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  • December 24, 2012

    Nine Extreme SCUBA Diving Destinations

    With the weather here in Southern California being rather cold and rainy lately, I haven’t been in the water this month – sorry.

    However, I have been compiling a list of extreme places to SCUBA dive to help me plan future diving trips; I thought you may be interested in my list thus far.

    If you find something inaccurate, or more “extreme,” post a (non-spam) comment so I can update my list, if proven accurate.

    1. The Coldest, and Most Remote Place To Dive

    Antarctica

    Antarctica SCUBA Diving

    This is one diving trip that’s on my bucket list, however, with the initial $13,000 price tag for 14 days, it currently far exceeds my budget on any planned trip.

    You have to be Advanced Open Water Certified, with at least 20 dives in a dry suit.

    You must be in excellent physical and mental health and will be required to demonstrate your diving abilities before departure.

    2. The Highest Altitude SCUBA Dive

    Lake Titicaca, Peru

    Almost twice the altitude of Lake Tahoe, at 12,500 feet above sea level, Lake Titicaca isn’t the highest lake in the world, and SCUBA diving here won’t set any altitude world records, but this is the highest altitude dive that an average recreational diver could hope to make; at least that I could find.

    And when I say hope, I am serious about that.

    My Spanish “es no bueno,” so I can’t refer you to any place that I know has diving trips to Lake Titicaca; however, there are plenty of people on the internet who have dove there.

    You may be able contact perudivers.com and see if they can arrange, or know who can arrange, a trip to dive Lake Titicaca.

    3. The Most Dangerous Place To Dive

    Berbera, Somaliland (Officially Somalia)

    Somaliland is the “safer” northern part of Somalia that declared independence in 1992; unfortunately, nobody recognizes it’s independence, so “officially” you are going to Somalia.

    Apparently, there is (or a least, was) a Diving Club run by a British guy in Berbera, which touts some of the most beautiful and unexplored reefs in the region.

    I have emailed him to see if he is still in operation; I have not heard from him as of this date.

    Somalian Security

    By law, to venture outside of the city, you must hire at least one armed guard with a Kalashnikov for $10 a day.

    You’ll need a Visa, and be prepared to pay an entrance and exit fee along with being forced to exchange $50 into the local currency at a rip off rate once you arrive at the airport.

    Berbera Security

    Professional Debriefer Paul and I were watching some YouTube videos of Berbera; he made the comment, “That place looks so dangerous, you’ll probably get jacked once you step off the airplane.”

    These guys are just going snorkeling (starts at 5:30), but it gives you an idea of what to expect:

    4. The Most Desperate (or Unique?) Place To Dive

    Valhalla Missile Silo, Abilene, Texas

    You are in the middle of Texas, away from any lake or significant body of water and want to go diving.

    Where to?

    Well, I guess outside of diving in your swimming pool or bath tub, diving in a missile silo could be considered “desperate,” or in a way, “unique.”

    The Midwest is very resourceful when it comes to SCUBA diving; lakes and quarries are king, and even though this missile silo isn’t the only divable one in the world, it is the best known.

    Valhalla Missile Silo

    The missile silo is an old 1960s era ICBM site located 32 miles southwest of Abilene, Texas.

    As another website states, “At 2,420 feet above sea level, the site has the distinction of being a place where you can dive underground to get an altitude certification.”

    5. The Most Endangered Dive Spot

    The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    This is probably the most famous diving destination on the list.

    Rising water temperature, over fishing and agricultural run off have wreaked havoc on this delicate ecosystem.

    One Australian Scientist warns that the entire coral reef could die out within the next four decades.

    6. The Most Expensive Single Dive

    Mandalay Bay Aquarium, Las Vegas, NV, USA

    Is watching sharks in an aquarium through glass getting boring?

    Diving Mandalay Bay Aquarium

    Assuming you haven’t lost your ass in Vegas, if you have $650 left and are a certified SCUBA diver, you can dive the Mandalay Bay’s 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck Exhibit to swim with sharks, rays, sawfish, green sea turtles and schools of fish.

    The dive lasts 45 minutes, or until you run out of air, whichever happens first.

    If you can stretch that tank to 45 minutes, your dive will cost $14.44 a minute, however, you do get an aquarium tour and some dive instructions along with the cost of the dive.

    7. The Most Macho Place to Dive

    Saranda and Himara, Albania

    The reason that this is the most macho place to dive?

    Because currently, the Albanian government does not recognize SCUBA diving as a recreational sport, there is no infrastructure at all for recreational diving, no medical facilities to treat diving related sickness and Albanians can’t own boats larger than skiffs or peddle boats.

    For a number of years, there was the Polish Diving Base in Saranda, but due to investor problems, they left in late 2011, leaving no other facility to take their place.

    This is the only diving place on the list that yours truly went on.

    Diving in Saranda, Albania

    I was fortunate enough to hook up with a diving local this last July, who knew a lot of the dive spots and had connections to air sources.

    You can read about my entire trip on this blog.

    8. The Most Politically Incorrect Place To Dive

    Kish Island, Iran

    Well, most politically incorrect, if you are a U.S. citizen.

    This small island is a free trade zone, and the only part of Iranian soil where an American can enter Iran without a visa.

    I have made one contact on Kish Island, via the internet, and was assured, “Kish Island is beautiful and safe, even for Americans.”

    The problem is, to get to Kish Island, you would most likely have to enlist the help of a Travel Agent specializing in hard to get to locations.

    Travelocity.com, Kayak.com and Expedia.com do not recognize Kish Island as a valid destination, probably purely due to political reasons.

    Kish Island, Iran

    Your lady, by Islamic Law, will have to cover her head while in public, and there is no alcohol allowed – unless you know a local and have money (so I’ve been told).

    9. The Saltiest and Lowest Elevation SCUBA Dive

    The Dead Sea, Israel

    Although there are bodies of water that are saltier, The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water that is dove on a regular basis and, at 1,385 feet below sea level, it is hard to argue that this would also be the lowest altitude dive available.

    The Dead Sea

    The Dead Sea is so salty, a person can float without any effort or buoyancy device.

    Diving here has been described like “diving around diamonds or ice, but the heat and intense weight that you must carry reminds you otherwise.”


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