For most people, scuba diving is a pastime that consists of exploring open water reefs and swimming with the fishes, so to speak, while on vacation. However, there are definitely more experienced practitioners seeking extreme places to dive.
The good news is that the planet can accommodate with a number of heart-pumping, adrenaline-fueled underwater adventures. There is no shortage of sensational diving locales to entice those looking to add another item to the bucket list. Here are a few of the most extreme and dangerous spots to consider.
1. Cenote Esqueleto – Tulum, Mexico
The name of the place says it all. Not only does the Spanish name translate roughly to skeleton pit, but the colloquial name of this difficult diving spot is the “Temple of Doom”. Although Tulum may be best known for its well-preserved Mayan ruins, thrill-seekers looking for extreme places to dive are more interested in this challenging adventure.
It begins with jumping down into the water through a hole that is about 7.5 meters in diameter. Before you do, though, you’d better check to make sure there is a ladder in place to climb back out. Because this site is not really set up for visitors, it’s hit or miss whether the makeshift ladder is usable.
Once in the water, it is recommended that divers remain in or near lighted areas (ostensibly where you enter). The cave system is ripe for exploration, but several divers have reportedly lost their lives after getting hopelessly lost and running out of air.
2. Blue Hole – Lighthouse Reef, Belize
As extreme places to dive go, this is one for the books and is often cited by experienced divers as a must-see. The history of the place is almost as interesting as the appearance.
This hole in the water began as a system of limestone caves in the last ice age. Repeated collapses have created a hole that is over 300 meters in diameter and nearly 125 meters deep. The dark blue hole is highly visible against the relatively shallow, pale aqua waters surrounding it, especially when viewed from the air.
What makes this dive particularly dangerous is that it begins with a cylinder descending about 30 meters before a jarring drop-off into a cavernous expanse. Even experienced divers can easily become disoriented and descend too quickly.
3. The Blue Hole – Dahab, Egypt
The fact that this site is commonly referred to as “Diver’s Cemetery” adds little comfort to those seeking extreme places to dive. In the last two decades alone, an astonishing 150 divers have died at this spot.
The main reason this dive is so dangerous has to do with the depth of the hole, which is approximately 150 meters, paired with an easy-to-miss arch that connects to open water. Divers frequently pass the arch and continue descending into the depths, suffering disorientation, loss of consciousness, and death.
4. Jacob’s Well – Wimberly, Texas
At first glance, this swimming hole outside of Austin may not seem like one of the most extreme places to dive. That’s because you can’t tell from the surface that the hole is a gateway to an immense network of tunnels and caves that can be a diver’s delight, or alternately, his or her doom. A handful of divers have gotten lost and died here over the years.
5. Samaesan Hole – Samaesan, Thailand
If the prospect of getting lost in underwater caves isn’t enough to get your blood pumping, this former military ammunitions dump ought to get the job done. Thanks to the risk of running into unexploded munitions at depths of up to 85 meters, you’ll be sure to get an adrenaline rush from diving in this spot.
In addition to the possibility of bumping a bomb in the water, divers have to contend with strong currents and very little light, requiring the use of flashlights during dives. Anyone interested in extreme places to dive won’t find fault with this nerve-wracking experience.
6. Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole – Weeki Wachee, Florida
Diving is a popular sport in Florida thanks to warm waters and countless dive sites. While the Devil’s Cave system near Gainesville (in Ginnie, Florida) is known for dangerous vortexes, the Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole has proven one of the more extreme places to dive.
Although the site features clear water and marked passages, depths of up to nearly 100 meters require care when descending and ascending. The “Mount Everest of cave diving” has claimed a handful of lives over the last few decades.