When someone asks you, “what’s your favorite place to go scuba diving,” do you secretly hope their reaction will be, “where is that?!” If so, this article is for you. For divers who like to get off the beaten path, liveaboard diving is an excellent option. But, if spending multiple days on a boat with the same people isn’t your style, here are some land-based options for travelers interested in the world’s most remote scuba diving locations.
Important note: we’re not using a strict definition of “remote” in this article. For example, Hawai’i is technically the most isolated island chain in the world, but because it’s an extremely popular destination with direct flights from many Pacific Rim countries, Hawai’i is not included in this list
Remote Scuba Diving in the Pacific
The Pacific Ocean covers more than 30% of the Earth’s surface. So it makes sense that some of the most far-flung dive shops and resorts are in the middle of this massive ocean.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
If you search for PADI Dive Resort The 6 Passengers in Rangiroa, you may have to resize the map quite a bit to figure out it’s part of French Polynesia (see above).
This archipelago of more than 30 islands is located about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of Tokyo, Japan. Only two islands, Chichijima and Hahajima are inhabited. The Ogasawaras are sometimes referred to as ‘The Galápagos of the Orient.’ There are three PADI Dive Resorts on Chichijima: Papa’s Diving Studio, Marine Conductor Escort and Ogasawara Diving Center and one PADI Resort on Hahajima, Dive Resort Hahajima.
Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands
You can reach Kwajalein by flying 7 hours from Guam or 6 hours from Honolulu, but they probably won’t let you off the plane. The only people allowed to visit Kwajalein are U.S. military personnel and authorized civilian contractors. If you somehow get sponsored by a resident, visit Dive Kwaj for all your gear needs and local diving opportunities, or join one of the many Kwajalein Scuba Club events.
Rapa Nui, Chile
There are two PADI Dive operations on Rapa Nui, also known as Isla de Pascua or Easter Island, Chile. This underwater world surrounding this island isn’t as colorful as other parts of the Pacific, but there are tons of turtles, and an underwater Moai Statue. Book your diving with PADI Five Star IDC Mike Rapu Dive Center, or Orca Diving Center, the original dive resort on Rapa Nui.
The Federated States of Micronesia
Micronesia includes more than 600 islands spread across 2,600,000 square kilometers (1,003,866 square miles) and is home to two famous diving areas:
- Chuuk, renowned for wreck diving in Truk Lagoon, served by Truk Lagoon Dive Center and the liveaboard Odyssey Adventures.
- Yap, known for spectacular manta ray dives, served by Yap Divers at the Manta Ray Bay Resort.
There are also two lesser-known diving destinations:
- Kosrae, served by Micronesian Eco Divers.
- and Kolonia, Pohnpei where you’ll find Laidenki Diving & Tours.
Diving Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia used to require a 23-hour boat ride, but today it’s a little easier. You can:
- Fly to Bali, stay the night, then take Wakatobi Dive Resort’s 2.5-hour guest flight to the private airstrip.
- Or, travel to Wangi-Wangi from from anywhere in Indonesia (connecting through Kendari). Stay the night, then take the local ferry to Tomia Island in the morning.
Once in Wakatobi, it’s just you and other resort guests. There are no other dive operations for 161 kilometers (100 miles).
The Cook Islands
If you live in Australia or New Zealand, The Cook Islands are relatively close (just a 4-hour flight from Auckland or 6.5 hours from Sydney). The rest of us must spend 10+ hours on a plane to reach this diving paradise. Once there, you can explore underwater canyons and swim-throughs, and look for turtles, sharks and rays. If you visit from July through October, you may see a humpback whale.
Other Far-Flung Diving Destinations
Now that we’ve covered some remote scuba diving destinations in the Pacific, let’s consider the rest of the globe. Grab your drysuit and let’s head north.
Great Sea Resort at Khovsgol Lake in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is arguably the most remote PADI Dive Shop that isn’t on an island. Also, they have dinosaurs.
The Arctic Circle
If diving north of the Arctic Circle is on your diving to-do list, set a course for Norway. There are three PADI Dive Shops that can help you achieve your diving dreams:
- Lofoten Diving, a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center.
- Dykker Sentret AS, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center in Tromsø.
- And PADI Dive Star Nord&Ne Saltstraumen (southeast Bodø).
What about the Faroe Islands?
Located about halfway between Norway and Iceland, the Faroe Islands are technically outside the Arctic Circle, but not by much. Learn more about diving the Faroe Islands and find a PADI Dive Shop to take you exploring.
It’s hard to say if Iceland should be considered remote diving. It has a lot of direct flights and many divers aspire to make the famous Silfra Crack dive between two continents. We decided to include Iceland on this list because of the dive shop way out on the northern coast: Strytan Dive Center, a PADI Five Star Instructor Development Center.
Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)
The Atlantic has its share of remote islands too. There are seven PADI Dive Shops in Cabo Verde, but only two on the outer Barlavento Islands. This is an up-and-coming destination for scuba divers. Diving is only possible on three of the ten inhabited islands. Learn more about scuba diving in Cape Verde.
Liveaboards: The Best Way to Reach Remote Diving Locations
If you want to get way WAY off the beaten path, give liveaboard diving a try. Liveaboards are also the only way to explore legendary remote scuba diving destinations like Wolf and Darwin Islands in The Galapagos, Cocos Island (550 kilometers (342 miles) from the Costa Rican mainland), Tubbataha in the Philippines and countless colorful reefs in The Red Sea.
After visiting the Solomon Islands, I was instantly hooked. Over the course of ten days, we made dozens of dives (including one near an underwater volcano) and visited three island villages. More tourists visit Disneyland in one day (about 51,000) than the Solomon Islands see in an entire year (28,900 in 2019).
When you’re ready to book your next dive travel adventure, contact your local dive shop, or PADI Travel® for expert advice.