The Galapagos Islands, located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are on the ‘to dive’ list of any globetrotting diver worth their weight in seashells. We all learned that Charles Darwin’s 1835 visit culminated in ‘The Origin of Species,’ but it’s hard to understand the profoundness of the Galapagos experience without seeing it for yourself.
Diving around the archipelago’s islands and rocks is an experience of a lifetime. Galapagos scuba divers are likely to encounter whale sharks, sea turtles, schooling hammerheads, a boggling diversity of colorful tropical fish, and marine iguanas (yep — you read that right).
Diving the Valdes peninsula of Argentina is an undersea explorer’s dream. After all, filmmakers from around the world come to Valdes to capture the almost-endless variety of whales in the area. Orcas make common appearences, too. The sea lions play incessantly, and their underwater acrobatics seem to be a performance for their scuba diving visitors.
The Valdes waters are cold year-round, so bring your booties and be ready for a scuba dive that tests your limits as it blows your mind.
Pedras Secas, Brazil
When one thinks of Brazil, visions of white-sand beaches, bikini-clad lovelies and nonstop parties come to mind. Somewhat off-the-radar is Brazil’s secret identity as an exceptional scuba diving vacation spot.
One of Brazil’s premier dive sites, Pedras Secas, is known for a sheer volume of marine life that mirrors Copacabana Beach on a Saturday. Divers will jostle their way through crowds eagle rays, mantas, reef sharks, hammerheads, lobsters, and octopus in these crystal-clear waters.
Peru is known for its towering, snow-capped mountains, headwaters of the mighty Amazon River, Inca ruins and a deep, dark jungle. Who knew there was more off-shore? Believe it: Peru has some of the most outrageous scuba diving in the world.
The Pacific waters tend to have a greenish tint year-round, due to nutrient-rich upwellings from the depths. These nutritious waters support the full spectrum of the food chain — from minute to the magnificent — and you can watch the drama unfold from any number of scuba diving sites along the long Peruvian coast.
Seeking warmer water? Head to the northern coastlines of South America. The Colombian island of Providencia will do nicely.
Providencia is a densely-forested island on the third-largest barrier reef in the world. If you talk to someone who’s been there, they’ll probably tell you it’s the most beautiful place on earth. The diving is unbeatable: cliffs, caves, blue holes, sunken pirate ships and a myriad of the marine life that the Caribbean is so well-known for.