2 scuba divers around a shipwreck

What Depth Are Scuba Tourist Attractions Around The Globe?

Scuba diving makes the inaccessible accessible. The normally unseen becomes the seen. Anyone who dons the correct equipment can take a trip to a world not normally observed by the modern world.

There’s a true sense of freedom and exploration down beneath the surface.

Learning to dive is all about going beneath the waves in order to see the underwater world. So how deep are scuba attractions around the globe? 

The majority of scuba diving attractions around the world are between 40 and 100 feet in depth. The topography of location based attractions varies considerably with many accessible with the basic PADI open water certification. Shipwrecks tend to be over 80 feet deep so will require the advanced open water or deep diver qualifications.

We all want to see something interesting when we dive. While new locations are cool all on their own, something a little unusual or historical adds another dimension to the experience.

If you are new to scuba diving there are questions as to what depth level you should qualify yourself for. Will open water certification be enough for you or will you need the advanced option?

Surely a critical part of answering that question is what type of dive sites you want to experience.

While there is often a wide variance of diving depths even within a known tourist location site, it’s worth pondering the maximum depth of those sites.

With that I took some of the more common sites that people like to dive and tried to find the maximum depth encountered at any given site.

The Great Barrier reef has a vast array of diving depths, from relative shallows to well beyond recreational diver depths along its 1250 mile length.

Here’s a table of what I found.

AttractionLocation Depth (ft)
The Blue HoleBelize City, Belize400
Great Barrier ReefNortheast Australia115 (average)
Bora BoraBora Bora, French Polynesia80
Barracuda PointSipadan Island, Malaysia80 to 130
USAT LibertyBali, Indonesia100
Richelieu RockAndaman Sea, Thailand115 (up to)
Yolanda / Shark ReefRed Sea, Egypt100 (wreck at 300)
Underwater Sculpture ParkGrenada, Caribbean26
Lost Blue HoleNew Providence, Bahamas200
Blue Corner WallPalau, Micronesia100 (up to)
ThistlegormRed Sea, Egypt100 (up to)
The Riviera MayaYucatán Peninsula, Mexico20
Silfra GapÞingvellir National Park  Iceland40 (average allowed)
SavusavuFiji20
Wolf & Darwin IslandsGalapagos Islands120
Truk LagoonMicronesia100-130
Great White WallTaveuni, Fiji130 (up to)
Darwin ArchGalapogas30 (up to 130)
Cannibal RockKomodo, Indonesia80

Perhaps not unsurprisingly there is some correlation between the dive sites that divers like to visit and them fitting within the existing qualifications structure from the major issuers of certifications.

fish part in an arch as a scuba diver goes through

The Common Depth Of Diving Attractions In The United States

For many, that scuba dive regularly and not just when they are on holiday or vacation.

The following is a typical list of diving attractions within the US an their corresponding depth.

AttractionLocation Depth (ft)
Monterey BayCalifornia40 to 80
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State ParkFlorida70
LanaiHawaii65
Homestead CraterUtah65
Dry Tortugas National ParkFlorida200 (up to)
CulebraPuerto Rico50
KonaHawaii40
South Padre IslandTexas90
Browning WallPort Hardy, British Columbia40 to 250 
HMCS YukonSan Diego, California105
Five CavesMakena, Maui, Hawaii45
Strawberry WallStrawberry Island, Washington140
Bonne Terre MineBonne Terre, Missouri40 to 60
Forest CityTobermory, Ontario150 (up to)
Dutch SpringsBethlehem, Pennsylvania100
USS OriskanyPensacola, Florida80
USS Spiegel GroveKey Largo, Florida80
USNS General Hoyt S. VandenbergKey West, Florida165
U-352Cape Lookout, North Carolina115
USTS Texas ClipperSouth Padre Island, Texas132
USCG DuaneKey Largo, Florida120

Within the US, the depth of common diving sites seems to follow a similar pattern. Diving sites with varying topography will be easily accessible to those with the basic open water certification recommendations.

Taking the advanced open water will open up a few more, but deep water diver might be a good course to take for the more inaccessible wrecks.

Which Certification Is Best For Tourist Attraction Scuba Dives?

Many people assess their own level of diving comfort when deciding how deep to go so this may be a moot point.

The PADI Open Water Diver course will take a beginner diver and train them to learn down to 60 feet in depth.

The Advanced Open Water expands on the open water certification and will give you expereince on diving to 100 feet depths.

The PADI Deep Diver course would take you to 130 feet deep waters.

Most sites will have visually appealing attractions that are appropriate to the basic open water qualification, while some will require the advanced open water to perhaps get the very best out of the depths.

You perhaps shouldn’t be visiting the USNS General Hoyt S. Vandenberg with just an open water certification for example.

2 scuba divers in a cave

Final Thoughts – Parting Waves

Scuba diving is odd in many ways. The attraction you are visiting isn’t just  a location, but involved a depth. 

Not every attraction is like the Great Barrier reef with diving depths between surface and 2km where you pick a location that suits you.

Some attractions are at a specific depth.

And their is an allure with that depth, all levels of comfort notwithstanding. It’s a chance to explore and the depths seem more mysterious somehow. While the shallows can be fascinating, for many visiting a wreck that few actually see will always have it’s attractions.

You should probably take the PADI recommendations as a guide to what experience you may need.

  • PADI open water (to 60 feet)
  • PADI advanced open water (to 100 feet)
  • PADI deep diver (to 130 feet)

Whatever you choose as the allure to picking a depth to qualify for, if it’s around 130 feet then the PADI deep diver seems like a good course to go for.

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Mike Seals
Chief Crisp Eater at Guiness Brewey | + posts

Mike resides in landlocked Indiana but takes every opportunity to travel to warm waters for diving. When in his home state, he typically dives quarries. His favorite place to dive is the reef off of Ambergris Caye, Belize. When not diving, he works as a researcher, runs marathons, and spends time with his three kids.

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