For divers, nothing quite beats the experience of a wreck slowly coming into view as you descend into the deep. There is a sense of wonder at the fallen grace of a once great ship, and a feeling of awe at the loss of life. They are also often fantastic dive locations, having evolved into artificial reefs, attracting abundant sea life. Here are seven of the best.
U.S.S. Kittiwake, Grand Cayman
Great for: wreck rookies
One of the most popular and accessible wreck dives around the world, the 76.6m long Kittiwake was purpose sunk off Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach just a few years ago. It’s also been stripped clean of hazards such as doors and hatches. All five levels of the ship can be penetrated, depending on the certification you have.
Rainbow Warrior, New Zealand
Great for: Politically motivated divers
When French secret agents sunk the Greenpeace vessel in Auckland harbor in 1985, it caused a huge political scandal. Two years later the ship was scuttled at Matauri Bay in the Cavalli Islands to serve as a dive wreck and artificial reef to promote marine life. At a max depth of 26 m the Warrior is now home to a huge variety of aquatic life and is a world renowned dive site.
Bell Island, Newfoundland
Great for: Adventurous divers
Bell Island is one of the few locations in North America that was under attack by German forces during the Second World War. In 1942, U-boats raided the island twice, sinking four iron ore carriers and destroying a loading wharf, killing more than 60 men. “Today, divers visiting Newfoundland’s rich waters can dive these remarkable wrecks that have transformed into stunning and colorful reef structures,” says underwater explorer and Suunto ambassador Jill Heinerth. Check out the video she created here:
‘Badewanne’, Gulf of Finland
Great for: Undiscovered wrecks
Numerous wrecks lay on the Gulf of Finland’s sea bed, from 17th century merchant ships to battleships and submarines from the first and second world wars. During the latter, German sailors dubbed the Gulf of Finland ‘badewanne’ or bathtub. Today it’s the name of a team of Finnish explorers, scientists and historians dedicated to finding and preserving lost wrecks such as Torpedoboot T18. But if you’re hoping to dive there yourself, bad news: the team does not release the site locations to preserve their integrity.
Great for: Underwater attractions
How can a lake on the border between England and Wales be home to a great bucket-list wreck dive? That was our question too. But after watching the video below from freediver Daan Verhoeven diving through a sunken plane, we think you’ll also want to add this venue to your list. The lake is home to a number of attractions, including a Landrover, Royal Navy Wessex Helicopter Mk3 and a British Aerospace Jetstream 200. There’s also a gnome garden if you’re into that.
HMS Hermes, Sri Lanka
Great for: Sea life
Lying at a depth of 53m off Sri Lanka’s east coast is the Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier HMS Hermes, the first ship to be designed as an aircraft carrier. It’s a unique dive. She lies on her port side with many features still intact, including her tower and thanks to clear visibility you can also expect to see large tuna, grouper and jacks. Watch a video of a dive here:
The Yongala, Australia
Great for: Visibility, sea life and features
At 109m, the Yongala is Australia’s largest and most intact historic shipwreck and offers incredible diving within the world heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. She sank off the coast of Queensland during a cyclone in 1911, killing 122 people, a racehorse called Moonshine and a red Lincolnshire bull. With no telegraph facilities, she could not be forewarned of a storm. Expect to see abundant sea life including manta rays, sea snakes, octopuses, turtles, bull sharks, tiger sharks, and of course, some beautiful coral.