Channels act as underwater slides between the open ocean and the atolls of the Tuamotu Islands, allowing divers to glide along with triggerfish and wrasses. Pro Tip: Practice with currents beforehand.
Channels act as underwater slides between the open ocean and the atolls of the Tuamotu Islands, allowing divers to glide along with triggerfish and wrasses. Pro Tip: Practice with currents beforehand.
Photograph by Global Pics, Getty Images

21 best dive sites

Jump into these watery wonders.

If writing National Geographic’s new book 100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World’s Ultimate Underwater Destinations taught me anything, it's that the diversity of environments in the water rivals that on land. Although ocean covers more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface, we’ve explored a mere five percent of it.

So for those looking to channel their inner adventurer, our aquatic realms offer abundant opportunity. Yet only some three percent of the ocean is protected, which is why National Geographic works with researchers such as Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who launched the Pristine Seas initiative with the goal of saving the ocean’s last wild places. Here are 21 dive sites spanning the globe that provide insight into the undersea world we’re striving to protect.

Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips

Read This Next

Rivers and lakes are the most degraded ecosystems in the world. Can we save them?

The world’s oldest known wild bird just turned 70—why she’s so special

Buried for 4,000 years, this ancient culture could expand the 'Cradle of Civilization'

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet