THE MOST CHALLENGING DIVE SITES IN THE WORLD
Scuba diving is a fun sport that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or ability. However, there are some dive sites that are particularly challenging, and in some cases even dangerous, which should only be explored by the most advanced of divers. It can be extremely rewarding to dive down deeper than the 40m limit that is recommended for recreational diving, but divers should only attempt this if they are fully trained and have the correct diving equipment.
Here we outline some of the world’s most difficult dive sites.
The Blue Hole, Dahab, Egypt
This is one of the most famous dive sites in the World, as a result of its reputation as the ‘World’s most dangerous dive site’. The Blue Hole is a submarine sinkhole that reaches depths of 130 metres. There is a shallow opening at around 6 metres, known as the ‘saddle’, which opens out to the sea, and a 26 metre tunnel, called ‘The Arch’ which lies at a depth of 56 metres. The dive site is easy if you only dive at the shallow depths, but the dangerous part comes from trying to dive through the Arch. Its depth is beyond the limits of recreational diving, and should only be attempted by very experienced technical and deep divers. Special diving equipment will be required for divers wishing to go through ‘The Arch’. The Blue Hole has claimed over 70 divers’ lives, and is often nicknamed the ‘Divers’ Cemetery’. The bottom of the hole is littered with discarded scuba equipment and divers’ bodies. Perhaps the most famous of these diving accidents was that of Yuri Lipski, whose death was filmed on a camera he had attached to his diving equipment.
The Temple of Doom (Cenote Esqueleto), Tulum, Mexico
Not far from Tulum, on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, is a cenote, or cave, known as the ‘Temple of Doom’. The cenote is filled with a mixture of fresh water and salt water, and consists of a large canyon that leads off into other passageways and caverns. There are no stairs leading down to the water, so divers have to enter using a rickety ladder attached to the edge of the cave. The danger of this dive site comes from the labyrinth of passages that are easy to get lost in. Divers that have ventured outside the area lit by daylight have sometime run into problems. A passage known as ‘The Madonna’ has claimed multiple divers’ lives.
The Devil’s Cave System, Ginnie Springs, Florida
The Devil’s Cave system is so called because of the two springs here, the Devil’s Eye and the Devil’s Ear that bubble into the Santa Fe River. This is a very challenging area to dive, due to the maze of over 30,000 feet of passageways that wiggle through the underground. There are areas where divers will have to squeeze through tiny spaces into the unknown, and there is a danger of their diving equipment getting dislodged or damaged. Inside the Devil’s cave system is an underwater sign bearing a picture of the Grim Reaper, and warning non qualified cave divers to go no further for risk of death.
The Eagle’s Nest Sinkhole, Florida
This challenging dive site is sometimes referred to as the ‘Mount Everest’ of cave diving. From the surface, the sinkhole appears to be rather unimpressive, but beneath the surface of the water, the hole sinks to depths of around 91 metres. Here lies an intricate network of chambers and tunnels that experienced divers often explore. The difficulty with this dive site lies with the descent through the ‘chimney’ which goes down to great depths. Once divers come out of the bottom of the chimney, they reach a large cavern called the ‘Main Ballroom’, off which there are many tunnels and passageways. Once out of the main cavern, there is no natural light and it can be easy to lose one’s way, which is extremely dangerous when diving at these depths.
The Shaft Sinkhole, Mount Gambier, Australia
This sinkhole lies in the middle of a huge field; where you would least expect to find a scuba diving site. However, ‘The Shaft’ is one of the most famous dive sites in Australia. Its entrance is a narrow water drain, and divers have to take off their scuba equipment to climb down a narrow ladder to the water. The diving gear is then handed down to them to kit up in the water, with little natural light. Once inside, divers will find an underwater chasm which has two main tunnels leading off it. It can be a dangerous scuba dive because the tunnels go down to great depths, and many divers have gone too far and miscalculated how much air they need to get back to the exit.
Diving at these exceptional dive sites can be an incredible adrenaline-fuelled experience, but none of these dives should be undertaken by inexperienced divers. All divers attempting these, or any other challenging dive, should ensure that they have all the correct SCUBA training, the appropriate diving equipment, and have carefully planned their route. Even skilled divers have had accidents in these dangerous dive sites. The experienced divers who died always miscalculated. They got caught up in the exploration, and forgot to pay attention to the critical balance that is required between their tanks, lights and their other diving equipment.