have more fun than piloting your rental truck around Bonaire’s cactus-lined ring road, pulling off to submerge almost anywhere — slowing down just long enough to admire the flamingos or grab a burger at the kiteboarders beach — we haven’t heard of it. — Mary Frances Emmons

Go Now:

2) Cayman Islands

3) Mexico

4) Bay Islands

5) Bahamas

North America


Your first B.C. dive will likely take your breath away, and not just because of the refreshing 50-degree water. Novice and expert divers alike regularly rate Vancouver Island the planet’s finest coldwater diving. The mix of engaging critters, hot invertebrate colors, artificial reefs extraordinaire, rugged scenic beauty and warm Canadian hospitality ensure your return. — Brandon Cole

Go Now:

2) North Carolina

3) California

4) Florida

5) Washington

Pacific and Indian Oceans


If the host of accolades from this year’s Top 100 alone don’t convince you of Indonesia’s greatness — Best Macro, Healthy Marine Environment, Best Underwater Photography, not to mention Best Overall Diving — we’re not sure what will. But we’ll keep piling on until we prove this archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has something for everyone. For metalheads, Bali is home to the most photogenic wreck on the planet — and perhaps most accessible — a U.S. Liberty-class ship lying 25 yards off Tulamben’s rocky shore. Healthy reefs and fish overload more your style? Eastern Indonesia’s Raja Ampat has hundreds of sites with colorful reefs where schools of fish are so thick you won’t be able to see your buddy. Macro divers will go gaga for the nudibranchs and weird critters in Lembeh; big-fish aficionados will love Komodo’s manta trains; and wall divers will get vertigo in Wakatobi. One trip to Indonesia and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Just remember to tell your friends. — David Espinosa

Go Now:

2) Micronesia

3) Palau

4) Galapagos

5) Red Sea

How We Got the Numbers Thousands of Scuba Diving subscribers and online users rated their experiences at dive destinations in a variety of categories on a scale from one to five. Final scores are an average of the numerical scores awarded. A minimum number of responses was required for a destination to be included in these ratings.

Scroll to Top