Top 10 Scuba Diving Destinations picks for 2005

1. Cozumel, Mexico
The Island of Cozumel, off the Mayan coast, is surrounded by gorgeous reefs and pristine clear water; perfect for scuba diving. On a good day visibility can be up to 200 feet. Gentle currents running parallel to the reef are a drift divers dream. There are 19 popular scuba diving reef areas, including dramatic swim-throughs teeming with marine life. Cozumel is very friendly for the foreign tourist it has affordable accommodation and buzzing night life. cave divers will enjoy a trip to the mainland to scuba dive the cenotes (freshwater caves). There are dozens of excellent dive shops to choose from in the main town of San Miguel.

2. Fiji Islands, South Pacific
Fiji offers an incredible scuba diving experience. It is the "Soft Coral Capital of the World", the home of the "Great White Wall", the "Yellow Tunnel" and other famous underwater marvels, scuba diving conditions and visibility are unrivalled year-round. Because of its clear water and dazzling coral Fiji is a favorite hangout for professional underwater photographers.

3. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Visibility averages 80 feet to 150 feet in this tropical paradise revered by scuba diving enthusiasts. Rising like a mountain plateau in the Caribbean, the Grand Cayman's shallow reefs provide maximum downtime, next to massive drop-offs in the surrounding 12,000 foot abyss.

4. Florida, USA
Florida offers the best scuba diving opportunities on the North American continent. Dive shops proliferate along the entire Gulf coast and Atlantic coast and within a short boat ride of the nearest beach you will be submerged alongside giant turtles, manatees, sharks, tropical fish, rays and dolphins. For ease of travel (especially for U.S. citizens) Florida is a perfect vacation destination for scuba divers. The convenience and economy of Florida travel is often the deciding factor in choosing Florida for scuba diving. The Gulf coast generally has better visibility, the Atlantic Coast has a wealth of reefs and wrecks and the Florida Keys offer beautiful warm water and tropical fish.

5. Belize
Boasting some of the world's best preserved marine ecosystems, but undiscovered by excessive tourism, Belize is a natural destination for scuba divers. Visibility can be poor except along the leeside of atolls where it can reach 100 feet. The Belize Barrier Reef offers a stunning variety of marine life.

6. Heron Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef)
Heron Island is literally a coral island rising above the famous Great Barrier Reef. With excellent scuba diving, just steps from the shore, you can snorkel stay under 20 feet for hours with a scuba tank. Heron is a quiet island, devoid of industry or day trippers, which is ideal for the scuba diver who wants to bask in a relaxed casual lifestyle during surface intervals.

7. Vanuatu
East of Australia, suspended between New Zealand and Southeast Asia, Vanuatu is prized by scuba divers primarily for its incredible diversity. Amid clear warm water and abundant marine life scuba divers can experience caves, swim-throughs, walls, lava towers, fantastically elaborate wrecks, coral mazes, grottoes and overhangs, plus more.

8. Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
Located along the southern tip of the Bahamas, Grand Turk stays sheltered from heavy currents and visibility is excellent year-round for scuba diving. Grand Turk is a summer gathering place for gentle manta rays and inquisitive scuba divers. Grand Turk is surrounded by walls covered in sponges and corals starting at 25 feet and rising to 30 feet and plunging 7000 feet straight down.

9. Hawaii
Scuba diving in Hawaii is big. Giant sea turtles, enormous stingrays, sharks and whales gather near Hawaii to live in its fertile volcanic ecosystem. Though lacking the clear visibility of a sheltered island, Hawaii makes up for clarity with grandeur. Frothing with tourism, and the many dive shops to choose from, Hawaii makes scuba diving fun and adventurous.

10. Koh Tao Island, Thailand
Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand is a tourist-friendly resort island that caters especially to scuba divers. Surrounded on all sides by colorful reefs the island is also well known for opportunities for close-encounters with elusive Whalesharks and Grey Reef Sharks. The scuba diving is excellent, but despite desperate marine conservation efforts shark hunting is offered as a tourist diversion and many people travel to Koh Tao just to kill the local fauna.

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