A Diver's Bucket List

We are pleased to introduce a guest blogger this posting. World-wide diver Tommy Birn offers up his favorite dive destinations on our little planet, and we made the list!

The Three Diving Spots that Any Self-respecting Diver Should Visit

- Tommy Birn

It wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that diving has offered me some of the most amazing experiences of my entire life so far. A couple of months ago it suddenly dawned on me that it had been exactly 14 years since I'd gotten my first PADI certificate, which kick-started what has now become a full-blow obsession for discovering the hidden secrets that lie in the depths of our world's oceans. To that end, I feel like this is a good time to look back for a bit and see which dive spots seem most memorable to me in retrospect. Sure enough, there are plenty of places I could wholeheartedly recommend, but it's the following three locations that have so far impressed me the most:

Sipadan Island, Malaysia

Malaysia is an absolute paradise for ocean lovers, what with its clear waters, beautiful beaches and tropical scenery. And few places encapsulate its charms better than Sipadan Island. Located off the east coast of Sabah, Sipadan was made famous by none other than Jacques Cousteau, the famed French explorer who raved about its diverse marine life. These kinds of endorsements can go a long way towards boosting a location's tourist appeal, and Sipadan Island has never really lacked for attention ever since. Nevertheless, you'll have your pick of dive spots here. First off, there's Barracuda Point, an aptly-named place where seeing the likes of chevron or blacktail barracuda is almost a given. You also stand a good chance of running into dogtooth tuna, grey reef sharks and plenty of schooling bannerfish as well. Another great dive spot lies at Turtle Cavern, which features a fairly complex system of interconnected caves, but one that deserves your attention due to its large population of green and hawksbill turtles.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Malaysia and Indonesia are often mentioned in the same breath when it comes to the world's best diving locations, but to me the former has always been more of an all-around great vacation destination, what with its luxurious resorts and pampered beaches, while the latter is aimed more at diving aficionados par excellence. One need look no further than Raja Ampat, a rich archipelago located in the West Papua Province of Indonesia. It consists of more than 1,500 small isles, cays and shoals situated around the four main islands of Batanta, Waigeo, Misool and Salawati. Diving here feels a bit like traveling to the edge of the world, where nature still lies undisturbed by mankind. Some of the best diving spots can only by reached by liveaboards. My favorites include the likes of Yangelo Reef, with its gorgeous hard coral garden, and Sel Pele, where you'll get to explore an inner bay with pearl farms that can be visited upon request.

Roatan Reef, Honduras

Finally, the place that stole my heart in the end turned out to be none other than Honduras' Roatan Reef. I came here fairly late in my diving career, but instantly fell in love with its unique character and charm. And how could I not? Roatan has everything a diver could possibly want, including shallow dives, caverns, wrecks and areas with drop-offs for when you're feeling adventurous. In addition, you can find creatures ranging from turtles to eels to rays peppered throughout the area. Some of the best known dive spots are Dolphin Den, which offers a cave-like swim that takes you from the inside of the reef to the outside, and the Odyssey Wreck, a spectacular underwater wreck where you can witness just how easily nature manages to integrate man's creation into its own. Malaysia and Indonesia are both beautiful and special in their own ways, but it's because of places like this that Roatan Reef ultimately gets my vote as the top dive destination in the world.

And so we've reached the end of our quick trip down memory lane in which I've tried to showcase the best destinations I've encountered so far in all my years of diving. Of course, if you're still new at this, I wholeheartedly recommend diving as often as you can, wherever you can. This way you'll gain valuable experience and also get to witness many of the world's most beautiful areas from a fresh perspective. So that one day you too will be able to sit down and write a list of your favorite dive spots, with a thousand memories of all the places you've been to still lodged deep inside your head.