Diving with a Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, better known as scuba diving, is a popular way to explore life underwater. Most tropical vacations today also have opportunities to go diving with a certified instructor, giving beginners the expert guidance they need. Jacques Cousteau, known as the father of scuba diving, and Emilie Gagnan invented a demand valve to provide divers with compressed air called the Aqua-Lung in 1942. Cousteau also made documentaries of his dives to bring footage of marine life to the surface. Now scuba diving is open to just about anyone looking to see the ocean’s wonders. These are just a few of the places you can go to see all the ocean has to offer.
Sardine Run, Agulhas Bank, South Africa
Divers looking for an adrenaline rush and a chance to see some of the ocean’s big predators at work should consider going to Agulhas Bank in South Africa during the Sardine Run. Sardines take this annual migration from Cape Point up to KwaZulu-Natal between May and July. This massive migration also attracts divers, fishermen, sea birds, sharks, dolphins and whales. It is known as “one of the greatest congregations of ocean predators known to man.” Divers can also observe dolphins and sharks use a technique called bait balls to catch the fish. Dolphins will form groups to herd smaller sections of sardines towards the surface. They then take turns feasting on all of the sardines in the bait ball. It is also common to see Humpback Whales migrating during this time as they travel up to Mozambique.
Underwater Museum of Art, Mexico
Divers not as keen to come face-to-face with hungry ocean predators may want to check out Mexico’s Underwater Museum of Art. The Museo Subacuático de Arte, also know as MUSA, started in 2009 in the waters off of Cancún. The museum has over 500 life-size sculptures made from materials that promote coral life. The art exhibits make up one of the largest artificial reefs in the world. The sculptures are by Jason deCaires Taylor and focus on the human experience and our relationship with nature. The underwater art is best seen when scuba diving but can also be seen by glass boats and snorkeling.
Silfra Tectonic Fissure, Iceland
Another unique scuba diving experience is less than an hour from Reykjavik in the Silfra Tectonic Fissure in Iceland. There you can dive between the American and Eurasian continental plates. In its narrower sections you can even touch both continents at the same time. The continental plates continue to drift apart roughly two centimeters every year. With 100 meters of visibility, this location also has some of the clearest waters in the world. Part of this incredible visibility is due to Iceland’s constant cold temperatures. The water in this area typically stays under 40 degrees Fahrenheit and requires a special dry suit to scuba dive. Silfra is a protected area and requires a local guide to dive but scuba and snorkeling tours are lead every day. The rift is part of Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.