Scuba Diving Bucket List: Top 5 Experiences - Bluewater Dive Travel
Scuba Diving Bucket List: Top 5 Experiences

Scuba Diving Bucket List: Top 5 Experiences

Bluewater Travel is proud to announce its “Bluewater Bucket List” of scuba diving (and non-diving) trips and destinations. Bluewater Bucket List trips offer a special once-in-a-lifetime experience that every world traveler should experience at least once.

These are particularly special trips, whether it be the marine life and experience or the uniqueness of the trip that we have specially customized the way it should be.  Read on to learn more and please let us know about your best scuba diving vacation


1. Swim Face-to-Face with Humpback Whales

While you can't scuba dive with the whales, there are only a few underwater experiences as amazing as swimming eye-to-eye with an adult humpback whale in warm, clear water. We offer the best experiences for swimming with humpback whales in both French Polynesia and the Caribbean.

Moorea, French Polynesia

Many people only recognize French Polynesia for its famous over-water bungalows, white sand beaches, and beautiful reefs.  While all of that is true, little do they know that this is also one of the best places in the world to swim with whales! Imagine yourself being picked up from your beachfront hotel, and a 10-minute boat ride later, you are swimming with humpback whales.

How about joining a specialized trip that limits the guest number to a maximum of 6 people as opposed to the “day boat” operators holding up to 20 people on their boat? Through Bluewater’s specialized trips, that dream is a reality - offering numerous trips over peak season for a true trip of a lifetime with these gentle giants. After an easy flight to Tahiti and a short ferry ride to Moorea, you’ll be settled in for the week of your life. Best of all, it’s snorkel only, so anyone can join! No dive certification is required.

 Read more about Moorea here... 

A humpback whale swims in Moorea  A humpback whale in Moorea  A humpback whale breaks the water surface in Moorea

Join one of our trips in 2024: Aug-Sept, 2024 Moorea Whales

Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

The Silver Bank, also known as the "Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic," is one of the three unique places in the world where can swim among humpback whales.  The Silver Bank is a designated marine sanctuary, which provides a safe haven for the entire North Atlantic humpback whale population during the months of January through April in which they congregate in the thousands to mate, calve, and rear their young. For the females and their new calves, the banks provide safety until the calves are mature/strong enough to make the crossing back to the North Eastern U.S. coast.

Staying aboard the liveaboard through the week provides added flexibility with reaching the appropriate spots for humpback whale sightings and ensures you have the best experiences you could get!  The tenders are launched multiple times a day, solely with the goal of finding the humpback whales and getting you in the appropriate positions to slip into the water with them.

You'll experience 2 distinct events throughout the week - both the spectacle above and below the water. Above, you'll find rowdy males aggressively competing for the attention of female whales. Breaching, slamming into each other, lob tailing, spy hopping, and fin/tail slapping.  Below the water, we'll focus on approaching mother, calf, escort trios, solitary females, and sleeping whales. All in the hopes of finding the 'curious ones' that can stick around for potentially hours of interaction!

This trip books up years in advance, but we have snagged an available date and have availability!  In addition to that, we'll be running a photography workshop while onboard to help ensure anyone that's interested will get that perfect photo that they always imagined.

 Silver Banks - Humpback Whale 
Silver Banks - Humpback Whales A humpback whale breaches in Silver BanksA humpback whale swims in Silver Banks A humpback whale and her calf in Silver Banks 

Check out our article Diving Silver Bank, Dominican Republic.


2. Witness the Fakarava Grouper Spawning

Witness 20,000 groupers gathering to spawn, and hundreds of gray reef sharks coming to feed on them, in the most unique underwater event in the world. This gathering happens once a year in the warm clear waters of French Polynesia. This is the only place in the world we know of where you can see so many sharks in warm, clear water in their natural environment - free of human feeding.

Grouper Spawning Event

Once per year, French Polynesia hosts one of nature's largest reproductive events in the world - the grouper spawning. Timed around the full moon in the month of July every year, thousands of groupers congregate to spawn on a massive scale. 

While this alone is a phenomenal event to see, naturally, this annual event results as a magnet for predators and feeding activity. Schools of sharks, along with many other predators, come to feed during the event. This is arguably one of the most unique scuba diving experiences you can accurately plan to behold, and we've timed our trips perfectly over the full moon event! 

As you can imagine, most diving operators and locations are booked years in advance, oftentimes by Nat Geo, Discovery, and other professional crew companies wanting to witness & film the event... but now you can experience it through us! See 7 different species of sharks to include (but not limited to!): Whitetips, grey reef sharks, blacktips, lemon sharks, tiger sharks, silvertips, and silky sharks. You can stay on land, or board the French Polynesia Master liveaboard.

French Polynesia - Grouper Spawning Event Grouper Spawning - French Polynesia Grouper Spawning - French Polynesia
French Polynesia - Grouper Spawning Grouper Spawning - French Polynesia French Polynesia Dolphin
French Polynesia - Grouper Spawning Event Grouper Spawning - French Polynesia


 Learn more about Fakarava in our destination guide...


3. Dive with Big Animals & See Endemic Species in the Galapagos

Marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, Oceanic Sunfish (Mola mola), Giant tortoises, and large schools of hammerheads await you in a remote, pristine, protected island chain. The Galapagos Islands are one place that truly lives up to their expectation. Bluewater Travel has created unique itineraries to maximize your experiences in this wonderful place.

Galapagos Liveaboard Trips

A diving destination that hosts an amazing combination of diverse & unique marine life - possibly more than anywhere else in the world! The Galapagos Islands are a completely isolated set of islands off the coast of Ecuador and have been a top highlight for divers worldwide for years now.

They provide opportunities to see schooling hammerheads (and a huge variety of other sharks), mantas, mola mola, sea lions, marine iguanas, mantas, penguins, whale sharks, flightless cormorants, and massive schools of fish, to just name a few. It is hands down a scuba divers paradise.

While there are numerous ways to explore the Galapagos, both land and by liveaboard, Bluewater has established a partnership with the Galapagos Master for our specially designed trips. We have done extensive research on selecting the time of year, boat route, and other factors to ensure our trips are the best of the best. If Galapagos is on your bucket list of dive destinations, join one of our unique trips!

Learn more about diving Galapagos and Galapagos liveaboards.

You can also read about our past trips to the Galapagos.

Galapagos - Penguin Galapagos - Marine Iguana Galapagos - Mobula Ray SchoolGalapagos - Hammerhead Shark Galapagos - Schooling Sharks Galapagos - Mola Mola

4. Experience the Sardine Run & 'Big 5' Safari in South Africa

Nothing in your life can prepare you for seeing predators in the wild - and on this trip you see them up close on both land and in the water. Our trips combine a big-5 land safari, diving with ragged-tooth sharks at Aliwal Shores, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience with sharks, dolphins, birds and whales in the South African sardine run - one of the largest migrations in the world.

Read more about South Africa in our destination guide...

Sardine Run

The annual South African sardine run occurs between May and July as huge shoals of sardines migrate from the South up the coast in search of warmer waters. During their journey, the enormous bait balls of sardines are hunted by all sorts of predators like sharks, seabirds, dolphins, and whales.


Bluewater's trusted dive boat operator will use years of experience following the sardine run to seek out as much action as possible for the guests on this custom-designed trip. Prepare for exciting days of chasing down thousands of common dolphins while they herd giant shoals of sardines and become a spectator to thousands of gannet seabirds plunging down into the water to feast while underneath the surface, the sardines are separated and hunted by dusky, black-tip, grey nurse, and bronze-whaler sharks--don't forget to look out for the Humpbacks and Bryde's whales stopping in to eat!

You may also want to check out diving in Cebu and Bohol for other locations with Sardine Runs.



Big 5 African Safari

After five days in search of the sardine run and some shark diving at Aliwal Shoals nearby, prepare for one of the most unique African Safari experiences imaginable. Bluewater has organized a stay on a private reserve in order to cater to our guests in a way that wouldn't be possible otherwise. Enjoy a maximum of 6 guests per Safari car, ensuring that everyone has a seat on the outer edge of the vehicle for the best viewings of Africa's big 5: African Lion, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Rhinoceros, and the elusive African Leopard. With 2 Safari outings per day at the peak animal activity times (dawn and dusk), there will be 8 hours of Safari per day. In between Safaris, the group will relax in their luxurious private tents or by the pool, with the chance to wander the grounds of the private reserve lodging area in search of some animal sightings outside the barrier.



At the end of this amazing trip, guests will have had the experience of a lifetime, witnessing some of the most amazing natural events that occur on Earth. This South African itinerary offers a raw and wild vacation with the comfort of a professionally led group atmosphere and gives divers a chance to experience unique photo opportunities while learning new underwater photography skills each exciting day.

5. Dive with the World's Friendliest Manta Rays in Socorro

Swimming alongside the most intelligent fish of the ocean, the Manta Ray, is a life-changing experience. The manta rays of Socorro Islands, Mexico allow a close approach like nowhere else in the world and must be experienced first hand.

Socorro is at the top of our list of Best Manta Ray Diving in the World. Check out the full list here...

Revillagigedo Archipelago (Socorro Islands)

Similar to the Galapagos, the Socorro Islands are a remote set of 4 islands that offer a unique ecosystem that attracts a large number of pelagic life.  Located off the coast of Mexico, this is the closest destination for people traveling from the U.S. as you simply fly into Cabo San Lucas (SJD) and shuttle down to the various liveaboards for departure. Due to weather, the Socorro Islands are only open for diving between the months of November - June, so trips book up early due to the limited window.

While popular for a number of reasons, one of the most consistent benefits to Socorro is its manta cleaning station. No trip is complete without endless memories of swimming along with Mantas as they curiously inspect you and your bubbles.  You'll also have the likely chance of seeing curious dolphins, various sharks (Hammerheads, Galapagos, Silky, and Oceanic Whitetips), whale sharks (Nov & Dec), Humpback Whales (Dec - Apr), huge gamefish (like tuna, wahoo, marlin), and schools of pelagic fish like jacks and barracuda.

Socorro Manta Socorro Manta Socorro MantaSocorro Dolphin Socorro Schooling Sharks Socorro Tiger Shark 

If you're looking for that 'next big trip,' hopefully, this list of scuba diving bucket list dive trips and destinations has helped you either add some new ones or prioritize your list! If you have any questions on any of the above locations or any others, please let us know, and our travel advisors would be happy to help!

We are a full-service scuba travel agency - so we can help get you booked on any of the group trips that we have listed above, or help arrange a trip just for you!  We'll provide recommendations and get you booked on any boat, any resort, etc and also help sort out your flights, transfers, everything so that you don't have to.  All at no additional cost than doing it all yourself!  Optimize on our vast knowledge and experience and save yourself the trouble!


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