Do you want to see the best scuba diving wrecks before you die?
is an incredible experience. It’s an opportunity to witness some of nature’s most breathtaking sights and explore the ocean’s depths. One of those views is a wreck that time has forgotten and left behind. Divers can explore undersea wonders formerly a part of our world above water while learning about history at these wrecks.
Many wrecks worldwide are just waiting for you to find them, from ships sunk during conflicts to submarines and aircraft carriers destroyed in combat! The difficulty of arranging your next diving vacation is determining which ones should be at the top.
We’ve put together a list of some of the top scuba diving destinations from around the world that you really must see.
1. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: SS President Coolidge, Vanuatu
President Coolidge is one of the world’s best scuba diving wrecks- a sight to behold before you die.
This historical ship has a fascinating past, having served as an American luxury liner during World War II. It was later decommissioned and used by the U.S. Navy before tragedy struck in October 1942 when it hit two mines off Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu.
But now, the ship continues to exist as one of Earth’s most breathtaking dive locations. With its decks teeming with sea life, corals, and sponges, turning her starboard side into a rainbow of vibrant hues, and countless artifacts still intact after all these years. There’s no better way to explore this amazing wreck than with a scuba tank attached!
From eerie passageways inhabited by sea snakes to awesome archways home to schools of tuna fish, this wreck offers something for every level of diver – from beginners to experts alike. This wreck site also serves as a reminder of human history. Plus, it provides a fantastic opportunity for underwater photo-ops that any diver will surely not miss!
2. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: San Francisco Maru, Micronesia
At 115 meters long and 26 meters wide, the Japanese freighter has been lying at its final resting place since February 17, 1944, when an American air raid helplessly sank it. But over the past few decades, it has become a living underwater wonderland where more than 1,400 different species of fish reside.
The first thing divers will notice while diving is its sheer size. It’s bigger than most boats and can easily take up to two hours to explore fully. As you make your way around the ship’s deep hull and rusting decks, be sure to keep an eye out for schools of grouper and mackerel, as well as green turtles basking in the sun among corals and sea fans.
In addition to aquatic life, such as sea horses or triggerfish, you’ll also find plenty of artifacts from World War II scattered around the site. Everything from guns to tanks adds a somber but fascinating element to the dive experience. As you learn about how this important vessel once operated before its fateful demise during World War II, you can’t help but feel awe-struck by its grandeur.
3. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: USS Saratoga, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
The Saratoga was originally sunk as part of Operation Crossroads. It was an atomic test conducted by the United States government in 1946. This nuclear bomb test completely destroyed the ship and left it with a twisted mass at the bottom of the lagoon. Its wreckage is still intact and can easily be explored with a few dives. It has become a popular destination for wreck divers looking for an exciting adventure.
Visiting this remarkable dive site requires advanced skills and thorough preparation due to its depth and complexity. The average dive depth is around 90 feet, but experienced divers can explore much deeper parts of the wreck. Keep in mind that strong currents, limited visibility, and occasional hurricanes make this a challenging dive location that you should not take lightly.
Once you have prepared yourself for your journey, you will experience some truly stunning sights under the sea! The wreck’s twisted remains are surrounded by abundant coral life and teeming with marine life, including sea turtles, reef sharks, angelfish, barracudas, manta rays, and even moray eels! Exploring this incredible shipwreck is sure to fill you with a sense of awe as you marvel at its size and magnitude from below.
4. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: The Yongala, Australia
The SS Yongala sank in 1911 after hitting an uncharted reef and disappeared nearly as quickly as it had come. Everyone on board died, and it was not seen again until 50 years later when divers stumbled onto its debris field. The wreck itself has since become an artificial reef, now home to a variety of marine life, including giant gropers and sea turtles.
Within the ship’s structure lies plenty of tantalizing opportunities for exploration—from engine rooms full of copper piping to compartments filled with rusting machinery. A dive here requires knowledge and experience because currents can be treacherous.
The Yongala is a remarkable example of how nature reclaims its territory from our determined efforts to conquer it. There’s no better place than The Yongala to remind yourself about the beauty, fragility, and power that comes with our environment. So make sure it’s your next dive destination before you die!
5. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: SS Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
Located near Sharm el Sheikh, this sunken ship was once part of an Allied convoy during World War II and lay in about 18 meters of water. It is one of the most renowned dive sites worldwide, offering spectacular underwater scenery and a variety of artifacts from history.
The Thistlegorm provides a memorable experience for any scuba diver, with its exceptional visibility throughout the year. The moment you descend into the depths, you will be transported back to WWII and witness the scattered relics — it’s like going back in time!
The main attraction of this dive spot is its cargo hold, which still contains some of its original load, including Bedford trucks filled with ammunition boxes and bicycles. There are also two locomotives in front of the holds, which add to its historic charm.
Apart from this major attraction, divers can also explore some fascinating marine life, such as groupers and batfish around it. Not to mention the countless nearby coral gardens where colorful reef fish dart!
6. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: USAT Liberty, Bali, Indonesia
The USAT Liberty was originally a United States Army transport ship that sunk during World War II. Today, more than 80 years later, the wreckage sits between 10 and 30 meters beneath the bay’s surface.
Visitors will find thousands of fish species living among the massive steel structures and corals that have grown over time along its framework – it truly is a sight to behold! The USAT Liberty wreck offers divers a unique opportunity to explore history and beauty in one dive.
From old ammunition boxes and military debris still scattered throughout the wreckage to stunning coral reefs nearby, it’s an incredible combination of culture and nature all rolled into one.
For advanced divers, there are even deeper parts within the wreckage that provide an even closer look at its decaying grandeur. Plus, with very few resources needed for navigation (the entire wreck is visible from most points!), it also makes for an incredibly easy place to navigate!
7. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: The Zenobia, Cyprus
The Zenobia is an immense shipwreck that lies off the coast of Cyprus. It was a British coaster-type ferry that sank back in 1980 while carrying a cargo full of trucks and other goods. Today, it can be explored by avid scuba divers ready to brave its depths.
Many divers consider this wreck to be the top wreck dive destination. Divers come from all over the world, eager to explore this massive shipwreck.
The visibility around this enormous wreck is usually spectacular due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea shelf, where water temperatures remain warm year-round. Plus, there are plenty of features for divers across all skill levels.
From deep penetrations into engine rooms, holds, and cabins for more experienced divers to shallower decks above 30 meters depth suitable for beginners and cautious explorers who aren’t as comfortable with deeper dives.
Most impressively, though, is the sheer amount of marine life surrounding this beautiful wreck. Schools of brightly colored fish like jacks and snappers swim playfully around the decks while moray eels keep a watchful eye from their hiding spots throughout crevices on various parts of its structures. This makes exploration even more exciting; all dives will be quite unique!
8. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: Fujikawa Maru (Chuuk Lagoon), Micronesia
This wreck diving destination was sunk during WWII when American forces attacked Truk Lagoon in Operation Hailstone. Despite its age and history, it is an amazing sight to behold, with many intact features. There are gun turrets, ammunition storage rooms, four cargo holds loaded with artifacts, plus lots of other hidden spaces for you to discover!
Visibility underwater is typically excellent, and it’s easy to navigate around the wreck. Fish life abounds, which is great for anyone wanting to take photographs or video footage. Given how beautifully it has been conserved, it is commonly called the “jewel” of Truk Lagoon.
The best way to get here is by taking a liveaboard or day trip from Japan or Guam, depending on your budget, but either way, it’s worth it for what awaits beneath!
9. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: Hilma Hooker, Bonaire
This is an 80-meter-long freighter that sunk off the coast of Bonaire in 1984, making her one of the world’s oldest declared artificial reefs. Built in 1957 and originally owned by the Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM), she was one of the first modern vessels built with a double hull for extra strength and buoyancy.
For aquaphiles, this shipwreck has everything: upside-down cabins, collapsed staircases and arches, caves, and miles of swim-throughs for experienced divers looking for an exciting adventure. As a bonus, there are abundant coral formations that are teeming with marine life all around them. Fishermen have even reported plenty of barracuda living in the area!
Thanks to its shallow depth and location close to shore, this wreck is accessible to both beginners and advanced divers alike. In fact, many international dive centers now offer trips out to this wreck as part of their regular activities.
It is considered by some to be one of the world’s most popular dive sites – no wonder, considering that it has become home to hundreds of species since sinking over 30 years ago!
10. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: USS Kittiwake, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Built-in 1945 and used as a minesweeper during World War II, the USS Kittiwake was decommissioned in 1994 and then intentionally sunk off Grand Cayman in 2011 to create a magnificent artificial reef. Now it lies at a depth of about 60 feet and provides an incredible setting for scuba divers of all levels.
The wreck itself stretches out over 220 feet long, with plenty to explore both inside and outside. From compartments, ladders, stairways, and even two unique features –the engine rooms with huge turbine engines and the horseshoe-shaped bow, home to hundreds of marine creatures, including nurse sharks, rays, and colorful schools of fish. And because it lies so shallow, even novice divers can explore its depths without worrying about needing deep sea experience or certification.
Plus, it is easily accessible by boat from Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman Island. It also makes for a fantastic snorkel excursion.
11. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: Hirokawa Maru, Solomon Islands
Located off the coast of Guadalcanal on Solomon Island, this fantastic wreck lies in a staggering 76 meters of water and will give even the most experienced diver a rush. At an impressive 266m long, she could easily eclipse some of the world’s most famous dive sites. Add to that her impressive history. It’s no wonder why this is such a great wreck to see before you die.
The Hirokawa Maru was originally a Japanese passenger-cargo ship built shortly before World War II. The vessel served as an ammo and fuel tanker for the Japanese Navy throughout WW2. Not until it finally met her demise during Operation Hailstone. It’s one of the U.S. Navy’s greatest naval battles – on February 17th, 1944, American forces sunk her with over 500 hundred tons of explosives.
Because of her depth and size, it’s unsurprising that good visibility isn’t always guaranteed here. However, many divers have reported having perfect visibility on a sunny day thanks to clear water.
No matter what, though, don’t expect too much marine life around these parts. Sponges, corals, and maybe some reef fish are all seen so far at this magnificent site. But hey – let’s be honest! Sometimes wrecks are more interesting without loads of marine life surrounding them anyway!
12. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, Scotland
This wreck diving destination was built in Germany and launched in 1903. It was originally meant to be used as a passenger liner. However, it was quickly commissioned into service during World War I as a battle cruiser. During its time in service, it survived several naval battles. Only to eventually be scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919 by German forces after the war had ended.
Today, the wreck is an incredible spectacle and an unforgettable dive experience. It lies on its port side at a depth of approximately 35 meters and stretches up to 170 meters long, making it one of the largest wrecks. This makes exploring each nook and cranny possible with plenty of visibility all throughout. Swimming through hallways, corridors, and even engine rooms will make you feel part of something much greater than yourself.
From every corner of this majestic underwater graveyard lies evidence of its former glory days long gone by. From twisted pieces of rusted metal still strewn across the sea floor to artillery pieces left behind from millions of years ago. You can even find a variety of marine life surrounding the wreck, such as sea tigers, pufferfish, jellyfish, crabs, and lobsters. So don’t forget your camera!
As with most popular wrecks around the world, there are some regulations you should be aware of prior to diving down into its depths:
- No touching or tampering with any parts or artifacts found within the wreck itself
- Make sure to dive only if experienced enough (no deeper than 38m without proper training)
- It would be best to always dive with someone of equal or higher qualifications.
- Never enter any enclosed spaces inside the wreck without proper safety gear
13. Best Scuba Diving Wrecks: RMS Rhone, British Virgin Islands
Built-in 1865 as a mail steamer, it was first pressed into service by the Royal Mail Company before being purchased by another company six years later. It was here that it gained its fatal reputation when it collided with another ship during a storm and sank on October 1867. Nowadays, she lies approximately 30 feet below sea level – preserved thanks to her great age and state of preservation perfectly.
The Rhone offers divers and snorkelers alike an incredible insight into history. Both maritime and natural – as she still holds many onboard items when she went down, such as bottles filled with alcoholic beverages – surprisingly still intact! The site has been designated a National Park since 1980, making any visits here special for anyone lucky enough to experience it firsthand.
You’d be mistaken if you assumed everything from the past was just a museum piece. The surrounding waters are teeming with vibrant coral life; schools of grunts, barracudas, or even turtles all appear if you take your eye away from the wreck – making it truly unforgettable! Witnessing parts camouflaged amongst these same corals is even more incredible, almost making them part of nature’s own furniture.
This should be top on your list for anyone keen on experiencing scuba diving at its best, especially if you want to see something truly special before your time runs out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I find the best wreck diving in Europe?
Select a starting point for your search by thinking about what kind of environment will best suit your needs. Is it history that draws you in? Maybe an ocean cliff or a sunken ship off any one of Europe’s beautiful coasts? You can narrow your selection further by looking into each destination’s visibility rate, water temperature, and marine life to make your experience as satisfying as possible.
Q: What are the most dangerous shipwrecks to dive into?
The U-352 submarine off the coast of North Carolina is considered one of the most dangerous wrecks to dive into. This is due to its depth (nearly 200 feet!) and strong currents that make for challenging navigation. The vertical G-431 tugboat in Lake Superior also requires a high skill level from divers. It lies in 230 feet of water and has swirls of silt that can cause reduced visibility underwater. Lastly, the San Diego – a tugboat off Thailand. This is especially treacherous due to the large amount of debris at the site, which can make maneuvering difficult or even hazardous.
Q: Is there a wreck diving PADI certification?
Absolutely! If you want to get certified in wreck diving, you should sign up for the PADI Wreck Diver certification course. It’s a great option for those who have already earned their Open Water Diver certification and wish to extend their knowledge and exploration of the underwater world. With tons of sunken ships and aircraft worldwide, this specialty opens up tons of exciting opportunities to explore wrecks beneath the surface. You’ll learn how to use a reel and line, observe safety guidelines, look out for hazards, and much more while discovering shipwrecks from the comfort of your own dive buddy!
Q: How do wreck dives affect the environment?
Wreck diving often disrupts local wildlife and damages fragile coral reef habitats. Divers must remain mindful of their effect on the environment while exploring ships. We must also recognize that in many cases, these wrecks are suffering from the pollution that existed before they sunk, such as abandoned fishing tackle or lost nets. You can minimize the effect both by practicing responsible diving techniques and implementing public awareness campaigns highlighting their effect on the underwater environment.
Q: Where are the best wreck dives in the US?
Some of the best wrecks are found in Florida – particularly off of Key West – where you’ll find a variety of Maritime History sites, including US Naval vessels and other historic vessels. The scuba diving around these sites can be incredible, too. There are often rich coral reefs to explore amidst the wreckage.
Scuba diving is truly an amazing and fascinating activity. Exploring wrecks that are centuries old can turn a regular dive into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re serious about wreck diving, then these wrecks should be on your must-see list. Seeing these historic ships before they disappear forever will undoubtedly make for a memorable adventure! So take the plunge, strap on your tanks, and go see these incredible underwater sites before it’s too late!