Best Diving Nearby for Americans - Bluewater Dive Travel
Best Diving Nearby for Americans

Best Diving Nearby for Americans

Explore the best dive sites close to home! Whether you have limited vacation time or want to save money on flights so you can spend more time underwater, Bluewater Travel has got you covered. With our headquarters in Southern California’s Culver City, we have explored plenty of local dive sites and destinations that are within easy reach of the region, and here are our top dives this side of the world:



Exploring your local dive sites is the most affordable and easy option, plus you don’t have to use precious vacation time to do it! With over 3,000 miles of shoreline, it’s no surprise that California is home to plenty of excellent dive sites. From the famed Catalina Island to advanced dives along the mainland, there is something to suit every diver’s interest and experience level. We've been up and down the long coastline and picked our favorite local dive spots!

A scuba diver explores a kelp forest in Southern California

Exploring kelp forests in Southern California

Casino Point, Catalina Island

Enjoy an easy day trip suitable for all divers. Take the Catalina Express ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point to Avalon. Dive at Casino Point Dive Park, one of the best places to see Giant Black Sea Bass. There are also loads of other fish! 

Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island

Embark on one of the best dives in Catalina. This site has a series of beautiful pinnacles peaking around 60’, making it suitable for advanced divers only. The pinnacles are teeming with fish and mark one of the few places to see purple hydrocoral.

Corals at Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island

Corals at Farnsworth Banks

Point Lobos, Carmel

Experiencing this exclusive, beautiful dive site in Northern California is a must. The highly protected area boasts robust marine life, including nudibranchs, anemones, schools of fish, and some species of sharks. The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve requires divers to book reservations in advance, as the site is limited to only 10 dive teams (pairs) per day. 

La Jolla Shores, San Diego

Although there is also scuba diving in the area, snorkeling La Jolla Shores is an incredible experience. From late July to early September, hundreds of leopard sharks come to the shallows to give birth and raise their young. You can snorkel to witness this event and may encounter numerous bat rays at the same time!

Oil Rigs, Long Beach

Dive the Long Beach oil rigs for a unique experience suitable for advanced divers only. Although the rigs are an eyesore at the surface, underwater the metal beams have become a vibrant artificial reef home to various invertebrates and fish. You’re nearly guaranteed an encounter with a playful sea lion and lucky divers may encounter pelagic life including sharks and mola mola. 

A sea lion dives underwater at the Long Beach Oil Rigs

A sea lion at Oil Rigs

Yukon Wreck, San Diego

Witness the best wreck on the West Coast, just off the shores of San Diego. The HCMYS Yukon was a Canadian destroyer escort vessel, stripped and sunk to create a phenomenal wreck diving experience. The wreck is huge and sits at a depth of 60-100 feet. Experienced advanced divers will want to spend many dives on the wreck to explore its various chambers.

Metridium Fields, Monterey Bay

There are plenty of beautiful dive sites in Monterey Bay, but a personal favorite of Bluewater’s GM, Tim Yeo, is Metridium Fields. This easy beach dive is suitable for all levels to enjoy the rocky reefs smothered in giant metridium anemones. Other highlights of the site include nudibranchs, octopuses, eels, rays, and sea lions.



California isn't the only worthy dive destination in the continental United States; Florida has been a hot spot for scuba divers for decades. Divers enjoy a diverse mix of dive sites including wrecks, artificial reefs, and unique experiences diving in rivers and sinkholes. Water temperatures and visibility are best from spring until autumn, but year-round diving is possible in Florida with the proper thermal protection.

Goliath Grouper Aggregation, Jupiter

Encountering just one goliath grouper is a moment a diver is unlikely to event. In Jupiter, Florida, you can witness dozens of Goliath groupers as they congregate in August and September to spawn. Not only are the fish massive in size, they are very comfortable and interactive with scuba divers, offering an incredible experience. If you're an underwater photographer, you will find the groupers cooperative subjects as they allow you to take shot after shot!

Wreck Diving, Florida Keys

The Keys host some of the best wreck diving in the world. The Spiegel Grove and the Vandenburg are two of the three largest artificial wrecks in the world, and there are many more cool wrecks all along the Florida Keys. Spiegel Grove is a massive vessel with easy penetration points and hosts large tarpon, and you can see the occasional bull shark in August. Vandenburg was sunk in 2009 and has become a prolific reef home to a variety of corals, fish, eels, and you may even see Goliath groupers or sharks.

Blue Heron Bridge, West Palm Beach

We've mentioned this dive site on so many of our 'best of' lists, we're feeling a bit blue in the face. However, there's good reason Blue Heron Bridge is a favorite among snorkelers and divers. The shallow lagoon waters are home to incredible macro life including nudibranchs, seahorses, pipefish, and tropical fish. Blue Heron Bridge offers the perfect conditions for photographers to spend an extended bottom time looking for and shooting their favorite subjects.


Near the United States

Some of the most sought-after dive destinations are so close to the continental United States that you can get on a plane and be underwater later on the same day! Others require a bit more travel time but are still easy enough to fit into a week of vacation time. 

Socorro Islands, Mexico

Most divers have at least heard of Socorro, and if it's not on your bucket list, it should be! Home to some of the most incredible marine encounters in the world, Socorro is only visited by liveaboards, which need to be booked well in advance due to high demand. How great is the diving in Socorro? Bluewater Travel's GM, Tim Yeo, says, “This is by far my favorite dive trip. I've been here 6 times and going again in November 2024. This is the only place in the world where giant Pacific manta rays seek out divers to interact with them. There are also lots of sharks and dolphins, and if you go in the right season, whale sharks.” 

Divers observe a manta ray in Socorro Islands

Unforgettable diving in Socorro

Consider joining a Travel with Bluewater trip to Socorro in February 2025!

La Paz, Mexico (Baja)

If you follow any of Bluewater's social media channels, you've no doubt seen the highlight of diving in La Paz: the playful sea lions at Los Islotes! From September through early October, these inquisitive animals with their puppy dog-like eyes and whiskers will swim around scuba divers in an immersive, chaotic, and wildly entertaining show. Other excellent dive sites in La Paz include El Bajo - where you could see schooling hammerheads - and Salvatierra Wreck - a great introduction to wreck diving for less experienced divers.

Cozumel, Mexico (Caribbean)

Hop on a plane to one of the easiest and quickest dive destinations to reach from the US: Cozumel. With direct flights from major hubs across the country to Cozumel's international airport, it is the perfect place for a short dive holiday (or a long one!). Boasting some of the best diving in the Caribbean with vibrant healthy coral reefs and dive suites suitable for all experiencee levels, plus loads of great dive resorts to suit every buget, it is a top dive spot for singles, groups, and families. 

San Ignacio, Mexico (Baja)

While not a dive or snorkel trip, San Ignacio Lagoon is the only place in the world where you can interact with Pacific Gray Whales. Female whales and their calves come right up to the boat to solicit pets, hugs, and kisses from humans. These family-friendly trips run from February to early April and are a perfect add-on to a dive trip to La Paz.  Join Bluewater's founder, Scott Geitler, and his family in March 2024 to experience these magical moments for yourself! Read more about whale interactions in San Ignacio Lagoon.

A group of people interact with a Pacrific gray whale from a boat A Pacific gray whale approaches a boat

Pacific Gray Whale Interactions in San Ignacio, Mexico

Read all about Tim’s experience in San Ignacio Lagoon.

Further Away but Easy to Reach destinations

If you want to put more distance between yourself and home but don't want to spend multiple days traveling, some of the best diving in the world is within relatively easy reach. The South Pacific is famous for its postcard-perfect overwater bungalows, pristine beaches, and sparkling turquoise waters. In contrast, the East Pacific is famed for its unique flora and fauna, along with some of the most sought-after and memorable dive experiences on the planet. Whether you prefer the dreamlike setting of French Polynesia or Fiji or the colder but unique Galapagos or Cocos Islands, the diving will not disappoint.

French Polynesia

Dream of perfect beaches, sunsets, and sea views? Look no further than French Polynesia. A relatively short 9-hour flight from Los Angeles will have you enjoying sensational topside scenery and some memorable marine life encounters. The diving in Fakarava is out of this world, especially a specific week every year in June/July when thousands of groupers congregate to spawn, which attracts hundreds of sharks. Visit Moorea from August to October to snorkel with the humpback whales that come to raise their newborn calves.

A humpback whale with her calf in French Polynesia

Snorkeling with humpback whales in Moorea

Join Bluewater for unforgettable snorkeling with whales in 2024


Dive into the best soft coral gardens in the world in tropical Fiji. An 11-hour flight from Los Angeles, Fiji boasts some unforgettable underwater landscapes. Vatu-I-Ra Passage in Bligh Waters is home to several dive sites that showcase the healthy coral reefs Fiji is known for. One of these sites, Mellow Yellow, is so min-blowing it's on our list of top 20 dive sites in the world! Visit Taveuni to dive Rainbow Reef's currents and see white tip, gray reef, and nurse sharks cruising along the vibrant reef. Some of the top sites include Rainbow's End, Rainbow Passage, and Great White Wall.

Experience the best of Fiji with a photo and GoPro video workshop or a liveaboard photography workshop!


Head to the East Pacific to visit one of the best dive destinations in the world for big animals: the famous Galapagos Islands. The protected region is home to hammerheads, whale sharks, eagle rays, and dolphins, plus a bounty of unique endemic species both underwater and topside. The best diving is at Wolf and Darwin Islands, which are only accessible from a dive liveaboard. El Arco dive site is known for schooling hammerheads, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, and seasonal whale sharks. Conditions in the Galapagos are challenging and only suitable for experienced advanced divers. 

Hammerhead sharks swimming in the Galapagos  Sea lions and penguins on a rocky landscape in the Galapagos

Hammerhead sharks (L); penguins and a sea lion (R)

Join Bluewater's Galapagos Photo Workshop in May 2026!

Cocos Island, Costa Rica

Together with Socorro and Galapagos, Cocos Island rounds out the trio of big animal destinations in the East Pacific. Like the other destinations, you'll need to book a liveaboard to reach Cocos, with a lengthy crossing from the mainland. What's so great about diving Cocos Island? It's not about pretty reefs - this rocky, uninhabited island is a magnet for sharks, including schooling hammerheads and silky sharks. The currents around sites such as Menuelita bring exciting pelagic life, such as whale sharks. tiger sharks, and a variety of rays. The diving at Cocos is done deep in the open ocean, where there can be strong currents, low visibility, and swell. As such, it's a destination for experienced advanced divers who are confident in challenging conditions.

Not sure which East Pacific destination is right for you? Learn about the similarities and differences between Socorro, Galapagos, and Cocos.  

Worldwide Dive Destinations

Embark on longer-distance holidays to some of the world’s top dive destinations including Indonesia, the Philippines, and Africa. Take your adventure to the next level by heading to remote regions such as snorkeling with orcas in Norway or joining a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to Antarctica.

Wherever you want to go, Bluewater Travel can help you plan and book your dream dive holiday!  We are a full-service dive-travel agency able to book you a resort or a liveaboard almost anywhere in the world at the same price, or even lower, than booking any other way. Our travel advisors have been to most of these places, and some are so amazing they keep going back! We know the diving, resorts, liveaboards, and logistics better than anyone else in this industry. To get started you can email us to start planning your trip! 

Don't forget about the importance of insurance - it can not only save your trip, but also your life! Read our guides to travel insurance and dive insurance and make sure you purchase your policies before you travel!

Capture some lasting memories from your dive holiday with underwater photography gear from Bluewater Photo Store - your source for the latest cameras, housing, lights, and accessories!



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