With complete freedom to move between dive sites as well as luxurious accommodations and a private chef, there’s no better way to dive than from a superyacht.
The North Carolina coast has been the site of thousands of shipwrecks over the centuries, coming to be known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’. Today, there are literally hundreds of wreck dives that can be accessed on a US East Coast yacht charter, and they promise adventure and atmosphere in droves. From the famous U-352 German U-Boat blown apart by a US cutter in 1942, to the 1877 wreck of the Huron war sloop, still surrounded by cannonballs, the graveyard has something for everyone. A good number of the wrecks are swim-through, and there are also some newer intact vessels that were deliberately sunk and which make for ideal beginner dives. The visibility is not always great in this area, but somehow that adds rather than detracts from the eerie atmosphere of these shipwrecks, with the masts and broken hulls rising out of the gloom. Fish and sharks emerge from hatches and cannon-holes, and barnacles cover the vessels as they settle ever-deeper into the sea bed. There’s a range of different vessels from different eras in this region and a diving expedition in the Graveyard of the Atlantic allows you to dive deep into history as you sink into the depths. Enjoy the mystery as you scan for torpedo damage and shoal-ripped hulls, look for deck gun mounts and cannon balls. As far as diving charters go, a North Carolina yacht charter offers one of the world’s best wreck diving destinations.
Situated on the northeast coast of the ruggedly beautiful region of Patagonia, Peninsula Valdes is a place of exquisite contrasts. With rich turquoise seas lapping against arid desert landscapes and soaring cliffs, the peninsula is UNESCO-listed for its extraordinary concentration of big sea life that come to breed and feed in the protected gulf waters. As you dive beneath the surface, you enter a teeming world of southern right whales, elephant seals, dolphins and sea lions. Magellan penguins flit gracefully through the water, and seabirds dive-bomb out of the sky to pluck fish from the sea. And in a sight seen nowhere else on earth, orcas launch themselves up on the beach at high tide to catch seals. While the big marine mammals are the major drawcards of diving the Peninsula Valdes, there are plenty of other diving attractions including caves, reefs, and some exceptional shipwrecks. The best time to dive Peninsula Valdes on an Argentinian yacht charter is during the whale breeding season, which extends from May to December, with several species’ numbers peaking in October. The best time to see orcas beaching themselves to hunt is in March and April, but they live there year-round.
The Arctic Ocean
Coral reefs may not be the first thing you think of when you consider diving the Arctic Ocean, but northern Norway has more than a few surprises in store for intrepid cold-water divers. Enter the maelstrom at Saltstraumen near Bodo, where the world’s biggest tidal currents flow across reefs that abound in corals, anemones, crustaceans and epic schools of fish. At Skarberget in Tysfjord, experience one of the finest wall dives in Northern Europe, where orcas often come to feed on giant schools of herring. Float through enormous kelp forests at Nyksund off the wild coast of Vesteralen, or dive a German submarine and M/S Black Watch off Kilbotn. The best time to dive Norway is between April and September, using dry suits. An Arctic yacht charter in Northern Norway allows you to cruise under the otherworldly beauty of the midnight sun, passing your days hiking, fishing, and relaxing in steaming thermal pools.
Anyone acquainted with the diving world will know that beautiful British Columbia has been topping the charts for best diving in the North Pacific for decades. And there’s a reason it has such a stranglehold on the top spot— well, quite a lot of reasons actually! Cold, challenging, yet richly-rewarding, the emerald green waters off British Columbia hold many secrets. The spectacular wall dives blaze with colour you’d expect in the tropics, Stellar sea lions nuzzle you playfully with their soft whiskered noses, and magnificently ugly wolf eels lurk in the crevices. Whole fleets of deliberately sunken ships create a wreck-diving playground, cloud sponges grow in huge formations on fjord walls, and Giant Pacific Octopuses propel themselves through towering kelp forests. Ascending provides yet another surprise to the senses as you emerge into a landscape of snow-capped mountains, the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver, and deep pine forests that stretch all the way to the Arctic Circle. Chartering a yacht in British Columbia is a feast for the senses, both above and below the surface. You can dive in BC year-round with drysuits.
How does a person possibly pick a best dive site from the thousands of spectacular dive sites in the South Pacific? From the coral atolls of French Polynesia to the WWII graveyard of Truk Lagoon, the South Pacific is a diving paradise of endless possibilities. Picking a true ‘winner’ is impossible. Raja Ampat, however, is a superb candidate, with 300 species of fish recorded in a single dive! Situated in the Coral Triangle at the confluence between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Raja Ampat is what’s often called a ‘species factory’, set in a landscape of almost unimaginable beauty. Scientists believe this remote archipelago of 1,500 islands is the most abundant coral reef ecosystem on earth, and that the warm waters have created a measure of resilience in the corals that protect it from the coral bleaching threat. As such, what you experience in Raja Ampat is pristine. 1500 species of fish, 537 corals, and almost 700 species of mollusc call this extraordinary place home. At Manta Ridge, manta rays swoop in gracefully to cleaning stations, and you can scuba dive with gentle whale sharks at Cenderawasih Bay. Big species like whales, turtles, dolphins and giant trevally abound in these waters, while on the smaller scale, look out for sea dragons swimming through spectacular nudibranch formations. Back on the yacht, experience the tropical splendour of Raja Ampat, as you float through limestone islands scattered through a blue-green sea. You can dive year-round in Raja Ampat.
The underwater world of the Maldives is an assault on the senses, in the very best way. A colossus in the diving world, this remote archipelago off the coast of India is a scattering of atolls surrounded by reefs of phenomenal activity. Colourful coral reefs begin mere steps off the powder-white beaches, and tropical fish in their thousands fill every underwater view— a view that often stretches 150 feet thanks to the crystal clear water. In the Maldives, manta rays and whale sharks move slowly through the sunlit blue, and white tip reef sharks patrol the corals. Whales swim through the deep channels past the drop offs, and hammerhead sharks and barracuda hunt around atolls. Highlights include Hanifaru Bay, where up to 200 manta rays come to feed and whale sharks are common, as well as North Male’s Banana Reef and South Male’s Cocoa Thila, where the reefs explode with fish life. Diving is possible year-round in the Maldives, with mass feedings for whale sharks in Hanifaru Bay between April and November. Back on the yacht on a Maldives charter, you’ll drop anchor off perfect tropical islands and visit day spas in overwater bungalows. If you just can’t get enough of the underwater view, you can even have dinner in the Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Rangali, fish swimming all around.
There are certain bucket-list destinations, and certain bucket list experiences that set you apart from the crowd. Scuba diving on a yacht charter in Antarctica is both of those things, supercharged. For many experienced divers, diving among the icebergs of Antarctica represents the very pinnacle of remote diving experiences. And what an experience it is! Whether you’re diving from the beach, the zodiac, or along a wall, you can expect pristine waters and a startling marine diversity. Ice-structures of every shade of blue loom overhead as you sink into the icy-clear waters, into a world filled with starfish and crabs, jellyfish and soft corals. Sea butterflies, anemones and kelp fill your vision, and fur seals, penguins and leopard seals zoom through through the water, bubbles cascading in their wakes. If you are lucky, you may even see a whale, drifting through the blue. Scuba diving in Antarctica is an experience like no other, and is limited to advanced divers only with considerable cold-water diving experience. Back on the yacht, you’ll warm up in the Jacuzzi or sauna before retiring to the table to talk about your surreal experience under the sea in Antarctica.
A diving yacht charter in any one of these locations is one you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life. Contact Tom Barnes at Bluewater to start planning your trip… Where will it be? Icebergs or coral atolls?