Wreck diving is one of the most thrilling kinds of diving you can find. It is often referred to as diving in shipwrecks, but it also includes wrecked platforms and even crashed aircrafts! Their wrecked structures and machine parts often create an artificial reef where marine life tends to flourish. Some of the wrecks have a tragic history, others have been sunken purposefully for divers, some are part of an archaeological site and many of them belong to the underwater cultural heritage. Diving in shipwrecks will definitely transport you into history!
Diving on wrecks involves many hazards, like hanging nets, sharp edges and narrow areas, hence special training and sometimes specific equipment is required. The level of education required will depend on the type of wreck diving you are planning to do, (wreck penetration or non penetration diving) and the depth. If you just want to swim around and the site is not deeper than 18m you are allowed to dive with your Open Water certification. Further options are the Advanced course with one of the dives in a wreck, which allows you to do non-penetration dives at deeper wrecks, and the Specialty of Wreck Diving. For greater depths beyond recreational diving limits technical training will be required.
Said that, most of the diveable wrecks can be dived without penetration and it makes for a great dive experience! Find out more about wreck diving requirements and hazards in our Wreck Diving article.
One of the most popular places to go wreck diving is the Red Sea. The wrecks that have sunk in its waters are countless, most of them are natural wrecks as a consequence of the WWII or tragic accidents and a few were sunk for diving purposes to create artificial reefs. The choice is so overwhelming that it makes sense to divide the Red Sea in three distinctive areas: The Gulf of Aqaba in Jordan, the Northern Red Sea area and the Southern Red Sea area.
In the Gulf of Aqaba lies the Cedar Pride, sunken for tourist purposes. For more details of the area check our article wrecks of the Red Sea: Gulf of Aqaba.
The Northern Red Sea area with Sharm El Sheik as the main port, includes the wrecks of the Gubal Strait, being the most famous wreck the SS Thistlegorm and its legendary cargo with trucks, Triumph motorbikes and even plane wings! In the Strait of Tyran lies the wreck of the Kormoran, a truly coral gem. And the Abu Nuhas reef, so called "the father of bad luck" for the amount of wrecks that have sunk on its reefs, some of the most interesting ones being Kimon M, The Carnatic, and Ghiannis D. For more details check our article of Wrecks of the Red Sea: Northern Area.
In the Southern Red Sea, easily accessed from Hurghada, includes the Salem Express wreck, which is considered a marine tomb for the amount of lives taken in this tragic accident. Also the wrecks of the Brother Islands, like the Numidia, which sank in mysterious circumstances or the Aida, which was taken by a storm against the reef. Due to its exposure to the currents, the Aida has a beautiful coral growth.
Following the coast line of the Red Sea, off the coast of Port Sudan lies one of the best wreck dives in the world, the Umbria, which was held by the British and sunk by its own crew after its motherland Italy declared war, has a cargo of 360.000 bombs that makes the exploring of the wreck still more exciting! Also in Sudan you can find the Toyota Wreck, also known as Blue Belt wreck, which sunk when trying to navigate through the gap of Sha'ab Suedi Reef at Fasima Suedi. This wreck is famous for the amount of Toyota cars scattered around the area, which offer amazing opportunities to take funny photos. You can read more details in our article Wrecks of the Red Sea: Southern Area.
The Mediterranean Sea also offers some interesting wreck diving, like the emblematic Zenobia wreck, laying off Larnaca's coast line in Cyprus. It was a ferry boat operating in the eastern area of the Mediterranean and transporting articulated trucks, which now can be seen on the sea bed. Also the several wrecks laying in the Gallipoli Strait and Dardanelles in Turkey, as a consequence of the IWW. Some battleships like the Goliath or Triumph lay in 80-90m depth and on a high traffic channel, which makes them almost impossible to be dived, but some others like HMS Majestic, Franco, German Battle Ship, Lundy, The Water Refinery Ship, and Landing Boats are easily diveable.
In the Pacific waters lays amazing wreck jewels, some of them reserved for tech diving like the wrecks of the polemic Bikini Atoll, one of the most exclusive diving experiences in the world!
Bikini, once the site of the post-war nuclear tests, now offers a collection of wrecks with major historical significance. The sunken fleet includes battleships, destroyers, submarines, cruisers, attack transports and the only aircraft carrier wreck accessible to divers, the USS Saratoga.
Micronesia is a remote part of the South West Pacific but held much strategic interest during IIWW. The huge protected shallow waters of Truk Lagoon led to the Japanese Imperial Navy to use it as their Pacific base, where hundreds of Japanese boats and planes were kept during the war. A follow up raid was conducted in 1944 and as a consequence of it over 60 ships were sunken and dozens of aircraft shot down. These wrecks are now known as the Ghost Fleet. For the concentration of wrecks in its blue calm waters, Truk is considered the number one wreck diving place in the world to visit. Some of the most famous wrecks here are the Fujikawa Maru, a cargo boat converted into an aircraft ferry containing a cargo of fighter planes; the Heian Maru is the largest wreck in the lagoon; the San Francisco Maru, a submarine tender which sits in deep water with three armoured tanks on its main deck and trucks, mines and other materials spread throughout its holds and the Nippo Maru, which contains a tank, lots of shell casings and the bridge house is largely intact with wheel, compass and telegraph still present.
Not far away from Truck lagoon, also in the Pacific, the bay of Coron and Subic Bay in the Philippines are considered a graveyard for many Japanese ships, which were attacked by the Americans during WWII. In Coron, the centre of attraction are the 26 Japanese naval ships, among them the Irako has the best visibility and is the most visited site. Other notable wrecks include the Okikawa Maru (former Taiei Maru), a civilian tanker; Akitsushima, a Japanese seaplane; and the Kogyo Maru and Morazan Maru, which are Japanese freighters. These wrecks are fully penetrable and looking into the inside will make you wow all the way long! Subic Bay, located in Luzón, also has amazing IIWW wrecks to dive. One of the most visited wrecks is the USS New York, but also the LCU landing vessel, the Seiun Maru, and the Oryoku Maru.
Other recreational wreck dives around Asia are the popular Liberty wreck in Bali, Indonesia, a really easy and shallow dive very accessible to beginner divers, who will be amused at the marine life around the structures of the wreck. Not to miss in this site the giant Barracuda inhabiting the wreck. Also interesting is the King Cruiser, a car ferry operating from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands in southern Thailand. It is an excellent dive, but unfortunately the wreck cannot be penetrated as there is the risk that the back side collapse.
One famous wreck dive site in Australia is the SS Yongala, a steel passenger and freight steamer which sailed into a cyclone and sank without a trace, until WWII when the wreck was located outside Townsville. The actual cause of the sinking still remains a mystery. It has been voted the number 1 wreck dive in the world and is a mass grave site. Australia also has two war ships considered epic dive sites for penetration enthusiasts, the HMAS Perth and the HMAS Swan, both considered the largest accessible dive wrecks in the Southern hemisphere.
The treacherous waters in the Atlantic Ocean along the Outer Banks of North Carolina have converted this area in what is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The hazards of severe weather, strong currents, and navigational challenges combined have caused the loss of thousands of ships. But hazards are not the only reason for the amount of wrecks laying in its waters. In WWI the German U-boats made their first destructive visits to the Outer Banks, but in the winter of 1942 they returned to the waters off of the North Carolina coast with a destructive vengeance. Some of the famous wrecks are the British Splendour, a tanker sunk by a German U-552, The City of Atlanta, a passenger freighter and the Dixie Arrow and F.W. Abrams, nearly two identical tankers.
These are some of the most famous areas and wrecks around the world, but many more are out there waiting to be discovered! We invite you to step into the history and learn from first hand about the wonders of these wrecks!