Trip Ideas habitat coral reef reef marine biology underwater coral coral reef fish natural environment biology Ocean Sea diving Scuba Diving water sport underwater diving fish surrounded
Trip Ideas

9 Epic Underwater Adventures Around the World

Swimming with dolphins and snorkeling in the USVI were super exciting when we were twelve. But now that we’ve got a few more decades under our belts, and vacations are no longer funded by mom and dad, we’re on to bigger and better adventures. Here, 8 insane underwater experiences that you’ll be bragging about from here to infinity.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

Trip Ideas indoor orange anemone fish marine biology pomacentridae sea anemone animal coral biology coral reef organism underwater coral reef fish decorated macro photography invertebrate marine invertebrates coelenterate reef fish cnidaria illustration
Trip Ideas reef coral reef marine biology rock underwater natural environment biology Sea coral Ocean coral reef fish aquarium invertebrate

Anemone image courtesy of Quicksilver Cruises

Learn to scuba dive with the Great Barrier Reef as your classroom

If “learning to scuba dive” has been waiting on you bucket list as long as it has ours, give it the royal treatment with lessons at the destination to end all scuba diving destinations: the Great Barrier Reef. Five-day learn to scuba courses, with Pro Drive Cairns, include two days of classroom and pool training followed by three days of diving with a live-aboard vessel as home base. After completing four out of nine dives—canoodling with thousands of coral species, fish, and hawksbill and loggerhead sea turtles—you’ll earn your open water certification.

Trip Ideas tree coral reef reef marine biology underwater coral biology Ocean Sea coral reef fish swimming surrounded Forest ocean floor
Trip Ideas water fish animal shark lamniformes great white shark marine biology cartilaginous fish fauna underwater organism green lamnidae tiger shark requiem shark carcharhiniformes Sea Ocean computer wallpaper

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows/ApexPredators.com

Cage dive with Great Whites in South Africa’s Shark Alley

If you run a countdown to Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and organize episode-viewing events for friends each year, then maybe it’s time to strike out for the real thing. Cage diving in Gansabaai’s Shark Alley—just two hours from Cape Town—isn’t for the faint of heart, but getting up close to the legendary, 15- to 20-foot, 2.5-ton predators is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Go with Apex Shark Expeditions for a marine biologist-hosted expedition where your cage diving and surface viewing activities are caught on film by an underwater videographer. While there’s no guarantee on how many Great Whites you’ll spot, the average trip clocks four to eight sightings.

RELATED: 25 Photos That Will Have You Packing for South Africa

Trip Ideas water sky outdoor Ocean Sea marine mammal dolphin whales dolphins and porpoises vacation coastal and oceanic landforms Lagoon marine biology spinner dolphin Pool blue swimming clear day
Trip Ideas sky animal water fish green shark great white shark lamniformes marine biology cartilaginous fish organism fin lamnidae underwater

Photos courtesy of Chris Fallows/ApexPredators.com

Trip Ideas outdoor water Sea Ocean sky Sunset horizon wave wind wave calm marine mammal shore atmosphere Sun sunlight sunrise cloud whales dolphins and porpoises dolphin evening dawn

Photo courtesy of Chris Fallows/ApexPredators.com

Swim with whale sharks in Mexico

Each and every year, the world’s largest group of whale sharks convene off the coast of Holbox Island in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Far from predatory, the gentle giants—we’re talking 41,000 pounds of slow-moving, sheer marine mammal mass—are docile in nature and even playful in their interactions with divers. From June to mid-September, you can hitch a ride with Holbox Whale Shark Tours as they head off on full day swimming trips.

Trip Ideas water blue fish animal marine biology fin underwater organism cartilaginous fish shark Sea
Trip Ideas water marine biology fish swimming Pool underwater marine mammal organism shark blue cartilaginous fish whales dolphins and porpoises fin Sea clear
Trip Ideas animal reptile underwater ecosystem rock water marine biology organism crocodilian reptile sea turtle dinosaur turtle computer wallpaper extinction trunk

Get up close and personal with saltwater crocs in Australia

At Darwin City’s Crocosaurus Cove more than 70 species of Australian reptile are on display. But let’s be real, the show-stopping sight isn’t the reptile house, freshwater aquarium, or even the croc feeding show—it’s the Cage of Death (less ominous than it sounds, we swear). The acrylic enclosure drops one to two people into the croc tank at a time, offering 360 degree views of the mammoth saltwater crocs as they snap away at bait—of the chicken, not human variety—just feet away from your face.

RELATED: Underwater Cameras to Bring on Your Next Beach Getaway

Trip Ideas animal crocodilia water underwater marine biology organism crocodile reptile alligator fish
Trip Ideas water rock outdoor underwater organism marine biology screenshot ocean floor
Trip Ideas water reptile animal marine biology fauna organism underwater swimming Wildlife marine mammal

Explore an underwater archaeological site in Israel

We’ve all heard Atlantis-style myths of sunken cities and lost treasures, but in Israel, there’s nothing fictional about Caesarea’s lost first-century harbor—Sebastos. While it’s unknown if seismic action or a tsunami wiped out the once great marina, scholars are certain it was underwater by the 6th century. Today, visitors can join in on guided dives with the Old Caesarea Diving Center to explore the submerged ancient ruins of Herod the Great’s port city including tower fortifications, temple podiums, and collapsed piers.

Trip Ideas coral reef marine biology reef coral ecosystem organism Nature underwater coral reef fish stony coral ocean floor

Dive Palau’s Big Drop-Off, Blue Corner, and Jellyfish Lake

Palau landed on the radar of divers around the world when Jacques Cousteau gave it his ultimate blessing—saying dive sites like the Big Drop-Off were some of the best in the world—in the 60s. Though the 200-island archipelago has only gained acclaim since then, it still sees relatively few tourists so its turquoise lagoons and limestone and volcanic isles are as pristine as ever. Link up with Palau Dive Adventures to experience three of the country’s best dive spots: Big Drop-Off—a sheer, vertical 900-foot wall swathed in soft corals, fans, and anemones, and patrolled by nurse sharks, leopard sharks, schools of butterfly fish, lion fish, and hawksbill turtles; Blue Corner—a flat reef plateau with strong currents and a dumbfounding breadth of marine life (think: barracudas, eagle rays, parrotfish, eels, whale fish, and tuna); and Jellyfish Lake–a sea-connected lake whose million-plus jellyfish population—due to a lack of predators—have evolutionarily lost their ability to sting (making them perfectly safe to swim with).

Islands Trip Ideas water Sport Nature outdoor person water sport underwater Sea freediving marine biology Ocean underwater diving Lagoon snorkeling blue wave diving swimming
Arts + Culture Offbeat Scuba Diving + Snorkeling Trip Ideas marine biology underwater biology underwater diving swimming ocean floor

Check out an underwater art exhibit in Spain

British artist Jason deCaires Taylor— the same man behind the Museo Subacuático de Arte in Cancún and the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park in Western Grenada—debuted his latest submerged art exhibit in Spain last year. At Museo Atlantico, in Bahía de Las Coloradas (just off the southern coast of Lanzarote), in order to take in Taylor’s 12 sculptural collections, daring museum-goers are first challenged to a 45-foot dive. Once they make it to the ocean’s floor, they’ll find displays like the Raft of Lampedusa, a haunting lifeboat piled with 13 hyperrealistic refugees, and The Rubicon, 35 figures frozen in time, walking towards a wall that the artist says "emphasizes that the notions of ownership and territories are irrelevant to the natural world" (can you say timely).

RELATED: Europe’s First Underwater Museum Opens Off the Coast of Spain

Arts + Culture Offbeat Scuba Diving + Snorkeling Trip Ideas sculpture head art ancient history statue formation close ocean floor
Arts + Culture Offbeat Scuba Diving + Snorkeling Trip Ideas arthropod animal invertebrate crab blue marine biology underwater biology reef Ocean Sea deep sea fish coral reef lobster
Arts + Culture Offbeat Scuba Diving + Snorkeling Trip Ideas outdoor reef underwater marine biology coral reef biology coral turtle Sea Ocean fish diving blue ocean floor
Arts + Culture Offbeat Scuba Diving + Snorkeling Trip Ideas marine biology reef underwater underwater diving outdoor Ocean Scuba Diving Sea biology group coral reef diving freediving Nature water sport people swimming ocean floor

Surround yourself with barracudas in Malaysia

At the easternmost tip of Malaysia’s Sipadan Island, you’ll find an aptly-named area known as Barracuda Point. Though the spot is rife with all sorts of marine life (think: garden eels, morays, lionfish, octopus) the main draw is the thousands-strong silvery vortex of barracuda that swirl around in the channel’s strong currents every day. Thanks to their sharp, fang-like teeth, barracudas rouse fear even in experienced divers, but like the greatly-misperceived Great White, they rarely go on attack. Of course, don’t plan on orchestrating your own swim; join Scuba Junkie on a safe, guided trek and don’t forget your underwater camera.

Barracuda Trip Ideas blue underwater marine biology water organism Sea Ocean computer wallpaper electric blue sky macro photography shoal seaweed swimming dark ocean floor
Hotels Trip Ideas coral reef underwater marine biology ecosystem outdoor reef Sea water underwater diving divemaster organism coral Scuba Diving Ocean aquanaut Nature coral reef fish stony coral swimming marine invertebrates ocean floor

Night dive with manta rays in Hawaii

Off the Kona Coast on Hawaii’s Big Island, manta rays playfully taunt divers and snorkelers. Since visitors are given express instruction not to pet the rays, the intelligent creatures indulge in a little you-can-look-but-you-can’t-touch jest, swimming within inches of contact before gracefully gliding away. Though the sassy behemoths are out all day, everyday (there is no peak season), the best time to catch them is at night, when illuminated by spotlights, the 20-foot rays come out to feast on plankton.

RELATED: The Best Beaches in Hawaii

Kona Coast Trip Ideas ray fish animal marine biology rays and skates cartilaginous fish organism stingray manta ray computer wallpaper shark earth tiger shark requiem shark space darkness deep sea fish great white shark dark

Want more?

All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.